Quetta sit-in: Sublime patience in sub-zero temperature

Published: January 14, 2013
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Sources in the Hazara community claim the injured are not being given the medical care and attention they deserve. PHOTO: AFP

Sources in the Hazara community claim the injured are not being given the medical care and attention they deserve. PHOTO: AFP

QUETTA: 

The Hazara community has announced that it will wait for the notification of governor’s rule in Balochistan on Monday before ending their nationwide sit-ins.

Before the late-night development, the entire Shia Hazara community in Quetta was out in the merciless sub-zero temperatures of winter, away from the comfort of their homes, for the fourth straight day. Thousands of people from all walks of life, ethnicity and religious background were also continuing their sit-ins elsewhere in the country to press for their demands.

Till this story went into print, the number of dead bodies the Hazaras had been refusing to bury as part of a peaceful but powerful protest is 114, with more being added every day as the injured of the blasts continue to succumb to their injuries. Sources in the Hazara community claim the injured are not being given the medical care and attention they deserve.

A visual scan of the crowd at the protest revealed both men and women, of all age groups. Grandmothers were protesting alongside newborn babies as young as 10 days old, out in the cold.

“We have not gone home even once in these four days. We are not willing to leave our dead all alone. They are not being buried for a reason. They are waking up the numb conscience of many, something even alive Hazaras have not been able to,” said an unnamed female Hazara activist at the occasion before the late-night clamping of governor’s rule in Balochistan.

According to the Human Rights Commission for Social Justice & Peace, in Pakistan there are an estimated 956,000 people belonging to this community, of which 600,000 live in Quetta city alone.

“Mainstream media has not given this protest the coverage it deserved. It was only after we had incessantly tweeted and created at least 250 Facebook pages, that people became aware of our plight as we sat waiting alongside our martyrs,” said another Hazara activist.

The haunting photographs of grieving Hazaras sitting alongside an array of coffins with eyes searching for justice became viral on social media and finally woke up the media in general.

“Everybody is saying we should bury our dead because Islamic tradition demands the dead be buried at the earliest. We are Muslims. We know that. But people have to understand that this is an exceptional situation.

“Political forces are pressurising us to give up on our demands and keep saying ‘bury the dead and then we’ll talk’. But we know that once the dead are buried, there will be no pressure. More Hazaras will continue to be slaughtered. It’s better to go through this pain today than having to bury our loved ones month after month,” said the female Hazara activist on Sunday evening.

According to her, they have had to change the shrouds of the martyrs frequently as the bleeding from the bodies continued, and it was not easy, but even in their death, the dead were helping potentially towards saving lives.

A wave of support in the last 4 days has highlighted the plight of the Hazaras. Hazara activists expressed satisfaction and gratitude over the support the common people have shown.

“We thank you for standing up for our community. Rest assured, if tomorrow something happens to your communities, God Forbids, the Hazaras will stand up for what is right,” said a Hazara community elder.

Interestingly, the most support from members of other ethnicities in the Quetta area has been from women. “It’s heartening to see Punjabi and Urdu-speaking women, besides other ethnicities too, slowly trickling in and joining us to support us, even though they know that it’s not the most secure place,” said a grateful Hazara woman.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • gp65 .
    Jan 14, 2013 - 6:01AM

    Salute the courage of these protestors. I hope they are successful in waking the nation’s conscience.

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  • janan
    Jan 14, 2013 - 6:34AM

    i fail to understand why thesecurity agencies do not target the leaders of these banned terror outfits. the law should take its course and if required, these terror cells should be eliminated.

    we as a society have started to tolerate them, not beacause we like them, but because we don’t want to be next. well, that is a false notion we are living in and time has come that just like long march, we should take out a long march demanding ruthless action against these animals.

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  • Aysha
    Jan 14, 2013 - 7:30AM

    The incident is extremely tragic, but, pls respect the dead, it is encouraged in Islam to bury as soon as possible.

    The Ahmedies when lost nearly the same number of people in Lahore May 2010, while offering prayers, were able to bury their dead within almost 24 hours, even when they had to move the bodies from Lahore to Chenb Nagar with no government support.

    Please understand that when some instructions are given in Islam it has some strong meaning in it,so burial should not be delayed.

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  • Pakistani
    Jan 14, 2013 - 9:21AM

    our heart sink and weep for our hazara brothers. i am sunni, and we fully support our hazara and shia brothers. Not just governor rule, we need to bring those murder to justice.
    Hang them in public. That’s the only way to condole the suffering of the vicitim families.

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  • Ricky
    Jan 14, 2013 - 10:01AM

    @Aysha:
    Please stop imposing your Islam on the others. This is the reason all this carnage is happening. It is none of our business to lecture the people with well over 100 dead. It is their right to do whatever they want with their dead loved ones. I see no sympathy in any of your posts on this subject except the Hazara are not doing the right thing according to your religious beliefs. Hazara are looking for justice and protection not lecture or advice.

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  • Ali Abbas
    Jan 14, 2013 - 10:14AM

    “Their Shia brethren were also continuing their sit-ins elsewhere in the country to press for their demands.”

    Appreciate the article. However, it would be appropriate if you highlight the fact that people of all schools of thought and religions – not just Shia – have come forward to protest against the human disaster in Quetta.

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  • John B
    Jan 14, 2013 - 10:19AM

    @Aysha:
    Are you kidding here.

    This is one of the most powerful protests the world has ever known. No one is agrrevied more than the family members, and their stance on refusal to burry their loved ones is that even in death they are not free.

    By refusing to bury their dead, the Hazara community is taking the stance that should shake up the core value of the PAK and anyone who says that they follow islamic values.

    The joining of women who are more intimately involved in birth and death of their sons and daughters, from other ethnic communities, is a welcoming sign.

    I am glad it bothers you. It should. If not, nothing will.

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  • Nabeel Khan
    Jan 14, 2013 - 10:35AM

    Dear Hazara community people, the way you have recorded your protest over this inhumane tragedy is really a big lesson for all of us. You’ve shown that being over-emotional and destroying own properties isn’t the solution here. Your patience and strength have inspired all. We are and will be with you until you’re given the rightful security and identity, InshAllah.
    With Love
    An Ashamed Punjabi !!

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  • asif
    Jan 14, 2013 - 10:57AM

    Its high time enough is enough, shia should get separate state army, govt all must be only shias

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  • Irshad
    Jan 14, 2013 - 3:43PM

    Assalamualikum, I m an Indian & sunni Muslim.

    Whatever happened is very bad. I’m feeling the pain, but the people who sitting with their loved one bury, how much paining to them can’t imaginable. Pls Allah, Success them.
    I want t ask 1 question. Where it has written in Quran or Hadies or did Rasool Allah SAW, said to kill People?
    Islam means Peace. Love people, Love poor..

    whoever did this their are not a muslim nor a human being.,
    Allah,sawa, please help us please help Muslim, pls safe our family with these people..

    Pakistani government, why this much time to thing to support your own citizen. Please understand the value of a human being pls. We are all one. Rasool Allah SAW said. Please awake up. Pls.

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  • whynoww
    Jan 14, 2013 - 9:12PM

    Bless

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  • quantum
    Jan 15, 2013 - 4:58AM

    @Aysha: Your knowledge regarding Islam is quite shallow. It is recommended to bury the dead asap, but it is not a mandatory act. It is Muslim like you who give Islam a bad name. You follow half baked Islam, which is quite dangerous. Please show some sympathy towards the family of the dead. They are taking a stand for people who can’t speak for themselves.

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