Monday, March 11, 2019

The Earth Is Closing On Us...

The Earth is closing on us
pushing us through the last passage
and we tear off our limbs to pass through.
The Earth is squeezing us.
I wish we were its wheat
so we could die and live again.
I wish the Earth was our mother
so she'd be kind to us.
I wish we were pictures on the rocks
for our dreams to carry as mirrors.
We saw the faces of those who will throw
our children out of the window of this last space.
Our star will hang up mirrors.
Where should we go after the last frontiers ?
Where should the birds fly after the last sky ?
Where should the plants sleep after the last breath of air ?
We will write our names with scarlet steam.
We will cut off the hand of the song to be finished by our flesh.
We will die here, here in the last passage.
Here and here our blood will plant its olive tree. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Letter from the Zapatista Women to Women in Struggle Around the World !

February 2019
To: Women in struggle everywhere in the world
From: The Zapatista Women
Sister, compañera:
We as Zapatista women send you our greetings as the women in struggle that we all are.
We have sad news for you today, which is that we are not going to be able to hold the Second International Encounter of Women in Struggle here in Zapatista territory in March of 2019.
Maybe you already know the reasons why, but if not, we’re going to tell you a little about them here.
The new bad governments have said clearly that they are going to carry forward the megaprojects of the big capitalists, including their Mayan Train, their plan for the Tehuantepec Isthmus, and their massive commercial tree farms. They have also said that they’ll allow the mining companies to come in, as well as agribusiness. On top of that, their agrarian plan is wholly oriented toward destroying us as originary peoples by converting our lands into commodities and thus picking up what Carlos Salinas de Gortari started but couldn’t finish because we stopped him with our uprising.
All of these are projects of destruction, no matter how they try to disguise them with lies, no matter how many times they multiply their 30 million votes. The truth is that they are coming for everything now, coming full force against the originary peoples, their communities, lands, mountains, rivers, animals, plants, even their rocks. And they are not just going to try to destroy us Zapatista women, but all indigenous women—and all men for that matter, but here we’re talking as and about women.
In their plans our lands will no longer be for us but for the tourists and their big hotels and fancy restaurants and all of the businesses that make it possible for the tourists to have these luxuries. They want to turn our lands into plantations for the production of lumber, fruit, and water, and into mines to extract gold, silver, uranium, and all of the minerals the capitalists are after. They want to turn us into their peons, into servants who sell our dignity for a few coins every month.
Those capitalists and the new bad governments who obey them think that what we want is money. They don’t understand that what we want is freedom, that even the little that we have achieved has been through our struggle, without any attention, without photos and interviews, without books or referendum or polls, and without votes, museums, or lies. They don’t understand that what they call “progress” is a lie, that they can’t even provide safety for all of the women who continue to be beaten, raped, and murdered in their worlds, be they progressive or reactionary worlds.
How many women have been murdered in those progressive or reactionary worlds while you have been reading these words, compañera, sister? Maybe you already know this but we’ll tell you clearly here that in Zapatista territory, not a single woman has been murdered for many years. Imagine, and they call us backward, ignorant, and insignificant.
Maybe we don’t know which feminism is the best one, maybe we don’t say “cuerpa” [a feminization of “cuerpo,” or body] or however it is you change words around, maybe we don’t know what “gender equity” is or any of those other things with too many letters to count. In any case that concept of “gender equity” isn’t even well-formulated because it only refers to women and men, and even we, supposedly ignorant and backward, know that there are those who are neither men nor women and who we call “others” [otroas] but who call themselves whatever they feel like. It hasn’t been easy for them to earn the right to be what they are without having to hide because they are mocked, persecuted, abused, and murdered. Why should they be obligated to be men or women, to choose one side or the other? If they don’t want to choose then they shouldn’t be disrespected in that choice. How are we going to complain that we aren’t respected as women if we don’t respect these people? Maybe we think this way because we are just talking about what we have seen in other worlds and we don’t know a lot about these things. What we do know is that we fought for our freedom and now we have to fight to defend it so that the painful history that our grandmothers suffered is not relived by our daughters and granddaughters.
We have to struggle so that we don’t repeat history and return to a world where we only cook food and bear children, only to see them grow up into humiliation, disrespect, and death.
We didn’t rise up in arms to return to the same thing.
We haven’t been resisting for 25 years in order to end up serving tourists, bosses, and overseers.
We will not stop training ourselves to work in the fields of education, health, culture, and media; we will not stop being autonomous authorities in order to become hotel and restaurant employees, serving strangers for a few pesos. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a few pesos or a lot of pesos, what matters is that our dignity has no price.
Because that’s what they want, compañera, sister, that we become slaves in our own lands, accepting a few handouts in exchange for letting them destroy the community.
Compañera, sister:
When you came to these mountains for the 2018 gathering, we saw that you looked at us with respect, maybe even admiration. Not everyone showed that respect—we know that some only came to criticize us and look down on us. But that doesn’t matter—the world is big and full of different kinds of thinking and there are those who understand that not all of us can do the same thing and those who don’t. We can respect that difference, compañera, sister, because that’s not what the gathering was for, to see who would give us good reviews or bad reviews. It was to meet and understand each other as women who struggle.
Likewise, we do not want you to look at us now with pity or shame, as if we were servants taking orders delivered more or less politely or harshly, or as if we were vendors with whom to haggle over the price of artisanship or fruit and vegetables or whatever. Haggling is what capitalist women do, though of course when they go to the mall they don’t haggle over the price; they pay whatever the capitalist asks in full and what’s more, they do so happily.
No compañera, sister. We’re going to fight with all our strength and everything we’ve got against these mega-projects. If these lands are conquered, it will be upon the blood of Zapatista women. That is what we have decided and that is what we intend to do.
It seems that these new bad governments think that since we’re women, we’re going to promptly lower our gaze and obey the boss and his new overseers. They think what we’re looking for is a good boss and a good wage. That’s not what we’re looking for. What we want is freedom, a freedom nobody can give us because we have to win it ourselves through struggle, with our own blood.
Do you think that when the new bad government’s forces—its paramilitaries, its national guard—come for us we are going to receive them with respect, gratitude, and happiness? Hell no. We will meet them with our struggle and then we’ll see if they learn that Zapatista women don’t give in, give up, or sell out.
Last year during the women’s gathering we made a great effort to assure that you, compañera and sister, were happy and safe and joyful. We have, nevertheless, a sizable pile of complaints that you left with us: that the boards [that you slept on] were hard, that you didn’t like the food, that meals were expensive, that this or that should or shouldn’t have been this way or that way. But later we’ll tell you more about our work in preparing the gathering and about the criticisms we received.
What we want to tell you now is that even with all the complaints and criticisms, you were safe here: there were no bad men or even good men looking at you or judging you. It was all women here, you can attest to that.
Well now it’s not safe anymore, because capitalism is coming for us, for everything, and at any price. This assault is now possible because those in power feel that many people support them and will applaud them no matter what barbarities they carry out. What they’re going to do is attack us and then check the polls to see if their ratings are still up, again and again until we have been annihilated.
Even as we write this letter, the paramilitary attacks have begun. They are the same groups as always—first they were associated with the PRI, then the PAN, then the PRD, then the PVEM, and now with MORENA.
So we are writing to tell you, compañera, sister, that we are not going to hold a women’s gathering here, but you should do so in your lands, according to your times and ways. And although we won’t attend, we will be thinking about you.
Compañera, sister:
Don’t stop struggling. Even if the bad capitalists and their new bad governments get their way and annihilate us, you must keep struggling in your world. That’s what we agreed in the gathering: that we would all struggle so that no woman in any corner of the world would be scared to be a woman.
Compañera, sister: your corner of the world is your corner in which to struggle, just like our struggle is here in Zapatista territory.
The new bad governments think that they will defeat us easily, that there are very few of us and that nobody from any other world supports us. But that’s not the case, compañera, sister, because even if there is only one of us left, she’s going to fight to defend our freedom.
We aren’t scared, compañera, sister.
If we weren’t scared 25 years ago when nobody even knew we existed, we certainly aren’t going to be scared now that you have seen us—however you saw us, good or bad, but you saw us.

Compañera, hermana:
Take care of that little light that we gave you. Don’t let it go out.
Even if our light here is extinguished by our blood, even if other lights go out in other places, take care of yours because even when times are difficult, we have to keep being what we are, and what we are is women who struggle.
That’s all we wanted to say, compañera, sister. In summary, we’re not going to hold a women’s gathering here; we’re not going to participate. If you hold a gathering in your world and anyone asks you where the Zapatistas are, and why didn’t they come, tell them the truth: tell them that the Zapatista women are fighting in their corner of the world for their freedom.
That’s all, compañeras, sisters, take care of yourselves. Maybe we won’t see each other again.
Maybe they’ll tell you not to bother thinking about the Zapatistas anymore because they no longer exist. Maybe they’ll tell you that there aren’t any more Zapatistas.
But just when you think that they’re right, that we’ve been defeated, you’ll see that we still see you and that one of us, without you even realizing it, has come close to you and whispered in your ear, only for you to hear: “Where is that little light that we gave you?
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast,

The Zapatista Women
February 2019

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Letter By Scholar Mannan Wani On Why He Chose To Pick Up Gun...

Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you send him to cemetery. – Malcolm X

Occupation is not easy to understand, it’s a very complex and multifaceted phenomenon. The decade’s long bloody conflict has turned Kashmir into one of the most politically mature nations of the world.

With time we all have somewhat understood the complex functioning, structure and machinery of occupation. India as a colonial state is slowly but steadily failing in justifying its colonial rule to the people of Kashmir.

But, occupation is like a cancer thus, we as a nation and community have to evolve and update ourselves of the new military, mental and diplomatic tactics of India as a colonial state.

You might be wondering why I, one who choose gun over pen, decided to write. There are a few things that I believe made it hard for me to be silent;

1: Collaborators nowadays are obfuscating facts to justify occupation and oppression while playing with emotions of gullible masses, human rights defenders are turning into business monsters and are making conflict a business by featuring the pain of oppressed, activism is guided and directed from Delhi studios.

2: From print media to electronic media, everyone from oppressors to oppressed have chosen to castigate us, our ways and methodology, our ideology and thought process by simply demonizing us.

Thirdly, when people who were forced to give up gun to propagate ‘peaceful ways of resistance ‘try to justify our methods of resistance by their own understanding and logic but actually disown us and our ideology and lastly when a former top cop turned human rights defender who worthlessly tried to crush genuine aspirations of people during his tenure tries to preach humanity and moderateism through half-hearted and illogical arguments.

One has but to respond. Thus, it becomes imperative for a person like me (who neither has resources nor the luxuries like the people I tried to relate above) who has already chosen gun over pen, to reply back in the same language and to present our point of view.

And I believe it’s necessary that some insider also puts his point of view to get the facts straight.

Not going into the long history of the occupation which I believe everyone among us is well aware about its roots, causes and ramifications.

The modern era of resistance started after the mass upsurge of 2008. Since then the methods of resistance have drastically and positively changed.

With the change in methods of resistance the tactics of oppression & suppression also evolved. India has realized it very well that they no longer can justify their illegal occupation or keep the Kashmiri nation silent under the jackboots of slavery.

So, they are willfully trying to change the historical and political realities of Kashmir. Day in and day out, new discourses are being circulated in media through various individuals and agencies.

India is very cleverly trying to confuse the people of Kashmir by manufacturing the narratives suiting to justify their military presence and oppressive measures used to contain the populace of J&K.

Certain individuals are assigned powerful and resourceful positions and then made to befool the people by bringing new discourses (irrelevant) and trying to make the old and actual ones seem out-dated and irrelevant.

One day we see some bureaucrat writing ‘India is the only rational choice Kashmiris have’ and the other day a politician will question ‘why militants feel dignity in death’. I will here try to deconstruct some of such vague arguments and expose the hypocrisy behind them.

‘we are soldiers we don’t fight to die but to win, we don’t feel dignity in death but we do feel dignity in fighting (Indian) occupation, its military might, its oppression, its tyranny, its collaborators and most of all its ego and if/when we die while fighting all this, we do feel dignity in that death.’ By ‘we’, I mean every Kashmiri and by ‘Kashmiri’ I mean every citizen of J&K, who is fighting the occupation in one or other way, not just the men with gun.

A teacher (school, college or university) who teaches students honestly or a doctor who works day in and out to treat his patients humanely or a student protesting the atrocities of occupation honorably or a stone palter who throws stones on occupying forces while facing bullets in return, or a columnist who writes fearlessly or a Journalist who risks his life to report the truths from ground zero or a person who just talks about the occupation or a lawyer who fights legally in a court, or a government employee who is sincere in his duties or for that matter a policeman who performs his real duty of maintaining law and order (not terrorizing, killing, maiming, and torturing natives), we are all soldiers of resistance.

New identities and divisions are being created, to bifurcate the society and to create voids in resistance. Before 2016 mass upsurge was deliberately associated with city and towns and militancy was called the activity of some ‘illiterate strayed village boys’.

Now protests are being associated with the ‘south Kashmir villagers’ who have no sense of economy. Although every now and then people have rejected these narratives by showing their mass support to resistance movement but still we need to be vigilant about how they try to disconnect people from each other using senseless discourses, sometimes on sub regional basis (North Vs South) and sometimes on sectarian and ethnic basis.

There is a very strong campaign going on in media (both social media and electronic media) against the resistance of Kashmir.

Those who fight occupation are called fanatics, fundamentalists and their favorite word, terrorists. The people behind these campaigns are well aware of the facts but it’s their job to befool people. The Indian NCERT text book for 12th class political science students defines terrorist as, “one who targets civilians indiscriminately to get their demands fulfilled” .

By this definition one can clearly understand who qualifies to be a terrorist since our course of action is known to one and all. Unlike India we don’t kill civilians (Kashmiris or Indian) and non combatants (not part of occupation).

Those calling us terrorists should either change their textbooks or their rhetoric. The people of India are being taught that Kashmiri militants are brainwashed young boys who join militancy for 72 virgins and they believe dying like this is a short cut for jannah.

There is no denying that Islam is our motivation and way of life and Islam indeed promises Jannah for fighting against every kind of oppression in whatever means one can.

But, as I mentioned above we are soldiers we join the war not to die and live in Jannah nah but to fight the enemy and defeat him.

No mujahid can ever claim Jannah even if he sacrifices everything, Jannah is the domain of Allah and that will be decided on the Day of Judgment not just on the fact that you died in a war, but entry in Jannah has a million criteria.

Also, we do not claim that Islam exclusively belongs to us only but it is true also those oppressors have a long history of manipulating people in the name of religion. They will always choose a specific part of Islam, misinterpret it and try to legitimize their occupation.

It’s often being argued that we are fighting a lost war. Apologists of occupation flaunt the military might of India, its missile technology, and its huge army; comparisons are being made between 200 young boys with AK47 and the one million army men with latest weaponry.

The latest military history of world, weather its US in Vietnam, USSR in Afghanistan or NATO in Afghanistan, teaches us that huge armies and latest weapons do not win the wars.

If the 200 boys with rusty AK47 have no comparison with Indian army, why does India need a million troopers and a budget of billions to fight these militants? Why does the brave army of India use tanks and even gunship helicopters to fight a couple of untrained young boys who are already surrounded by thousands of their men? Why do these occupational forces hundreds in number have to blow up the houses in order to kill the single man with gun? The answer to every such question is that India is already losing the war in Kashmir.

There was a time when the fight was between an armed militant and a thousand Indian troopers but now Indian army has to get through thousands of unarmed freedom fighters before getting the gunman.

The people who come to rescue the militants at encounter sites, unarmed, without caring about their lives give us an idea about the aspirations and emotions of the people. India might befool their own citizens or world community by calling militants as brainwashed Islamic terrorists but how can India justify that a whole nation fighting them is brainwashed.

India is in utter frustration and this is very visible every night on its news channels. Govt. of India hides its failures by running hate and venomous campaigns against us on media.

One can easily guess the level of their frustration; the teachers of colleges and universities in Kashmir are spied by govt. agencies , students are kept under surveillance, local media is gagged, laws are passed in which govt. employees are asked to refrain from criticizing the govt. policies. How would an apologist who believes that J&K is a part of democratic India describe it?

It’s often been discussed that we should try to find the solution of Kashmir issue by peaceful means within democratic framework of India.

Undoubtedly India is world’s largest democracy on papers and procedure but on practical grounds India does not qualify for a democracy.

How can you expect a nation to listen to you whose (so called) democratically elected prime minister has been a chief architect of communal riots, where elections are fought on communal lines, where rapists and criminals are lawmakers, where media is controlled by the ruling regime, where every voice of descent and every critique is silenced either by death or by other means, where every critique of govt. is declared anti national and the elections are won by populism and tricks, where government agencies are used to quell opposition and where minorities are facing existential threat, where every dissenting voice is threatened to be sent to Pakistan, where a Muslim is lynched in broad daylight for keeping beef in his fridge, where every skull cap donning man & burka clad women is a suspected terrorist, where students are sent to jail for protesting against government policies and where academicians and journalists are killed just because they speak or write against the government.

Hence, for Indian politicians the number of deaths in Kashmir is just a vote gaining policy in India. The corpse of a Kashmiri is sold in election market to satisfy the collective conscience of a nation.

Soldiers take pride in raping women and shooting innocents, and Indian masses are indoctrinated with the narratives by jingoist media to such an extent that they actually support all this.

This is not restricted to Kashmir only, the situation in north East Indian states, naxal areas and tribal regions in mainland India is no good than this. Rapes, killings, torture and human rights violation by Indian army is very common there too.

Democracy in Kashmir has always been used to fortify military occupation by taking refuge in black laws like AFSPA, DA & PSA, while using local collaborators. And the irony is that these local pro occupational politicians since the times of Sheikh Abdullah have always been used as a cannon fodder to serve the interests of India and it’s occupation, these henchmen are later on thrown after use just like tissue papers, if and ever they demanded or spoke for the rights of people.

The recent dumping of Pro Indian JKPDP by It’s ally BJP without even informing the so called Chief Minister is a case in point. That is a small but a significant display of democracy inKashmir.

On the political front, the current govt like its predecessors is acting arrogantly and completely ignoring regional opposition voices just to saffronise every inch of India. This is intensifying the already present separatist and pro freedom sentiments in the Indian mainland and occupied Kashmir respectively.

These aren’t some fanciful or rhetorical claims; we have recently seen the calls for ‘Dravidastan’ and the revival of ‘khalistan movement’.

The historically deep caste based fault line of India is also widening. With all these things going on, India is meant to explode and the resistance movement of Kashmir is going to forerunner of this process.

The current regime in India is on a mission to distort and change the whole historical base of their country and while trying to do so they are taking up Kashmir issue albeit with their own biased fascistic political ideology.

But Kashmir issue has entirely different bases and historical context. It’s often seen that on the one side people of Kashmir are being offered things to forget the historical and political reality of Kashmir and on the other they are threatened by showcasing military might of India.

Terrorizing local population by daily CASOs, nocturnal arrests of youth, jailing every pro freedom Voice, restricting every unarmed ‘peaceful’ protest by showering teargas and pellets on protesters is just a small display of actual ‘idea of India’ and it’s democracy . ‘Peace’ in Kashmir is established only by caging the whole population in their homes by enforcing curfews and ‘peaceful means of resistance ‘have always been welcome but with bullets, pellets and tear gases.

Every nation wants development, education and other things but not at the cost of their dignity and freedom. The people who are trying to sell sports and education against the history of Kashmir are living in fool’s world.

World history is a witness to the fact that nations have been defeated in wars but they can never be made to forget their history. Even if all the armed resistance ends in Kashmir and there is no freedom movement at all, peoples one or other day will start new movement and demand their right to freedom.

Movements and ideologies based on historical facts and justice are neither owned nor represented by specific persons of whatsoever stature. A person, no matter how big a leader he/she is just a part of a movement, not the movement itself.

If a leader decides to change his political stance and compromises on any basis, does that mean the movement is corrupt? Sheikh Abdullah was the most popular and tallest leader Kashmir ever had, but what makes his grave the ‘most guarded grave’ of the sub continent.

Those who are trying to show us the corruption and illegitimacy of the movement by highlighting the individuals should ponder over this. A leader is only acceptable and legitimate for people until he/she stands by the real politico historical narrative of Kashmir issue. Govt. can evolve their policies of oppression but they cannot go back in time and change the history. Therefore it would be better for the apologists of occupation to view us as humans who wish to live with dignity. But, they should always bear in mind that there is no dignity in living under occupation. We as a oppressed human beings are duty bound to fight against every kind of injustice, tyranny and oppression in our capacities and what could be the biggest injustice, tyranny or oppression else than living under occupation? The resistance offered by our people have frustrated the occupiers to such a level that they can’t even tolerate the people who don’t even subscribe to dominant narrative of local population and to set it an example they even jail or kill‘ human rights defenders’ and ‘ambassadors of peace’ who otherwise never speak against occupation.

By bringing in religious discourse to castigate us and our motives is never going to ease the problems. Let us be clear about the fact that we believe that the religion we follow is a system of life rather than a set of rituals and prayers. Thus it is natural to derive one’s thought, principle or ideology from the same system.

Second, it is not necessary for everyone to pick up the gun against oppression or occupation but it is necessary obligation for everyone to rise against oppression, curse occupation and rise against every falsehood in whatever way one can do.

And thirdly, Islam and Slavery can never go hand in hand and Islam can never tolerate oppression on any human being. Fourthly, when occupation is ugly, resistance can neither be beautiful nor can its means dictated or taught by oppressor.

Resistance is resistance; it can neither be peaceful nor violent. In fact, violence is not that we have picked up gun to fight occupation but violence is the presence of more than 12 lakh Indian armed men in Kashmir, violence is the presence of fortified army garrisons, bunkers and pickets, and occupation in itself is a biggest violence.

Therefore apologists of occupation should learn and understand the difference between ‘violence’ and ‘self defense’.

And lastly as a Muslims who believe that Islam is a complete system for mankind encompassing social, economic and political system, we too wish to be governed by the same, but it has never been implemented forcefully in whatsoever conditions.

Our mission is to liberate our land from foreign illegal occupation and thus to create an environment of peace and justice wherein every thought and ideology would be discussed and debated and people will be given their right to chose whatever they like.

And history has been witness to the fact, that where ever people live in real freedom and Islam was given a chance to rule, people have always not only welcome it but also seen the era of justice and peace in those time. And as Great revolutionary Malcolm X puts it; there is nothing in our book, The Quran that teaches us to suffer peacefully. Our religion teaches us to be intelligent.

*Mannan Wani was killed on 11 October 2018. He was a former PhD scholar from Aligarh Muslim University, who is currently member of Hizbul Mujahideen – an armed outfit active in Jammu and Kashmir. This article was mailed by Hizbul Mujhadeen to news agency Current News Service based in Srinagar.