Returning inadvertent border-crossers and more: Glimpses of humanity

fauzia-ansari-and-nehal-ansari-parents-of-hamidLast week I wrote this short piece below for Aman ki Asha (hope for peace) after the Indian border security forces returned a young, inadvertent border-crosser to Pakistan. Today, there’s news that the Pakistan government will allow the wife of the Indian national and alleged spy Kulbushan Yadav to meet him “on humanitarian grounds”.

This raises hopes that the parents of another Indian prisoner Hamid Ansari will finally also be allowed to meet him. In fact, as the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy has said, the families of all cross-border prisoners should be given access to their loved ones in prison across the border.  Continue reading

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Relief at Zeenat Shehzadi’s recovery

Zeenat-%22Quaid and daughter of Quaid%22 2014I wrote this piece for The Wire on Oct. 24, after hearing that the young journalist-activist Zeenat Shehzadi who “disappeared” over two years ago, has been recovered. A brief re-cap of what happened and how her case is linked to that of a young Indian man whose case she had been following after his “disappearance” in Pakistan. 

Pakistani Reporter Zeenat Shahzadi, Who Disappeared While Searching for Indian Man, Reappears

The Pakistani journalist-activist – who had gone missing in August 2015 – has paid a heavy price for wanting to uphold humanitarianism and the principles of social justice.

Five days before she was due to testify before Pakistan’s Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances in August 2015, 24-year-old journalist-activist Zeenat Shahzadi herself became a disappeared person. She remained missing until her parents received word on Friday – October 19, 2017 – that she had been recovered.

Shahzadi’s mother has spoken to her and reported that she was alright. The family would like to be left alone and not pressed for more details.   [Read more…]

India/Pakistan upcoming peace events August 3-9, 2017

Haroon Khalid, author of Walking with Nanak, will participate in a live Youtube discussion on Monday, 7 August.

As Pakistan and India commemorate 70 years of their existence as independent nation states, what is striking is the people’s desire for peace and how those who govern them continue to thwart these aspirations. As media highlight the tensions what goes largely unreported is people on the ground continuing their efforts to push for peace. Below: a few on-the-ground upcoming happenings I compiled that seek to further understanding between the two nations. At the very least, they are all expressions of the desire for normal relations. Continue reading

Why #NotInMyName protests against vigilante violence, mob lynchings in India resonate elsewhere too

My piece published in The Wire today. Also posted below.

Not in my name-Orijit Sen

Image by graphic artist Orijit Sen.

Catalysed by the mob murder of a teenager in India on June 24, followed by a Facebook post on June 24 by filmmaker Saba Dewan, a #NotInMyName campaign is taking off across India with simultaneous protests in several cities on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, against the ongoing mob lynchings and vigilante violence targeting Muslims and Dalits. Continue reading

The importance of representation: “Put us in the news!”

Morse School students use ribbons to express their support for immigrant families.

I wrote this piece after a discussion with fourth and fifth graders at a public school in Cambridge MA; slightly different versions published in the Cambridge Chronicle and The News on Sunday. The students’ desire to be “in the news” reflects what I believe is one of journalism’s key roles – to ensure that the voices of the under-represented get heard. The selfie-culture sweeping the world isn’t just about narcissism. It speaks to the human need to be affirmed and remembered. I was here. See me. Hear me. 

PERSONAL POLITICAL

By Beena Sarwar

“Did you see our ribbons? They are for immigrant families,” says Emma, one of half a dozen 9 and 10-year olds I’m talking to about journalism on a bitterly cold weekend in March.

Continue reading

Recover Disappeared Activists

It is now more than three weeks since the professor, poet and activist Salman Haider was ‘disappeared’ from Islamabad. Shortly afterwards, more social media activists were picked up. By whom and why? Questions beg answers. Please sign the statement urging their safe return.

***PLEASE SIGN THIS STATEMENT HERE.***

recover-activists

Famed Pakistani Poet, Academic, and Left Activist Disappeared

Critical Activists Disappeared

#RecoverSalmanHaider | #RecoverAllActivists

Famed Pakistani poet, academic, and Left activist Salman Haider has gone missing since last Friday. As of now, we have little credible information but we believe that Salman was abducted due to his political views and writings. Salman has been a staunch champion of the oppressed and working class peoples of Pakistan, and uses his witty prose and incisive verses to challenge and mock all forms of oppression in Pakistan.

He is not alone. Within hours of his abduction, news of other activists disappearing has emerged–Waqas Goraya, Aasim Saeed, and Ahmed Raza Naseer have gone missing.

We demand that the Pakistani state apparatus–its military, intelligence agencies, and civilian institutions–act promptly to ensure the safe recovery of all activists.

We call on scholars, playwrights, poets, writers, activists, artists from around…

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The importance of history and being human

With rising racial tensions in the USA exacerbated by bigots like Trump and easy availability of weapons, I wanted to share my friend Jaspal Singh’s recent ‘Reflections’ that he emailed to a few friends from his base in Cambridge MA (visuals added). Also see this post by Partha Banerjee, an activist friend in New York City, on the racism of South Asians (he talks about Indians but it applies equally to others in the region) and the need to contexualise injustice and violence and demand “justice for all the sufferers” and “punishment for all the criminals”.

Andover PD-Jul 8-2016

#Edhism #BlackLivesMatter #Kashmir #Police We could all use a bit more humanity. A powerful little story shared on Facebook by the Andover Police Department about what happens when we see each other as human beings first.

REFLECTIONS

July 10,2016

By Jaspal Singh

A wave of protests against police brutality has engulfed the US. Thousands of people have come out in the streets against the killing of black men by police in several cities. In Dallas Texas, a sniper killed five police officers.People are demanding that these police officers who are killing black men with impunity , be brought to justice and be punished. The Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted the plight of the black people in the US.They can be killed by the law enforcement officers without any accountability as black lives are not considered to have any value. Every year hundreds of black men are killed in police shootings and nothing comes out of it, no police officer is punished. People are incensed against this kind of impunity. Continue reading

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