PRESS RELEASE – VIGIL IN REMEMBRANCE OF HAZARA SHIITES JAN 12, 2013
The Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) organized a candle vigil in remembrance of the Hazara Shiites on January 12, 2013 at the Liberty Roundabout, Lahore. The vigil was attended by various sections of society (youth, civil society organizations, teachers, peace activists, artists etc.) to show solidarity for the cause of a diverse, tolerant and peaceful Pakistan.
The purpose was to emphasize the increasing abuse of religion to justify violence. Citizens gathered to condemn the criminal silence of the government on the incessant killing of Hazaras in Quetta. For the past 11 years, the Hazara community has been the target of systematic racism and sectarian violence. The Hazara are a peaceful, law-abiding community which has come under constant threat from militant outfits. The government, the army and the intelligence agencies have all failed to deal with the menace of terrorism. Thousands of Hazaras have been forced to emigrate, hundreds to close down their businesses in Balochistan. There is not a rock that the Hazara left unturned in their desperate struggle for survival. They approached the Balochistan High Court, the Supreme Court of Pakistan and President Asif Ali Zardari. All these efforts remain unrewarded. Every day Hazaras are dying and nobody is doing anything to put a stop to this gross injustice. We must put an immediate end to this violence. It is our ethical obligation as human beings and our responsibility as citizens of this country to raise our voice in defense of the defenseless. If we believe in humanity and human rights for all, if we hope to see a peaceful, prosperous Pakistan, if we believe it is criminal, immoral and inhumane to kill innocent people.
IPSS demands that the Government take a firm stand to defend human & citizen rights for all its citizens, take steps to uphold the rule of law and severely deal with those who take the law into their own hands. Till the State takes tangible actions in defending the life of its citizens from the abuse of its own laws, allows citizens/groups to take the law into their own hands in the name of religion & patriotism, and allows groups to use religion for their political agendas, we will never be able to tackle extremism & intolerance and create a just society.