Pakistan: Another peace activist goes missing #FindRaza

Raza- million signature-VAW

Raza Khan with a copy of the One Million Signature Campaign against violence against women, Pakistan

On Saturday, peace activist Raza Khan, 37, went “missing” in Lahore shortly after he had organised a public discussion about the recent ‘dharna’ (sit-in) on the country’s capital that ended in ignominious surrender to those seeking power in the guise of religion. He is a law-abiding, passionate campaigner for peace in the region particularly India, for gender equality and interfaith harmony — all of these are anathema to the keepers of Pakistan’s ‘ideology’. Please sign the online petition urging the government of Pakistan to find him. Share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #FindRaza. A twitter campaign for Raza is planned at 4 p.m. (Pakistan time today, Dec 5), hashtag #FindRaza. More case details below.

Peace activist and social worker Raza Mahmood Khan, 37, has been “missing” since Saturday evening, Dec. 2, 2017. Originally from Kasur, he lives in Lahore and is known as a gentle, law-abiding citizen. A co-convenor of the cross-border youth group Aaghaz-e-Dosti (Start of Friendship), is a proponent for peace in South Asia and stresses the importance of improving ties with SAARC countries in order to fight our common enemies of poverty, climate change and extremism.

Recently, he had initiated Lowkey Lokai, a public space to bring together people and community “to dialogue and debate issues that are critical for building a peaceful society”.  He registered an organization Hum Sab Aik Hain (We Are All One) this year to provide a platform bringing together people across class and religions.

On Saturday, Dec. 3, Hum Sab Aik Hain had hosted a public discussion at Lowkey Lokai. The Facebook event description and subsequent post with photos says:

The events of the last few weeks & particularly the agreement have jolted the ordinary forward looking citizen. 
– What is our future in a country where the state gives in to a mob?
– Who will protect the citizens if the civil-military play against each other?
– Is this the beginning of a new kind of fascism? 
– How important are the narratives furthered by barelvi militancy in the context of extremism?
What can we do as peace loving progressive citizens of the country to ensure that we dont experience the bloodletting that we thought we had left behind.?

Raza-fb screenshot

Facebook post from a friend with photo of Raza Khan at an anti-extremism rally with banner reading: “Ye Kafir Kafir bund karo” (Stop declaring people infidels)

His friends last saw him after the event ended at around 8 pm. Since then, his whereabouts remain unknown and both his cell phone numbers have remained switched off. Not hearing from Raza for 24-hours, worried friends contacted all his friends, his family and also his neighbors, but no one had any information about him. At his residence, they found his door locked from outside, but noticed that the light was still on in his room. “Upon breaking the lock in presence of police, we found his clothes lying around, but no valuable things were taken”.

raza-khan-fir.jpegThey went to the police station where his brother Hamid Nasir Mehmood filed a complaint about Raza Khan being abducted by unknown persons for unknown reasons. The complaint was submitted late in the evening. The police were initially reluctant to register the case, but finally registered an FIR (first information report) on the morning of Dec. 5.

“It is also pertinent to mention here that all events he held at Lowkey Lokai were public and open.  We consider it the state’s responsibility to recover him and bring those responsible to justice” says the online petition.

Complainants to the case are Raza’s brother Hamid Naseer, the Hum Sub Aik Hain Team, and the Peace Activists of Lahore. They have appealed to help “spread the news and share with international media to build pressure”.

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