ISLAMABAD: Civil society activists gathered to remember slain rights activist Sabeen Mahmud and vowed to fight for the rights of Balochistan at the National Press Club on Tuesday.
Students, activists, journalists and members of various organisations have come together to demand justice for Sabeen and are speaking out against the trend of silencing people who ‘dare to ask questions’.
The purpose of the protest was not just to remember Sabeen but also to develop a future course of action which ensures that the cause for which Sabeen had to give her life is not silenced. Alia Amir Ali of the National Students Federation (NSF) told The Express Tribune that everyone at the NSF was shocked to hear about the killing. “By remaining silent not only are we disrespecting Sabeen’s bravery and what she stood for but we are also putting ourselves in great danger because that means that tomorrow we all can be the victim too,” said Alia.
Rabia Mehmood, a researcher, said, “When this happened, we were all completely shocked and hurt but we realised that we needed to continue talking about what she was doing and the reason why she was attacked”.
The protest featured several journalists including Hamid Mir who mentioned that he was delighted to see young people stand up for a cause as significant as this and voicing out their opinion on the issue.
Other speakers included rights activist Marvi Sirmed, musician Arieb Azhar, Awami Workers Party (AWP) leader Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Prof AH Nayyar and Awami National Party leader Bushra Gohar. Gohar, while addressing protesters, said “Anyone who speaks is targeted, and when we speak for the targeted we are called ghaddars (traitors).”
The speakers were of the opinion that Sabeen’s murder is not something new and progressives have been targeted for raising their voice for the oppressed since long. They called for action to fight state oppression in Balochistan.
Sirmed said “The spirit of Sabeen Mahmud’s struggle lives on. Today, we vow to keep bearing the flame she has left lit for us”.
AWP Information Secretary Ammar Rashid termed the aim of the protest as a reminder that killing anyone for speaking out for Balochistan and the missing persons will not be accepted by the public.
“Resentment will not magically disappear if you do not allow people to speak about it”, said AWP’s Akhtar.
Azhar remembered Sabeen as someone with a heart of gold. “Sabeen’s heart, like her venue (T2F), was always open to all. Her loss is of a mentor and a champion of humanist values”.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2015.