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Tribal NGOs condemn brutal assassination of Fareeda Afridi

Slain Social worker Fareeda Afridi

Peshawar: A condolence meeting was held in SPO office Peshawar to remember Ms. Farida Afridi who was brutally assassinated by the brutal, negative and anti social forces today morning at Jamrud Khyber Agency, FATA. Farida Afridi was a founding member of SAWERA organization which is active doing its social activities for the uplift of women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in general and Khyber Agency in particular. At the moment she was the HR Manager in her said organization.

Today morning on Saturday, July 4, 2012 as she left her home for office in Hayatabad Peshawar immediately two criminals having Kalashnikovs in their hands appeared on a motorcycle who intercepted her and shot her dead. The culprits fled away after the incident.

This was not the first incident of a social worker in FATA.

On December 8, 2011 Mr. Zartif Khan Afridi a well known human rights defender and partner of SPO was also killed and an unknown Islamic jihadist out fit with name Al Uzzam Brigade took the responsibility. Al Uzzam Brigade is active killing people affiliated with development sector in Khyber Agency and Mohmand Agency FATA. Zartif Khan Afridi had arranged a tribal Jirga few days before his death. Terrorists had announced after the death of Zartif Khan Afridi that who so ever found involved in social and human rights activities in Khyber Agency would be killed.

In Mohmand Agency well known and noted journalist and a partner of SPO Muhammad Khan Atif was murdered at a time when he was standing for evening prayers.

Ms. Farida, Zartif Khan Afridi and Mukarram Khan Atif all were the partners of SPO-Peshawar, members FATA Civil Society Network and Tribal NGOs Consortium. The sudden and brutal killing of the said social workers in FATA discouraged those who work in FATA for the uplift of the marginalized and down trodden people especially women.

It is the responsibility of state and security agencies to protect the human rights defenders in FATA and elsewhere. Both have badly failed and have no sympathy for the people who are killed in such incidents. If civil society did not unite for its right then it is feared that other social workers will be killed in this way. Both government and security agencies will be sleeping and people like Farida, Zartif Khan, Khan Habib Afridi and Mukarram Khan Atif will be mercilessly killed.

We the participants of civil society organizations in Peshawar strongly condemn this tragic death and vow to raise our voice against this tyranny and brutality at the hands of anti state elements who have been given free hand to kill people of civil society. We the participants also demand for the immediate arrest of the culprits who should be given exemplary punishment as per law of the country.

Those who were present on the occasions were Arshad Haroon Regional Head SPO Peshawar, Shahid Mehmood, Ijaz Durrani of SPO, Idrees Kamal Coordinator Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society and Amn Tehrik, Zar Ali Khan Afridi, Coordinator FRs CSN and Chairman Tribal NGOs Consortium, Malik Luqman of FATA Democratic Movement and Ameer Khan of Pakhtun Democratic Council. Besides a large number of people representing civil society also participated and prayed for the departed soul.

Issued by Tribal NGOs Consortium

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Mustajab Tareen

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  • خیبر ایجنسی:این جی او کی خاتون رکن قتل

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2012/07/120704_khayber_ngo_woman_killed_tk.shtml

    پاکستان کے قبائلی علاقے خیبر ایجنسی میں حکام کا کہنا ہے کہ خواتین کے حقوق کےلئے سرگرم ایک مقامی غیر سرکاری تنظیم سویرا کی نوجوان خاتون مینیجر کو مسلح افراد نے فائرنگ کرکے ہلاک کردیا ہے۔

    سرکاری اہلکاروں نے بی بی سی کو بتایا کہ یہ واقعہ بدھ کی صبح خیبر ایجنسی کے علاقے جمرود تحصیل میں پیش آیا۔

    انہوں نے کہا کہ مقامی غیر سرکاری تنظیم سویرا کی ایچ آر مینیجر فریدہ آفریدی گھر سے پشاور کے علاقے حیات آباد میں واقع اپنے دفتر جارہی تھی کہ راستے میں ہی نامعلوم موٹر سائیکل سواروں نے ان پر اندھا دھند فائرنگ کردی جس سے وہ ہلاک ہوگئیں۔ عینی شاہدین کا کہنا ہے حملہ آوار دو تھے جو قتل کے بعد فرار ہونے میں کامیاب ہوئے۔

    سویرا تنظیم کے اہلکاروں کا کہنا ہے کہ فریدہ کو کچھ عرصہ سے نامعلوم افراد کی طرف سے ٹیلی فون پر قتل کی دھمکیاں مل رہی تھیں لیکن انہوں نے ان دھمکیوں کو کبھی سنجیدہ نہیں لیا بلکہ وہ اکثر کہا کرتی تھیں کہ شاید ان کے خاندان کے کچھ افراد ان پر دباؤ ڈالنے کی کوشش کر رہے ہیں۔ تاہم ابھی تک کسی تنظیم نے اس قتل کی ذمہ داری قبول نہیں کی ہے۔

    سویرا نامی یہ تنظیم قبائلی علاقوں میں خواتین کی تعلیم و تربیت کےلیے سرگرم ادارے ’ویمن لیڈ‘ کا حصہ بتائی جاتی ہے ہے

    یادرہے کہ خیبرایجنسی میں اس سے پہلے بھی غیر سرکاری تنظیموں کے اہلکاروں کو نشانہ بنایا جاچکا ہے جس میں انسانی حقوق کےلئے کام کرنے والے کارکن بھی ہلاک کئے گئے تھے۔

    فریدہ آفریدی قبائلی علاقوں میں خواتین کی تعلیم و تربیت اور حقوق کےلیے سرگرم غیر سرکاری تنظیم سویرا کی ہیومن رسورس منیجر تھیں۔ ان کا تعلق سویرا تنظیم کے بانی رہنماؤں میں ہوتا تھا۔ چوبیس سالہ فریدہ آفریدی جمرود کے ایک پسماندہ علاقے غنڈی مندتو کلی سے تعلق رکھتی تھی۔ بتایا جاتا ہے کہ فریدہ کو بچپن ہی سے خواتین کی حقوق کےلیے کام کرنے کا شوق تھا اور یہی وجہ ہے کہ وہ سکول کے زمانے سے سویرا تنظیم سے منسلک ہوگئی تھیں۔

    انہوں نے علامہ اقبال اوپن یونیورسٹی سے جنڈر سٹڈیز میں ماسٹر ڈگری حاصل کی تھی۔ فریدہ کا شمار اپنے علاقے کے چند تعلیم یافتہ خواتین میں ہوتا تھا۔ قبائلی علاقے سے تعلق رکھنے کی وجہ سے وہ باقاعدہ پردے میں دفتر آتی جاتی تھیں۔ وہ غیر شادی شدہ بھی تھی۔

  • Positive Pakistanis: Sister act
    Sunday Magazine Feature
    By Said Nazir
    Published: September 11, 2011

    If it weren’t for the support of their father and the persistence of their mother, Farida Afridi and Noor Zia Afridi would not be able to read a single word of this article. But today, the two are not only final year students of MSc in Gender studies and holders of MBA degrees, but are also determined champions of women’s education and empowerment.

    Farida and Noor’s long struggle against discriminatory tribal customs started when they were school children. “After we completed our primary education, our male family members wanted us to stop going to school,” says Farida. But the girls’ parents were adamant that they would continue their education.

    Since then, equal status for women and children’s rights have been issues close to their hearts. It was to win these rights that the two established the Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas (SAWERA) in the Jamrud subdivision of Khyber Agency in December 2008.

    “The government is oblivious of the general attitude of tribesmen towards women and the extent of inequality in our patriarchal society. This pushed us to start a struggle for their empowerment,” says Farida, sitting in her well-furnished office in Peshawar.

    Interestingly, though their struggle is for women’s rights, their inspiration was a male student-cum-social worker named Laal Jan. “We used to see Laal Jan as a student, doing social work in our village. His dedication provided us with the impetus to step into this field,” says Farida.

    It wasn’t a smooth ride. Their parents may have been in favour of their education, but seeing their daughters transform into pioneering social workers was something else. They faced tough resistance when they told their family about the path they had chosen for themselves — to promote women’s rights by launching an NGO. Eventually, Laal Jan came to the rescue, convincing the girls’ parents to support them after several long conversations. “I told them that there was no harm in women working in the field,” recalls Jaan. “Far from earning the girls a bad name, their social work would actually increase their families’ prestige, if they served the local community well.”

    “We told our parents that we would work in accordance with our religious and cultural traditions, assuring them that we would never let the family honour suffer because of our line of work. Finally, they agreed,” says chadar-clad Noor, who covers half her face while working in the office and in the field.

    As for Lal Jaan, he was not only the initial inspiration for SAWERA and a key mediator during its establishment — his association with the organisation has turned out to be a long term one. Presently, he is volunteering as a technical advisor. “With the exception of eight women volunteering for SAWERA, more than half of the 20-member staff consists of tribal women,” says Lal Jaan, who is of opinion that the local staff gives SAWERA an edge over all others in the field.

    Before the establishment of SAWERA, says Noor Zia, “Only men were leading NGOs in Jamrud. Rigid tribal customs prevented them from approaching women and addressing their concerns with ease. Ours is the only functional organisation in the area which is led by women, and works for the welfare of women and children free of traditional constraints.”

    Since its inception, SAWERA has held a number of awareness sessions for locals with regards to women and children’s rights. Highly attuned to local sentiments, SAWERA’s policy of respecting tradition has paid dividends. “We are well respected in the community…everyone knows our family background and our struggle for this cause has been well-received,” says Farida. “Keeping local tradition in mind, we cover ourselves in chadar and hold our activities inside houses — rather than out in the open — which encourage the local people to cooperate with us.” They also avoid implementing projects on controversial issues like AIDS and family planning, which may incite the local community against their cause.

    While local customs are a challenge that SAWERA has overcome beautifully, local militancy is another story altogether. Like all other organisations engaged in this field, SAWERA occasionally gets threats from militants. Preferring to be part of the solution, it held a workshop on peace in the region last year in which more than 50 women participated. “Women can play an active role in countering terrorism and militancy,” says Noor. “By educating women, we can prevent their sons from becoming militants and by educating children we can enable them to choose a better future for themselves.”

    At present SAWERA is running three Information Technology (IT) centres in Jamrud, with segregated classes for male and female students. “Half the students are female — they were enrolled by their parents only after our colleagues addressed their reservations about sending their daughters to the IT centre,” Noor reveals. The project aims to equip students with enough computer skills to enable them to secure jobs.

    “One of the primary objectives of SAWERA is the financial empowerment of women which is essential for their self reliance and independence,” says Lal Jaan proudly. And most of SAWERA’s projects focus on just that. The NGO opened two garment shops with the help of a donor, which are successfully being run by two poor women from their homes in Gul Rehman village. Also, during 2009, SAWERA helped establish six male and female Community Based Organisations (CBO) each, later linking one of the female CBOs with an international donor, which is now running a vocational training centre for women in Tedi Bazaar Jamrud.

    “A number of women are making money out of it, while others are learning the skill of sewing and embroidery,” says Farida.

    Farida and Noor Zia earn a small amount of money from their work to support their studies and to sustain their NGO when they have no running projects. “We don’t give financial support to our families, neither do we ask them to support us,” says Farida, who along with Noor, enjoys financial independence.

    In an effort to disprove stereotypes, Farida and Noor are paving the way for many others and have cleverly surmounted the multiple challenges of being women in tribal society. Now, they want to reach out to more and more people, by extending their operation to the rest of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. “This is just the beginning … we still have a long way to go to change the plight of women in these areas,” says Noor.

    The two girls, who started with a personal struggle to acquire an education, have actually begun a women’s movement which may well have far-reaching and radical consequences in Pakistan’s tribal belt.

    Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, September 11th, 2011.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/247182/positive-pakistanis-sister-act/

  • Militancy: A progressive voice for tribal women silenced in targeted attack

    By Asad Zia
    Published: July 5, 2012

    PESHAWAR: In Farida Afridi’s death, women from the tribal belt have lost a fierce fighter.

    Farida, belonging to the Afridi subtribe Kokikhel, was targeted on Wednesday morning at 6.30am when she left her house in Tehsil Jamrud Ghundi Kali for her office in Hayatabad.

    “She was cornered by motorcyclists who shot her and she died on the way to Jamrud hospital,” said witness Abid Ali. Farida was 25.

    Along with her sister Noor Zia, Farida was committed to social change and economic emancipation for women from the platform of a welfare organisation called the Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas (SAWERA). Both women were among the founding members of the NGO and had a Masters degree in Gender Studies.

    Due to tribal customs and traditions, women in the area remain mostly restricted and unable to achieve their true potential, but Farida broke all barriers and relentlessly worked for women’s development. “We have lost a great member of our team,” said Lal Jan, the technical advisor of the organisation.

    To increase women’s involvement in the social and economic sphere, a few educated and aspiring women, including Farida who was still in school at that time, established SAWERA in 2004. The NGO works for the rights of women and children’s rights in the tribal belt.

    Farida had three sisters and four brothers and she was the second eldest. She belonged to a poor family that had no personal enmity, Lal Jan said.

    In an interview for The Express Tribune published in September 2011, Farida had said: “The government is oblivious to the general attitude of tribesmen towards women and the extent of inequality in our patriarchal society. This pushed us to start a struggle for their empowerment.”

    The sisters faced tough resistance when they told their family about the path they had chosen for themselves. “We told our parents that we would work in accordance with our religious and cultural traditions, assuring them that we would never let the family honour suffer because of our line of work. Finally, they agreed,” Noor had said.

    Syed Afzal Shinwari, project coordinator in Community Appraisal and Motivation Program (CAMP), said that SAWERA started small but is now an influential organisation. “Because of this brutal act, women in Fata will be discouraged to work and development will come to a halt,” he said.

    Condemnation

    “Both government and security agencies will be sleeping and people like Farida, Zartif Khan, Khan Habib Afridi and Mukarram Khan Atif will be mercilessly killed. We, the participants of civil society organisations in Peshawar, strongly condemn this tragic death and vow to raise our voice against this tyranny and brutality at the hands of anti-state elements who have been given a free hand to kill people from the civil society,” civil society group Strengthening Participatory Organisaion said in a statement.

    The End Violence Against Women/Girl alliance in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata also condemned the murder.

    Farida’s struggle and efforts towards the empowerment of tribal women will never be forgotten.

    Edited by Zehra Abid

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/403834/militancy-a-progressive-voice-for-tribal-women-silenced-in-targeted-attack/