Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy among writers, artists urging Bangladesh #FreeShahidul

FreeShahidul

Academics, writers, artists and journalists around the world , including Noam Chomsky, Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Patrick Farrell, celebrated writers Arundhati Roy and Bapsi Sidhwa, artist and daughter of poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz Salima Hashmi, historian Ayesha Jalal, Urvashi Butalia, and others from Harvard to UC San Diego, have urged the Bangladesh government to free the detained photojournalist Shahidul Alam, picked up on 5 August — see statement and endorsements below. See also eminent photographer Raghu Rai’s powerful open letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. and the Change.org petition urging Dhaka police to drop charges and release him.

Shahidul Alam’s detention underlines the growing crackdown on dissenting voices in Bangladesh, in a pattern that is visible elsewhere too. The court denied him bail and gave the  police a seven-day remand. This was subsequently reduced and the court ordered that Shahidul be sent to a hospital and given an immediate medical exam and treatment. However, at the time of writing (Aug 7), he is still at the Detective Branch and has not been moved to hospital. (UPDATE Aug 8: He was moved to hospital amid tight security and a few medical tests conducted. His family was allowed to visit him before he was taken back to the DB Special Branch centre).
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Editorial: The Baloch Noam Chomsky Is Dead

Reproduced from the Baloch Hal website, which the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA ) has blocked in Pakistan

There is renewed anger across Balochistan over the dreadful assassination of one of the most popular icons of Balochi literature and civil society, Dr. Saba Dashtiyari. A professor of Islamic studies at the University of Balochistan, the fifty-eight-year old university educator was gunned down when he was taking a walk in Quetta on Wednesday night.

The fresh flow of disillusionment does not solely emanate from political circles. Over two decades, no student passed out of the province’s highest center for learning without noticing Professor Dashtiyari’s ubiquitous presence and acknowledging his commitment to liberalism. He did not have any children but he has left behind tens of thousands of UoB alumni, current students, faculty members and poets and writers across the province to mourn his killing. Continue reading

Days of Hope and Challenge: Understanding the Middle East and South/Central Asia

Noam Chomsky giving his talk at the event

Below, text of my talk at Boston University, April 14, 2011, organised by American Friends Service Committee, that United for Justice with Peace helped publicise, as a fundraiser for AFSC. (I didn’t read out the paper but it was useful to organise my thoughts; Chomsky focused on the Middle East)

Boston, April 14, 2011

Beena Sarwar

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Upcoming speaking engagements in the Boston area

Upcoming public events in the Boston area that I’m participating in:

Religion, Politics and the Rule of Law in South Asia”: Thursday, March 24, 2011 • 5:30 – 7:00 pm •  Carr Center Conference Room (Rubenstein Building, Floor 2, Room 219) • Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, MA

Noam Chomsky and Beena Sarwar: Days of Hope and Challenge: Thursday, April 14, 2011 • 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm • Boston University Law Auditorium • 767 Commonwealth Ave. • followed by reception at Sherman Union Backcourt • Boston

Boston Cares: April Social Cinema program: Screening of the documentary Bhutto (chronicling the life of Benazir Bhutto) • followed by discussion • Independent Lens series hosted in partnership with ITVS Community Cinema and City Year • Tuesday, April 19, 2011 • 6:00-8:00PM • Lavine Civic Forum in the City Year Headquarter building • 287 Columbus Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

Howard Zinn: from Pakistan with love and respect

The Zinn magic. Photo: Beena Sarwar

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of a cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness”

– Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn’s death on Jan 27 came as a shock to his friends and admirers around the world. The iconic historian, activist, and academic (Professor Emeritus, Boston University) was 87, frail, but in reasonable health. He had a heart attack while swimming, an activity he loved. As Arundhati Roy put it when she called his old friend David Barsamian of Alternative Radio: “Howard lived a glorious life and accomplished so much and to die swimming — what a way to go”.

Howard Zinn, Cambridge, Oct 2006 (photo: BJ Bullert)

David writes that Howard had rented a place with a swimming pool near the ocean for three weeks and “was thrilled to be escaping the dreaded Boston winter.”

A fluent Urdu/Hindi speaker, David sent this note to friends: “A light has gone out. There are new lights to be lit,” adding the following verse from Iqbal’s poetry:

Sitaron se aage jahan aur bhi hain
abhi ishq ke imtehan aur bhi
(Beyond these stars there are other galaxies
The real test of love is yet to come)

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