Don’t snuff out the lights

The horrific murder of a journalism student lynched on a university campus in Mardan on April 13 after being accused of ‘blasphemy’, 2017 has revived the urgency of coming together on a joint platform with a minimum common agenda to uphold humanitarian values. Nothing will bring back Mashal Khan, a poet, self-declared humanist and “voice of the voiceless”, but we can at least try to ensure that no other mother loses her Mashal (light) to such barbaric ignorance and orchestrated violence.

We drafted this statement a few months after the massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar, signed by over a hundred activists, teachers, lawyers and other professionals as well as students in March 2015: Pakistanis against terrorism: Minimum common agenda against violence in the name of religion – below. Does it need to be amended or updated?  Continue reading

Protests against Police Brutality in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore

Call for Protest Rally against the brutal attack on Nairang Gallery, Lahore  and its curator and staff by SHO Shadman Police Station Rana Zulfiqar – Please also see facebook event THREE Protests against Police Brutality in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore  

Artists, art critics and gallerists and civil society members will demonstrate in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad on August 13, 2011 (details below) to show solidarity with Nairang Gallery, Lahore, which was attacked on August 2, 2011 and register their protest against the reprehensible behavior of the police. They will demand a public apology by SHO Rana Zulfiqar and his dismissal from the police force for beating the curator and staff of Nairang Gallery. All concerned citizens must unite to stop police violence against citizens. Continue reading

Vigilante violence in Pakistan isn’t new. Remember the attack on Colin David’s house?

The policeman who physically assaulted the curator of Nairang Art Gallery in Lahore was following a long and dishonourable tradition of attacks on artists and art galleries in Pakistan. The incident reminded me of the attack on the private exhibition at Colin David’s house in Lahore, 1990, that I wrote about at the time (‘Assault on Art: Back to Square One’, The Frontier Post, June 1, 1990). I can’t find an online link to that, but below is an article I wrote later for a special edition honouring Colin David in Dawn, March 8, 2008 Unwilling symbol of an ongoing clash (text & Feica’s illustration of earlier article below; See also artist and art critic Quddus Mirza’s article about the late painter in the same edition here). Continue reading

Phenomenal response to the CFD mass letter campaign

KARACHI, March 12: Thousands of people from all walks of life joined hands with Citizens for Democracy (CFD), by participating and signing letters in the interfaith harmony drive “Silence Means More Blood” launched by CFD on Saturday, March 12, 2011. Karachiites signed some 15,000 letters that will be sent to the President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice and all the Chief Ministers.

CFD activists explain the letter to Karachi citizens. Photos: K.B. Abro

A view of CFD's day-long stall in Karachi. Photo: K.B. Abro

“The response was phenomenal,” says CFD activist and journalist Farieha Aziz. “All four of our letter boxes were full even before the end of the day. We were able to engage with our fellow citizens from all walks of life – from professionals from different fields to labourers, rikshaw drivers and rehri walas. Everyone was asked to read the letter or it was read out to them, or they were told the gist of it before they signed. The energy and commitment of CFD members was amazing. They were out on the road stopping cars, talking to passers by, even in buses when they stopped, drawing people to the camp.”

 

Sabeen Mahmud writes that her mother and the writer Attiya Dawood went to the mandir nearby. “Very politically engaged group. Brought back 20 sigs.” Also see this moving video Sabeen made of the event, set to Habib Jalib’s poetry.

The campaign is ongoing. More details, and photos, at the CFD blog

Mass letter signing campaign TODAY, Sat. March 12, 2011, 11am-7pm

Say No to Violence & to a Denial of our Civil Rights

Join CFD’s mass letter-writing campaign, for which people are gathering to add their signatures on letters addressed to the President of Pakistan, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Chief Ministers of all four provinces. “We are demanding from those in positions of power to take appropriate actions to reverse the erosion of our civil and human rights and to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour. Please join us in a mass letter campaign – we are your peaceful fellow citizens, struggling to survive with dignity, and yet trying to preserve our inalienable democratic rights. The purpose of this campaign is to allow all citizens to speak out in support of inter-faith harmony and to resist a growing climate of religious intolerance in Pakistan,” says a press release.

Support Citizens for Democracy, 11 am to 7pm  TODAY (Saturday, March 12, 2011) at Jahangir Kothari Parade (opposite Park Towers), Clifton, Karachi. Bring postage stamps and friends


Protest: Shahbaz Bhatti murder, vigilante action, incitements to violence

Open letter to The President, Prime Minister, Interior Minister, Chief Justice, and heads of all political parties, Pakistan

Protest & demand for action regarding Shahbaz Bhatti murder, vigilantism, and incitements to violence in Pakistan – signature campaign initiated by Citizens for Democracy. Deadline for endorsements: Monday March 7, midnight Pakistan time, after which signatures will be compiled and sent to the recipients and to media. Endorsements can be made at the CFD blog, or via email to cfd.pak@gmail.com. Please share with friends. If anyone wants to translate it and circulate, please feel free. Thanks.
Blog: citizensfordemocracy.wordpress.com | Twitter @cfdpk | Text also posted below Continue reading

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