FAIZ AHMAD FAIZ Centenary Celebration 2011
SATURDAY JULY 16th, 2011
1590 Oakland Road, Suite B213
San Jose, CA 95131

DEAR HEART (Staged reading)
A Short Play
By Sam Litham & Munib Anwar
Stage Adaption by Saqib Mausoof
Jessica Risco as Alys
Kashif Maqsood as Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Produced by:
Ijaz Syed
Presented by:
Faiz Centenary Celebrations Committee

FAIZ was one of the most acclaimed poets of South Asia, born in Sialkot, Pakistan, writing in Urdu & Punjabi. He allied his poetry and person not only with the aspirations of Pakistanis but also with the international movement for peace and human rights. He was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

FAIZ’s outspoken condemnation of injustice and inequality led to the charges of high treason and was imprisoned. A romantic revolutionary poet kept writing, conventional theme of love & beauty submerged in larger social & political issues, Dast-e-Saba & Zindan Nama, two collections of modernist poetry blended with classical Urdu & Farsi tradition.

He was friends with Nazim Hikmet and Pablo Neruda, the Nobel Laureate.

FAIZ’s poetry is a message of hope for the people longing for peace and freedom, a source of inspiration for those seeking to build a just society.

ABID MINTO is currently the elected President of National Workers Party (NWP) of Pakistan, Abid Hassan Minto Minto (born 3rd February 1932, Rawalpindi, Pakistan) is a constitutional expert and senior lawyer of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He is also a literary critic and a leftwing civic and political leader. His legal career spans over 50 years during which he was elected member of the Pakistan Bar Council from 1966 up to 1983; President, Lahore High Court Bar Association (1982); Chairman, National Coordination Committee of Lawyers (1981 to 1985) and President, Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBA) (1997 to 1999).

Minto became a member of The Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) in 1949 and remained with it until it was banned in 1954 after the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case along with the Democratic Students Federation (DSF) which was also co-founded by Minto in 1949 while at Gordon College.

For More Information:
Home: 408-629-5157
E-Mail: syedi@sbcglobal.net
E-Fax : (413) 604-2161

Download PDF Poster.




We will be delivering letter to the consul and petition signatures collected from rally yesterday

WHEN: Monday 4 July 2011 – 12 noon
WHERE: Greek Consulate
688 W Hastings (near Granville)
Vancouver, BC V6B 1P1
Greek Consulate: (604) 681-1381

The blockade of the Freedom Flotilla II continues

We continue our resolve to break the blockade of the flotilla and Gaza non-violently!


The “Tahrir” is still blocked by Greek authorities from leaving port although all papers are in order. You can see the action on the ground here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=375t8FQFxhE

The delegates from the U.S. boat have now started an open-ended fast at U.S. Embassy in Athens.

A march in support of the flotilla has been organized by Greek activists who have been protesting the government’s austerity measures in Syntagma Square. The march will include a demand on the Greek government to let all of the boats in the Freedom Flotilla 2 sail to Gaza and to free the captain of the U.S. ship, who has been held in jail.

This all suggests that the flotilla continues under a blockade and that we must continue and strengthen our actions.

Our message to the Greek government

– The Greek government needs to know that world public opinion does not want them to succumb to Israel’s coercion. Tell the Greek government they must let the Tahrir go on our mission to break the illegal blockade of Gaza. They have a responsibility to allow this, in both domestic and international law.

· We will work to end the blockade no matter where it is enforced – be it in Gaza, in International waters or in Greece.

· The “Tahrir” and the whole of the Freedom Flotilla 2 is already making a difference in weakening the Blockade. We shall continue to break the blockade totally.

· We have broadened support for the Flotilla globally. Greek civil society, even with all the challenges they are facing have committed to supporting the Flotilla and holding the Greek government accountable for their actions.

· We shall continue educating and bringing people to action and knowledge about the illegal actions of Israel. We expect the Greek government to do the same.

· We shall continue bringing loudly to the world the truth of the experience and realities of the people of Gaza and Palestine. We expect the Greek government to do the same.

· We demand that the Greek Government let all our boats sail to Gaza.

· We will demand that the Canadian government and all other governments stand on the side of human rights and international law by putting pressure on the Greek government.

· We expect the Greek authorities to “STAY HUMAN”, as the name of our flotilla calls for.

Further contact info for the Greek Embassy (you can phone in):
Greek Embassy, OTTAWA http://www.greekembassy.ca
76- 80 Maclaren Street
Ottawa, ON
Canada K2P OK6
Tel: (613) 238-6271(3)
Fax: (613) 238-5676
Press Office: (613) 232-6796
Email: embassy@.greekembassy.ca


*Please circulate widely*

Peace Picnic to Support the Canadian Boat to Gaza

Wednesday July 6, 11:30am – 1:30pm

As you may well know the people of Gaza are currently under siege by an Israeli blockade which makes their daily survival very difficult. A number of courageous people from around the world- as part of the Freedom Flotilla II stay human campaign- have put themselves on the line in an attempt to break this blockade and deliver much needed supplies to Gaza.

Their mission is both humanitarian and political. The Israeli blockade amounts to a collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.5 million population. The Canadian Boat to Gaza is currently in Greece and is being held up by Greek authorities. The US boat to Gaza is also being held up and the Captain has been arrested for attempting to set sail.

The crews of the Freedom Flotilla II campaign are committed to non-violently confront the blockade and to continue to work to see its end! In support of these brave people and on behalf of all the men, women and children of Gaza let us gather and show our support for their courage.

PEACE PICNIC! Bring some food to share! Bring an instument to play! Or just come and show your support! (If you make your own signs please keep the focus on Support for the Canadian boat to Gaza, free Gaza or Support for the Freedom Flotilla II)

When: Wednesday July 6th at 11:30am – 1:30pm

Where: Seaforth Peace Flame Park (South end of the Burrard Street Bridge)

Not only is the Israeli blockade cruel it is also illegal. For more info visit www.tahrir.ca

URGENT: Vancouver RALLY Sat 2PM – Gaza Flotilla Boats stopped in Greece

URGENT: Call to a RALLY in Vancouver
Authorities in Greece have stopped flotilla boats from sailing

Greek and Canadian governments complicit in Gaza blockade
Stop War: stopwar-l@lists.resist.ca

You might have already heard the news coming from Greece that the Tahrir together with the US ship have been prevented from leaving the Greek port and that one Canadian has been threatened with being arrested. You can see our press release below.

Rallies are being organized across Canada to protest against the actions of the Greek government that is obviously giving in to Israel’s pressure. Of course the Canadian government is complicit by not guaranteeing the safety of Canadians.

The date for the rally:
Saturday July 2
2 pm
In front of the CBC at Georgia and Hamilton

Other suggested actions include:

Write to our MPs. The Canadian Government needs to know that they are complicit in the coercion. And that they have a responsibility by international convention, to protect the Canadians on the Flotilla. We have a letter template for you to use to send to MPs reminding them that the Canadian government has obligations under the Geneva Convention.

Write to Greek officials. Greek government officials are to be asked to clarify whether a political decision has been made by the Greek government in response to Israeli and other governments’ pressure. We will ask that they not be complicit in the massive human rights violations by Israel against the people of Gaza. We will ask them to defend human rights and not fall to the pressure of Israel and other governments – who are playing with the lives and livelihoods of Greeks and Palestinians.


For Immediate Release
July 1, 2011
The blockade of Gaza reaches the shores of Greece!As it attempts to sail, the Canadian Boat to Gaza, the Tahrir, blockaded in Greece

Greek coast guard are now on board the Tahrir attempting to arrest Sandra Rush, Jewish Canadian member of the Canada boat to Gaza Steering Committee, who is refusing to surrender boat’s registration papers.

Efforts to stop Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human from sailing have included diplomatic pressure and manipulation, economic blackmail, bureaucratic obstacles, baseless and slanderous allegations against the flotilla and the delegates, and sabotage of at least two vessels.

“The world watched as an intensive campaign to prevent the Tahrir and the entire Freedom flotilla II from sailing was underway. We have been unjustly and duplicitously treated.” said Irene MacInnes of the Tahrir organizing committee. “The government of Israel, shamefully with the tacit support of the Harper government, is doing everything in its power to maintain the blockade. Today, as a result of the concerted efforts of the 4th largest military power in the world and its backers, we have been prevented from sailing to Gaza. Yet we will persevere in our attempts till the blockade is lifted.”

“Israel has in effect extended the illegal blockade of Gaza to Greek ports, using the Greece’s economic difficulties to influence the government’s position”, said David Heap of the organizing committee.

“We remain absolutely clear that the Canadian Boat to Gaza has not been, is not, and has no intention of, breaking any laws. It is the blockade of Gaza that is illegal under international law. We have a legal and moral obligation to challenge the blockade, given the failure of the international community to act”, said Dylan Penner of the organizing committee. “This is why we must continue our attempts to sail to Gaza: to challenge the illegal and immoral blockade and to equally challenge the Canadian federal government’s support for it.”

Meanwhile the US boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, is at a standoff with the Greek Navy boats, refusing orders to return to shore.

For biographies of delegates aboard the Tahrir visit:

Spanish Revolution: ‘Indignant and Organized: from 15-M to 19-J’ by David Marty

Z Communications
Saturday June 25, 2011

On May 15th, thousands of people answered a call to “take the streets” against neoliberal economic measures that were being implemented in Spain in the aftermath of the financial crisis. To everyone’s surprise, including organizers and participants[i], 125,000 people “took the streets” filling popular city squares across Spain. In a matter of days, the “indignant” – as they came to be known – went from making a point to making a camp, and from running the camp to working towards a revolution.

Four weeks later, on June 19th, a second march gathered over 250,000 people, once again exceeding all expectations and, more importantly, doubling the attendance of the first action. An impressive figure, indeed. However, by that time, 15-M was no longer just the date of a protest, but also the name of a very organized movement with immediate demands as well as long-term political ambitions. The movement now has its own institutions, its own proposals and its own history. It even has its own newspaper, its own artwork and even a 4-sign language. This is a movement that frightens a select few because it creates hope for many.

Retrospective: It’s always the quiet ones…
On the eve of the 2008 financial crisis, the economy of Spain still appeared strong: GDP had been growing at a steady 4%, consumption was high and real estate prices seemed to reach for the sky. But this would turn out to be merely an illusion. There was a rising inequality between rich and poor, unemployment was already abnormally high and consumption was only facilitated by irresponsible levels of debt. Nevertheless, both growth and the financial health of the Treasury guaranteed a decent level of social protection from the government in the most European way.

During the fourth quarter of 2008, like in the three little Pigs story, the big bad wolf of the US subprime crisis “huffed and puffed” …and blew the Spanish housing bubble down. Ironically, Spanish financial institutions did not hold substantial amounts of toxic American assets, but their roofs were indeed made of straws and the Spanish economy collapsed at the end of 2008. Unemployment soared to 20% nationally, with the youngest citizens hardest hit at over 45% unemployment. Over one-fifth of Spaniards were suddenly living below the poverty line (around $11,250 for a single person).

From that moment on, the social provisions built up under the welfare state were no longer sacred. Politicians from both sides presented social spending as a burden that aggravated the poor economic situation. The public lost trust in the major labor unions, traditional defenders of basic social protections, and saw them as weak, indulgent government collaborators. Corporations were now gifted the privilege of firing workers by the thousands with reduced compensation packages, partly paid with taxpayers money. In the middle of the social and economic devastation of an entire generation, one might expect there to have been a strong, maybe violent, reaction. But no such thing took place.

In fact, on May 1st – a day still celebrated here as Labor Day, unlike in the US – the protests went rather unnoticed and failed to arouse any enthusiasm among the population. For the bigwigs in charge, this was the long-awaited sign: everyone was just sitting down and taking it! The coast was clear and they could now do as they please. An entire body of captured regulators could gear up for the final act of a sinister play. They had won and we had not even tried.

The atmosphere was one of impunity for the powerful and resignation for the rest. Corruption scandals multiplied and of course the only public figure relieved ofhis duties was Baltasar Garzón, the judge that prosecuted the corruption cases[ii]. This and many other murky affairs left many disenchanted and resentful toward politicians, labor unions and even human nature. Cynicism would work as a rational defense mechanism. Our T-shirts read “People suck”. All of this was taking place while others – a minority of super-rich investors – celebrated their victory discretely and safely in their garrisoned bunkers located miles away from the rabble.

At that time, even on the eve of May 15th, this perception, however grim, would have been hard to challenge, at least without looking a fool.

“¡Toma la Calle!”
After the disappointment of Labor Day, students from the Univeristy Complutense of Madrid, who had gained some success organizing a number of protests earlier in the year, saw an opportunity to send a call. The platform was simple and was explicitly independent from politial parties and labor unions. They called themselves “simple citizens, from all stripes,” and emphasized in their manifesto that “some of us are progressive, some are conservative.” It was calling for reforms that were meant to put the general public interest back on the program and make positive outcomes for humans the measure of a successful policy. A key aim was to remind the political class that it “was those who created the mess that ought to pay for it”. The name of their platform was “Democracia Real Ya” (“Real Democracy Now”).

The students’ call was an explicit rejection of both political parties, the right wing PP and the center left PSOE. The message hit a nerve. All of a sudden, thousands of Spaniards filled the streets of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Bilbao, and dozens of other cities and towns. There was literally no sign that this would ever happen. It felt like waking up. By the end of the march, cynicism was officially dead.

From a personal point of view, this was by far the most empowering experience of my life. I learnt that people can muster solidarity and conviction. People don’t “suck” after all.

“¡Toma la Plaza!”
After 24 protesters were arrested for staying at the Puerta del Sol – the center square of Madrid – after the march, hundreds of people decided to stay to demand that all the charges against the protesters be dropped. To facilitate their stay they set up a space with tents and improvised shelters. Very quickly, neighbors from all over the area joined efforts to bring food and material to consolidate the shelters. On May 17, only two days later, people began stopping by after work to express their solidarity with the occupiers of the plaza who became known as “the indignant.”

I remember my first impression when I arrived at the camp on the following Wednesday. There were people immersed in deep conversations all around me andthe social diversity on display was incredible: immigrants speaking with older people, feminists with family guys and their children, homeless people, high school students, unemployed workers, conservatives, and a Finnish tourist and me. The overwhelming feeling that has stayed with me to this day is that everyone dropped their attitude of mistrust toward one another. We all began our conversation presupposing that the other one was a decent person.

By the third day of the camp, there was consistently between 5,000 and 20,000 people gathered in the central square of Madrid. The image of a massive crowd of protesters even made the cover of the Washington Post. The camp organization had to ask people to stop bringing food; there was more food than we could possibly eat. The camp was growing by the hour. Now, the idea that we were so many and they were so few was gaining momentum. The media would keep asking “What do they want?” which is to say, like in that Lonnie Atkinson song, “we know what you are against, but what are you for?” It was partly out of concernaround this question that the first camp assemblies were created.

A #spanishrevolution is born
The #spanishrevolution was the hottest topic of the moment. The hash tag quickly ranked number one on Twitter and all the television networks of the world were desperately trying to look for some representative of the movement.

A typical conversation with the media would usually go like this:
Reporter: “Who is your leader?”
Answer: “There is no leader. This is a horizontal organization”
Reporter: “What about that guy with the moustache. The one from Democracia Real Ya[iii]?”
Answer: “We are not DRY, we are the people. We are here only because we are indignant. Why is it so hard for you to understand?”
Reporter: “Ok, I don’t understand…”

Indeed, DRY was no longer in charge. Whilst this caused an initial lack of coherent proposals it also enabled people to self-organize. By the end of the first week, the Puerta del Sol camp quickly became its own little village and a laboratory for a self-managed society. The idea of people collectively making decisions together quickly lost its utopic stigma and gained credibility because it was happening right in front of everybody. People could see for themselves, and join in if they wanted to.

The camp was self-managed by committees that followed a division of labor that evolved according to the size of the camp. At first there were four committees. When the Sol camp was taken down on June 12, there were around 15 committees. It was very well organized even providing campers and visitors access to movies at the 15-M cinema where several documentaries were projected.

First Encounter with the Encampment
I remember visiting the camp for the first time. My first reaction was to look for a receptionist or an information desk where I could ask all the basic questions or even get a map of the whole place. Silly me! I needed to stop thinking in such preconceived terms. After all, I was not at some train station or the national museum. So I decided I would ask the first person available. There were lines everywhere and I had to wait patiently for my turn. The volunteer worker standing behind the improvised desk then told me everything I needed to know about the camp. How professional of him! It was exciting, I was looking forward to see the canteen, the day-nursery and the library. I was told that kids could play games and that they had collected up to 4,000 books. When the young volunteer finished giving me directions, he suggested I should go to the information desk, where they would give me a map and everything I would need. Silly me…

This anecdotal account of my first visit is in fact quite revealing of the working ethics of the whole movement. Just because these men and women were volunteers did not mean that they were not there to get work done. At the Puerta del Sol in Madrid – which is the camp that I know best – there was a vibrant, lively atmosphere and a good spirit among volunteers. Nonetheless, an impressive amount of work was being done at an incredible pace. The result was quite spectacular.

The Committees
The committees were kind of the executive branch of the movement. Their work has dealt with both camp affairs and the movement as a whole. For that reason, some of the committees that I describe here still exist today. There were up to 15, but I shall mention only 12: legal, infirmary, infrastructure, respect, cleaning, library, arts, day-nursery, archives, communication, extensions and information.

The legal committee was established at the very beginning and it undoubtedly is the key to the success of the encampment. Its task is (as it still exists) to handle or prevent any dispute or conflicts with the authorities, the police and all the people affected by the camp. Ten to twenty thousand people meeting every night must have been an imposition for some of the neighbors and shop owners. This committee has been very successful in establishing a dialogue with all those parties. Its influence would range from preventing people from climbing on the scaffolds during the assemblies to trying to get the people who had been arrestedout of prison. In my opinion a legal committee is essential to any similar building a movement of this sort. It anticipates tense situations before they become costly and shows concern for those affected by our actions, giving a moral force to means as well as ends.

The infirmary is another committee whose work is still very visible during the assemblies. This service was provided – for the most part – by one volunteer doctor and a dozen of other professionals, as well as by other volunteers who helped lift and carry patients when it was necessary. It is important to understand that one assembly meeting at Sol could have up to 5,000 participants all at once. The infirmary committee requested corridors to be left open for participants to enter and exit more easily. However, this meant that people during the assembly had to sit or stand in a packed crowd with temperatures getting dangerously close to summer heights. At the time it was not uncommon to have some people feeling dizzy and faint in the middle of the assembly. Effective medical care would then depend upon volunteers acting quickly to take the person away. As a witness of such situations I can say that assemblies were never interrupted for more than 2-5 minutes when such incidents took place and again their professionalism was striking.

Members of the infrastructures committee were constantly working, mostly in the background, and this group required the most volunteers. The camp needed constant extensions, repairs, transport of material, electrical wiring, an effective sound system, and so on. As the camp grew bigger, certain facilities would be too small or too weak. Each day we saw new pieces that improved our daily assemblies, working groups and other activities. The members of this committeewere mostly electricians, carpenters, architects, do-it-yourself types and many volunteers with no particular experience at all.

The committee for respect was, like the legal department, one of crucial importance. It consisted of volunteers wearing reflective vests that identified them as members of the respect committee. Their task was to ask people to refrain from excessive drinking, mostly during nights on the weekends. They also made sure that no one would block the entrance of the shops around the square nor would they allow paintings on the iron gates. In a way its work consisted ofinstilling a sense of individual as well as collective responsiblity among all the campers.

Cleaning: its work was to clean up the plaza 24/7 by taking care of the garbage left by the thousands of people passing by. Even though its work has been effective, it needs to be admitted that such tasks have technical limitations that must be acknowledged. After three or four weeks of camping out, it becomes increasingly difficult to address some real hygiene problems that usually require bigger and more sophisticated cleaning equipment like the ones used by the city’s maintenance staff.

Library: this has been a committee that has received much attention, although not so much for the actual service it provided. The library started out with a couple of hundred donations from supporters of the movement. By June 12th, the last day, it counted more than 4,000 books which are now stored somewhere in Madrid. The participants seem to have realized very early that the camp had come to be the embodiment of a self-managed society. Knowing this, the library was as much a public space as it was the symbol of a civilized and rational society. Evidently, this was not the type of library where one would go and borrow books in the traditional way. But the library, like the arts committee, helped give the whole movement and encampment a soul. By developing its own art and its own cultural context, the 15-M became more than just the sum of its individuals, it became a collective endeavor and an invitation for rethinking our institutions.

Archives and documentation – although not the most flashy nor appealing committee of all – has accomplished a task that is essential. Thanks to the collection and production of paperwork, it has been made possible to offer maps to new arrivals to the camp, a crucial tool for becoming oriented with the multitude of activities and stations located in situ. This committee also made it possible for journalists and others to obtain copies of important documents such as the minutes of the assemblies and the proposals produced by the working groups.

The communication committee was by far the most visited. It hosted all the web designers – internet has been essential in getting the message out – the translators and the spokespersons. According to the people working in this committee, whom I have met on several occasions, all the important messages, communications, reports, minutes and other information that came out of the many activities of the 15-M were translated into English, French, German, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese and probably some other languages that I am leaving out. Messages on the loudspeakers were read in the first three languages besides Spanish.

Finally, the extensions committee helped project the 15-M movement into the future. Its work has consisted of helping to coordinate the neighborhood assemblies that were created during the second week of the occupation. Its task on the Puerta del Sol was to inform the public about their own assembly, depending on what city or district they lived in. They have also encouraged the development of web pages for each neighborhood committee. I can now go to thewebsite of Lavapiés, the neighborhood where I live, and check what was discussed during the last session while I was out of the city. It also informs me of many other important details, activities and initiatives that are independent from the general assembly.

“What Do We Want?”
Preceding questions of what we were going to try to achieve and propose, was the question of how we were going to make decisions. It is one thing to self-manage a camp that gets its food, water, material and labor from outside and then create the impression that we have achieved utopia. Such a camp may be able to foster an environment of solidarity conducive to forming new social dynamics but remains reliant on existing economic processes. It is quite another thingaltogether to put ourselves to work on viable alternatives to the mess we find ourselves in. What exactly is a “horizontal” decision making process? How farahead do we wish to think about our proposals? Should we seek to include more people at the expense of our own group’s vision? Should we start with short-term proposals first and postpone more extensive ones? Are we anti-capitalists? What does that mean anyway? Are we against something more than we are for something? Should we be educating or do we want to find consensus?

There is, as you can see, no shortage of questions and, believe me, all of the above mentioned did arise at some point. In spite of the desire to address all of these questions and more, not all of them found a clear answer and the 15-M movement is still very much a work in progress. However, some responses have been provided, mainly through the proposals made by the working groups adopted at the assemblies.

The Assemblies
Typically, assemblies take place on the weekends: Saturdays are for local assemblies and Sundays are for the general one. It usually takes around two hours to get through the agenda. Following discussions (during which everyone has the opportunity to speak) proposals and decisions are put to a vote. As I mentioned earlier, the sign language that we’ve adopted is essential for the session to move smoothly forward.

The general assemblies are always held in public spaces, usually symbolic places in the center of the city: Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Plaza Cataluña in Barcelona, Plaza de Encarnación in Sevilla, etc., all reminiscent of the Agoras from ancient Greek city-states. The fact that those squares are public has not been obvious to all observers. The traumatic experience of police repression in Barcelona on June 27th illustrates this. As a matter of fact, public spaces are only public insofar as we actually use them. Our rights as citizens cannot be weighted against commercial considerations or a “bad image” for tourism. Neglecting that right leads authorities to treat it as touristic “capital” and to undermine our collective property right. Participatory democracy begins with reclaiming that space and our right.

Assembly sessions require the help of a number of volunteer workers: moderators, minute recorders (on paper and on tape), people giving turns to speak, medical care teams on stand-by during big assembly sessions, sound technicians, etc. These are jobs that are always carefully monitored (except for medical care, of course) and subject to turn over, the risk being that some individuals monopolize certain empowering tasks, breaking the horizontality of the movement.

The decision making process is an issue that is still in progress as we speak. Up until the third week of the encampment, the rule was decision making by consensus. However, when the assembly decided to vote on the withdrawal from the Puerta del Sol, a small minority of individuals who were present at every meeting managed to block vote after vote. This was the first real challenge of the movement that came from the inside, threatening the credibility of the movement. It was only once it was decided to lower that consensus rule that we were able to proceed. This ‘deadlock’ type of situations are in fact more common than we might think, which is why it is important to approach these experiences with an open mind and certain flexibility.

Neighborhood assemblies are a replica of the general assemblies, although they may, if they wish to do so in the future, adopt their own rules and mechanisms for decision making. Indeed, decentralization is absolute and the only obligation for the barrios is to send 2-5 spokespersons to report on what has been decided. The number of spokespersons is voluntarily high so that fraud is not given any opportunity. The fact that the barrios are completely decentralized allows participants in smaller assemblies to be creative and to experiment. Ideas deemed successful could be reported and suggested to other assemblies from other districts or cities. Indeed, the communication is so decentralized that each assembly is, in fact, free to exchange views and ideas with other assemblies without consulting the general assembly, be it Madrid, San Sebastian, Girona or Athens.

What the assemblies have already accomplished, besides proposals that have been published, is that they have brought a participatory democracy to life. It isn’t enough to approve the movement from a distance. Being a participant and getting involved is the type of experience that does not make you want to go back to the old way of doing things.

There are of course plenty of problems to address and hurdles to remove, but the process of improving it is, in and of itself, exciting and very empowering. However, we must not forget that the 15-M movement is still very young. When I was four weeks old I am not sure my eyes were even open yet. The indignant, on the other hand, not only seem to have their eyes wide open, but they are also very organized and are now taking the “barrios” (neighborhoods) of Madrid, as well as many other cities in Spain. In the words of Hördur Torfason, the activist who initiated the recent popular revolt in Iceland, when visiting Madrid: “I am amazed how organized they are”[iv].

Inclusiveness is a very important aspect of the movement that has not always been easy to achieve.

As far as the assemblies are concerned there are several points worth mentioning: speeches are translated into the sign language by one or two interpreters. People are asked to be gender inclusive when speaking, which is more difficult to abide in Spanish than it is for non-latin languages (due to a bigger presence of gender accordance in grammar rules). Gender representation is also a prime concern, although so far it has been respected without any need for intervention. Women easily make up half the participants of the movement. Swear words are not tolerated, especially the sexist, racist and homophobic ones.

Another problem with inclusiveness came when long-term visions were to be produced by the working groups: can we say that we are anti-capitalist? Are we scaring some people off? Will we lose support if we do that? Is it even legitimate to do that? After all, if the movement has the ambition to one day represent every Spanish citizen in the country, shouldn’t we postpone those questions for when we shall be more representative?

There were many, including myself, who were reluctant to set a long term vision at this stage of the movement. It is not that vision is unimportant, of course not, but my belief is that assemblies need to be institutionalized, meaning made durable, before we can start speaking of changing capitalism. Our success must not blind us into thinking that the support we enjoy is unconditional. In fact, I would even suggest that words such as “anti-capitalist” act like scarecrows for some of the most conservative supporters of the movement. My view is that once assemblies become a permanent and periodical forum of discussion and decision making, becoming part of our institutional landscape, then people will naturally choose what is best for themselves. The need for a vision must not dominate over all other considerations.

The Working Groups
Working groups elaborate the proposals that will be voted during the assemblies. They are subdivided, in some cases, in sub-groups. For instance, the working group on economy consists of 7 subgroups: ‘financial systems’, ‘housing’ ’employment’, ‘political economy’, ‘relation with developing countries’, ‘Businesses’ and ‘international economic relations’. During these sessions, discussions go deeper into issues. There are a total of 10 different working groups: Economy, politics, architecture and public spaces, social and migration, science and technology, feminism, healthcare, environment, education and the last one is called ‘thinking’.

Now, each working group is now releasing a little book of proposals with a detailed list of the proposals that have been approved by consensus. Unfortunately, as of now, it is not possible to review those proposals.

What Spanish People Think of the 15-M
There is always some legitimacy even in the worst slander: when the 15-M started gaining momentum during its first week of existence, the right-wing newspapers here in Spain (El Mundo, La Razón and La Gaceta) were quick to notice that it only represented a small percentage of the entire population in Spain: 125,000 vs 47 million. The other claim, repeated ad nauseum, was that Spaniards felt that the indignant did not have any arguments to present. Fair enough…

On week three Metroscopia, a Spanish firm specialized in public opinion polls, published its results on the movement. The figures turned out to reveal an overwhelming support from civil society for the 15-M[v].

While 70% of spaniards said they didn’t feel their interests were being represented by any political party, 81% said that the indignant were right and 84% felt that the movement was dealing with issues that affect the majority of people.

The support that the indignant have aroused is astonishing if one compares it to the level of cynicism – perhaps not quantifiable but verifiable nonetheless, before the first demonstration took place. It is even more so when looking at the support across the political spectrum. Not surprisingly, 78% of the PSOE voters (the left-wing party). However, up to 46% of the PP voters had “sympathies” for the movement.

And to be sure, there were spaniards who believed that the indignant did not have any arguments to present: 9%.

Proposals to reform our Economy
The economy group has just published a little book of about 30 pages. It describes their proposals, a total of 20 proposals that each subgroup has worked on and that the assembly for economy working group has agreed upon. Its purpose is to inform each one of us of the proposals so that when the day will come for us to go to the general assembly and vote for it, we may know what it is about.

Now, 30 pages may seem a lot. However, I must explain the book is made in three parts: the first part is a short introduction that gives general information, essential for us to know what the procedure is. Then there are 4 pages that are a list of all the proposals. They are very self-explanatory and they have a small description below that gives enough details to know what is meant. The third part is actually the bulk of the book. There are roughly 20 pages that state all the arguments from each subgroup giving all the reasons behind each proposal.

Here is the list of the proposals from the working groups (these await to be ratified by the general assembly):

1 – Establishment of a new framework for labor relations that would be agreed upon by consensus.

2 – Reduction of working hours as well as reduction of the age for retirement.

3 – Increase of the cross-sector minimum wage.

4 — Granting of aid to families for families in situation of imminent foreclosure.

5 – Creation of state subsidized apartment by using the already existing stock of empty homes.

6 – Ban on Workforce Adjustment Plans for companies that make profits (these are government authorized plans that allow companies to end the employment of a large portion of their workforce but with lower benefits than in the case of ‘unlawful dismissals’).

7 – Increase in tax revenue by increasing progressive taxes and prosecuting transnational corporations’ tax fraud more effectively.

8 – Submit future bail-out plans to a binding referendum.

9 – Immediate freeze of the privatization process of the saving banks and strengthening of a public financial system under social control

10 – Democratic control and transparency of both public and private banking activities

11 – Establishment of more democratic control over fiscal and monetary policies at the EU level.

12 – Abolition of tax havens.

13 – Reestablishment of a public bank so as to ensure increased political control over economic processes, mostly in the cases .

14 – Leveling of the rights of workers independently of their working status (in Spain independent workers are being discriminated with regard to their rights and obligations with taxes and social security).

15 – Implementation of a social balance for businesses (it is a procedure that measures a business’ success according to its impact on workers, stakeholders and citizens).

16 – Moratorium on the debt of developing countries with Spain by independent third parties in order to identify cases of iniquitous debts being imposed on developing countries.

17 – Moratorium on Spain’s external debt by independent third parties in order to review the legitimacy of the debt and the conditions under which it is being repaid.

18 – Observance by transnational corporations of human rights and laws of other countries as well as criminal laws of Spain.

19 – Establishment of a global progressive tax that would redistribute wealth to all.

20 – Compliance with the historical commitment to donate 0,7% of GDP to development assistance.

[i] See my “Spain: Thousands of People Organize a Historical 7-day Protest,” ZNet, May 20, 2011, http://www.zcommunications.org/spain-thousands-of-people-organize-a-historical-7-day-protest-by-david-marty,.

[ii] “Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón on Holding Torturers Accountable, Why He Opposes the Killing of Osama bin Laden, and His Threatened Ouster from the Bench,” Democracy Now!, May 12, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/5/12/spanish_judge_baltasar_garzn_on_bin

[iii] Democracia Real Ya is the name of the organization that first organized the protest on May 15th. They are different from the 15-M movement that is embodied in the assemblies, even though they are solidary with one another and they collaborate on different actions.

[iv] “Estoy alucinado de lo organizados que están los indignados españoles” (Video of the interview in English), El País, June 22nd, 2011,http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2011/06/22/actualidad/1308768044_418504.html

[v] “Apoyo a la indignación del 15-M”, El País, June 5th, 2011, http://www.elpais.com/articulo/espana/Apoyo/indignacion/15-M/elpepiesp/20110605elpepinac_12/Tes

Z Communications
Email: info@zcommunications.org

A Holocaust for First Nations: the Number of Missing Children

Published On Thursday Jun 16 2011
Number of missing children shocks reconciliation chair, June 11

Hundreds of First Nations children who disappeared after being taken from their homes to attend residential schools from 1870 to the mid-1900s is a “big surprise for me,” said Murray Sinclair, the Manitoba judge who is chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“That such large numbers of children died at the schools. That the information of their deaths was not communicated back to their families.”

Manitoba has a very large population of indigenous people. Isn’t it odd that Manitoba’s first aboriginal judge, appointed to Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench in January 2001, would have no idea of the death toll, and didn’t or couldn’t make the leap to a correlation between violent, hate-based crimes on such a huge scale and death? For 30 years, Judge Sinclair’s main legal interests were civil, criminal and aboriginal law.

Your article says that the number of deaths is in the hundreds, when estimates have been as high as 60 per cent of the 150,000 children who were kidnapped and savaged. In 1909, Dr. Peter Bryce, general medical superintendent for Indian Affairs reported to the ministry that between 1894-1908, the mortality rate in western Canadian residential schools was between 35 per cent and 60 per cent.

The statistic, which became public in 1922, means that between 52,500 and 90,000 children are unaccounted for. Do we all really naively believe they died of natural causes? Mass graves have already been discovered. It is our holocaust. We want to bring the bones of our ancestors home.

The good judge had a breakfast meeting with power brokers from universities, the media, business and banking at the National Club. He said it’s important for the story of the schools to spread from our educational system to the corridors of corporate power.

You think we haven’t tried and tried? Who really wants to hear that our country and churches are responsible for so many innocent deaths? Good luck with that, Judge Sinclair.

Perhaps what might have been more compelling was to have some residential school survivors tell their story of humiliation, physical trauma and starvation over eggs benedict at the National Club. However, it probably would have required a set of squirm-proof chairs.

Shannon Thunderbird
First Nations Elder, Educator


Facebook Page

Call for Submissions: ‘What is Toronto?’

Introducing… a website for a book I have yet to write.

The book is about Toronto, as you know. And the website, which is a collaboration with Patrick Davidson, is designed as a means for me to talk to people about the City.  By sharing excerpts from interviews I’ve been doing, and by eliciting comments and contributions from others.

When  I was sent on a publicity tour across Canada with my book on Emily Carr, I was thunderstruck by the stories and anecdotes people in the audience came up with. There lay a gold mine of material, I marvelled. And that prompted me to think I should perhaps have done the tour before writing the book.

www.whatistoronto.ca is my attempt to do the tour before writing the book — to invite participation in the project from people I don`t know. And those who I do know.

I’d love to know what you think of the site. So take a look. Leave a comment. Pass it on. http://www.whatistoronto.ca/ 

Susan Crean, Author

End of an era: Dr. Darshan Gill passes away

Renowned scholar and secular journalist Dr. Darshan Gill passes away

Dr. Darshan Gill, a progressive and secular Punjabi writer who opposed religious fundamentalism in Vancouver lost his battle with cancer and passed away at Surrey Memorial Hospital on June 10, 2011.

Gill was the former editor of Canada Darpan, a Punjabi biweekly that gave a voice to moderates who were condemning extremism within the Sikh community during 1980s.

He founded Canada Darpan on November 1, 1982. This date was deliberately picked as it coincided with the anniversary of the founding of Gadar, a newspaper launched by secular Indian revolutionaries who fought against British imperialism.

He was a native of historical village Dhudike in Punjab. Dhudike was known as a village of Gadarites. Dr. Gill, who came from a progressive background had worked at Nawan Zamana, a leftist newspaper published in Punjab, India, before he immigrated to Canada in 1972.

After his arrival in this country, he was employed at sawmills in the B.C. Interior. He moved to Vancouver in 1982.

His newspaper was critical of Sikh fundamentalism and published articles written by prominent moderates, including Ujjal Dosanjh, who went on to become B.C.’s premier and a Liberal MP. Dosanjh was physically attacked for his liberal views in February 1985. During that era, Gill received threatening calls asking him to stop running Dosanjh’s articles. Undeterred, Gill continued to publish them. He also testified in a trial against suspects in the Dosanjh beating case.

The fundamentalists also tried to dissuade people from reading his newspaper; often copies of Canada Darpan were stolen and destroyed during those days. He narrowly escaped a physical assault when he went to attend a function at a Sikh temple in New Westminster. In 1987, his Surrey home was attacked with a firebomb, but nothing untoward happened to him.

In 1989, he sold Canada Darpan due to financial challenges.

Gill also hosted Sahitnama, a literary program on Radio India every Sunday. He has edited 20 books and translated three books from English into Punjabi. The Punjab government granted Gill a literary award for his contribution to Punjabi literature abroad.

Sixty eight year old Gill lived in Surrey with his wife, Charanjit Kaur and three children.

He was first diagnosed with cancer in 2007. Although his right kidney had been removed, he remained healthy until last summer. But the cancer had since invaded his right lung.

Gill remained in high spirits while struggling with cancer. “I will always be opposed to fundamentalism till the end of my life,” he said in one of his last interviews.

His funeral will be held at Five River Funeral Home, River Road, Delta at 12:30 pm on June 18. Later special prayers will be held at the Ross Street Sikh Temple, Vancouver at 3 pm.

Gurpreet Singh

Tributes to M F Hussain, Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi, June 10/11

Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi
pays tributes to
M. F. Hussain
1915 – 2011

Krishen Khanna
renowned artist and contemporary of Hussain will speak about the art and times of M. F. Hussain

In the presence of renowned Art Historian
Professor B. N. Goswamy

on 10th June 2011
At 5.30 pm
Conference Hall
Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi
State Library, Sector 34 A
Chandigarh 160022, India

Diwan Manna

M. F. Husain (1915 – 2011)

From SAHMAT Ashok Kumari

Easily the most iconic artist of modern India, Maqbool Fida Husain passed away in London on 9 June 2011. M. F. Husain was born in 1915 in Pandharpur, the famous temple town in Maharashtra. Bereft of his mother’s presence since childhood, Husain grew up in the multi-cultural milieu of Indore where his father migrated around 1919.

Indian civilization, in all its diversity, had been Husain’s basic inspirational project. Since the year of Independence, through the Nehruvian decades and thereon, cognizant of all the challenges involved in nation-building, Husain had been steadfast in maintaining a most affirmative relationship with the Indian peoples’ consciousness of their national identity. Through him, we have learned to address a whole gamut of issues pertaining to the interactive dynamic of modernity with the country’s many-layered art and culture.

He had made a signal contribution in reworking the aesthetic traditions of India including especially the tradition of iconographic innovation. He is among those few modern artists who had focused on mythological and epic narratives, and, for over half a century, he had painted themes from the epics in literally thousands of paintings and drawings. This alone speaks of his passion for these narratives and, further, of his understanding that their literary, performing and visual form has changed through the centuries, and therefore carries the mandate for new articulations within the contemporary.

Equally important, these series of Husain paintings have been shown in urban and rural sites through unique modes of public dissemination. And it speaks of the generous comprehension of this project by viewers all over India, viewers who cut across barriers of class and culture, that they have been received with the affectionate regard and playful participation they require.

Posterity will certainly name Husain as one of the most prominent post-Indpendence artists to shape the contemporary art in the spirit of a living and changing tradition. More than any other modern artist in India, he has understood how a syncretic civilization and the dynamics of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation have together prompted these interpretations and empowered the community of artists to evolve a uniquely modern language consistent with the complexity of these civilizational narratives.

Indeed, Husain was such an iconic figure that we could use the very iconography of Maqbool Fida Husain, of the person himself, to forward ideas about Indian visual culture in the framework of a dynamic public sphere. Already, his life and work are beginning to serve as an allegory for the changing modalities of the secular in modern India — and the challenges that the narrative of the nation holds for us.

It is unfortunate that this very aspect of his persona led to a relentless campaign of villification and calumny against him by bigotted Hindu fundamentalist groups since 1996. After a decade of standing up to threats to his person and vandalising of his art works in public spaces, M.F.Husain went into a self-imposed exile in 2006. Four years later he was offered and accepted the citizenship of Qatar. The artistic community, secular and democratic opinion in the country however stood steadfastly with him and had been urging the government to bring him back.

We believe that India will be the poorer if a proper monument to Husain and his paintings is not created in the country for posterity.

29, Feroze Shah Road, New Delhi-110001
Telephone- 23381276/ 23070787

‘Skeena: a Woman Beyond Borders سکینہ: سرحداں توں پار دی عورت’ Review by Surjeet Kalsey

Presented by Surjeet Kalsey at the launch of novel ‘Skeena’ by Fauzia Rafique (Libros Libertad, 2011) in Surrey on April 9, 2011

سکینہ: سرحداں توں پار دی عورت
(فوزیہ رفیق دا ناول “سکینہ”)
ریویو: سرجیت کلسی

فوزیہ رفیق دے ناول “سکینہ” نال میرا رشتہ بہت پرانا ہے کوئی ویہہ پنجھی سال پہلاں جدوں میں فوزیہ نوں اک کانفرنس تے ٹورانٹو ملی سکینہ ناول اودوں دا ہی لکھیا جا رہیا سی۔ اس دے کانڈ ہولی ہولی وگست ہوندے گئے تے ہن آخری روپ وچ ساڈے ہتھاں وچ پہنچیا ہے۔ ناول دی شروعات مادھو لال حسین دی اس کافی نال بہت ہی خوبصورت ڈھنگ نال ہوندی ہے اتے کافی دی ہر سطر ناول دا اک کانڈ ہو نبڑدی ہے:

جھمے جھم کھیڈ لے منجھ ویہڑے، جپدیاں نوں ہر نیڑے
ویہڑے دے وچ ندیاں وگن، بیڑے لکھ ہزار
کیتی اس وچ ڈبدی ویکھی، کیتی لنگھی پار
اس ویہڑے دے نو دروازے، دسویں قلف چڑھائی
تس دروازے دے محرم ناہی، جت شوہ آوے جائی
ویہڑے دے وچ آلا سوہے، آلے دے وچ تاکی
تاکی دے وچ سیج وچھاواں، آپنے پیا سنگ راتی
اس ویہڑے وچ مکنا ہاتھی، سنگل نال کھہیڑے
کہے حسین فقیر سائیں دا، جاگدیاں کوں چھیڑے
(مادھو لال حسین لاہور، ١٥٣٩-١٥٩٩)

بھاگ (١) منجھ ویہڑے (پنڈ ١٩٧١)، سماں “لوڈھے ویلے”،” نماشیں” تے اگلا پاٹھ “رات” ہے۔
بھاگ (٢) مکنا ہاتھی (لاہور ١٩٨١)، جس وچ “میلہ” تے میلے وچ محبوب نوں ملن دا تصور –
رات ویلے محبوب نوں ملن جاندیاں ہولی ہولی تر کدھرے تیری پازیب دی آواز توں لوکاں نوں خبر نہ ہو جائے؛ “اگلے دیہاڑے” دیکھی جائے گی کیہ ہوندا اے تاں جاں فیر “کنڈھے رہی کھلو” ١٩٨٢ دا واقعہ ہے۔

بھاگ (٣) سنگل نال کھہیڑے (ٹورانٹو ١٩٩١) دی “سویر”؛ ٹورانٹو دی “رات” تے ٹورانٹو دے ہی “سرگی ویلے” ساریاں گھٹناواں دا پسار پیکا گھر پاکستان، تے سوہرا گھر ٹورانٹو دا بہت نیڑے دا آلا دوالا ہے جس نال سکینہ دا کوئی واسطہ نہیں پیا ہووے۔ ملک بدلن نال اوہ سماج اوہ دھارناواں اوہ وطیرے تاں نہیں نہ بدلدے، جویں دے تویں ہی رہندے ہین، تے عورت دا درجہ وی اوہی رہندا اے جو گھردیاں نے دتا ہوندا ہے؛ سماج تاں پچھوں آؤندا ہے۔

بھاگ (٤) جاگدیاں کوں چھیڑے (سرے ٢٠٠١) جس وچ “ناں” وچ کیہ پیا اے، ناں تاں کوئی وی ہو سکدا ہے پر ناواں دے بھلیکھے کئی وار زندگی دے اینے وڈے بھلیکھے ہو نبڑدے ہین کہ جیہناں چوں نکلنا مشکل ہو جاندا ہے تے کجھ اس طرحاں دیاں گھٹناواں واپردیاں ہین “اگ”، “رولا”، تے “میری کوئی تواریخ نہیں”۔

سکینہ دا پسار دو ملکاں پاکستان تے کینیڈا وچ وچردا وگسدا تیہہ سالاں دا برتانت حاضر ہے۔ اک بالڑی دیاں معصوم اکھاں آس پاس جو دیکھدیاں ہین تے اوس دے کن جو وڈیاں نوں کہندیاں سندے نے تے فیر اوس دی آپنی نرچھوہ پاردرشی سوچ اوہناں گلاں تے گھٹناواں نوں جس طرحاں گرہن کردی ہے اوس دا ویروے سہت بیان دلچسپ ہے۔ سکینہ روشن دماغ تے سوخم دل والی کڑی دی حیاتی دا روچک تے بے باک ورنن ہے۔ گھٹنا-در-گھٹنا چھوٹیاں وڈیاں گھٹناواں اک دوجی دا ہتھ پھڑی لڑی ہار تردیاں ہین جویں اک سین بعد دوجا سین آ جاندا ہے تے فلم اگے ودھدی جاندی ہے۔ ناول دی ایہہ ودھاء جتھے جیون-برتانت ہون دا بھلیکھا پاؤندی ہے اوتھے اک پاتر-پردھان ناول والے سارے گن سمائی بیٹھی ہے۔ جگیاسا پاٹھک نوں نال لے کے چلدی ہے، اگے کیہ ہووےگا دی چیٹک لاؤندی ہے، پاٹھک نوں انگلی لا کے سکینہ دوڑی جاندی ہے۔

سکینہ دی بولی دی روانگی تے پچھمی پنجاب دی گھیو-گھنی پنجابی پڑھ کے اک وکھری قسم دا احساس ہوندا ہے جس وچ موہ، جھڑک، اپدیش تے صلاح دا احساس ہندا ہے محاورہ شدھ پنجابی تے شبد-چون ڈاڈھی ڈھکویں تے کھچ پاؤ۔ بھا دا رعب داب لہجہ، اماں دا گھر دے ہور جیاں تے دبدبے والا، موہ والا تے سلاہیا لہجہ بولی توں ہی انوبھو ہوندا ہے۔

سکینہ دا وشا-وستو: عورت۔ عورت دا پیکے گھر وچ، عورت دا سوہرے گھر وچ تے سماج وچ درجہ/رتبہٰ سبھیاچارک تے روائتی پچھوکڑ وچ سکینہ عورت دا اک بمب بن ابھردی ہے؛ جس بارے پیکیاں دے سوہریاں دے، تے سماج دے (ہینکڑ جاں اونر والے)، وچار جاں وچاردھارا تے دھارنواں دا کچا-چٹھا پیش کردی ہے۔ اوس دی بولنی، کہنی، رہنی، کرنی تے انسکھاوے ورتاریاں تے کنتو کرن دی سمرتھا نوں جو کھنڈھا کرکے رکھدے ہین کیونکہ اوہ اک عورت ہے جس دا رول حداں وچ رہنا ہے، ایتھوں تک کہ دند کڈھ کے ہسن دی وی مناہی ہے۔ ناول وچوں اگے دو بند پیش کردی ہاں ایہہ دو سین ہین جو پیکیاں دے پیار دیاں موہ دیاں ریشمی تنتاں وچ نوڑی سکینہ وڈی ہوندی ہے

١٩٨٢ وچ جدوں “کئی سیاسی پارٹیاں دے لیڈراں نوں گھر-بندی دا پتہ ہونا اے۔ سرکار کسے نوں اوہدے گھر وچ قید کردی اے، اخباراں وچ خبراں لگدیاں نیں، لوکی لیڈر نوں آزاد کراؤن لئی سرکار تے زور پاندے نیں۔ اوس لیڈر تے اوس پارٹی دا مل ودھ جاندا اے۔

“پر میں، آودے بھا تے ماں جی دی گھر-بندی وچ بس اک اینجہی زنانی آں جیہنوں آودے آپ نوں درست کرن دی لوڑ اے۔نہ اخبار وچ خبر آئی اے، نہ کسے نے میری آزادی لئی کسے نوں کجھ آکھیا اے، تے نہ میرا مل ودھیا اے۔

“ایہہ قیدن سوہنا پاؤندی، چنگا کھاندی تے سانبھ کے رکھی جاندی اے۔ اک گھر دی اتلی منزل تے اک بیڈ تے باتھ اے، کمرہ شاہی قلعے دیاں کئی کوٹھڑیاں توں وڈا ہونا اے۔ روز سویرے ساڈھے چھ وجے چاندی دی ٹرے وچ ناشتہ آ جاندا اے۔ قیدن ست وجے توڑی آودے چار سادی کاٹن دے سوٹاں وچوں اک پا کے تیار ہندی اے۔ نماز پڑھ، قرآن شریف دے تیہاں پاریاں وچوں اک پڑھنا شروع کردی اے۔ اوہ پارہ دس یاراں وجے توں پہلوں ختم ہو جاندا اے، کیدن اوہنوں ولاء پڑھدی اے، اس واری اردو وچ۔”

پیکیاں دے گھر وچ سانبھ سانبھ کے رکھی جاندی چیز وانگ عورت جد اچانک بیگانے گھر تور دتی جاندی ہے پتی دے گھر اودوں نو-ویاہی اتے اوتھوں دے نیم لاگو کر دتے جاندے ہن؛ سکینہ دی شادی کینیڈا دے اک رجے پجے گھر دے آدمی نال کر دتی جاندی ہے تے سکینہ ہن آپنا ملک چھڈ بیگانے ملک تے بیگانے گھر وچ نواز کردی ہے اجے اوس نوں اوتھوں دے ماحول وچ انکولن وی نہیں ہون دتا جاندا کہ میہنے طعنے تے کھروا ورتاؤ پہلاں ہی شروع ہو جاندا ہے۔ نویں ووہٹی دا چاء کدھرے اڈ پڈ جاندا ہے صرف اینا ہی واسطہ رکھیا جاندا ہے کہ گھر وچ اک عورت لیاندی گئی ہے جس دا فرض بندا ہے کہ اوہ باقی دے سارے جیاں دی خدمت کرے، جے کوتاہی کردی ہے تاں اوس نال جو سلوک کیتا جاندا ہے اوس دا دل-ونوا بیان ہے ٹورانٹو دا پتی دا گھر:

“لوکاں شور پایا ہویا اے، کوئی مینوں کھچ کے کھلاردیاں کہندا اے “گیٹ اپ سلٹ، اٹھ کنجری”!  کھلوندیاں ڈھڈ وچ پیڑ دا گھسن وجدا اے، آندراں پنجر نوں وجدیاں نیں، میں کبی ہو جانی آں۔ کوئی وال دھرو کے سدھیاں کردا اے، متھا کسے موڈھے دے ہڈھ وچ وجدا اے؛ گمڑ دیاں وسمدیاں چنگاں مچ پیندیاں نیں۔

“احتشام مینوں قالین تے چھکدا کچن دے فرش تے لیا سٹدا اے۔ ٹائیلاں ابھر کے میرے منہ تے وجدیاں نیں’ ممی جی نے ایہہ کیویں سوچیا کہ برینڈا ایہناں نوں ادھو-ادھ کر لگی اے؟ ٹائیلاں دور جان لگ پئیاں نیں، کوئی مینوں کھلاردا پیا اے۔

“وھاٹ دا فک از دس؟ اوہ میرا سر مائیکروویو وچ تن دیندا اے۔ ناساں  کچے چکن دیاں بوٹیاں وچ کھبھ کے پھیپھڑیاں نوں سڑے لہو دی ہواڑ نال بھر دیندیاں نیں۔

“تے ایہہ؟” اوہ مینوں گھسیٹ کے چلھے کول لے جاندا اے، دیگڑی دا ڈھکن چا، دھون تے ہتھ رکھ، میرا منہ وچ واڑ دیندا اے۔ گچی پیڑ دا شکنجہ، سر کھوہی دا ڈول، دماغ وچ سڑے لہو دی بوٰ ۔

“تیری ایہہ جرأت؟ توں میری ماں نوں بھکھیاں ماریں؟” کوئی مینوں ٹائیلاں تے پٹکاندا اے، وکھیاں فرش تے وجدیاں نیں، “کسے دی ماں تے نہیں مر گئی اے؟”

توں (عورت، اک بیوی) آپنے آپ نوں سمجھدی کیہ ایں؟ جویں سکینہ صرف اک نوکرانی ہووے تے صرف ممی جی دی تیمارداری تے سیوا لئی لیاندی گئی ہووے جویں اوس دا آپنے پتی احتشام نال کوئی دور دا وی واسطہ نہ ہووے اوہ صرف آپنی ممی جی دا تابعدار پتر ہووے تے ماں لئی نوکرانی توں کم کرواؤنا اوس دا دھرمی فرض ہووے؛ پرمپراوادی پتر دا فرض۔

خیر کہانی اگلے پڑ ول جاندی ہے۔ اینی کٹ مار کھا کے سکینہ جدوں رڑھدی کھڑدی گھروں نکل جاندی ہے تے اڈا دتا جاندا ہے کہ اوہ آپنے بوائے-فرینڈ نال بھج گئی اے آپنی عزت تے آنر بچاؤن لئی عورت دی عزت تے آنر نوں مٹی وچ ملا دتا جاندا ہے جویں اوس دی نہ کوئی عزت ہے نہ کوئی آنر۔ تے عام جنتا نوں کیہ؟ اوہناں دی سوچ پرم پراں دے سنگلاں وچ جکڑی سوچ اس توں اگے جا ہی نہیں سکدی تے اوہ سچ من کے عورت نوں بھنڈن لگ پیندے ہین۔ عورت اتے ہوندے تشدد دا مدعا سماج وچ بدل دا غبار بن کے رہ جاندا ہے؛ پیڑت دی حالت دھندلی کر دتی جاندی ہے تے تصویر کجھ اس طرحاں پینٹ کیتی جاندی ہے کہ لگے عورت قصوروار ہے۔ایہی کارن ہے کہ اجے وی آپنے پنجابی/بھارتی بھائی چارے وچ عورتاں/ماواں/دھیاں دے قتل پتیاں/باپاں ولوں کیتے جان دیاں خبراں آئے دن سنن نوں ملدیاں ہین۔ جدوں دوشی چارج کیتے جاندے ہین کیس کورٹاں وچ جاندے ہین تاں بچاء پکھ وچ قتل کیتیاں عورتاں اتے بدکاری دے دوش لا کے اوہناں دے قتل جسٹی فائی کیتے جاندے ہین۔گھناؤنے جرم کرن توں بعد وی دوشی آپنے ورتارے دی ذمہ واری عورت دے سر ہی مڑھ دیندے ہین۔

برینڈا دی مدد نال تے اک پنجابن بلوندر نال ہوئی جان پچھان صدقہ سکینہ ٹورانٹو توں بی سی صوبے دے شہر سرے آ جاندی ہے۔ جتھے اوہ ذکر کردی ہے کہ پچھلے دساں سالاں وچ پہلی وار اوس نوں آزاد آسمان تھلے ساہ لین دا احساس ہوندا ہے تے کینیڈا وچ آؤن دے دس سال بعد پہلی نوکری فارم ورکر دے طور تے ملن دا خوشی بھریا احساس اوس نوں باوری بنا دیندا ہے حالانکہ اوس نوں پتہ ہے کہ اوس دے بھا تے ماں جی نوں ایہہ کم پسند نہیں ہونا۔ ایتھے ہی فارم تے اوس دی ملاقات فارم دے مالک اقبال نال ہوندی ہے۔آس دی اک نویں کرن جاگدی ہے۔

سکینہ نوں لگدا ہے کہ اقبال اک بہت ہی سمجھدار تے ودھیا انسان ہے اتے اس اک خاص پاردرشی درشٹی ہے جس وچ ایہہ سبھ کجھ سنچت ہے:درد نوں سمجھن دا احساس تے شدت نال پیار کرن، کسے دا دکھ سن سکن تے ہر کسے پرتی ستکار ہے۔شبداں دی روح (ارتھاں) نوں سمجھن دی یوگتا ہے، بھاوکتا ہے جو بے شک عورت ہون دا گن ہے (جو کسے کسے وچ ہی ہوندی ہے)، حق انصاف دی سنجیدگی، نیتکتا دے اصولاں دی سوجھی ہے، صبر، سنتوکھ، سہنشیلتا۔ پیارے دے ہلار نے اوس دے سارے سوخم بھاو جگا دتے ہین تے اوس نوں اقبال وچ اوہ سارے گن دکھائی دے رہے ہن- کوملتا، ویدنا، سمندروں ڈونگھا ویدنا بھریا دل ہے تے جو پیار دے قابل (سچجا) ہے جو اوس دی زندگی دی ہاری ہوئی بازی مڑ توں جتا سکن دی شکتی رکھدا ہے۔ سکینہ نوں اقبال دا ملنا کجھ اس طرحاں دی مڑ-سرجیتی دا احساس دے دیندا ہے؛ اوس نوں چڑھدی جوانی دا پیار “اچا متھا” چیتے آ جاندا ہے۔ بے شک آپا نچھاور کرن والی عورت اک وار آپنا سبھ کجھ دل و دماغ، موہ پیار تے ضمیر دی سچمتا نال ارپن کر دیندی ہے بھانویں اوہ چھن-بھنگری ہو جاوے اس دا غم نہیں کردی۔

سکینہ دا پاتر آس پاس دی سوجھی تے آپنے عملاں دا آلے دوآلے تے پیندے اثر توں واقف تے چیتن شخصیت ہے -آلے دوآلے دا خیال رکھن دی سوجھی دانی سبھاء (ماں جی وانگراں)، بولن والے شبداں دا احساس ہے، دوسرے دے بولے شبداں دا صحیح ہنگارا بن جان دی سمرتھا ہے۔عورت اجیہی زندگی دی کامنا کردی ہے فیر اوس دی کامنا اوس نوں سماج دی دلدل وچوں کڈھن توں اسمرتھ کیوں رہندی ہے۔اوس دے پیار نوں پاپ تے اوس دی شخصیت نوں بھنڈیا جاندا ہے سکینہ لئی اقبال اوہ ربی روپ بن کے آیا جس نے اوس دے زخماں تے مرہم دا کم کیتا پر آس پاس وچردے فارماں وچ کم کرن والے ورکر جدوں سکینہ تے آوازے کسدے تاں “سلٹ” کہندے اوس دا جرم صرف ایہہ سی کہ اوس نے اقبال نوں جی-جانو پیار کر لیا سی۔

سماں بدلدا رہندا ہے ملک بدل جاندے ہین پر روڑیھوادی وچاردھارا تے جس طرحاں دا ورتاؤ عورت نال ہوندا ہے، جاں کیتا جاندا ہے اس وچ تبدیلی آؤندی نظر نہیں آؤندی۔ عورت دی ہونی نہیں بدلدی۔ ہاں، اوس در-وہاری ماحول نوں چھڈ کے کتے ہور چلے جانا، سرکھیا گھر وچ پناہ لے کے کینیڈا ورگے ملک وچ پراپت سہولتاں تے سپورٹ ورکراں دی مدد نال آپنی زندگی نوں مڑ کے جیون دا یتن کرن دا سنیہا ابھر کے ساہمنے آؤندا ہے، ایہی سنیہا پچھلے سال چھپے ناول “بلیک اینڈ بلو ساری” وچ وی ملدا ہے۔ عورت دی آپنی وتھیا نوں لوکاں ساہمنے پیش کرنا تے در-ووہاری موہل وچ دکھ-درد دا جیون کٹ رہیاں عورتاں لئی بھرپور تے شکتی شالی سنیہا ہے، مثال ہے جے میں دلدل چوں ابھر سکدی ہاں تے تسیں وی ابھر سکدیاں ہو ہمت کرو، پہلا قدم چک لوو، دہلیز توں پیر باہر پا کے تاں دیکھو، دنیا بدل جائے گی۔کیہ سچ مچ دنیا بدل جاوے گی؟ بہت شکتی شالی سنیہا ہے۔پر عورت نوں چوکھٹ چھڈن سار ہی جو مل تارنا پیندا ہے اوہ سکینہ دے آخری چیپٹر “میری کوئی تواریخ نہیں” وچ سپشٹ ہو جاندا ہے عورت دل و دماغ تے ذہنی طور تے ٹٹ جاندی ہے۔

“کول آودا اج وی اے تے لنگھیا کل وی۔ دوواں وچ ماں جی، بھا تے منحوس جینو ویہنی آں۔اوہ مینوں آودے دند نہیں وکھاندے۔ اوہناں دے دند ہیگے نے؟ میں کول ہو کے ویہنی آں۔ ماں جی نماز پڑھدے پئے نے؛ بھا حقہ پیندا پیا اے، تے جینو آودا منہ پیلی چنی وچ ولیٹی پئی اے۔ کئیاں دے مکھ چیتے نہیں آندے۔ ہالی توڑی میں اقبال تے گامو دا فرق نہیں پچھانیا۔”

ناول دے اخیر تے جو گھٹناواں واپردیاں ہین اقبال دا قتل تے پتہ لگنا کہ اقبال تاں اوس دے بچپن ویلے دا اوہی گامو ہے جو آپنی عورت نوں مار کے فرار ہو گیا سی؛ تے نال ہی سکینا دا اتوادیاں نال سنبندھ ہون دے شک دے گھیرے وچ آ جانا تے پولیس دا پہرہ ایہہ سبھ کجھ سوچ کے سکینہ نوں اک وار آپنا مانسک توازن گواچ گیا لگدا ہے جدوں سکینہ آپنے آپ نوں کہندی اے -“میری کوئی تواریخ نہیں، میری کوئی کہانی نہیں، میرا کوئی ناں نہیں” میں آودے آپ نوں چیتے کرانی آں۔

جدوں میں سکینہ دا سارا کھرڑا اس دی شاہ مکھی توں گورمکھی وچ اتارے توں بعد سکرپٹ دے پروف پڑھن لئی کر رہی ساں اس دا اک اک ورقہ اک اک سطر میں پڑھدی جا رہی ساں تے سکینہ اک سرحداں توں پار دی عورت ہو میرے ساہمنے اجاگر ہو رہی سی۔ سکینہ نہ پاکستان دی اے، نہ بھارت دی نہ انگلینڈ دی نہ کینیڈا دی سکینہ ہر اوس عورت دی دیہہ من تے ذہن تے ہنڈھائی حیاتی دا سجیو بمب ہے، ہر اوس عورت دی کہانی ہے جو پرم پرا دیاں سنگلاں وچ جکڑی پیدا ہوندی ہے تے جکڑی ہی دنیا نوں چھڈ کے جان توں پہلاں آپنے آپے دی غلام ستھتی تے کنتو کرن دی جرأت کردی ہے، بندھن مکت جیونا چاہوندی ہے تے اک آزاد سوے-مان والے ویکتی دی ماند ہی دنیا توں جانا چاہوندی ہے۔سکینہ کسے طریقے بچ جاندی ہے۔ تے جو عورتاں بچ جاندیاں ہین اوہ سماج دیاں ساریاں عورتاں نوں آپنی مثال دے کے دسنا چاہوندیاں نیں کہ جے تسیں بچ سکدیاں ہو تاں بچ جاؤ بھاویں گھر ہی کیوں نہ چھڈنا پوے، تے سکینہ اک مثال ہے۔پر ہزاراں سکینہ گھراں دے تشدد دی بلی چڑھ گئیاں نیں تے بلی دے رہیاں نیں تے بچ نہیں سکدیاں، اوس پرم پراوادی ماحول توں نکل نہیں سکدیاں، دنیا دا ڈر، رشتے داراں دا ڈر، کیہ کرن گیاں کتھے سر لکاؤن گیاں؟

قانون بدل گئے، عورتاں نے چلن بدل لئے، سہائتا مہیا ہو گئی، پر نہ پرم پرا دیاں لیہاں بھریاں نہ روڑیھوادی سوچ، نہ عورت پرتی دھارناواں ہی بدلیاں۔ سماجک سوچ تے ورتارا بدلن دی پکی نشانی ایہہ ہووے گی جس دن عورت نوں اک انسان سمجھ کے اوس نوں برابر دی عزت تے ستکار دتا جائےگا، اوس نوں گھٹیا درجے دی جاں نوکرانی دے طور تے نہ ورتیا جائےگا تے کسے عورت نوں مجبور ہو کے بدسلوکی دا ماحول چھڈن لئی ننگے-پیریں، سیت ادھی راتیں، نکے نکے بالاں نال آپنی چوکھٹ نہ چھڈنی پئے گی۔کسے باپ نوں آپنی کنجک دھی صرف آنر لئی بلی نہیں چڑھاؤنی پئے گی نہ ہی کسے پتی نوں اپنے بے لگام کرودھ دا شکار آپنی پتنی نوں بناؤنا پوے گا اوس دن ایہہ سماج رہن یوگ ہووےگا۔

سکینہ دی آمد کینیڈا دے پنجابی ساہت وچ نگھر وادھا ہے فوزیہ رفیق دی دلوں دھنوادی ہاں تے مبارک باد دیندی ہاں کہ سکینہ نے سماج نوں اک وار فیر جھنجوڑ کے جگاؤن دا جتن کیتا ہے۔

First published in Gurumukhi by Indo Canadian Times from Surrey BC in May 2011

View a partial presentation of this review by Surjeet Kalsey on YouTube

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Tribute to revolutionary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Bradford UK, June 15/11

We cordially invite you to attend a centenary event to pay tribute to one of the greatest international poets of the twentieth century, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. He was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize and was a nominee for the Nobel Prize. Although imprisoned for his political views in the 1950s, Faiz continued to fight against oppression and exploitation. Even in death, Faiz’s extraordinary ability to bring together nations, often entangled in bitter disagreements, persists. His continuing importance, to the 21st century, as a major literary voice whose words continue to have the power to move peoples’ hearts and minds the world over cannot be overstated.

We are delighted to announce that
Abid Hassan Minto, a veteran politician, life-long campaigner, progressive writer and thinker, human rights activist and the president of Workers Party Pakistan will be the main speaker in Bradford.

4.30 p.m.
Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Council Chambers, City Hall
Centenary Square, Bradford BD1 1HY

Other contributors include
Raza Ali Abadi, Mohammad Ajeeb, Ghazanfer Khaliq, Kevin Donnelley, Dr Geetha Upadhyaya and Sarwan Singh

Cultural Programme will be presented by
Mehmooda Hadi, Amal Podder, Karl & Gloria Dallas.

Mohsin Zulifqar, 07540 829564
Lala M. Younas, 07878 996658
Ajit Singh, 07720 400242
Sarwan Singh, 07989 062965
Khalid Saeed Qureshi, 07869433475
Prof Nazir Tabassum, 07828 174854
Pervez Fateh, 07958 541672
Dr Geetha Upadhyaya, 01274 303340
Cllr Mohammad Shafiq, 07904120986

Jointly organised by
Kala Sangam
Bradford & Leeds Faiz Centenary National Organising Committee (UK)

Best regards
Pervez Fateh
Secretary, Fational Centenary National Organising Committee UK
Cell: +44 (0)795 854 1672
E-mail: pervezf@yahoo.com

Download PDF

‘Female Journalists Break Silence on Sexual Violence’ By Kanya D’Almeida

WASHINGTON, Jun 7, 2011 (IPS) – On Feb. 11, while the world was celebrating former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s fall from power, CBS television correspondent Lara Logan was being “mercilessly assaulted” by a group of well over 200 men in a dark corner of Tahrir Square.

“For an extended period of time they raped me with their hands,” Logan, who was ripped away from her bodyguard by a mob and beaten before being attacked, said last month in an interview with the New York Times.

A public statement co-drafted by Logan and CBS chairman Jeff Fager meant that she “didn’t have to carry the burden alone, like my dirty little secret, something I had to be ashamed of,” Logan said in one of her few interviews on the attack, two months ago.

Though Logan is not the first – and is unlikely to be the last – journalist to be subjected to such brutality, her story exposed the silence around such crimes, which happen far more frequently than the media world has acknowledged or that women themselves are willing to admit.

In the first extensive compilation of its kind, the New York City- based international press freedom group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released “The Silencing Crime: Sexual Violence and Journalists” Tuesday, a special report documenting a deluge of stories of rape, sexual abuse and severe harassment.

“I wrote a blog post about Logan’s attack the day after it happened and immediately women started contacting me to tell me their own personal stories of assault,” Lauren Wolfe, CPJ’s senior editor and co-author of the report, told IPS, adding that the reaction to Logan’s attack by women around the world constituted the momentum behind the report.

Based on over four dozen interviews with 27 local and 25 international journalists from Asia and Latin America to Africa and the Middle East, the report only scratches the surface of what is likely a much more widespread crisis, yet it is the only substantial document detailing crimes that activists believe occur across the world with frequency and impunity.

“From threats and groping to aggressive physical harassment and rape, these acts not only obstruct the work of journalists but are used as retribution,” Wolfe said in a press release Monday.

“Acknowledging and assessing sexual aggression against journalists is a first step toward formulating solutions and advocating for change. This report is a step in that direction,” she added.

Stigma breeds silence

Many of the women who brought their stories to CPJ are doing so after years of silence, having hitherto feared being demoted, demonised or further humiliated by coming forward about attacks.

Indeed, the majority of the women interviewed for the report did so under condition of anonymity to “protect” their careers. The few who agreed to speak on the record also acknowledged their own, and their colleagues’, reluctance and hesitation to expose the crimes.

Jineth Bedoya, a then-journalist for the Bogota daily El Espectador, was abducted while investigating the actions of ring-wing paramilitaries in Colombia in May 2000. In a house in the city of Villavicencio, she was beaten by multiple attackers and gang-raped.

In the decade following the crime, Bedova has encountered three colleagues who have remained silent on reprisal attacks because of “cultural and professional stigmas”.

However, Wolfe wrote in an article on CNN Tuesday, two weeks ago Bedoya brought the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, hoping to inspire and encourage women to “denounce what’s happened to them and be able to ask for justice”.

“It’s embarrassing, and you feel like an idiot saying anything, especially when you are reporting on much, much greater horrors,” Jenny Nordberg, a New York-based Swedish correspondent who was violently groped while covering the late Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan from exile in October 2007, wrote to CPJ in February.

“But it still stays with you,” she added. “I did not tell the editors for fear of losing assignments.”

“[Also], I just did not want them to think of me as a girl. Especially when I am trying to be equal to, and better than, the boys,” Nordberg said.

And, as Logan pointed out, sexual violence does not leave the same visible scars of torture or other forms of abuse. After rape or sexual assault, “You only have your word,” Logan said. “The physical wounds heal. You don’t carry around… evidence the way you would if you had lost your leg or your arm in Afghanistan.”

‘Kitte Mil Ve Mahi’ a documentary film review by Virinder S Kalra

Kitte Mil Ve Mahi – Never the Twain Shall Meet
Director Ajay Bhardwaj
72 minutes
Punjabi with English subtitles
DVD, 2005

It is hard to write a review of this film that is also not an obituary. Two of the film’s central characters, Bhagat Singh Bilga and Lal Singh Dil urf Mohammad Bushra, passed away in 2009. In that sense alone, this makes Kitte Mil Ve Mahi poignant and powerful. Both men were involved in revolutionary left politics in the Punjab, yet came from completely different social backgrounds. Bilga, was forged in the Ghadar party and in the later years of his life spent much of his time in England. Lal Singh Dil, a poet and activist, became politicized, ultimately by his caste status, but also through intense involvement in the Naxalite movement. Their ongoing political commitment, to social justice and the removal of caste inequality provides the ideological direction and potency to the film.

What makes the documentary aesthetically appealing is the constant intermingling of music with the interviews. Throughout the narrative serious points made by the subjects of the film are followed by some appropriate music or supporting song. For instance when the custodian, Kadar Sakhi, of the Baba Dasondhi Shah shrine is talking of the way in which the lineage of a particular saint goes back to the Qadiri order from Baghdad, the scene is followed by the BS Balli Qwaali group singing: ‘Get me Qadri bangles to wear.’ This is then often followed by a commentary from Bilga. This interweaving of aesthetics and politics makes the film a powerful and pleasurable visual and aural experience.

The film touches on a considerable number of themes. Quite clearly the backdrop is that ‘other’ place and that ‘other’ time in which Muslims were present in East Punjab and these shrines were to some extent perceived as their domain. This is never made explicit. Just as Lal Singh Dil is never referred to as Mohammad Bushra, yet for those who can read the imagery, after we are told his name, he is then shown in great detail doing his wuzu (ritual cleaning) and doing the namaaz (prayer). Indeed, in all of the shrine scenes, it is ostensibly Muslim saints, who have been integrated into a dalit lineage, that are present, yet absent. The Islam of the shrine fits in so well with Dalit identity, that even the shift from Chisti Sufi Pir to Brahm Chand seems perfectly fine in a world where caste rather than formal religious identity is crucial. Here in the normative boundaries established by formal religion of high-caste/low-caste: male; female cease to operate. At the shrine of Channi Shah, in Sofi Pina, a woman devotee has taken over the role of the living saint. No one in the film protests this transition, rather her pious position is seen as just reward for seva and piety to the saint. Localised power and spirituality of a diverse and appropriate nature come to dominate the scene in this Jalandhar-doaba landscape.

This is a film that works at many levels. At its most explicit it is a treatise on the continuing ‘slavery’ of Dalits in India. Most powerfully articulated through the voice of Lal Dil, but also supported by Bilga. Yet the shrine culture demonstrates a site of creative appropriation and resistance without articulating it in that way. At a more subtle level, the centrality of caste even punctuates the analysis given in terms of social justice. The struggle that Lal Singh has with the Naxalbari movement and the left, though not explicated in the film, is certainly present. The endemic nature of caste stratification is illustrated in the contrasting ways in which Bilga and Dil talk about Chamars. Bilga stands as a Marxist when he is critical of the Indian state or the way that the left is marginalised, yet when it comes to talking of Dalits, he centers himself as the mainstream and them as the ‘other’. This is not an unsympathetic position but is in marked contrast to Dil, speaking as a Chamar. An un-necessary debate about those who face oppression and those who fight against it from a position of caste advantage is not made in the film, nor is that my intention now. Rather, it is to highlight the existence of this tussle within the left, that partly made Dil turn towards Islam as a way of dealing with caste oppression. But even this escape route, did not lead him away from his caste identity, as at the time of his death, he was not buried but cremated in the Dalit cremation grounds of his village.

In opening this review as an obituary, it is important to end it with the optimism that pervades the film in the face of increasingly rigid religious boundary marking in the subcontinent. In the world of Dalit spirituality and shrines, the opposition and resistance that Lal Singh Dil bemoans is lacking in other social spheres, such as the economic and political, seems alive and well. Paying no heed to the requirements of formal religious markers, the sites the film explores are such that all that wish to come and pray are welcome, in whatever form. In the face of changing structures of caste inequality in contemporary Punjab and the emergence of a proud Dalit/Chamar identity, Kitte Mille Ve Mahi provides the cultural background and a clue to the resources mobilized in this new found self-assertion.

For copies of the film please contact Ajay Bhardwaj at ajayunmukt@yahoo.com

Dr Virinder S Kalra
University of Manchester, UK

Funding Cuts by Harper Government: Election Update

Federal Election Canada 2011

List of Women’s Organizations whose funding has been cut or ended by the Harper Government

1.    Aboriginal Healing Foundation
(cuts affected several healing centres that focused on providing support to abused women, such as the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal)
2.    Action travail des femmes
3.    Alberta Network of Immigrant Women
4.    Association féminine d’éducation et d’action sociale (AFEAS)
5.    Canadian Child Care Federation
6.    Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW)
7.    Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition féminine
8.    Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
9.    Child Care Resource and Research Unit, SpeciaLink
10.  Conseil d’intervention pour l’accès des femmes au travail (CIAFT)
11.  Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women Toronto
(funding cut by CIC in December 2010)
12.  Feminists for Just and Equitable Public Policy (FemJEPP) in Nova Scotia
13.  First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
14.  International Planned Parenthood Federation
15.  Marie Stopes International
(a maternal health agency, has received only a promise of “conditional” funding IF it avoids any & all connection with abortion)
16.  MATCH International
17.  National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL)
18.  Native Women’s Association of Canada
19.  New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity
20.  Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH)
21.  Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
22.  Réseau des Tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec
23.  Riverdale Immigrant Women’s Centre, Toronto
24.  Sisters in Spirit
25.  South Asian Women’s Centre
26.  Status of Women Canada
(mandate also changed to exclude “gender equality and political justice” and to ban all advocacy, policy research and lobbying)
27.  Tri-Country Women’s Centre Society
28.  Womanspace Resource Centre (Lethbridge, Alberta)
29.  Women for Community Economic Development in Southwest Nova Scotia (WCEDSN)
30.  Women’s Innovative Justice Initiative – Nova Scotia
31.  Workplace Equity/Employment Equity Program
32. Older Women’s Network
33. Kelowna Women’s Resource Centre (KWRC)
34. Réseau action femmes
For a PDF of this list , please click here.

To add another name to this list, please email the Ad Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights.

The Ad Hoc Coalition for Women’s Equality and Human Rights