Stop Hazara killings #BostonWithHazara

#BostonWithHazara: Silent vigil at Copley Square in below freezing temperature. My mother Zakia Sarwar in the middle with her pink pom pom hat.


Even as media attention focused on the goings on at America’s capital where protestors shocked the world by storming the Capitol Building (nothing shocking for Pakistanis used to such attempts to subvert democracy) another drama — tragedy rather — unfolded in Quetta, Pakistan.

This too is not new. The target killings. The silent, and the not-so-silent protests. Standing in front of the Boston Public Library at Copley Square in the freezing cold, in solidarity with the Hazara protestors who are also out there in below freezing temperatures of Quetta

This time, Covid-19 forced the Boston demonstrators to wear masks and stand six feet apart.

Meanwhile, in Quetta, dozens of demonstrators are sitting it out as they have many times before for days at a time, round the clock, keeping vigil over the coffins of Hazaras killed in cold blood. Refusing to bury them until justice is assured. For the killers to be brought to book. That never happens, as signs in Boston carried by more than demonstrator proclaimed.

“3000+ ATTACKS

3000+ DEAD


The demonstrators in Quetta want Prime Minister Imran Khan go to Quetta to meet them before they’ll bury their dead. His speech terming their demand as “blackmail” catalysed activists in Quetta to go on hunger strike.

“IMRAN KHAN TAKE ACTION”  read one handmade placard in Boston.


“UN Wake Up”

While he was in opposition, before coming to power in 2018, Imran Khan was critical of incumbent prime ministers for not rushing to Quetta to offer condolences after attacks on the Hazara community. With hashtags like #PMShouldApologise trending, the Prime Minister late Friday agreed to the protestors’ demands, including going to Quetta. The martyrs’ committee has called off its six-day sit-in.

Hazaras in Pakistan, living mostly in the Quetta area, are ghettoised, abducted and murdered. In the most recent grisly target killing, 11 coal miners in Balochistan were dragged out of a bus and killed in cold blood.

What will a silent vigil in Boston accomplish?

“We just want to share their pain”, says Mehnaz who is there with three sisters and a brother, all students. They are from a Hazara family in Quetta that moved to the Boston area three years ago to escape persecution back home. They stand in a line, holding their placards. “We are far away but at least we can be together in solidarity”.

Darwesh sisters: “In solidarity from afar”. Photo: Beena Sarwar.

Not all the demonstrators are Hazara. Two young men, one Pakistani and one Asian-American, a real-estate broker and an accountant, also stand in solidarity. So does a young Egyptian.

In solidarity: Egyptian supporter

“Our participation in the upcoming silent protest is the bare minimum of what we can do for the Hazara community”, urged email by Nudrat Kazmi, one of the organisers, sent out the day earlier.

“Your presence can shed light onto a passerby, media and/or those in power who can continue this chain reaction of raising their voices to bring about positive change and justice”.

Photos by Beena Sarwar

Online petition: Stop The Shia Killings


“Another light has gone out in Pakistan”: the martyrdom of Dr Faisal Manzoor


Dr Faisal Manzoor“Another light has gone out in Pakistan.” Less than a week after advocate Rashid Rehman was killed in Multan, Dr Faisal Manzoor has been gunned down outside his hospital in Hasanabdal. Tragic beyond words. May his family and friends find the courage to bear the loss. May the security and political establishments find what it takes to find his killers, charge, try and punish them. This culture of impunity must end. Please read Dr Omar Ali’s blog post about his colleague Dr Rashid Manzoor, killed just two months after his cousin, also a doctor at the same hospital, was gunned down at the same spot — both killed only because they were Shia (The Martyrdom of Dr Faisal Manzoor). “They were not just Shia, they were prominent Shias. They were also prominent philanthropists, prominent doctors, prominent helpers of those in need, prominent hosts of distant cousins of friends of friends..and prominent friends of all and sundry. But being prominent Shia was what got them targeted…..and all the other prominences did not help one bit when the motorbike boys came looking for targets.”

 Also see my earlier piece – Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment martyrs’.

‘This is not about Shia or Sunni but barbarians hijacking our religion and our country’

Syed Shehroz Hussain (centre) holds a picture of his father, Dr Riaz Hussain Shah who was killed in Peshawar recently.

Syed Shehroz Hussain (centre) holds a picture of his father, Dr Riaz Hussain Shah who was killed in Peshawar recently.

Students and professionals in the Boston area organised a well-attended vigil on Friday evening in solidarity with Pakistan’s Shia Muslims and in protest against the ongoing target killings. A heavy snowstorm cleared up hours before the candlelight vigil at picturesque Copley Square in downtown Boston that some participants travelled for hours to attend. Continue reading

Campaign against VDay but not against LeJ

After the blast: Children's shoes and a doll on the blood-splattered road at Kirani Road, Quetta

After the blast: Children’s shoes and a doll on the blood-splattered road at Kirani Road, Quetta

The latest bomb blast in Quetta, again targeting Hazara Shia Muslims – over 800 kg of explosives packed in a water tanker – has killed over 70 people so far including women and children. The casualties have been mounting, with over 150 injured. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) has again claimed responsibility, barely a month after the blast at Alamdar Road that claimed over 118 lives, including that of our activist friend Irfan Ali, and the unprecedented ‘coffin protest‘ that led to Governor’s Rule in Balochistan.

Let's campaign against love, let hate flourish

Let’s campaign against love, let hate flourish

The hyper nationalist defenders of Pakistan’s ‘ideology’ can campaign against Valentines Day. Even Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, PEMRA, falls in line, dutifully issuing a letter warning TV channels not to promote Valentine’s Day, as it may “injure” the “morality” of our youth (reproduced below). They can instigate campaigns promoting false accusations of blasphemy, spreading confusion and endangering lives. But catch them saying a word against the ongoing target killing of Shia Muslims –  Continue reading

Finally. Victims of Quetta blasts laid to rest.

From @ChaiSabz (Hadi Zaher), 5.55pm Pakistan time: 'Victims of Quetta blasts laid to rest. @KhudiAli among them: "Peace we love". #WEAllAreHazara #RIPKhudiAli'

From @ChaiSabz (Hadi Zaher), 5.55pm Pakistan time: ‘Victims of Quetta blasts laid to rest. @KhudiAli among them: “Peace we love”. #WEAllAreHazara #RIPKhudiAli’

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