In Cambridge MA, where BLM protestors have been demonstrating since the 2020 police killing of George Floyd, more protests over police shooting of a Bangladeshi student

Police shootings in the USA claim over a thousand lives a year, with many going unreported, and 2021, the year after George Floyd’s murder, recorded as one of the deadliest years on record. A disproportionate number of those killed in such incidents are persons of colour.

The summer of 2020 saw massive Black Lives Matter protests across the USA. Although these protests have largely died down, a small group has continued to demonstrate in Cambridge MA, standing at the corner of Prospect and Broadway streets every Friday afternoon. No media outlet has picked up the story of these peaceful demonstrators holding up BLM signs, including: ‘All lives matter but not all lives are threatened with racist violence’.

In Spring 2022, one of my students at Emerson College did a video report on these Stand-outers as they call themselves. It includes comments from two of the group’s members, retired pediatrician Dr. Alan Meyers and history professor Dr. Tom Johnson (erroneously mentioned as Robinson in the video) on why they continue demonstrating. Report below, shared with the student’s permission:

Continue reading

Opinion / India: A tale of two pardons

The latest Sapan News syndicated feature, by Ramon Magsaysay awardee Dr Sandeep Pandey on the difference between the release of convicts in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case and those convicted in the Bilkis Bano case. He argues that the premature release of one set of convicts cannot be used to justify another — one was set free by the courts, while administrative decree was behind the other. One poses no threat to the victim’s family, while the other has sent witnesses into hiding.

Read more at Sapan News Network.

Available for use with credit to Sapan News Network.

Asma Jahangir Conference; Pakistan-India cross-border collaborative reporting; a cautionary tale from Sri Lanka; and a Bhutan peace initiative – Sapan News Network

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, late Asma Jahangir, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Manzoor Pashteen: Collage by The Friday Times/Naya Daur

Sharing four recent offerings from Sapan News Network – the most recent one in full below, pegged on the Fourth Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore, on the ‘ ‘Crisis of Constitutionalism in South Asia’, that I’m thrilled to have co-authored by aspiring young journalist Abdullah Zahid, published in The Friday Times/Naya Daur, South Asia Monitor and other media outlets. Plus three other recent syndicated features:

A teach-in on Sri Lanka’s ongoing crisis, with eminent thought leaders Amita Arudpragasam, Nalaka Gunawardene, Marlon Ariyasinghe, Rehana Thowfeek.
East-West Centre Fellows and alumni from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka converge in Kathmandu – Photo: courtesy Lubna J. Naqvi
Continue reading

India-Pakistan @ 75 and graphic images from Ukraine: Two articles and some context

Sharing two recent pieces, this time not part of the Sapan News Network syndicate. One commissioned by The Wire, and the by The Conversation.

Below – some context and what the editors wanted.

The “piano man,” a war refugee, became one of the symbols of resistance emerging from conflict. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images, Lviv, Ukraine, March 29, 2022.
Continue reading

Need to promptly repatriate cross-border prisoners, especially if they die…

Over 30 organizations around Southasia and beyond have endorsed a joint statement about cross-border prisoners initiated and coordinated by Sapan, the Southasia Peace Action Network, calling for the humane treatment of cross-border prisoners and to decriminalise inadvertent illegal border crossings.

Titled ‘Release prisoners on completion of jail term, decriminalise inadvertent border crossings, especially for fisherfolk and minors‘, the statement draws attention to the death of two Indian fisherfolk in Pakistani custody this year, and the death of a Pakistani fisherman of Bengali origin in India’s custody last year.

All three had served their sentences but remained in custody on ‘the other side’. Compounding the tragedy, there are terrible delays in the repatriation of the bodies of such fisherfolk, notes the statement.

The statement also draws attention to some teenagers who remain incarcerated in juvenile centers in India, mostly without any contact with their families. One has already served his sentence but remains incarcerated. Details below – Statement text and endorsements:

Arrested fisherfolk in custody across the border, far from home, no consular access until after sentence is over, often kept in custody even after serving their sentences. File photo. Getty images
Continue reading

May Day and Eid greetings: Solidarity with workers around the world and Southasia

It was activist friend Kavita Srivastava in Jaipur who suggested focusing on ‘Labour Rights and Democracy’ for our April event ahead of May Day. Like all Sapan events since launch in March 2022 – the Southasia Peace Action Network – this was also on the last Sunday of the month.

As usual, we live-streamed the discussion on FB – video at this link. We truly appreciate all the ‘likes’, comments and shares that help ensure that our voices are heard amidst the din.

Thanks to old friend and talented musician Arieb Azhar in Islamabad for agreeing to sing at the last minute. Dhonobad Khushi Kabir in Dhaka for transliterating the first verse of the workers’ anthem, The Internationale in Bangla for him. She knows them all by heart. Arieb also sang some of his own verses in Urdu, reflecting contemporary realities. He’s doing an English translation to add. Here’s the clip – thanks Priyanka Singh in Delhi for uploading it so fast.

Priyanka has a great affinity for music and poetry – she was reciting a poem at the online PIPFPD event in January 2021 where I first ‘met’ her. Not surprised she also took time out to post the extempore song by young Lucky Akter in Dhaka ended her presentation with. A former former student activist working with Bangladesh’s oldest and largest peasant organisation, Lucky’s stirring call for rights is lovely even if you don’t understand Bangla.

Continue reading

Wanted: Adult behaviour in SouthAsia

The last Sapan – South Asia Peace Action Network – event of the year was titled “Growing up, growing together” with activists across the region resolving to continue working for a better tomorrow. It was wonderful to hear so many young people speak – most under 35 years old. Thanks to all those who worked so hard to make the event a success – including the poetry and music at the end. Sapan’s next monthly event on the last Sunday of January will have more music and culture.

The Facebook Live recording of the recent meeting is available at this link – video log online at this link. Here’s a feature report about the event.

Commemorating Human Rights Day, the founding of SAARC, and 50 years of Bangladesh’s independence, Sapan discussion highlights the commonality of human rights issues across the region

Some of the participants at the event – most speakers were under 35-years old. Screenshot.
Continue reading

“We will fight, we will win”

The spirit of South Asia and the power of the four-letter word love

Commemorating 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, remembering Kamla Bhasin

By Beena Sarwar

The annual international 16 Days of Activism against gender violence takes place this year without the pioneering feminist and poet Kamla Bhasin, even as her songs and poetry enliven events during this period and beyond.

Kamla Bhasin. Radical love. Photo: Kashif Saeed

The 16 Days are observed annually starting 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. They end 10 December, with international Human Rights Day. These are integrated issues that Kamla fought for all her life. And she did this with love, joy, music, poetry and compassion.

As she famously said, “I am a feminist, and I do not hate men. I am a feminist and I do not hate women who are not feminists. I am a feminist – and I laugh.”

Continue reading

A South Asia women and peace weekend

Thrilled and honoured to be part of two peace building events with some awesome women this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Tune in.

Continue reading

Commemorating ‘the second 9/11’ and the way ahead

The United States and India should join with other regional powers to deal with the Taliban and help the Afghan people – Noam Chomsky

BOSTON, 27 September: Prominent academic Noam Chomsky has urged the United States and India to engage with the Taliban, work towards overcoming differences with other regional powers, and help the Afghan people rather than blocking ”the best of the options that are available”.

He was speaking last Sunday at the tail end of a webinar titled “20 Years After 9/11: Impact on South Asia and South Asians” organised by the recently launched South Asia Peace Action Network, Sapan. Speakers shared stories of hope and inspiration, besides those of distress and challenges.

Noam Chomsky: Put the Afghan people first. Screenshot from Sapan webinar, 26 September 2021.
Continue reading
%d bloggers like this: