On January 7 a car bomb at a Libyan police camp in the town of Zilten killed 60 people and wounded 200 more. On January 11, bombs in three cities in Iraq, including Baghdad, killed over 130 people. On January 16, ISIS forces attacked the Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor, killing Syrian army members as well as women and children. Death toll estimates range between 130 and 300 people. On February 1, a suicide bomber detonated a vest outside Afghanistan’s national police headquarters in Kabul, killing 20 and injuring 29. On February 8, ISIS executed approximately 300 activists, police, and military personnel in Mosul, Iraq. On February 21, ISIS detonated car bombs in two Syrian towns heavily populated with Shi’ite Muslims, killing between 140 and 270 people, and wounding over 300 more. In March this year, a car bomb detonated in a busy public square killed at least 37 people in the Turkish capital of Ankara. The same month, on a street filled with shops and cafes in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, a suicide bomber killed five people. On March 27, seventy-two people, including 29 children, were killed in a suicide bombing at the largest public park in Lahore, Pakistan. In May Baghdad attacks, at least 69 to 90 were killed in suicide attacks and car bombings in Iraq capital. On June 28, a trio of suicide bombings at an airport in Istanbul killed 45 and injured 200 more. On 3rd July 2016, coordinated bomb attacks were carried out in Baghdad, resulting in mass civilian casualties. A few minutes after midnight local time, a suicide truck bombing in the district of Karrada killed more than 300 people and injured hundreds more. This list is not exhaustive.
In the above backdrop of terror attacks in middle east by the ISIS or groups associated with it, that Pratap Bhanu Mehta should be impelled to write a passionate piece only after the horrendous truck rampage which left 84 dead in Nice says much about how even the most sympathetic of commentators have become party to selective amnesia. But if that was his only sin, one could just put it down to the times we live in where even the most informed ones are not free of ideological biases. However there is much that can be considered as problematic, either in terms of his analysis or the solutions he proposes or the stand he takes and would want us to take. Continue reading Whose Terror, Whose Powerlessness? Milind Wani→
Guest post by S. AKBAR ZAIDI [This post was sent to us by our friend S. Akbar Zaidi. Though published earlier in The International News of Pakistan, we are reproducing it here because it represents a position that is felt by many inside Pakistan but which right-wingers in India would love not to see. Like right-wingers and Talibanis in Pakistan, our very own Hindutvavadis too thrive on presenting a monolithic picture of something called ‘Pakistan’.]
This was a massacre, nothing less. We should call it that, nothing less. We may want to call the children ‘shaheed’, but they were not engaged in any war against anyone. They were too innocent and blameless for this. They were victims. Let us call them that. They were victims of our politics, of our opportunism, of hiding in the dark, and especially of protecting the murderers. Do we simply pray for innocent victims, and absolve ourselves of the crimes that we have allowed to persist which resulted in this massacre? As Mohammad Hanif has so eloquently argued, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership needs to examine their own bloodstained hands when they raise their hands in prayer. It was the bloody Taliban butchers who killed these children, not militants or some obscure, unspecific category called ‘terrorists’. Let us name them for who they are. We cannot hide away from this reality and unless we name names, we will not alter our political economy, our direction. If we are waiting for the good Taliban to emerge and denounce this massacre, we need to stop hoping. We must stop differentiating between different types of killers. There is no good Taliban, just one ideology represented and manifest in different groups and forms. Continue reading A Massacre is a Massacre and There is no Good Taliban: S. Akbar Zaidi→
The HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF PAKISTAN has issued the following statement on the Taliban attack on school children in Peshawar
December 16, 2014
Lahore, December 16: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called the killing of more than 120 children in a Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar a national tragedy which it said must open the eyes of anyone still harbouring any doubts that Taliban and Pakistan could coexist.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Commission said: “HRCP is deeply saddened by the large number of children killed in the Taliban attack on ArmyPublic School in Peshawar. This is a national tragedy of immense proportions, and an extremely sad day for Pakistan. Our heart goes out to the families of the children whose lives have been cut short by this abhorrent act of terrorism.
“The target was an army-run school, but it was a school nonetheless. It is not children who fight against the Taliban. And yet the choice of the target and the heavy casualties among the children leave no doubt that the massacre was aimed at killing as many children as possible.
“Nothing, including religion, norms of armed conflict or even common decency, justifies such brutal targeting of children. But it is no secret that the killers and those who dispatched them to attack the school have respect neither for religious commandments nor notions of civilised or decent behaviour. The targeting of children made sense to them because they stand for blood-letting and not much else.
“HRCP reiterates its firm belief that Taliban and Pakistan cannot coexist and anyone still harbouring any notions to the contrary is naive beyond belief.
[ This post by Sasanka Perera is a review of Terror and Performance by Rustom Bharucha (2014). Tulika Books, New Delhi. Kafila does not ordinarily post book reviews. An exception is being made for this post because we feel that the subject of terrorism, which has interested Kafila readers in the past, is an important one, and needs to be thought through with seriousness. We hope that this post initiates a debate on Kafila regarding terror, the state, performance, and the performances – serious, or otherwise – that typically attend to the discussions of terror, whether undertaken by the agents of the state or by non-state actors, commentators in the media, or by intellectual interlocutors. ]
When I started reading Rustom Bharucha’s latest book, Terror and Performance, it immediately became an intensely personal and gripping engagement. It was difficult to read in a single attempt as the mind kept wandering from one unpleasant moment in our recent annals of terror to another in some of which I had also become an unwitting part – mostly as a spectator. From the beginning, my reading was a conversation with Bharucha’s text through detours of my own experiences and an interrogation to a lesser extent. In 1986, as a young man when I went to the Colombo International Airport to pick up my father who was returning from the Middle East, I was shaken by a tremendously loud sound for which I had no immediate references. I had not heard such a sound before. People started running towards the sound. It was a bomb that had blown up an Air Lanka flight which had come from Gatwick. The Central Telegraph Office in Colombo was bombed in the same year. We learnt that everyone was running towards the sound and not away from it. Dry local political humor very soon informed us that people were trying to get inside the bombed out telegraph office hoping that they could get free phone calls to their relatives in the Middle East as they had heard phones were dangling from the walls with no operators in sight. That was long before mobile phones and call boxes. We were still young in terms of our experiences with terror. However, we soon had very viable references to what all this meant as the political narrative of Lanka unfolded with devastating consequences. But in 1986, when the kind of terror that was to follow in all its fury was still relatively new and quite unknown, we were acutely unaware of the dynamics of the actual act of terror and the structure of feeling it could unleash. This is why many of us in these initial years were naively attracted towards the epicenter of the act rather than being mindful to run away from it. But as the society grew in experience, people soon learned their lessons. Though an academic text in every conceivable way, I was reminded one could always find a few rare books of this kind which might personally and emotionally touch a reader in addition to whatever intellectual stimulation it might also usher in. Terror and Performance is clearly one such book. From the perspective of the writer, Bharucha himself recognizes this personal emotional engagement and investment early in the book. For him, “this writing demands stamina as it faces an onslaught of uncertainties and cruelties at the global level that challenges the basic assumptions of what it means to be human” (xi). It is the same kind of stamina that one also needs to read it as most of us in South Asia would be reading it squarely sitting in the midst of our own worlds of unfolding terror. This is why all those thoughts came gushing into my mind throughout the reading. I was not only reading Bharucha; I was also reading my own past.
An Interview with activist-film-maker, K.P. SASI by Md. Eisa, Badre Alam Khan and Abhay Kumar.
K.P. Sasi is a well-known social activist and filmmaker. In his several decades of activism, he has been associated with a number of social movements ranging from anti-globalisation and anti-nuclear movement to anti-death penalty struggles and the movements led by environmentalists and marginalised social groups such as Dalits, Adivasis, and Muslims etc. He has expressed his activism through making more than two dozen documentaries and a few feature films. But his two music videos —America, America and Gaon Chhodab Nahin, watched by lakhs of people, continue to motivate social and political activists standing against injustice and inequality. The lean and thin Sasi, who spots thick grey beard, is again in controversies for his latest spell of activism. Early in this year he screened a 94-minute long documentary Fabricated based on the life of Muslim leader from Kerala Abdul Nasar Madani, accused in Coimbatore and Bangalore serial bomb blasts. Fabricated has been the fruit of Sasi’s two years of hard work during which he did an extensive research, met a number of people and travelled thousands of miles and received threats as well. Why did he take so much pain and risk his life? Fabricated, in Sasi’s words, is an attempt to bring a ray of hope to thousands of innocent people, mostly Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, oppressed nationalities, workers and others languishing in jails for years and decades under draconian laws such as Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Fabricated is mostly woven around the story of Madani, making a strong case that the Muslim leader of Kerala is innocent and has been jailed for years simply because has been framed. He has a charisma, a great skill of oratory and above all a vision of the uplift of the marginalised sections. In the early week of November, Sasi was in Delhi where Fabricated was screened at many places. After watching the documentary at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Md. Eisa, Badre Alam Khan and Abhay Kumar had a detailed interview with K.P. Sasi during which he went on a great length about a host of issues from state terror, human rights, Hindu right, caste, and class to the Muslim politics. The excerpts of the interview are as follows: Continue reading The State Manufactures Terrorism: KP Sasi→
The following is a narrative of a torture victim I gathered during my time in Kashmir as a researcher. The person interviewed was tortured by the 2nd Dogra regiment of the Indian Army.
Where is your gun?
On the night of 28th October 1991, the 2nd Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army was conducting interrogations in Palhallan. Palhallan is a large village in the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir.
People suspected of having links with terrorists were interrogated. The women and men were asked to come out of their homes. The women were asked to gather at the local dargah (shrine) and the men were lined up in the village school.
A major from the 2nd Dogra handpicked Manzoor Ahmad Naikoo to step forward. Others were also short listed for interrogation. Manzoor was taken inside the school and forced to strip. He was made to sit on a chair. His hands were fastened to his back.
“This wreath/ with no name attached /is for you/who has no grave/ As the place of earth/ which embraced you/ could not be found/this wreath was placed by the wayside/Forgive me/ for placing a memorial for you/ by the roadside.”
…writes Basil Fernando about the memorial constructed by families of disappeared at Radoluwa Junction in Seeduwa, a town near the city of Negombo, Srilanka. When I visited the memorial with lingering faces of the disappeared, it signified an important attempt to keep the memories alive, a yearning to prevent recurrence of mass disappearances and seek justice on behalf of the victims of disappearances and their families. Srilanka which has a deep and complex history of political violence is struggling to redeem the past with a frozen present and a black hole future. Communal riots, political assassinations and ethnic conflict have been an element of the socio-political landscape of this tear nation for more than a century. Two heads of State, dozen national political leaders and numerous regional and local politicians, journalists, activists and artists have been assassinated by groups representing virtually every shade of political spectrum. The Srilankan state deploys disappearances and extra judicial killings as an instrument of public policy in the name of State Emergencies, Prevention of Terrorism Act, dubbing of persons as terrorists, unpatriotic, enemies of state. Brutal suppression of two armed insurrections in the Sinhala South in 1971-72, 1987-89 led by Peoples Liberation Front (JVP) and an armed Tamil Separatist Movement since 1970s led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the Tamil North and East of the island had spotted Srilankan state guilty of horrific human rights abuses. Now the nation is the world leader in number of disappeared crossing millions who have no date of death, no place of death, no body, and no grave or funeral rites. Obviously there is no shelling, no bombing in the island since 2009 and the State wants the world to believe that war is over but who will bring peace to the families who continue to lose their members to State Terror and also been denied their basic right to even open their mouth about the injustice. Continue reading The Unknown Fate of Thousands in Sri Lanka: Leena Manimekalai→