a message from a friend of the detainees

Hassan Rehman (’98), Amanullah Kariapper (LUMS alumnus, in close contact with FAST alumni), Saima Khwaja (LUMS law faculty member), Justice Siddiqui’s son, lawyers and social activists were arrested from Justice Siddiqui’s house. At the time of arrest, they were sitting inside the house, in the parking, and were peaceful – contrary to the allegations imposed on them. Their presence was part of a 24-hour voluntary vigil at Justice Siddiqui’s house to prevent the police from throwing them out. Justice Siddiqui had received a call and a notification to this effect on December 3 and the vigil started the same night.

Hassan has contacted me twice during captivity. He only urges each one of you – teacher, student, alumnus – to remember how meaningless our freedoms – freedom of expression of dissent, freedom of association, above all – have become in our country and to at least protest against the misuse of law and the power to enforce the law. The Students Action Committee had organized a protest in front the Racecourse police station the night they were arrested. We, friends of Hassan and Aman, later learnt that they were eventually shifted to a station near the Wagha border and brought, in the morning, to the Cantt court for hearing. The hearing was somehow completed in the absence of the detainees’ lawyers. They were then shifted to Camp Jail (Ferozepur Road) for a 14-day remand. Yesterday noon, students and lawyers again protested in front of the Jail. They have organized a hunger strike, starting 11:00 am today in front of Lahore Press Club. A mass protest by civil society is already scheduled on December 10, the International Human Rights Day, in Lahore High Court at 12:00 pm.

I have had an intense and enlightening (if such a word is still meaningful) friendship with Hassan and Aman. I feel privileged to have been exposed to their passion, will and creativity. Since the night of December 6, a strange hiatus in our friendship has set in. One feels powerless, shameful and guilty, to have been unable to do the least for them – to even talk to them or provide them with the amenities of our lives. This shame taints everything I do – my eating, sleeping, writing, free movement in open spaces…

I appeal to each one of you to protest the detention of Hassan, Aman and other activists. Will you stay quiet, stay back, stay inside, even now? Must you wait for the arrest of your student or friend or brother or son before you protested?

Aman had email Hassan and me the following on the 6th, the day of their arrest:

Lessons learnt
1) I’m nothing, absolutely nothing. I’ve met people who are larger than life – giants, superheros. Unpretentious people willing to give their all for this glimmer of hope.
2) Every day that goes by without an action of manifest resistance – whether a small gesture or a bold adventure – is a day they chalk up in their tally. We have to fight every day. I have to learn to resist through it all, even the worst lows. For the primary arena of struggle is in the mind – if I give up in my mind, I’m back to square one, a vegetable.
3) So, every day, in every way, I will get better at resistance – esp. since “What does not kill you, makes you stronger.”
4) Fight smart: concentrate on spreading the word, raise awareness, equip people with the tools of effective resistance and be on the look-out for advice from the un-likeliest sources.

Darn, only 4. 5 is so much rounder.

Please stay in touch with the FAST alumnus, Ale Natiq, for further information: 0321-4572707 http://ale-xpressed.blogspot.com/

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