Behind criminal acts motivated by religion, bigotry, misogyny, lies fear of change

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Gauri Lankesh, Sabeen Mahmud.

My piece for The Wire on the assassination of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, that reminded me of the target-killing of my friend, activist Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi. I traced the patterns and similarity behind these murders.

A spoke in the wheel of this “intellecticide” is the ‘anti-intellectual’ nature of the vote for Donald Trump who shares a host of similarities with Modi in India despite differences. The rise of white supremacy in a nation of migrants built after virtually annihilating indigenous populations is a continuation of ongoing racism in the US.

The pendulum swings of history ushers in periods of the rise of the ‘Right’ or the ‘Left’. We are witnessing the rise of the militant Right at this moment with its ensuing bloodshed in India, Pakistan, the US and elsewhere.

But what will continue to rise inexorably, despite bloodshed along the way, are human aspirations to basic rights, equality and justice. There is no going back, no matter how fiercely the chaddis, topis or kluxies fight it.

Read more: In Life, and in Death, Gauri Lankesh and Sabeen Mahmud Battled Powers Fearful of Change

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Protest at Harvard Square: Commemorating Gauri Lankesh’s murder and ongoing Rohingya massacre. Photo: Beena Sarwar

 

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Call me unpatriotic, or even a traitor…

Respect to and solidarity with those who refuse to fall in line with the oppressive narratives peddled by hyper nationalists and security establishments. Sharing a post here by senior journalist Saleem Asmi, former Editor of Dawn and a dear friend of my late father:

Call me unpatriotic, even a traitor if you like, but I must say this straight, without mincing words that we have no right, absolutely no right at all, to condemn what the Indian occupation troops are doing in Kashmir, as long as we are ourselves guilty of committing the same, even worse, crimes in Balochistan. Now look at this: 1) The Indian army has invaded and occupied Kashmir, 2) They brutally oppress the Kashmiri people, and call the freedom fighters ‘terrorists’, 3) We invaded and occupied Balochistan in 1948, 4) We brutally oppress the Baloch people, and call the freedom fighters ‘terrorists’. If anything, we surpass the Indians in kidnapping young Baloch by their thousands without trace. Then their brutally tortured bodies appear under flyovers, by the roads, anywhere.

Also see – by Hasan Raza in Pakistan: Kashmiris continue to be the biggest victims of the Indo-Pak tussle for Kashmir – and Nirupama Subramanian in India: Face the disillusion

 

Sabeen Mahmud: Inclusive spaces and #tree4Sabeen

In Karachi last week, I wrote about Sabeen Mahmud and the Creative Karachi Festival held to commemorate her life and work. PRI published it with the title Remembering a Pakistani woman who died because she wanted everyone to have a space to speak freely along with my radio interview with Marco Werman of PRI’s The World. Below is the unabridged text including with more links and photos. Also see our friend Afia Salam’s tribute to Sabeen in The Wire, Why Sabeen Mahmud Will Always Matter.

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A poster with Sabeen’s photo at CKF 2016 on a divider between a stall and walkway at the Alliance Francaise. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Beena Sarwar

Early on Sunday morning in Karachi, a small, eclectic crowd converged at The Second Floor, the iconic coffee shop-cultural hub founded by my young friend Sabeen Mahmud in 2007.  Continue reading

‘An honest Pakistan is a better Pakistan’: the ‘unsilencing’ idea and the ongoing intellecticide

Citizens in Lahore at a #Rally4Sabeen. Photo: Farooq Tariq

Citizens in Lahore at a #Rally4Sabeen. Photo: Farooq Tariq

I wrote this piece last week for EPW – Economic and Political Weekly, India; reproduced below with photos and additional links.

“Unsilencing Pakistan” was an idea first articulated in 2011. It has been revived following the recent murder of Sabeen Mahmud, who had attempted to create a space where Pakistanis could discuss contentious issues–like the human rights violations in Balochistan–without fear. Can Pakistan’s intellectuals and human rights activists survive the “intellecticide” being perpetrated?

By Beena Sarwar

When the prestigious Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) announced that it was organising a seminar titled “Un-Silencing Balochistan” on 9 April 2015, it reminded me of the “Unsilencing Pakistan” initiative of the summer of 2011. Continue reading

Pakistan: Protest curbs on academic freedom, freedom of expression and public debate

Censored- unsilencing balochistanSTATEMENT OF CONCERNED FACULTY MEMBERS AND STUDENTS OF LUMS REGARDING THE DECISION TO CANCEL THE TALK ON BALOCHISTAN IN KARACHI UNIVERSITY SCHEDULED TO BE HELD WEDNESDAY 6 MAY, 2015:

We, concerned students, alumni and faculty members of LUMS, deeply deplore the decision by the Karachi University administration to cancel the talk on Balochistan titled “Baloch Missing Persons and The Role of State and Society”, planned tomorrow Wednesday 6 May 2015 at Karachi University. This decision comes on the heels of the cancellation of the LUMS roundtable on “Un-Silencing Balochistan”, scheduled to be held on 9 April, and the tragic killing of Ms. Sabeen Mahmud, director of the café T2F in Karachi, right after a debate on the very same issue on 24 April on the premises of T2F. Continue reading

Balochistan discussion at LUMS cancelled under pressure from ‘angels’

Censored- unsilencing balochistanJust got this press release that was read out to the LUMS student body earlier today (UPDATE: online petition at this link To the Prime Minister of Pakistan: Prevent Agencies from interfering in academic institutions; Also see this Storify by iFaqeer)

RE-SILENCING BALOCHISTAN?

Today, a roundtable on “Unsilencing Balochistan” to be held on Thursday 9 April at LUMS was cancelled due to state intervention.

The event was an academic event, gathering academics and activists involved in, or concerned by the situation in Balochistan. The guests were I. A. Rehman, director, HRCP; Aasim Sajjad, Professor, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad; Sajjad Changezi, Activist, Alif Ailaan; Mohammed Ali Talpur, Columnist; Mama Qadeer, President VMPB; Farzana Majeed, General Secretary VMPB (Voice of Missing Persons Balochistan). Continue reading

Mastung blast survivors still need our help

Nasrin Fatima (centre) lost her only daughter, Sadaf, 20. She had badly fractured feet, and still needs skin draft operations. Pictured here, April 2014, with the volunteers.

Nasrin Fatima (centre) lost her only daughter, Sadaf, 20. She had badly fractured feet, and still needs skin draft operations. Pictured here, April 2014, with the volunteers.

On January 21, 2014, a bomb blast targeted a bus full of Shia pilgrims returning from Iraq and Iran near the border town of Mastung in Pakistan, killing more than half of the 51 passengers. The 22 survivors include their children, spouses, parents, sisters and brothers. The Balochistan provincial government sent some survivors to the Agha Khan Hospital (AKUH) in Karachi for treatment. There, among many Karachiites who came forward to help them, a group of youngsters have stuck to the task of helping to rehabilitate them in the long term regardless of religious affiliations. Continue reading

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