Pakistani students and community gathered today in the Boston Commons to protest the imposition of a pseudo-martial law, aka Emergency, by President Musharraf in Pakistan. Here are a few images and a short video from the protest.
Kudos to the students who quickly came together and helped spread the word about the demonstration. There was media present there, including GEO TV and a few other TV channels. Let’s hope all these demonstrations strike some sense in our current government’s head. They seem to be on a self-destruct mode.
Who chose the red color for the occasion, by the way? Fauzia, the main organizer, also had a lovely red coat on.
A particularly energetic gentleman who led the chanting. Notice Kamal patiently holding the microphone up (for nearly 2 hours).
Banners that focused attention on return to democracy and freedom of judiciary and press.
Rabeel: Rebel without a cause giving a speech.
Aqil: giving an interview to GEO TV.
A beautiful setting in front of the Massachusetts State House.
Some people had black capes on as a mark of mourning over the fate of democracy in Pakistan.
Press release from the organizers:
BOSTON NOV 10TH 2007
(BOSTON IS CONSIDERED THE CENTER OF EDUCATION)
Pakistani students from local universities and colleges held a very successful protest rally at the Boston Commons. The rally was attended by about 200 people. The students had the full support of Boston’s Pakistani expatriate community. Boston area Academicians,Lawyers and Physicians attended and spoke at the rally.
Students at Harvard, MIT and Bunker Hill Community College were among the key organizers of the rally to protest the attack against the judiciary, curbs against the media and the violance against lawyers, human right activists and students exercising their right of peaceful protest.
Students from the Berklee college of music provided the percussion drums and synchronized the chants of AZAADI( freedom) in a show of solidarity with the Students, Judiciary, Journalists,Human Rights activists and Media in Pakistan.
Emerson college students were in full force with video footage and interviewing of the crowd documenting the protest and the right for free speech and expression.
Wellesley college girls were in the forefront holding banners and led the “march of the chain” in a symbolic message for the people of Pakistan who have been arrested and brutalized for speaking out.
Brandies University students were accompanied by their Professor and program Director. She spoke in support of the students who were at the rally and encouraged them to exercise their rights of free speech and thought.
Also in attendance was a group of students from the university of Massachusetts and Hamshire college at Amherst.
The chants and slogans on the posters included Azaadi (the Urdu word for freedom), free our judiciary, lawyers, students, media and human rights activists, in addition to “support the people not the dictator” and “help democracy end hypocrisy,” which were mainly aimed at the US government for its continued support of General Musharraf.
The event was addressed by students as well as professionals and activists in the Boston area.
Saad Mustafa, a student at Bunker Hill Community college, made announcements during the protest.
Aqil Sajjad, a Pakistani student at Harvard, highlighted the importance of an independent judiciary for the people of Pakistan and also stressed that the war against terror can not be won unless the country has a properly functioning judiciary commanding the respect of the masses. He criticised the US policy of supporting dictators in the country and said that the US had to decide whether it was with the people of Pakistan or with the dictator.
Arooj Aftab, a Pakistani student at the Berklee college of music, spoke about how an environment of state oppression was extremely detrimental to creativity and made it difficult for artists like herself to operate.
Rabeel Warraich, a Pakistani student at MIT, discussed the impact of the present crisis on the economy and how it was going to make life for the majority of Pakistanis living in poverty even tougher.
Adaner Usmani, a Harvard student from Pakistan, linked the struggle of the Pakistani people with similar causes in the rest of the world.
Physicians from Tufts University and Massachusetts General Hospital such as Dr. Fauzia Afridi and Dr. Kimat Khattak addressed the students and highlighted the fact that most of their generation had grown up in
Pakistan, knowing only totalitarian regimes and dictatorship in one form or another. They encouraged the youth of Pakistan to revive the Student Movements of their country and to work for a change to wards democracy.
Dr. Khoso, son of Justice Khoso shared his family’s ordeal and the hardship his father had recently undergone along with the arrest of his two brothers.
Friends of South Asia were represented among others, by lawyers like Lubna Mahmood and Supreme court Judge Dr. Aslam Khaki, who shared personal accounts of the brutalities their colleagues are facing.
Poetry from Faiz, a prominent Pakistani poet, was elloquently sung by Mustafa Kamal Ahmed.
Representatives from the International Action Center and other Human Rights Activists also addressed the crowd. Mr. Gabriel Camado spoke very eloquently and shared the struggles of his people in South America.
Mary Najimi highlighted the support of the Arab American coalition for a US policy change in South Asia and the middle east and promised to spread the message of solidarity amongst the local communities.
Hassan Abbas was present and spoke to the media in favour of the Boston Students’ initiative
and their message of support for the students in Pakistan.
The event was also attended by local groups like the Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia and officially endorsed by the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which is also planning to hold a demonstration on Tuesday, Nov 14 at the state house in Boston.