Surrey Steals from the Homeless! RALLY AND MARCH – Oct 3/16

homeless-march-poster

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When: 3:00 pm, Monday Oct 3
Where: 135A Street (near 106th Ave), Surrey

Every day the RCMP, Surrey bylaw officers and city workers come to “The Strip” (135A Street) in order to force homeless residents to take down their tents, pack up their belongings and make everything moveable. And every day they confiscate somebody’s possessions because they consider them unattended or just garbage.

But homeless residents of “The Strip” are fighting back. We will be marching to Surrey City Hall to protest the city’s orchestrated and relentless theft of our belongings. We demand that the City of Surrey stop stealing our stuff.

FOOD
Food will be provided at the end of the event, around 5pm on the 135A strip

TRANSPORTATION
We will be organizing transportation to this march so other displaced and evicted communities can support the Surrey homeless in their struggle. To get a ride from Maple Ridge, Abbotsford, or elsewhere, and to travel together by transit from Vancouver, contact AAD: organize@stopdisplacement.ca or (778) 708-5006

Organized by
Residents of The Strip
&
Alliance Against Displacement

From: https://www.facebook.com/events/1937640533130081/
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One Canada, One Citizen

canadian-citizen-7025359
Written by Randeep Singh

It’s Canada Day, a good time to reflect on what Canada means to us. I immigrated to Canada like many before and after me. I became a citizen. I am proud to be Canadian.

The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act (better known as Bill C-24), hasn’t made me any less proud to be Canadian, even if it does put me in a different class of citizenship.

All countries differentiate between citizens and foreign nationals or citizens and permanent residents. Canada previously revoked citizenship if it was obtained through fraud or misrepresentation. This was in accordance with the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; but, differentiating between citizens?

The French Revolution developed the modern idea of the “citizen.” The Revolution sought to create a society where people (men) existed as equal citizens before law, not as subjects with differing privileges. In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt referred to citizenship as the “right to have rights,” the right to belong to a political community and have one’s rights protected by that community. In a 1997 ruling, Justice Iacobucci for the Supreme Court of Canada stated, “I cannot imagine an interest more fundamental to full membership in Canadian society than Canadian citizenship.”

In differentiating between different classes of Canadian citizens and in revoking (or maintaining) their citizenship status accordingly, the Government of Canada (the Conservative Party of Canada) is not only revoking a legal status; it is revoking all constitutionally enshrined rights associated with such status.

The law apparently infringes equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by discriminating between Canadians (individuals and groups) on the basis of national and ethnic origin. There are all sorts of practical and humanitarian concerns to consider. How can the government send de-nationalized persons “back” to a country which does not receive them? Can it return a person back to a country where he or she may be persecuted?

The Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act is an act of splintering Canadian citizenship. It creates different classes of citizenship (for different reasons) just as states in the Deep South of the United States created different classes of American citizens through legal discrimination.

I can only take comfort that it will be challenged and under the grounds of the Constitution of Canada which affirms the equality of Canadians, regardless of their differences.

Further Reading:

http://www.toptipsclub.com/blog/immigration-citizenship/nine-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-changes-to-canadian-citizenship/

Works Cited:

“Revocation of Citizenship after the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act,” Peter Edelmann in Immigration Issues: Not Business as Usual, (Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, 2014).

‘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

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Solidarity with 88 Arrested Women Health Workers in Hyderabad

JOIN THE DEMO IN SOLIDARITY WITH arrested Women Health Workers

We condemn the arrests of 88 women health workers and torture on them by Sindh police and Government. We demand their immediate release and announcement of permanent jobs for them.

Please Join a protest demo this Friday to show solidarity with the historic women workers’ democratic struggle.

Friday, March 25
3pm
Press Club Hyderabad

An arrested Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) member called in to report that 88 protesting women health workers with 70 male workers, have been arrested from the small town of Kombh near Ghotki.

Their bus was forcefully hijacked by the area police on the instructions of provincial high ups. The police contingent then forced the driver to take the bus to Sakhkhar central jail where they are now being kept.

The police has registered a case under anti terrorism act. The LPP member was in protest from Karachi, along with thousands of women workers in the province of Sindh for better working conditions.

Organized by
LABOUR PARTY Hyderabad SINDH
WOMEN ACTION FORUM (WAF)

For more information
Nasir Mansoor
Deputy Secretary
National Trade Union Federation (NTUF)
Labour Secretary
Labour Party Pakistan (LPP)
03003587211
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Among the blasphemers

The fugitive
“I changed my name once I got out of jail,” says Yakoob nonchalantly.
“Why did you do that?” I ask him.
“To live.”
It seemed so aptly put. At the age of 28, he was forced to become someone else — adopt a new name, find a new home, and start a new life. The reason? — he had been convicted for committing blasphemy. Ten years after getting out of jail, he already looked old and worn out. So much for a new life…

“I was in for 3 years, and I was kept in solitary confinement throughout,” Yakoob tells me. “I was kept separate from the rest of the inmates, but the prison guards tortured me and kept saying things which I knew weren’t true.”
“Like what?”
“Like, if I converted to Islam, they would try to get me a pardon.” He seems nervous saying this to me, perhaps because he knows I am a Muslim by faith.
“Why didn’t you convert then?” I ask.
“Sir, why should I? To each his own; my religion is as beloved to me as theirs is to them.”

Religious intolerance — that was the root cause of Yakoob’s misery. If religion is the opium of the masses, I was now beginning to find out why this particular narcotic was so lethal. In the wake of the much talked about case of Aasia Bibi, I had met Yakoob through the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), a human rights organisation that provided legal and financial help to those accused of blasphemy. We had agreed to meet in a church in Lahore where Yakoob felt safe.

Yakoob was from Sialkot but the fear of ‘street justice’ prevented him from visiting his family in their hometown. In the late 90s a rival shop-owner accused Yakoob of pelting stones on religious hoardings during a rally organised by Christians. This happened in the wake of a bishop killing himself in protest against the blasphemy laws. But according to Yakoob, he didn’t even know about the rally, much less attend it. Of course, no one paid attention to his pleas and the court sentenced him to jail. He has now been living in Lahore for many years, afraid that he will be lynched by the people in his hometown, despite already having served his sentence.

A glass half empty
Yakoob may have got out of jail in 3 years but Aasia Bibi isn’t so lucky. On death row, her hanging is contingent only on approval from the Lahore High Court, which is still pending. A friend sent me the 15- page court verdict on Aasia. An interesting fact in the hearing was Aasia’s denial of ever having committed blasphemy, but the large number of witnesses against her made her case weak. Aasia’s lawyer also raised objections on grounds of the discrepancy between the time of the incident and the complaint, which was registered four days later, but the district court judge still ruled against Aasia.

Out of the 300 households of Ittanwala, a small village some two hours’ drive from Lahore close to the Indian border, the only Christian residents were Aasia Bibi and her family. Our guide, a local journalist, took us along a road that led to mud houses built close to each other. “That’s Aasia’s house,” he said, pointing to the first house. “Some family members are still living there.”

This was surprising because the media had reported that Aasia’s family was on the run.

Before meeting anyone, we had to see the Maulvi of the village. Qari Salaam’s house was the lassat in a narrow lane lined with concrete and mud houses, next to the mosque where he led prayers. A friendly man in his mid-thirties, he had a long black beard and wore a turban. Salaam was the one who had registered the case against Aasia after two village-girls had complained to him.

Salaam took us to the exact spot where Aasia and the girls had had an argument. From a dirt road, we were led to an orchard where a man named Idrees, was sitting on a charpoy. Idrees was one of the testifier in Aasia’s case. With Idrees, we made our way further into the orchard until we reached an open spot under a tree. “This is where it all started,” said Idrees.
“It was the summer of 2009,” he began. “I was out here when I heard Asia fighting with the two sisters. It was lunch time and they were having food. When I asked them what the problem was, Mafia told me that Aasia had just committed blasphemy and said things about our religion and our Prophet,” he added.
“Why would she do that?” I asked.
“Well, Aasia and the sisters had just eaten lunch, and Aasia took their glass and drank water out of it. The two sisters did not touch the glass after that. So Aasia inquired why they weren’t touching the glass. The sisters told her that it was because she is Christian and they would not drink out of her glass,” said Idrees.
“This infuriated Asia so much that she went on to say blasphemous things,” Qari Salaam added.
“Like what?” I asked.
“Those are words that we cannot repeat,” the two said in unison.

I wanted to meet the girls who had reported Aasia Bibi to Qari Salaam and the maulvi agreed to take us to their house. Of the two sisters, only Mafia was home when we arrived. Her younger siblings and nephews were playing around her. She kept her face covered during our meeting. Her story was a repeat of what we’d heard in the orchard.
When she had finished, I asked her why she wouldn’t drink out of a Christian’s glass.
“As Muslims we should not share it,” she said with conviction.
Then I asked her what she thought of the pardon for Aasia.
“Aasia deserves death. She should be killed soon,” she said furiously. “These delay tactics of our judicial system reflect inefficiency.”

Fear and loathing
Our next visit was to Aasia’s house which was on the same street as Mafia’s. Aasia’s sister-in-law, woman in her mid-thirties, opened the door and told me that she was living there to take care of Aasia’s sister who had had a baby recently. By that time a sizable crowd had gathered outside the house and as she opened the door to let us in, I could tell that she was scared. Inside the house, I met Aasia’s sister, Sonia* a malnourished woman holding a baby in her lap.

When asked her if she thought Aasia could say all that she had been accused of, she replied “I don’t know.”
Then she added, “This is not the first time Aasia or her family have been targeted in this village. They would block the family’s sewerage line, damage the house walls. She was uneducated, she didn’t know about her own religion. How could she come up with such specific facts about the Prophet (pbuh) and present them in a twisted, derogatory manner?” she asked.
“So you think she’s being targeted for her religion?” I asked.
Before she could say anything, a face popped up from the wall beside her. A man was listening to our conversation. Sonia froze, too scared to speak.
“Are you not scared to live here?” I asked her.
“We don’t have a choice. Someone has to live here to protect the house,” she said.

Ashiq, Aasia’s husband, was on the run, and Sonia told me to get in touch with him through Aasia’s lawyer.
But, when I contacted him, the lawyer was reluctant. “Ashiq is in danger,” he told me over the phone. “Salmaan Taseer’s assassination has changed everything,” he added. Finally, he agreed to arrange a meeting in a village just outside Lahore after midnight.

I met Ashiq in a house that was under construction. I was ushered to the first floor where cement and sawdust were strewn on the floor. There sat Aasia’s three children, with their aunt. Their faces were unwashed, their clothes were tattered and uncertainty lingered in their eyes… I wondered how long it would be before they could stop running.

Ashiq told me that he met his wife once a week but the children never went along with him since it was too dangerous. He had lost his job a while ago and only his son was working now. He had a job in some other village, but it was likely that he would lose it soon. The family was barely able to survive.

I asked him why he was on the run but, before he could reply, one of children piped up.
“They were going to kill her that day. She was thrashed for hours. Do you think we could stay there? They beat her almost to death.” The anger in this child’s voice broke my heart. She was barely 12 and that had been the last that she’d seen of her mother.
“So do you think you will ever see your mother again?” I asked her.
“I trust God — He will bring her back to us,” she replied.

The road to Gojra
Analysts say that because of the circumstances surrounding Governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, Aasia has little or no chance of getting her sentence reverted. Following Taseer’s murder, the government announced that it would withdraw the proposed amendments’ bill in the blasphemy law which had been submitted to parliament by Sherry Rehman. With this, any hope of change has died out.

The blasphemy law was amended under General Zia-ul-Haq — a dictator who we all agree brought ‘the Kalashnikov culture’, heroin smuggling, and ethnic tension to this country. Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world that award capital punishment for blasphemy; the other is Saudi Arabia. Other Muslim states do not award death sentences for blasphemy. In that case do Pakistan’s laws really uphold the ideals that the country was built upon? Another round of investigations answered my questions.

In 2009, seven Christians were burnt alive by a mob in Gojra and recently, the Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah claimed the issue had been settled. But NCJP, which had been handling this case, took issue with the minister’s claim. So I decided to see for myself.

The next day I was on my way to Gojra, an hour’s drive from Faisalabad. We had arranged to meet the local priest, Father Younus, in a church. As we sat down for tea, I noticed a nearby wall had ‘The Gojra Tragedy’ written on it. On closer inspection, I saw it was covered with photographs of women crying, injured men and a street with burnt houses… Father Younus introduced us to Haroon, whose mother and sister had been amongst those that died when Christian houses in Gojra were set on fire. Haroon took us to the street where it had all happened.

We reached a noisy street with freshly-painted houses on each side. Kids played in the street and women chatted with each other in corners. A big signboard lauded the government of Punjab’s reconstruction efforts. At the end of the street was a house which the government of Punjab had obviously not reconstructed: its walls were scorched and the dilapidated door had a big padlock on it.

“This is the house where seven people including my sister and mother were burnt alive,” Haroon said. “It all started with the sermons in the mosque that day. We could hear them over the loudspeakers: ‘Kill the Christians!’ And even though we were forewarned, what could a few Christians do against a mob of hundreds of people who wanted to kill them?” Haroon had fear in his eyes as he narrated the events of that dark day. He went on to tell us how, following the announcement, mobs of teenagers descended on their street, beating people, throwing petrol bombs into homes, and opening fire at those who were fleeing.
“Why wasn’t this house reconstructed?” I asked him.
“Because the son of the man killed in this incident has not withdrawn the case yet,” he said. Apparently, the Punjab government has rebuilt only those houses whose owners have withdrawn charges against members of the mob. And all have done so, except for the owner of this house where seven human beings had been burnt alive.

So that’s what the Punjab Law minister had meant when he said the issue had been settled.

Haroon took us to the Muslim preachers of the area. “That’s the mosque,” he said. “The mullah there is from Sipah-e-Sahaba.” According to reports from the interior ministry, Sipah-e-Sahaba, a banned organisation, was behind the Gojra attacks. I waited for Maulana Kashmiri to finish Friday prayers so that I could talk to him. His sermon that day is something that I cannot forget even today. He was screaming through a microphone and claiming that he was quoting most of it from the Quran. The crowd was mesmerised. “The infidels will lead you astray. They do everything for money — a worldly pleasure that will not last,” he shouted.

While waiting for him to get done with the prayers, I met some teenagers outside the mosque. One of them pointed to the mosque and said, “Maulana Kashmiri is not affiliated with Sipah-e-Sahaba anymore but he was with them. He left it after coming back from jail.”

When I joined Maulana Kashmiri at his home, I asked him whether he was a member of Sipah-e-Sahaba.tase.
“No, I don’t belong to any religious organisation. I am just an imam of this mosque,” he replied. He told me that he had been in jail for fourteen months after the Gojra incident and had gotten out a few months ago. But his fourteen month detention was illegal, he claimed.
He flatly denied having made anti-Christian statements in his sermons. “I have made no such announcements. Nothing of the sort happened that day,” he said, referring to the day of the Gojra tragedy. “Actually some Muslim youth were attacked and injured by Christians. That led to the ‘riots’. You should check the hospital record which shows that Muslims were brought to the emergency room before the time quoted on the FIR registered by the Christians.”
He went on to defend himself and I realised that Maulana Kashmiri was not going to change his version of events. “It was just that people were angry because of the blasphemy committed by a Christian family in Korian, following which Christians tried to attack and ridicule Muslim youth in Gojra. This is what caused the riots.”
“So now you’re out and free?” I asked him.
“Not really, I still have to go to the hearing in the court,” he replied.

No Witnesses, no case
A few days later, I was at Maulana Kashmiri’s hearing at the Anti Terrorist court in Faisalabad. I found out that none of the victims would be present at the hearing, because all had withdrawn their cases except Almas Hameed. Almost all of Hameed’s family including his wife, son, daughter, sister-in-law, mother, aunt and father had died that day. Hameed himself had left the country for Thailand a few months ago, owing to security concerns. Now it was just the state and one Christian that pursued the case.

A few minutes after 9.00 am, a bus stopped in front of the gate and a group of around 50 people got off.
“Who are these people?” I asked the man leading the group.
“They are the nominated accused in the FIR of the Gojra incident,” he said.
The man I had spoken to was Rehmatullah, who belonged to the Jamaat-e-Islami and was providing legal support to these villagers.

When Rehmatullah came out of court he said, “The court has deferred the hearing for the next week due to a lack of witness accounts and has asked the state to present the witnesses next time.”
“We are innocent!” cried one of the men standing next to Rehmatullah. Maulana Kashmiri, who had also come out, nodded in agreement. “There are no witnesses because they know they are wrong,” he said. “We will get justice.”
“Do you know what happened at Gojra and Korian?” I asked him.
“Yes, I do, and even though none of us did it, the Christians still deserved it. They are blasphemers!” he shouted angrily. And a chorus of people echoed his words.

Among the believers
So whether it was the villagers, the educated masses or the politicians — the stance against blasphemy was the same.

I saw all these people come together under one umbrella the following week at a rally in Lahore organised by Islamist parties in support of the blasphemy law. The Jamaat-e-Islami representative Rehmatullah, who I had met outside the ATC in Faisalabad, was at the rally which was to begin from Nasir Bagh on Kachehri Road near the District courts and stop at the Punjab Assembly prominent leaders from the JUI-F, JI and JuD would address the crowd.

Islamist organisations were one of the biggest pressure groups in support of the blasphemy law and I could see how they managed their support. They backed these accused villagers and in return they got the street power they needed to shake the pillars of power. It was a win-win situation.

Rehmat-ullah got out of a bus in which he had brought a crowd of more than 150 people who were now marching towards the Kachehri Road.

The government had set up a loose security barrier that many were bypassing as we followed the group. The crowd was becoming larger and louder, shouting anti-government slogans, holding placards and party flags (including that of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba’s). The rally was astonishing — there were people that carried posters of Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of Salmaan Taseer with statements like ‘He is our hero’, and ‘Free Qadri’. Some people had placards with ‘Hang Aasia Bibi’ written on them. On Mall Road, a truck was painted with a photo-shopped full-size poster of Qadri sitting on a throne. His handcuffs had been digitally removed from the picture and two dead dogs lay in a puddle of blood at his feet. Two other dogs stood by, with Pope Benedict’s face photoshopped on their bodies. People were kissing Qadri’s feet while spitting on the dogs. A group of people carried effigies dressed as witches with the names of who they represented written on a placard. A man pointed at the effigies and shouted, ‘Meet Sherry Rehman and Fauzia Wahab.’

Sherry Rehman’s name had been changed to Sherry Satan. “She wants to bring a change in the blasphemy law. We will not let her,” shouted the man carrying her effigy. “She will end up like Salmaan Taseer!”

I had thought that the Islamists in Pakistan were politically motivated to pressurise the government and that the rally would be their show alone– but I had been wrong, mainstream political parties were at the rally as well. Outside the Punjab assembly, the rally was being addressed by the PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafiq and the ex-chief minister Punjab Chauhdry Pervez Elahi from the PML-Q. The Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaaf had also sent its representative.

I asked Khawaja Saad Rafique if it was wise to mix politics and religion. “This is not politics; it is our duty as Muslims to defend Islam,” replied the parliamentarian before leaving in a convoy of jeeps.
“Islam will prevail no matter what,” screamed the loudspeakers around me as another political activist started to speak.
“Will it?” I thought to myself. And if so, which brand of Islam? With the hatred and bigotry I have witnessed in the past few weeks, I wondered what happened to the Islam of my childhood, the religion of peace, harmony and tolerance? How many more Taseers, Bhattis and Aasias will pay the price for our inability to tolerate the opinions and faiths of others?

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, March 13th, 2011.

NB: This e-mail is forwarded by Friends of National Students’ Federation (NSF); striving for a secular Pakistan. Friends of National Students’ Federation (NSF) is an electronic forum to disseminate information from dialectical perspective. This e-forum may or may not agree with the contents of a particular writing, but circulate it for alternative view points and healthy debate

The Friends of National Students Federation is defending the rights of progressives/liberals/secularists/non-believers/minority groups from the demands of religious power-seekers. The FNSF vows to combat the influence of religion on governments. We want to ensure that Human Rights always come before religious rights, and we fight the massive exemptions religious bodies demand – and are sometimes granted – from discrimination laws that everyone else is subject to. Every privilege has its victims.

We campaign for a society where everyone is free to practise their faith, change it or not have one. Belief or lack of it should not be an advantage or a disadvantage. Religion should be a private matter, for the home and place of worship; it must not have privileged influence in the public and political arenas where it can too easily become an excuse for conflict, inequality and injustice.

We fight to protect free expression from attacks by religious groups who often want to restrict or prevent any examination of their activities and the results of their beliefs. We are working to protect artistic expression from religious censors.

We believe that only by secularising our institutions can we ensure that no religious ideology can dominate and discriminate against others and that progressives/liberals/secularists/non-believers/minority groups are given equal treatment.

(This write-up owes a lot to National Secular Society of England)

From CMKP Newsletter
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‘Bhatti’s assassination: a sign of a deep malaise’ by Farhat Taj

Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Gilani, was shot dead in broad daylight in the federal capital. Bhatti, the minister for minorities, had been receiving frequent death threats from terrorists. This is the second high-profile killing in two months, following the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, who was gunned down by a religious fanatic hailed as a hero by religious groups and even lawyers. Both leaders had been vocally opposing Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws and publicly supporting the release of Aasia Bibi, a poor Christian woman implicated in a dubious blasphemy case. Both had been publicly highlighting legal flaws in the blasphemy laws.

The aftermath of the killing shows nothing to indicate that Pakistanis in key power positions are even acknowledging the deep malaise the country is suffering from: religious extremism nurtured for foreign and domestic policy objectives. All signs show that religious bigotry will continue to be used for state objectives by the military and the political class will continue to succumb to the lethal military-militant alliance.

Reportedly, the Punjabi Taliban took responsibility for Bhatti’s assassination. The PML-N’s Punjab chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif, expressed his displeasure over the term ‘Punjabi Taliban’ in the media. During a talk with newsmen he was reluctant to declare the Taliban as terrorists. Some people in FATA call the PML-N the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) of Punjab. This is because the party’s position on the Taliban is vague and tacitly pro-Taliban. Recall, some time back the chief minister even asked the Taliban to spare Punjab from attacks because the Taliban and the PML-N’s objectives converge. It looks like the largest province of Pakistan will have to bleed much more with Taliban atrocities before the PML-N wakes up to the reality. Religious extremism, it seems, has permeated a large section of the Punjabi middle class. This is a very bad sign for the religious as well as ethnic minorities of Pakistan. Religious minorities, especially in Punjab, are routinely attacked and people in FATA, especially Waziristan, inform that their land is occupied by the Punjabi Taliban — many of them ISI operatives — who physically control the minority of Pakhtun terrorists and foreign al Qaeda militants.

The PPP is increasingly caving in to the terrorists. It has abandoned people within its own ranks for taking a principled stance against the forces of religious fanaticism. Late Salmaan Taseer gave his life for supporting a poor Christian woman entrapped in a dubious blasphemy case. The PPP, which is supposed to be a supporter of the minorities’ rights, extended him no support. He was left vulnerable to attacks by religious fanatics, who took his life. Another PPP member, Sherry Rehman, who was prepared to table a bill to amend the country’s blasphemy laws in the National Assembly, has been silenced and made to give up the plan by the party. Fatwas (edicts) had been issued against Shahbaz Bhatti, another PPP stalwart and minister, calling for his assassination. The government showed no signs of standing by the minister for fear of losing power under pressure from the right-wing lobby. His request for a bulletproof car was also not entertained by the government. The result is in front of us — he was gunned down. Perhaps next would be the turn of Sherry Rehman. There is no sign the government would publicly stand by her.

The religious parties are silent over the assassination of Bhatti and thus tacitly approving it. The top tier leadership of the right-wing political parties remains quiet, or guarded in its response. Their spokesmen engage in the usual rhetoric.

The assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti is a sign of the deep malaise afflicting Pakistan. The overwhelming intelligence agencies of Pakistan have long used religious bigotry as a tool to bleed Pakhtun nationalism in Afghanistan, the Indian state in Kashmir, and assault secular and nationalist forces inside Pakistan. The military-militant alliance remains intact. It has even put the responsibility of Bhatti’s assassination on the US. Pro-establishment rhetorician, Zaid Hamid, has said in a TV talk show that the handlers of Bhatti’s assassins are US spy operatives in Pakistan. I am afraid some time down the road Sherry Rehman would be killed by the bloodthirsty alliance and the blame will be put on US ‘spies’ to fuel anti-Americanism in Pakistan. Assassinations of secular minded people is fetching double benefit for the military-militant alliance: one, it purges Pakistan of secular ‘infidels’ that, by implication, creates more political space for the religious forces, and two, it stokes the fire of anti-Americanism in Pakistan when they blame US spies for such assassinations.

Nothing short of a people’s revolution against the military-militant alliance can save Pakistan. But there is no one to lead such a revolution. Pakistan, as elaborated in a book, Armageddon in Pakistan, is a feudal state. Its power structure is held by a feudal army, feudal democracy, feudal judiciary and feudal media. The army dominates the feudal system and the other three are its beneficiaries as junior partners. Why should the other three break down the system that benefits them? The former three will never come out to speak for the people, especially the ethnic and religious minorities, devastated by the military-militant alliance. There is no place in Pakistan for people who can take a principled stance on the rights of the people oppressed by this deadly alliance. The likes of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti will continue to be eliminated. Let us see who is the next to be assassinated.

From SPN Newsletter

Endorse This Letter: Murder of Shahbaz Bhatti Shaheed

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

March 4, 2011
by Citizens for Democracy

Please see below Open letter to The President, Prime Minister, Interior Minister, Chief Justice, and heads of all political parties, Pakistan, re: murder of Shahbaz Bhatti and demand for action against calls for violence and vigilante action.
Deadline for endorsements (including name, profession, city): Monday March 7, midnight Pakistan time, after which we will compile signatures and send to the recipients and to media. Endorsements can be made here, or via email to cfd.pak@gmail.com. Please share with friends. If anyone wants to translate it and circulate, please feel free. Thanks

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

Re: Murder of Shahbaz Bhatti and demand for action against calls for violence and vigilante action

The murder of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, again highlights the rampant lawlessness in Pakistan and the impunity with which the “forces of violence” act against “whoever stands against their radical philosophy,” to quote the late Mr Bhatti. These “forces” find fertile ground to operate in an atmosphere where calls to vigilante action are publically made and celebrated.

We urge the government and its functionaries to swiftly apprehend, charge, try and punish Mr Bhatti’s murderers, and also to take immediate measures to curb this trend.

We urge all political parties and parliamentarians to take a clear stand on this issue: No citizen has the right to cast aspersions at the faith and beliefs of any other citizen or to term someone else a ‘blasphemer’.

We urge the federal and provincial governments, the judiciary and the security and law enforcement agencies to ensure protection for those, like former information minister Sherry Rehman, who are publicly threatened by extremists

Some immediate steps that must immediately be taken include:

1. An urgent and meaningful shift in the long-standing policy of appeasing extremists, by the security establishment, the judiciary, the political class and much of the media, with a few honourable exceptions.

2. Hold accountable and charge under the law those who incite hatred and violence; zero tolerance for any public labeling of anyone as ‘blasphemer’, which in the current situation is an incitement to murder, even brazen declaration of criminal intent and commission of a crime. Some recent examples of such incitement are:
– Maulana Yousuf Qureshi, Imam of the Mohabbat Khan Mosque, Peshawar, announced a Rs 500,000 award for the murder of Asia Bibi if the Lahore High Court acquitted her of blasphemy (reported on December 3, 2010, a month prior to the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer; some newspaperseven wrote editorials supporting this call for murder.)
– Banners placed at public places in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi-Islamabad by “Tehreek-e-Nifaz-Tableegh-e-Islam” terming Tehmina Durrani as Pakistan’s Taslima Nasreen and demanding that she be hanged. These must be removed forthwith and the organisation, and administrative officers who allowed these banners to be placed, proceeded against.

3. Prevent the rising number of ‘blasphemy’ cases being registered, by laying down and enforcing a law whereby no such cases may be registered without being inquired into by a judicial magistrate.

(endorsed)
Please include your name,
profession, and city

Organisational endorsements from CFD supporting organisations include:
Professional Organisations Mazdoor Federations & Hari Joint Committee – POJAC, an umbrella organisation including: 1. Sindh High Court Bar Association; 2. Pakistan Medical Association (PMA); 3. All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation (APNEC); 4. Mutahida Labour Federation; 5. Karachi Union of Journalists; 6. Pakistan Workers Federation; 7. All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF); 8. All Pakistan Clerk Association; 9. Democratic Labour Union State Bank of Pakistan; 10. UBL Workmen Union (CBA); 11. National Bank Trade Union Federation; 12. Karachi Bar Association; 13. Pakistan Nursing Federation; 14. National Trade Union Federation; 15. Sindh Hari Committee; 16. Govt. Sec. Teachers Association; 17. Pakistan Hotel And Restaurant Workers Federation; 18. Mehran Mazdoor Federation; 19. All Sindh Primary Teachers Association; 20. Sindh Professor Lecturer Association; 21. Malir Bar Association, Karachi; 22. Pakistan Trade Union Federation (PTUF); 23. Railway Workers Union Open Line (cba) Workshop; 24. Mehran Railway Employees Welfare Association; 25. All Pakistan Trade Unions Organisations; CFD members and those endorsing the above statement also include: 26. Awami Party; 27. Labour Party Pakistan (LPP); 28. Progressive Youth Front (PYF); 29. Communist Party Pakistan (CPP); 30. Peace and Solidarity Council; 31. Pakistan Institute of Labour, Education & Research (Piler); 32. Action Committee for Human Rights; 33. Dalit Front; 34. National NCommission for Justice and Peace (CJP); 35. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP); 36. Caritas; 37. Aurat Foundation; 38. Women’s Action Forum (WAF); 39. People’s Resistance; 40. Sindh Awami Sangat; 41. National Organisation of Working Committees; 42. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF); 43. Child and Labour Rights Welfare Organisation; 44. Progressive Writers Association (PWA); 45. Port Workers Federation; 46. Shirkat Gah; 47. Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC); 48. Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA); 49. Sanjan Nagar Public Education Trust  (SNPET);  50. Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN); 51. Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF); 52. SAP-Pakistan; 53. AwazCDS-Pakistan; 54. GCAP-Pakistan; 55. Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF); 56. Labour Education Foundation (LEF); 57. Progressive Youth Forum; 58. National Students’ Federation (NSF); 59. The Researchers; 60. Tehrik-e-Niswan; 61. Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD); 62. Crises Support Group of Residents for Defence and Clifton, Karachi; 63. Baaghi: A blog for secular Pakistan; 64. Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP); 65. Ansar Burney Trust International; 66. Viewpoint International; 67. Pakistan Youth Alliance; 68. Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI); 69. Youth Together for Human Rights Education (YTHRE); 70. The Institute for Social Movements (ISM); 71 South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-Pk); 72. Institute for Development Initiatives; 73. Shehri-CBE; 74. Institute for Peace and Secular studies; 75. Youth Parliament of Pakistan; 76. Pattan; 77. Awami Jamhoori Forum; 78. Community Development Initiative (CDI)

From Citizens For Democracy

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