Students and community organizations of the Boston area are organising a vigil on Friday March 8, 2013 to show solidarity, commemorate, and protest the target-killing of Shia Muslims in Pakistan. The attackers are armed militants from Al Qaeda- and Taliban- linked organizations acting with impunity in the name of religion with the aim of destablizing the state and capturing political power.
Just a few recent incidents this year alone illustrate this trend:
- March 3: a bomb explosion ripped through two apartment blocks in Abbas Town, a residential area populated largely by Shi’ite Muslims, in Pakistan’s business capital Karachi killed 45 people, including 20 children. Hundreds more were injured and made homeless.
- Feb 18: Gunmen target-killed a prominent eye surgeon Dr Ali Haider (shot six times in the head) and his 12-year old son Murtaza (shot once in the head), in Lahore, capital of Punjab province.
- Feb 16: A powerful bomb placed in a packed marketplace at Hazara Town, an area dominated by Shi’ite Muslims from the ethnic Hazara community left 84 people dead, including several women and children. Many more were injured.
- Jan 10: A twin blast in Alamdar Road, a largely Shi’ite Muslim Hazara area in Quetta, killed 108 people including the prominent blogger and activist Irfan @khudiali, and injured dozens of others.
- Jan 9: Gunmen shot dead Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Kurram Agency president Dr Syed Riaz Hussain outside his clinic in Peshawar. He had survived two attacks in 2008. (Dr Hussain’s son Shehroz Hussain, a college student in the Boston area, will attend the Copley Square vigil and is available to talk to the media.)
The list goes on. These are blatant attacks on a religious community that is an integral part of Muslim and South Asian society, but that extremist militants deem to be non-Muslim ‘infidels’ who should be killed. Many are now terming these attacks as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘Shia genocide’.
The vigil participants urge Pakistan to:
- Act against the militant organizations carrying out these targeted massacres;
- Empower and enable the police to arrest and charge the culprits;
- Ensure that the judiciary and legal systems prosecute and punish the perpetrators;
- Urgently put in place a witness protection to enable the prosecution and punishment of the murderers.
Vigil participants urge United States and the international community to support Pakistan in taking these steps.
The vigil is co-sponsored and supported by the Harvard Pakistan Student Group, the Suffolk Muslim Law Students Association, the Alliance for Secular South Asia, the South Asia Center, Boston, Pakistani Students Association of MIT, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Boston (list to be finalized; more expressions of support are coming in)