Chomsky among speakers at discussion on “9/11” and aftermath: Impact on SouthAsia and SouthAsians

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Marking two decades of the September 2001 attacks on New York City, global thought leaders and activists from across South Asia and the diaspora will meet across time zones this Sunday to discuss the impact of ‚Äú9/11‚ÄĚ on the region and its people.

The online event also commemorates the global International Peace Day, September 21.

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Stand in solidarity with journalists

Journalists are under fire (literally) around the world, particularly in conflict zones like Afghanistan, where every day news comes in about journalists attacked, abducted, or killed. We stand with our colleagues as they fight the forces unleashed by decades of not only of deliberate fostering of extremist ideologies but also neglect in building systems and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, sharing a statement below signed by over 100 journalists around the world in support of colleagues in Pakistan. The signatories are Fellows at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University joining hands to condemn the April assassination attempt on journalist Absar Alam, a Nieman alumnus from the class of 2005.

The class of 1967 is represented by three Fellows, including Zawwar Hasan, 95, former sports reporter with APP and Dawn and oped writer with Morning News, Pakistan (he’s my mamoo and I’m grateful to him for prodding me to do this). Signatories include members of the recently graduating Nieman class of 2021, as well as three Nieman Foundation directors (oddly known as Curators).

Tweet from Nieman Foundation linked to report on website

Here’s the link to a piece I wrote soon after my own Nieman fellowship, published in Nieman Reports: Threats Come at Journalists in Pakistan From All Sides (2006). What has changed?

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has issued a statement hailing the Harvard-educated journalists’ concern.

Pakistan Press International, 27 July 2021

Statement and signatories’ list below:

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South Asian activists, academics, journalists urge Sri Lanka not to violate fundamental rights in the name of combating terror

 

SriLanka statement-Wire-collage

Top row (L-R): Sima Samar, Kanak Mani Dixit, Hamida Hossain. Bottom row (L-R): Uma Chakravarti, Shahidul Alam, Pamela Philipose, Beena Sarwar. Collage: TheWire.In

Thanks to friends who initiated this statement in solidarity with the artists, thinkers and people of Sri Lanka, that I have signed along with over 250 other activists, academics and journalists from across South Asia. Please feel free to endorse and share. Signatories include human rights activists from Afghanistan and Bangladesh, journalists from Nepal, Pakistan and India, and historians and feminists from India and Pakistan, among others who have been at the forefront of facing similar realities in their respective nation-states for decades. Full text below, updated from the version published earlier in TheWire.in.

 

May 2, 2019: Continue reading

Women’s cross-border solidarity

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 11.35.04 AMWrote a¬†short piece last night for the Women’s Regional Network, published on their original content blog.¬†Honoured to be in the company of women like Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal in India, Najla Ayoubi in Afghanistan and others Pakistan¬†taking on issues like how¬†Street Harrassment is Hurting Afghanistan’s Democracy and Development,¬†¬†Young Pakistani Women Recognized for their Achievements,¬†The Rise of Online Trolls in India,¬†Countering Violent Extremism and more.¬†My brief contribution¬†Borderless Issues: Mothers in Conflict¬†also¬†copied below:¬† Continue reading

World Polio Day, Oct 24: ‚ÄėAny number more than zero is too much‚Äô

A slightly revised version of my article in The News on Sunday on Oct. 23, 2016, posted here with additional links and photos. The world watches as the last three polio endemic countries strive to relegate the crippling virus to history

ramesh-ferris-minda-dentler

Polio survivors Ramesh Ferris and Minda Dentler share their experiences – and dreams about a polio-free world. Photos: Beena Sarwar

‚ÄúIn 1955 Dr Jonas Salk invented the preventive vaccine. It is outrageous that 25 years later I contracted polio,‚ÄĚ says author and global health advocate Ramesh Ferris.

Standing on his good leg, a crutch compensating for the paralysed one in braces, eyes gleaming behind black-rimmed glasses, Ferris passionately addresses the audience of about a hundred physicians, scientists and international diplomats. They include representatives from the world‚Äôs three remaining polio endemic countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Continue reading

Eradicating polio: one last push

jafarihamid20_db_photo_jpg_autocroppedMy oped for The News International, Pakistan, published March 29, 2016. 

Polio-free Pakistan: one last push

Beena Sarwar

“Not since the eradication of smallpox in 1980 has the world had a chance to wipe out an incurable, but preventable, human disease, “ says Dr Hamid Jafari, former director of the World Health Organization’s Global Polio Eradication Department. Continue reading

The ‘good’ Taliban strike again

Alamdar Road, Quetta: Shia Hazara protestors sitting with coffins in the freezing cold.

Alamdar Road, Quetta (file photo): Shia Hazara protestors with coffins of those killed in a 2012 attack sit in the freezing cold to demand government action. #NeverForget

Another attack at a Shia Imambargah in Peshawar. More loss of innocent lives as the “good” Taliban strike again. The Pakistan military machine goes after the “bad” ones, while those who kill Shias and Ahmadis are allowed to function as they further outdated foreign policy objectives re India / Kashmir and Afghanistan. (see¬†Pakistan Must Discard its ‘Good Taliban, Bad Taliban’ Narrative)

Pakistanis will keep protesting, the perpetrators will keep attacking. Continue reading

Rabid dogs and Shia killings

Omar Ali blog screengrabSharing here a screen grab from one of the most horrific videos of cold-blooded killings I’ve come across, that was posted by Dr. Omar Ali to his blog today. The incident probably took place about nine months ago, and those killed were probably Shia Hazaras; the video has been shared on facebook. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Omar Ali’s post:

It took a lot of work (partition, two nation theory,Punjab holocaust, madressas, CIA, ISI) to get to this level of cold blooded hatred. And of course, the roots go back much further, all the way into our species and its biological evolution (though like Ghataprabha, I too fantasize about the goodness of the folk versus the evil of the elite, but then..)…anyhow, whatever the cause, these particular dogs are now rabid. Continue reading

Music: Touching the soul, defying the Taliban

Asfand Yaar Mohmand performing - photo: Shiraz Hasan

Asfand and his Rubab!¬†This lovely, moving post by Shiraz Hasan reminded me of another moving documentary film I saw over a decade ago,¬†Amir: An Afghan Refugee Musician’s Life in Peshawar¬†by Dr.¬†John¬†Baily (1985). It is tragic how musicians have been pushed around, forced to flee the fighting during the Afghan war of the 1980s and now, persecuted and punished for their art by the ‘taliban’.

Asfand Yaar Mohmand, as Shiraz Hasan writes, comes from a family of labourers. They initially opposed his decision to become a musician but realising he would “not step back” have came around. “I love playing the Rubab, this is such a beautiful instrument. Its strings touch your soul, literally,‚ÄĚ says the 19-year old Afsand.

The only international organisation in the world advocating freedom of expression for musicians and composers is Freemuse, which I came across some months ago when¬†Salman Ahmad of Junoon introduced me to its founder Ole Reitov. In an subsequent email Ole wrote that his own “deep interest and dedication to this issue started in Lahore in 1980 when – invited by Raza Kazim – I recorded Iqbal Bano (in Kazim’s studio) and talked to her about the reasons why she stopped performing in public”.

Acid survivors fight back: a story of hope amidst despair

'Saving Face' co-directors, Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy: American-Pakistani cooperation wins

My report for IPS, featuring an interview with Dr Mohammad Jawad, published before ‘Saving Face’ premiered on HBO on March 8, International Womens Day

Acid survivors fight back: a story of hope amidst despair

Beena Sarwar

BOSTON, March 8:¬† When the Oscar-nominated film ‚ÄėSaving Face‚Äô won an Academy Award in Hollywood Best Documentary (Short Subject), it was the triumph of several ‚Äėfirsts‚Äô: the first time ever that a Pakistani filmmaker had won an Oscar; Pakistan‚Äôs first Oscar winner was a woman; and it was the first time that an American and a Pakistani had co-directed an Oscar-winning film. Continue reading

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