Tuesday’s news was hard to read. The Taliban senselessly murdered schoolchildren in Peshawar, Pakistan. Stunningly, 148 young lives were taken – with the number still rising.
On Wednesday night, a few hundred people came to Dupont Circle in Washington, DC to honor these innocent victims in a candlelight vigil. In fact, that was a common theme of the night: lost innocence. Peshawar parents dropped off their kids at school, not even considering that their precious sons and daughters wouldn’t come home to play with their toys after school. Their innocence could not save them from the Taliban’s savage plans.
Amnesty International’s Noor Mir, who helped organize the vigil, explained how they gathered 140 candles to represent the lives who were lost. The candles were surrounded by pictures released from the hospital in Peshawar.
Attendees also contributed to the display with signs they made, including one that had this powerful message, “The smallest coffins are the heaviest.”
Mir explained that Peshawar parents found out their children were dead by coming to a hospital and seeing a sheet with the victim's name and age, with the word, ‘Dead’ next to it.
Famed journalist Raza Rumi also addressed the crowd, especially thanking the Pakistani Americans in attendance for practicing solidarity. He urged participants to keep in mind that all Taliban are terrorists.
"There are no good Taliban and there are no bad Taliban."
The organizers were only able to find 40 of the victims’ names. They read each one as quiet sobbing could be heard throughout the crowd.
The vigil ended with a participant reading off an original poem he penned in response to the Peshawar attack, entitled, “Innocence.” I thought this was the most powerful line:
“A school that was supposed to be a fountain of knowledge, became a pool of blood.”
The senseless terrorists who performed this cowardly act are dead. Yet, the Taliban still looms.
May they be brought to justice.
‘Watching bodies on TV and in the news creates apathy…this makes it real’
LAHORE: There is need to remind people about the countless children that die in terrorist attacks throughout the world, Imran Kazmi, a third-year student of fine arts at the National College of Arts, said on Friday.
Kazmi, Armish Imtiaz and Fatima Ali and from the NCA and Wasimullah from CWU Digital Ventures have collaborated on an installation at the Liberty Roundabout showcasing shrouds wrapped around small figures and arranged in a circle.
The idea is to remember innocent lives lost, Kazmi said. “When we remember lives lost in Peshawar, during the Burma refugee crisis, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir, and in Palestine, deaths of innocent children haunt us more than anything. Primarily because they have no stake or bias towards any group, ideology or religion,” he said.
Kazmi said people usually saw such images on television or read about those. “This creates apathy because it is viewed from a distance.” Viewers tend to watch these images on screen and move on with their daily lives, he said. “We are trying to awaken them to the gravity of the situation and the severity of it all.”
He said that they had decided to display it in a way that it could serve as a reminder to people as they went about their daily lives. “We do not want to disturb people, just remind them that there is conflict happening in the world at the same time,” Kazmi said.
He said the installation was not a political statement or a protest aimed at an individual or a political party. He said it was a statement against violence.
Wasimullah said most people tended to limit their activism against violence and terrorism on social media. He said the installation aimed to bring those concerns out of virtual space.
The installation generated diverse reactions from the public. A rickshaw driver said for a minute he had thought that they were actual bodies and yet another violent incident had taken place.
However, most people were curious about the work and stopped to enquire about its purpose.
The installation was on display at Liberty Roundabout from 4pm till 8pm. Kazmi said if they received a positive response and if they got permission from the authorities, they would display it at other public places as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2015.
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