‘My SUFI GHUTI’ by Sana Janjua

I clear my goddamn throat
with organic, saffron-shaded, Sufi Ghuti-

its superfood ingredients hand picked
from indigenous, stolen territories
by migrant workers and undocumented laborers,
patiently turning their ethanol-dusky sweat
into plastic-protected fruits I peel labels off from
– a brew of California apples, BC berries
reddened, like desire, with local beets-
which I lick as a concoction to give my
goddamn chest a birth-inducing thrust

to say “ALLAH!”,

as I gurgle out the news of a
“bomb nearly as nuclear as a bomb can be”
-thrown acid-facedly on Afghani soil-
into a pale sink turning blight and spongy
like my own mindless mind.

Some native informant,
I contemplate,
capture the scene of this acid faced-ness

-Phallic Pentagon: the imperial center
of rape, and rupture-

and make an award winning documentary,
so I could applaud
with all my limbs in limbo,
like a freak unleashed.

Every night, as a narcotic balm,
I turn to my Sufi Ghuti
– licking it-
to assuage my guilt of seeing too much suffering
with a tradition
set aside for balancing the worse with the good
-a tradition that a few good men
(residing in an hypoxic,
upper class intellectual wardrobe)
curated to get past the thorny delirium

that organizing and agitating,
and losing one’s mind happens to be-

because the oppressor ambushes from
“both sides now”, as Joni Mitchell sings.

Adrift on a low sail and high moon,
I soften the edge of the Ideological
with the narcotic mirth of my Sufi Ghuti,
and whirl into misty obscurantism

-the throttled misery of a child in echolalia-

as I ponder if it’s Marx or Bakhsh,
that makes me more air-lifted?

To my lover,
I write: I will fight for the visa
regardless of the contradictions-
so dialectical it sounds that I,
feeling enough ghuti-ized,
hum my forlornness
into the lungs of the daylight.

But, the night descends, you know,
and, I get lonely.
It feels like the end of days, as Syrians tell us,
and frankly speaking,
the Promised Messiah isn’t coming to town this year either.

(April 14, 2017)

Sana Janjua is a poet, performer and playwright who is a Founding Member and the President of Surrey Muse. She works as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse, and enjoys working in the field of mental health.
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View the Deleted United Nations Report on Israeli Apartheid

Below are links to the ‘disappeared’, ‘deleted’ and ‘taken down’ United Nations report on Israeli apartheid. The report titled ‘Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid’ was removed from the website of U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (UNESCWA) at the end of last week ‘following pressure from the U.N. Secretary General.’ As well, Rima Khalaf, the head of UNESCWA, resigned ‘after she was asked to withdraw a report her agency published earlier this week that stated Israel is an “apartheid regime.” (mondoweiss.net/2017/03/resigns-refusing-apartheid)

Electronic Intifada has made it available, check it out below
electronicintifada.net

The 75-page report states in the beginning:

‘This report concludes that Israel has established an apartheid regime that
dominates the Palestinian people as a whole. Aware of the seriousness
of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence
establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and
practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in
instruments of international law.

‘The analysis in this report rests on the same body of international human rights
law and principles that reject anti-Semitism and other racially discriminatory
ideologies, including: the Charter of the United Nations (1945), the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965). The report relies for its
definition of apartheid primarily on article II of the International Convention on the
Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973, hereinafter the
Apartheid Convention):

The term “the crime of apartheid”, which shall include similar policies and practices of
racial segregation and discrimination as practiced in southern Africa, shall apply to…
inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by
one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically
oppressing them.

‘Although the term “apartheid” was originally associated with the specific instance
of South Africa, it now represents a species of crime against humanity under
customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal
Court, according to which:

“The crime of apartheid” means inhumane acts… committed in the context of an
institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group
over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining
that regime.

‘Against that background, this report reflects the expert consensus that the
prohibition of apartheid is universally applicable and was not rendered moot by
the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and South West Africa (Namibia).’

It is outrageous that the report was removed and that the Honorable Rima Khalaf had to resign. Freedom of expression? International Law? Human rights? Integrity of research? Not if it doesn’t suit Israeli Power Holders in the United States.

Photo from: scribd.com

Fauzia
gandholi.wordpress.com

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Pakistan-India Peace: People’s Need vs State Interest – SANSAD-CPPC Public Forum

shahid-mirza1

A talk by Karamat Ali
Poetry: Irfan Malik


Sept 20 at 2pm, 
Room 120, 
Surrey Centre Library, 10350 University Drive, Surrey

Since their creation as independent states in 1947 India and Pakistan have fought three wars and taken the subcontinent to the brink of nuclear holocaust. The two militarized states face each other across an uneasy “line of control” in divided Kashmir, frequently bringing the miseries of war to those living along the border. People of the subcontinent need peace, yet peace remains elusive. How can the roadblocks to peace be overcome?

Karamat Ali is a well-known figure in the labour movement in Pakistan and also a prominent peace activist. He is the founder of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER – in Karachi) and co-founder of The Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. An eminent labour activist over the last four decades, he is the author of numerous articles and essays on labour, politics and development. Karamat is also the first recipient of Dadi Nrmala Deshpande Peace and Justice Award (2013).

Born in Lahore, Irfan Malik is the Artistic Director of South Asian American Theatre in Boston. He writes in Punjabi, Urdu, and English. His latest book of Punjabi poetry, Dooji Aurat, was published in 2015.

Organized by South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD, sansad.org) and Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC).

Contact
Chin: 604-421-6752
Shahzad: 604-613-0735

Art Work
Shahid Mirza. Leek 4. Mix-media on paper. 14″x27″.

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Public Lectures by Karamat Ali

These two Public Lectures are sponsored by the SFU Labour Studies Program and the Hari Sharma Foundation. They are the first of a series to address key questions confronting the labour movement around the world.

1. Lecture: ‘The Status of Labour Rights in Pakistan’
18 September 2015, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
SFU Vancouver Campus, Harbour Centre: Room 1900
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

2. Lecture: ‘Women’s Labour Rights in Pakistan’
22 September 2015, 12:30-1:30 pm
SFU Burnaby Campus: Room AQ 6106, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby
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An Evening with Saeen Zahoor

Sain_Zahoor_14_leugk_Pak101(dot)com

Written by Randeep Singh

On May 31, 2014, Pakistani Sufi singer Saeen Zahoor performed at Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre, sending the audience into trance, dance and inspiring reverence throughout.

The evening brought together local Indian and Pakistani performers, organizers and audience members. Indo-Pakistani band Naqsh IPB opened the evening with their blend of modern Sufi, rock, classical and filmi musical stylings. Through clashing drums, pulsating guitar riffs and the soaring vocals of Daksh Kubba, Naqsh warmed up the crowd for Saeen.

He entered in his long black kurta embroidered in yellow, ghungroo bells jingling around his ankles, carrying his colourfully decorated ektaara (one-string instrument). “I am not an artist,” he began, “I am a dervish who recites the name of His Master.”

Saeen didn’t just sing: he performed in every sense of the word. The spirit of Bulleh Shah poured through Saeen, his songs, his dance, his story-telling. His two hours on the stage was a musical theatre on the life and poetry of Bulleh Shah.

IMG346
After declaring his devotion to Bulleh Shah in “Ni Mai Kamli Haan” (‘Crazy I Am!’), Saeen sang “Aukhen Painde Lambiyaan Raavan” (‘Hard and Long are the Paths’), of how Bulleh Shah journeyed for miles in search of his teacher. On meeting his teacher, Shah Inayat, Bulleh Shah asks: “how does one find God.” Shah Inayat, planting spring onions, replies: “what do you want to find God for? Just uproot this from here and plant it there.”

Saeen then broke out ecstatically into “Nachna Painda Ae” (‘Dance One Must’) swirling on the stage in his ghunghroo bells just as Bulleh Shah had once for Shah Inayat.

Saeen also sang on Bulleh Shah’s rebukes to legalistic Muslim clerics in “Bas Kare O Yaara Ilm” (‘Enough of Learning, My Friend’). Saeen tells us, Bulleh Shah gave up the shariah for the way of Love just as Heer refused to marry another man according to the shariah because she had been wedded spiritually to her Beloved. On love’s path, Saeen sings “let’s go Bulleh to that place where everyone is blind” in “Chal Bulleha Uthe Chale.”

From his stepping onto the stage, the audience became disciples of Saeen. He sang with abandon, he whirled with frenzy and he ended the night to the boom of the dhol drum bringing the audience to its feet. The air was filled with passion, energy and devotion. People went up to the stage and paid their respects by touching their heads to the stage or folding their hands in reverence: the theatre became a Sufi shrine, a dargah.

Above all, Saeen ensured Bulleh Shah will live on as a shared heritage. His spirit and art were the spirit of love and unity. Says Saeen: “humanity is to love one another.”

An Evening with Arundhati

arundhati

Written by Randeep Singh

She came. She spoke. She conquered. Arundhati Roy filled the pews of St. Andrew’s Wesley Church on April 1 as part of the Indian Summer Festival 2014.

Roy began by criticizing “representative democracy” as too much representation, not enough democracy. Democracy has plenty of institutions, Roy remarked, but those institutions have turned into conduits for a short-term, extractive, economic philosophy. “Could it be that democracy is such a hit with modern humans,” she reads, “precisely because it mirrors our greatest folly – our nearsightedness?”

Capitalism controls culture too. Roy spoke of how corporations engage in “perception management,” deliberately not funding artistic projects which question the system. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy says, drew a connection between capitalism, imperialism and the Vietnam War; but American multinationals did not highlight this aspect of his legacy when they sponsored the Martin Luther King Junior Centre for Non-Violent Social Change, an organization which works with the US Department of Defence. The Indian mining group, Vedanta, Roy points out, recently sponsored the “Creating Happiness” film competition for film students to make films on sustainable development (in communities affected by the mining) with the tagline “Mining Happiness.”

Roy also questioned Gandhi as the mahatma or “great soul.” Roy recounted how the anti-imperialist, anti-racist Gandhi fought alongside Great Britain in the Boer Wars, refused to ride in the same railway carriages as Africans and wrote in prison that Indians deserved separate prisons from vile and immoral blacks and Chinese.

When asked whether she was an activist, Roy replied she was a writer telling the world’s stories. Her readings and discussion with The Tyee’s David Beers, brought to life the politics of development, resistance movements and the management of culture by corporations just as the arts have reenacted the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement or the experience of Canadian aboriginals in Residential Schools. As Roy puts it, “why wouldn’t we write about the critical issues our society is facing?”

Israeli mother Addresses European Parliament

Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the mother of Smadar Elhanan, 13 years old when killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem in September 1997. Below is Nurit’s speech made on International Women’s Day in Strasbourg earlier this month.

Thank you for inviting me to this today. It is always an honour and a pleasure to be here, among you (at the European Parliament).

However, I must admit I believe you should have invited a Palestinian woman at my stead, because the women who suffer most from violence in my county are the Palestinian women. And I would like to dedicate my speech to Miriam R’aban and her husband Kamal, from Bet Lahiya in the Gaza strip, whose five small children were killed by Israeli soldiers while picking strawberries at the family`s strawberry field. No one will ever stand trial for this murder.

When I asked the people who invited me here why didn’t they invite a Palestinian woman, the answer was that it would make the discussion too localized.

I don’t know what is non-localized violence. Racism and discrimination may be theoretical concepts and universal phenomena but their impact is always local, and real. Pain is local, humiliation, sexual abuse, torture and death, are all very local, and so are the scars.

It is true, unfortunately, that the local violence inflicted on Palestinian women by the government of Israel and the Israeli army, has expanded around the globe, In fact, state violence and army violence, individual and collective violence, are the lot of Muslim women today, not only in Palestine but wherever the enlightened western world is setting its big imperialistic foot. It is violence which is hardly ever addressed and which is halfheartedly condoned by most people in Europe and in the USA.

This is because the so-called free world is afraid of the Muslim womb.

Great France of “la liberte égalite et la fraternite” is scared of little girls with head scarves. Great Jewish Israel is afraid of the Muslim womb which its ministers call a demographic threat.

Almighty America and Great Britain are infecting their respective citizens with blind fear of the Muslims, who are depicted as vile, primitive and blood-thirsty, apart from their being non-democratic, chauvinistic and mass producers of future terrorists. This in spite of the fact that the people who are destroying the world today are not Muslim. One of them is a devout Christian, one is Anglican and one is a non-devout Jew.

I have never experienced the suffering Palestinian women undergo every day, every hour, I don’t know the kind of violence that turns a woman’s life into constant hell. This daily physical and mental torture of women who are deprived of their basic human rights and needs of privacy and dignity, women whose homes are broken into at any moment of day and night, who are ordered at a gun-point to strip naked in front of strangers and their own children, whose houses are demolished , who are deprived of their livelihood and of any normal family life. This is not part of my personal ordeal.

But I am a victim of violence against women insofar as violence against children is actually violence against mothers. Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan women are my sisters because we are all at the grip of the same unscrupulous criminals who call themselves leaders of the free enlightened world and in the name of this freedom and enlightenment rob us of our children.

the-weeping-woman-of-pere-lachaise

Furthermore, Israeli, American, Italian and British mothers have been for the most part violently blinded and brainwashed to such a degree that they cannot realize their only sisters, their only allies in the world are the Muslim Palestinian, Iraqi or Afghani mothers, whose children are killed by our children or who blow themselves to pieces with our sons and daughters. They are all mind-infected by the same viruses engendered by politicians. And the viruses , though they may have various illustrious names–such as Democracy, Patriotism, God, Homeland–are all the same. They are all part of false and fake ideologies that are meant to enrich the rich and to empower the powerful.

We are all the victims of mental, psychological and cultural violence that turn us to one homogenic group of bereaved or potentially bereaved mothers. Western mothers who are taught to believe their uterus is a national asset just like they are taught to believe that the Muslim uterus is an international threat. They are educated not to cry out: `I gave him birth, I breast fed him, he is mine, and I will not let him be the one whose life is cheaper than oil, whose future is less worth than a piece of land.`

All of us are terrorized by mind-infecting education to believe all we can do is either pray for our sons to come back home or be proud of their dead bodies.

And all of us were brought up to bear all this silently, to contain our fear and frustration, to take Prozac for anxiety, but never hail Mama Courage in public. Never be real Jewish or Italian or Irish mothers.

I am a victim of state violence. My natural and civil rights as a mother have been violated and are violated because I have to fear the day my son would reach his 18th birthday and be taken away from me to be the game tool of criminals such as Sharon, Bush, Blair and their clan of blood-thirsty, oil-thirsty, land thirsty generals.

Living in the world I live in, in the state I live in, in the regime I live in, I don’t dare to offer Muslim women any ideas how to change their lives. I don’t want them to take off their scarves, or educate their children differently, and I will not urge them to constitute Democracies in the image of Western democracies that despise them and their kind. I just want to ask them humbly to be my sisters, to express my admiration for their perseverance and for their courage to carry on, to have children and to maintain a dignified family life in spite of the impossible conditions my world in putting them in. I want to tell them we are all bonded by the same pain, we all the victims of the same sort of violence even though they suffer much more, for they are the ones who are mistreated by my government and its army, sponsored by my taxes.

Islam in itself, like Judaism in itself and Christianity in itself, is not a threat to me or to anyone. American imperialism is, European indifference and co-operation is and Israeli racism and its cruel regime of occupation is. It is racism, educational propaganda and inculcated xenophobia that convince Israeli soldiers to order Palestinian women at gun-point, to strip in front of their children for security reasons, it is the deepest disrespect for the other that allow American soldiers to rape Iraqi women, that give license to Israeli jailers to keep young women in inhuman conditions, without necessary hygienic aids, without electricity in the winter, without clean water or clean mattresses and to separate them from their breast-fed babies and toddlers. To bar their way to hospitals, to block their way to education, to confiscate their lands, to uproot their trees and prevent them from cultivating their fields.

I cannot completely understand Palestinian women or their suffering. I don’t know how I would have survived such humiliation, such disrespect from the whole world. All I know is that the voice of mothers has been suffocated for too long in this war-stricken planet. Mothers` cry is not heard because mothers are not invited to international forums such as this one. This I know and it is very little. But it is enough for me to remember these women are my sisters, and that they deserve that I should cry for them, and fight for them. And when they lose their children in strawberry fields or on filthy roads by the checkpoints, when their children are shot on their way to school by Israeli children who were educated to believe that love and compassion are race and religion dependent, the only thing I can do is stand by them and their betrayed babies, and ask what Anna Akhmatova–another mother who lived in a regime of violence against women and children–asked:

Why does that streak o blood, rip the petal of your cheek?

Togetherness_Jewish_Palestinian_Child_political_solution

Published in “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”: http://jfjfp.com/?p=7720

‘The Unsung’ by Waseem Altaf

Looking at our history books, we find numerous characters, glorified as national heroes, however when closely examined we discover that they were nothing but opportunists and collaborators. We also find that since history books in Pakistan, as a matter of policy, focus on Pakistan movement rather than anti-colonialism, these men do not deserve any mention in our writings, particularly the official ones.

On the other hand there are a significant number of real heroes who have been conveniently pushed aside by our “ideologues” and the establishment. There is no mention of these great men in our text books and few, if any, know them in this country. However these men were the true symbols of defiance against the oppressive colonial rule, and the freedom the sub-continent won, to a great extent, is owed to these unsung heroes who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of their fellow countrymen.

Without indulging into an unending debate as to who is a terrorist and who qualifies as a freedom fighter, and to what extent the application of violence is justified in a liberation struggle, while we focus on the lives, the conviction and struggle of these men, we find that they were fighting a war of liberation against an oppressive colonial rule and hence were revolutionaries and freedom fighters and not terrorists. They never targeted innocent civilians to achieve political ends, and renounced their present, for the future generations, so that they can live in a free country and have the right to decide for themselves. We should also realize that when no constitutional means are available to achieve political ambitions, the tendency to resort to violence increases manifold.

Udham Singh was brought up in an orphanage. Both his parents passed away by the time he was seven. On April 13, 1919 Udham Singh was serving water to a peaceful gathering of around 20,000 Indians at Jalianwala Bagh, Amritsar, when on the orders of General Dyer, around 90 armed soldiers opened fire on the unarmed civilians who had assembled there to listen to the speeches of their leaders.

Estimates of death range from 379 to 1800, but official records verify that 1650 rounds of ammunition were used. Latest research has revealed that the massacre had occurred with full connivance of the Governor of Punjab Michael O’ Dwyer. Udham Singh who survived the killings, then vowed to take revenge in the Golden temple. For 21 years he continued with his revolutionary struggle and waited for the right moment to hit the main culprit until on March 13, 1940 he got the opportunity to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. At Caxton Hall London, he killed Michel O’ Dwyer with a revolver. He did not try to escape, was caught and tried. During the proceedings, when the court asked his name, he replied “Ram Muhammad Singh Azad” An unprecedented transcendence of caste and creed rarely witnessed in the history of mankind. On 31st July 1941 he was hanged at Pentonville prison. In July 1974, his remains were exhumed and brought back to India by a special envoy of the Government of India. He got a martyr’s reception. Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then Congress President and Gyani Zail Singh,the Punjab CM in 1974,received the casket. The Prime Minister Indira Gandhi laid a wreath. Udham Singh was later cremated at his birthplace Suna in Punjab and his ashes were immersed in river Sutlej.

Ashfaqullah Khan along with Roshan Singh and Ramprasad Bismil were furthering the freedom struggle through fund raising. Due to severe paucity of funds to buy arms and ammunition, the group decided to rob the government treasury carried in the trains. On August 9, 1925 they looted a train in Kakori near Lucknow. However the group was soon caught. In prison, while Ashfaq was saying his prayers an English officer remarked “I would like to see how much of that faith remains in him when we hang the rat.” When Ashfaqullah was being taken for the execution, he was taking two steps at a time; he reached for the rope, kissed it and put it around his neck. Being a religious man he was reciting the “kalima” when he swung on the gallows.

Today Ashfaqullah is a forgotten name, hanged at the age of 27, strongly believed that nationalism does not constitute religious identity.

Bhagat Singh was born in village Banga, near Lyallpur (now Faisalabad). As a teenager he became an atheist. He thoroughly studied European revolutionary movements, while Karl Marx and Engels appear prominently in his diary. During his studies he won an essay competition and was a great admirer of Iqbal the poet. To avenge the death of veteran freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai, killed by police violence, he shot and killed police officer J.P Saunders. Again on April 8, 1929, he threw a cracker in the assembly corridor and shouted “inqilab zindabad”. Bhagat Singh along with Rajguru and Sukhdev were arrested for the murder of the police officer. Bhagat Singh while quoting Irish revolutionary said “I am confident that my death will do more to smash the British Empire than my release”. This was when his father filed a mercy petition. While in condemned cell he wrote a pamphlet “why I am an atheist”.

During his life and after his death Bhagat Singh inspired thousands of youth to actively join the independence movement which ultimately culminated in the liberation of the subcontinent from the colonial rule. He was reading Lenin when at 4 in the morning jail warder Chater Singh asked him to take his last bath.

Bhagat Singh along with comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged on 23rd March 1931.

Chandrashekhar Azad, a revolutionary and freedom fighter was inspired by the non-cooperation movement of Mahatma Gandhi and he actively participated in revolutionary activities. At the tender age of 15 he was caught and awarded 15 lashes for being an activist. With each stroke of the whip he would raise a slogan. He then vowed that he would never be captured alive by the British police. He was also a poet and one of his poems is still recited which says “Dushman ki goliyon ka hum samna karenge, Azad hee rahein hain, azad hee rahenge”Azad kept his freedom struggle and remained involved in covert activities, when finally he was betrayed by a police informer. He was encircled by the British police in Alfred Park, Allahabad on 27th February 1931.Instead of surrendering to the enemy he shot himself in the temple.

Chandershekhar Azad died for freedom while keeping his pledge that he would not be captured alive.
These unsung heroes and several others from diverse backgrounds; Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and atheists; all fighting for the cause of Indian nationalism shed their blood for the liberation of the people and the land, so that we, belonging to a different generation live a better life unfettered by the ignominy of imperialist domination and colonial exploitation. The debt of gratitude we owe to them can never be repaid.

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