Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Friday, December 7, 2007

Candles mark South Asian Women’s Day in Indian capital

The pleasant and picturesque Central Park in the Indian capital of Delhi was not just the venue for the SAARC Band Festival, an assembly of some of the most prestigious bands of South Asia, making its historic debut on November 30, 2007.

It was also the place where activists from over 20 organisations with orange bands on their foreheads marked their silent presence with colourful banners insisting that “War and Violence have no future; Just Peace is the future!” and “We want peace in South Asia, not pieces of South Asia!”

They were celebrating the South Asian Women’s Day – an occasion to spotlight women’s struggle for peace, justice, human rights and democracy in the region. Following the declaration of 30th November as South Asian Women’s Day by SANGAT - a network of South Asian feminist activists - in October 2002, this day is celebrated annually as a part of the International Fortnight Campaign against gender-based violence that runs from November 25 to December 10.

The women of South Asia, on this occasion, expressed solidarity with the people of Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh, demanding restoration of democracy. They also expressed solidarity with defenders of human rights, writers, and cultural activists like Taslima Nasreen, Asma Jahangir, Salima Hashmi, who have been imprisoned and/or denied their dignity and security. They signified anger at all the forces spreading violence and hatred in the north east of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar and elsewhere.

In a powerful statement from the podium, the popular Bangladeshi band 'BANGLA' led by Anusheh Adil, played a piece that was specifically dedicated to South Asian Women’s solidarity. According to Anusheh, “It is time that the region's women come together to speak out against violence against women and girls and for women's empowerment.”

Kamla Bhasin of the SANGAT secretariat, pointed out that other events were also happening in the region. “Kriti, Peace Women Across the Globe, and SANGAT jointly organized an exhibition of 1,000 Peacewomen at Kashmir. The same exhibition was also showcased in Islamabad by Rozan and SANGAT. The Aurat Foundation along with others in Lahore, the Women and Media Collective in Sri Lanka; SANGAT in Dhaka, Bangladesh; Strii Shakti, WOREC and others in Nepal, IWID in Tamil Nadu, SWAYAM in Kolkata, Olakh in Vadodara, and SAHRWARU in Ahmedabad, the North East Network in Guwahati, have all organised demonstrations in their respective countries on this day,” she said.

As activist Tripta Batra put it, “The silent unfolding of candle-lit events in twelve South Asian cities may not add up to much beyond being visible as determined dots of intent.”

“More than anything else, you see here the urge of ordinary people to live at the pace of peace - and then, how can we forget that peace flows through the presence of silence?” Batra adds.

South Asia is a region that is bound together by a shared cultural heritage, by common socio-economic, developmental, and environmental concerns, and histories of conflict. The countries in this region are similarly affected by globalization, militarisation, growing fundamentalisms and vested political interests – giving way to unsustainable, unequal development, increasing violence against women, and incessant violation of peace, justice, human rights and democracy.

Participating organisations included ANHAD, Action Aid India, Amnesty International, CADAM, Centre for Democracy and Social Action, CWLR, HRLN, ISI, Jagori, Kriti Team, Muslim Women’s Forum, NEN, OneWorld South Asia, Peace Women Across the Globe, SANGAT, and WNTA.


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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