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Politics, activism, human rights highlights of Faiz Aman Mela.

Byline: Imran Gabol

LAHORE -- Hundreds of people from all walks of life attended the Faiz Aman Mela at Open Air Theatre at Bagh-i-Jinnah on Sunday to pay tribute to Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

It's an annual event that happens in February, the month one of the best Urdu poets was born in more than a century back.

This year's festival was dedicated to human rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir and poet, playwright and columnist Munoo Bhai.

It was organised by Faiz Aman Mela Committee, in collaboration with the Awami Workers Party (AWP), Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Party, Faiz Foundation Trust, Barabri Party, Women Action Forum (WAF), Faiz Foundation Trust, Progressive Students Collective, Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign and Peoples Solidarity Forum.

The festival was attended by a large number of diversified audiences, including members of progressive political parties, civil society organisations, workers and students.

The open air theatre was packed to capacity and participants could also be seen outside the theatre on different stalls set up by the political parties. The political workers kept busy distributing their pamphlets on their party agenda and manifesto among the audience.

The event comprised of four sessions, including talks on Left-wing politics in present era, poetry, the struggle of Asma Jahangir and Munoo Bhai and theatre. The first session was conducted by Shazia Khan of AWP who talked about the significance of the politics of resistance.

In the session, Dr Sarah Sohail discussed the condition of women in capitalist economic system. She said the women had been commodified in capitalism and it did not create a relation between men and women but made women a commodity for men.

Dr Ammar Ali Jan said the current political system had raised several problems, including question of nationalism, and it could not be solved without addressing the class question.

Lal Khan of the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Committee discussed Left-wing politics in the current era and highlighted the miseries of the poor.

He said the country was going through a judicial martial law and the human rights activist Asma Jahangir was a strong voice against it. He said the masses had been told that Faiz Ahmad Faiz was a poet, intellectual and rights activist but no one focused on his identity as a communist.

'Faiz had joined the British army on the recommendations of the Communist Party of India and the state had arrested Faiz not for his poetry but for his political activities.'

Lal Khan said the class struggle would continue in a society which had different classes and democracy could not be achieved in these types of societies.

Saleha Rauf, Haider Butt and Barabri Party Pakistan chairman singer Jawad Ahmed also spoke on the student politics and upcoming elections.

The second session was all about poetry and it was conducted by Dr Khalid Javed Jan who also recited couplets by Faiz. The prominent poets who participated in the sitting included Nazir Qiaser, Baba Najmi, Anees Ahmed, Anjum Saleemi, Afzal Sahir, Tanvir Shahid, Sabir Ali Sabir, Iffat Alvi, Comrade Irfan Ali and Azmat Malik. The poets also recited their couplets to pay tributes to Asma Jahangir and Munoo Bhai.

The festival also witnessed two stage performances. One of them was by the Progressive Students Collective. It highlighted the ban on student politics in the educational institutions and how the students were forced to remain silent on national and international issues. The other performance was by Imran Nafees and his team which highlighted silence of society in the face of oppression.

The third session was conducted by Dr Ashraf Nizami and participants included journalist Imtiaz Alam, Abid Saqi and Gulnar of the Women's Action Forum. The participants highlighted the struggle of Asma Jahangir for the rights of the peasants, workers and women.

Gulnar said that how she worked with Asma Jahangir to struggle against the dictator Gen Ziaul Haq and how they were put in jail. She said it was difficult for a woman to work for the human rights because she had to suffer more than men. She urged the audience to follow Faiz and Asma's legacy and it was the only way forward for the representation of women, workers, peasants and minorities in Pakistan.

Abid Saqi recited Munoo Bhai's couplets and later, addressing the participants, said the death of Asma Jahangir was a loss to humanity. He said Asma had always supported the rights of workers, peasants and women and she also raised voice for them.

Imtiaz Alam also said they should follow the footsteps of Asma Jahangir and Munoo Bhai. He raised slogans in favour of Faiz, Asma and Munoo Bhai.

In the last session a number of singers performed on the occasion prominent among those were Jawad Ahmed, Lal Band Taimur Rehman, Adeel Burki, and others.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Feb 19, 2018
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