· 21st session of Human Rights Council
· Remembering Victims of Terrorism
· Thursday 20 September 2012
· ROOM : XXIV - Palais des Nations
· Bishop Dr. Amen Howard, Feed One to Feed a Family NGO, Nigeria
· Mr. Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
· Prof. K. Warikoo, Secretary general, Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation
· MS. Deidre McConnell, Tamil Centre for Human Rights
· Mr. Michael Phillips, Project Coordinator & Assistant to the World Uyghur Congress
· Chairman: Dr. Charles Graves, President, FICIR
· Dr. Sayyed Nazeer Gilani, Secretary general, Jammu and Kashmir Human Rights Council (tbc)
· Prof. Riyaz Punjabi, Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation
Tribute to the International Victims of Terrorism on the Day of Remembrance
By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
While calling upon the United Nations General Assembly to proclaim August 19th as the International Day for the Remembrance and Tribute to the victims of terrorism, we are trying to recall the horrors of terrorism and pledge ourselves to see to it that we do not fall victim to terrorism again.
At the moment different countries recall these victims on separate days to recall major events. But this is well nigh impossible for a country, for instance, like Russia or India which have been victims of terrorism so many times that it is difficult to even remember the dates on which such horrible violence engulfed the citizens of these countries. Thus 19 August would bring us all together on one platform to remember victims of all terrorism.
Terrorism is the most senseless violence perpetrated on innocent people who are completely unconcerned with any of the politics of the terrorist. It should, therefore, be an occasion for us to pledge to fight this monster in all its forms and wherever it pops up and never to let it succeed in its aim of dividing us, the peoples of the world.
We have just commemorated and remembered the victims of September 11 in New York. Among many such remembrances that go on around the world throughout the year, perhaps the more poignant was the one on July 22nd, 2012 when Norway commemorated the 77 victims of a bomb and gun massacre that shocked the peaceful nation one year ago. Anders Behring Breivik, a 33-year-old far-right fanatic, has now been sentenced to life imprisonment for a bombing of the government headquarters in Oslo, killing eight, and a shooting rampage that left 69 dead at the left-wing Labour Party's youth camp on Utoeya Island.
Victims of terrorist acts were remembered in Moscow on September 3, the Day of Solidarity in the Fight against Terrorism. "Twelve remembrance events took place. Hundreds of Muscovites gathered on the former sites of terrorist acts to commemorate the victims. There were remembrance rallies near the Dubrovka Theatric Center, at Park Kultury, Lubyanka and Avtozavodskaya metro stations, on the Tushino airfield, near Hotel National, near the Rizhskaya metro station, on the former grounds of blasted homes on Kashirskoye Highway and Guryanov Street, in the underground crossing on Pushkinskaya Square and at the Domodedovo Airport. There was also a rally near the monument to Beslan terrorist act victims opposite the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin on Kulishki on the junction of Solyanka Street and Podkolokolny Side-Street.
Now in a couple of month we in India will be living through the horrors of Pakistani Jihadi attack on India’s composite culture on 26 November, four years after the attack took place in 2008, in hundreds of remembrance events that will take place all across the country.
I just said Pakistani Jihadi attack on India’s COMPOSITE CULTURE. Let me explain. This attack was, of course, on India, our people, our foreign visitors, on many aspects of India. Mumbai being India’s financial capital, it was an attack on Indian economy, too, of course. Then Jews and other foreign visitors having been killed it was an attack on India’s image as a safe country in the world, and so on. It was an attack on so many aspects of India. But I have mentioned this attack as primarily an attack on India’s composite culture, our multiculturalism, the multi-religious nature of our society in which all of us Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, live together, not to speak of a variety of ethnic and linguistic and other communities. Why am I then singling out this particular aspect: THE COMPOSITE CULTURE?
Some of you may be aware that Abu Jundal, the terrorist coordinator of the event who was giving directions to the Pakistani terrorists in India from his Karachi Control room and whose voice had been recorded and was available with India, has now been arrested from Saudi Arabia. He has revealed that there was also an underlying plot in that attack to blame Indian Muslims and Hindus for this attack. So the Pakistani terrorists had been specifically trained to speak some words from a Mumbai dialect, so that they could be identified by Indian security services as Indians. They had been asked to take the name of a fictitious Muslim group from our city of Hyderabad, so that they could be identified as coming from an Indian city. All 10 terrorists carried fake identity cards of Arunodaya College, located in Hyderabad. They also took Hindu names. Ajmal Kasab became Sameer Choudhary and Ismail Khan was Naresh Verma. An LeT operative pretended to be 'Kharak Singh from India' and purchased Internet calling services from a US-based firm for $250 (Rs 10,000). The terrorists were told to communicate with their Karachi-based handlers using phones with Indian SIM cards.
Unfortunately for Pakistan and fortunately for humanity, one Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Quasab was caught alive by an Indian policeman who gave his life in the process. This unravelled the Pakistani plot and instead of looking for terrorists within India among Hindus and Muslims, we were able to nail the real culprits quickly.
Thus clearly the main motivation behind the attack on Mumbai was to pitch India’s major religious communities together, both blaming each other. I am certain that even if Qassab had not been captured our composite culture remains strong enough to thwart such attacks. We have faced such attacks many times before and remain united. But the question we Indians ask in the wake of all such attempts: what is it in our composite culture, in our harmonious living together that Pakistan considers an almost existential threat for itself. Why does Pakistan deploy its dens of evil against us in India and want our communal peace destroyed.
Commenting on 26/11 and the Jihadi Lashkars (militias) in Pakistan, I had said earlier and must reiterate: “We, the Muslims of India, have particular reason to demand that these dens of evil be closed down and destroyed. There is not the slightest reason to doubt the known fact now, after the attack on Mumbai and the manner it was carried out, that these Pakistani terrorist organisations are particularly after the destruction of the Muslim community in India.
“The very idea of Indian Muslims living peacefully and marching towards prosperity strikes at the very root of Pakistan’s existential philosophy. The very existence of a prosperous Muslim community in India destroys the Two-Nation Theory on which the state of Pakistan is based. The very fact that Muslims in India not only live peacefully among themselves but also in harmony with a variety of other religious, linguistic, ethnic communities while Muslims in Pakistan are deeply divided among themselves and constantly at each others’ throats is a profoundly destabilising factor for the very existence of Pakistan.
“That Pakistan’s Muslim Sindhis, Baluchis, Pathans, Saraikis, and indeed Mohajirs would love to join the Indian mainstream, given half a chance, cannot possibly be lost on the Pakistani establishment that has spawned these terrorist organisations to further its dubious strategic imperatives. We the Muslims of India, by our very existence, more so on account of our peaceful and prosperous existence, are an existential threat to Pakistan. And not just to its terrorists, which are in any case a part of the establishment. We can’t help it. There is nothing we can do about it. That is why it is in our particular interest, in the interest of Muslims of India, that these terrorist camps are destroyed and the criminals who have wreaked so much havoc on our land are brought to justice.”
In a wreath-laying ceremony at the bomb site in Oslo on July 22nd, 2012, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said Breivik had not succeeded in his declared goal of destroying Norway's commitment to being an inclusive, multicultural society. Stoltenberg said: "The bomb and the gun shots were meant to change Norway. The Norwegian people answered by embracing our values. The perpetrator lost. The people won."
Very proudly, we Indians too can say on our commemoration of 26/11 that Pakistani terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan have failed to even so much as create a dent in the multicultural harmony of our society. And if we can say that nowhere in the world is the prevailing state of peace and group harmony being disturbed as a result of terrorist strikes, this is perhaps the best tribute we can pay to the International Victims of Terrorism on the Day of Remembrance. They have been victims of a hydra-headed barbarian ideology that wants to divide us all in exclusive groups. We have not allowed them to succeed and let us resolve that we will not let them succeed anywhere in the world.