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photostudioOn February 20 I visited the Votive Church again and struck up a conversation with some of the refugees who were smoking cigarettes on the portico outside the building and behind the heavy iron gate. I’d been discussing the protest online with people who were not fans of it. One of those people’s arguments was that these were economic refugees who wanted to take advantage of Austria’s relative wealth, rather than political refugees whose lives were threatened at home. I brought this up with one of the men. In response, he started telling me about the place he was from, Parachinar, the capital of a region called Kurram Agency. He spoke English with difficulty and I speak no Pashto so the conversation wasn’t easy. We went inside to a small, heated room that serves a kitchen. On the table, another refugee had a laptop, and with a headset on, he was holding a conversation via Skype with someone else. The laptop guy, Mustafa, was also from Kurram Agency. I was given a chair and, for the next hour, treated to a heart- and gut-wrenching series of videos of bomb blasts and beheadings, severed limbs and weeping orphans. My hosts explained that the Pakistani military and secret police cooperate with Taliban, al-Qaeda and other Wahhabi extremist organizations in a campaign of terror against the Shia minority, sometimes using suicide bombings, sometimes using targeted attacks on individual Shias.

Mustafa showed me photos of his town, which had been destroyed by the Taliban. “This was my photo studio,” he said. “This was my house.”

I asked him if he would write something that would express his situation and that of the others in the church from Kurram Agency. A couple of hours later, I received a text. The first version that I provide below is edited for grammar and style; the second is the original that I received.

The seven men in the church from Kurram Agency are: Syed Muhammed Mustafa (photographer), Asmat Ali (handyman, painter), Liaqat Ali Turi (soldier, Pakistani army), Arif Hussain Turi (MBA from Peshawar Agricultural University, painter), Muntazir Abbas Turi (gardener), Mehdi Hussain Turi (electrician), Riaz Hussain Jafari (builder).

1.
Kurram Agency (Parachinar): a brief history of violence

Kurram Tribal Agency is located in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Geographically, it covers the Kurram Valley region, which is a beautiful valley in the northwestern part of Pakistan, neighboring with 3 provinces of Afghanistan. Most of the population is Pashtun and the main religion is Islam. Major tribes living in Kurram Agency are Turi, Bangash, Orakzai, Zazai, Mangal, Ghilzai and Para Tsamkani. The Turi tribe is 100% Shia Muslims and 40% of the Bangash people also belong to Shia Muslim sect. The rest of the tribes are 100% Sunni Muslims.

Due to its Shia Muslim population, the region is always attacked by Wahabi extremists from Afghanistan and rest of FATA, especially from Waziristan, Khyber, Orakzai and Bajaur. This also happened during the British rule on the subcontinent. The elders of the Turi tribe invited the British army to take control of the area in order to protect them from the attacks of Wahabis. As a result, Kurram Agency came under British rule and the individuals of the area enjoyed peaceful lives during this era.

After the independence of Pakistan, the extremist attacks once again continued and disturbed the lives of the people in most of the areas of Kurram Agency. At that time the government was strong enough to control the situation and was successful in maintaining peace to some extent. When General Zia-ul-Haq took control of Pakistan, the situation become worst for Shia Muslims all over the country, especially in Parachinar. As he was an extremist Wahabi and was against Shia Muslim thought, he established terrorist camps in FATA, including Kurram Agency. That was the start of the worst era for Shia Muslims in the region. Terrorists started attacking Shia Muslims in Kurram Agency. In 1983, so-called jihadis attacked different Shia villages in the area, killing hundreds of innocent men, women, and even children. They also burned several villages and destroyed all the property. The same happened in 1987 and 1996. These attacks continued for few weeks and later on the Pakistani army took control of the area and peace returned.

In April 2007, extremist organizations including Taliban, al-Qaida, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Janghvi launched a massive attacked on the Shia population in Kurram Agency. This time can be considered the worst in Kurram history. Unlike previous attacks, these attacks continued for 5 years and Kurram Agency was cut from the rest of country. This resulted in shortage of everything including food and medicine. Many people (most of them were children and pregnant women) died because of the unavailability of medicine in the hospitals. More than 1100 of our citizens were murdered and beheaded even children and women. We have suffered all kinds of problems, humanitarian tragedies, bomb blasts in crowded areas, etc. In this modern era we listened to the slogans like “War on Terrorism.” We are the victims of inhuman attacks of these terrorists and misled groups, and the so-called leaders of Pakistan too, and no one hears our cries. These millitants (Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists) are so cruel that they even targeted an ambulance going from Parachinar to Peshawar with heavy weapons, killing seven people including patients, a child, a driver, a security guard and a female nurse.

Moreover these terrorists kidnapped many people belonging to Parachinar in different cities of the country and slaughtered them with knives like animals. A lot of videos of this are available on the internet.

Parachinar’s people are crying for relief but their voices echo back, because the government of Pakistan have considered us as animals, uncivilized people, who should be punished by inhuman means by those who claim to be civilized and good human beings. The people live here are the victims of Alqaeda and Taliban and other banned terrorist groups because they are not following the beliefs of Alqaeda and Taliban and also opposing their thoughts of terrorism. They have been attacking us since April 2007 and the blockade went from April 2007 to February 2012. We called on humanity for relief and to punish these Taliban, Sipah-e-Sahaba and al-Qaida terrorist bastards but no-one listened to our cries.

The people of Parachinar fought like tigers against the Taliban and al-Qaida and defeated them in every field, although our people also suffered a lot, as about 3000 people were martyred during the fighting and about 5000 were injured. Several villages including my village (Arawali Syedano Kali, located in lower Kurram Agency) were completely burned and demolished by these terrorists. Hundreds of people have been killed in a series of suicide attacks on roads and in markets. No serious steps have been taken by our government, which has left the people at the mercy of Alqaida and Taliban. When Taliban and al-Qaida were defeated in front line war, they changed their strategy and stopped the war in September 2011 and started targeting Shia Muslims in the rest of the country. Now they have started the target killing and kidnapping of Shia Muslims in every city. Many innocent people have lost their lives and many others have been compelled to leave the country.

Every week they attack the well-known, educated professionals of the area who work in big cities of the country and take their lives. Only this month, eight professionals have been targeted. Only one escaped. One was called for a job interview and was shot dead when he reached their office. One was a tribal leader, the president of a political party in the area, and a well-known gastroenterologist, Syed Riaz Hussain Shah. In short, no one is safe from these bastards. If you watch the news, every day innocent Shias are losing their lives. A few days ago, 119 Shia were killed in Quetta during 3 suicide attacks.
In my case, I lost everything when they demolished my village and I was continuously threatened with kidnapping and murder. So I was left with no option other than to leave my country, my family and everything there. I hope your people will understand my pain and will help me.

Syed Muhammed Mustafa
Votive Church, Vienna
20 February 2013

2.

Kurram Agency (Parachinar) brief history of violence

Kurram Tribal Agency is located in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. Geographically, it covers the Kurram Valley region which is a beautiful valley in the northwestern part of Pakistan, neighboring with 3 provinces of Afghanistan. Most of the population is Pashtun and the main religion is Islam. Major tribes living in Kurram Agency are Turi, Bangash, Orakzai, Zazai, Mangal, Ghilzai and Para Tsamkani.Turi tribes is 100% Shia Muslims and Bangash 40% people belong to Shia Muslim Sect. the rest tribes are 100% sunni Muslims.

Due to its Shia Muslims population in the region, they are always attacked by Wahabi extremist from Afghanistan and rest of FATA specialy from Waziristan, Khyber, Orakzai and Bajaur. This was also happen during the British rule on sub continent. The elders of Turi tribes invited British army to take control of the area in order to protect them from the attacks of Wahabis. As a result Kurram Agency came under Bristish rule and individual of the area enjoyed peaceful life during this era.

After the independence of Pakistan, the extremist attacks once again continued and disturb the life of people in most of the areas of Kurram agency. Hence at that time Govt was strong enough and controlled the situation and was successful in maintaining peace to some extent. When General Zia ul Haq take the control of Pakistan, the situation become worst for Shia Muslim all over the country specially in Parachinar. As he was extremist Wahabi and was against Shia Muslim thought, so he established terrorist camps in FATA including Kurram Agency. That was the start of the worst era for Shia Muslim in the region. Terrorist started attacking Shia Muslims in Kurram Agency. In 1983, so called Jihadis attacked different Shia villages in the area and thus killing hundrends of innocent men, women even children. They also burn few villages and destroyed all the properties. Same happened in 1987 and 1996. These attacked continued for few weeks and later on Pakistan army took control of the area and peace came in area.

In April 2007, extremist organization like Taliban, Al-Qaida, Sipah Sahaba and Lashkar Janghwi etc launch a massive attacked on shia population in Kurram Agency. This time can be considered the worst in Kurram history. Unlike previous attacks, these attacks continued for 5 years and Kurram agency was cut from the rest of country. This resulted in shortage of everything including foods items and medicines. Many people (most of them were children and women during pregnancy) also died because of unavailability of medicine in the hospitals. More than 1100 of our citizens have been murdered and beheaded even children & women in ambulance by them and we have suffered from all kinds of problems being called the instances of the Humanitarian Tragedy like death toll of innocent women and children, anger, bomb blast in the crowed areas etc. In this modern era we listened the slogans like War on Terrorism, guidance of the misled groups but we are the victims of inhuman attacks of these terrorists and misled groups and the so called leaders of the Pakistani officals and no one hears to our cries. These millitants (Taliban and alqaida terrorists)are so cruel that they even targeted the Ambulance going from Parachinar to Peshawar with heavy weapons killing seven people including patient,child ,driver,security guard & female nurse.

Moreover these terrorist kidnapped many people belonging to parachinar from different cities of the country and slaughtered them with knife like animals. A lot of such movies are also available on internet.

Parachinar people are crying for relief but their voice returns back, because the Govt of Pakistan have considered us as animals, uncivilized who should be punished by inhuman means by those who claim to be civilized and good human beings. The people live here are the victims of Alqaeda and Taliban and other banned terrorist groups because they are not following the beliefs of Alqaeda and Taliban and also opposing their thoughts of terrorism. They are attacking us since April 2007 and the blockade has started since from April 2007 to February 2012. We called the humanity for relief for relief and for punishment of these bastards Taliban, Sipah sahaba and Alqaida terrorists but none listen to our cries.

People of the Parachinar fought like tiger against Taliban and AlQaida and defeated them in every field. Although our people also suffered a lot as about 3000 peoples martyred during the fighting and about 5000 were injured. Few villages including my village (Arawali Syedano Kali located in lower Kurram Agency) were completed burned and demolished by these terrorist. Hundreds of people killed in series of suicides attacks on roads and in markets and till no serious steps have been taken by our Govt and have leave the people on the mercy of Alqaida and Taliban. when Taliban and Alqaida got defeated in front line war, they changed their strategy and stopped the war in September 2011 and started targeting Shia Muslims in the rest of country. Now they have started target killing and kidnapping of Shia Muslim in every city. Many innocent people lost their lives and many of them are compelled to leave the country.

Every week they are killing or attacking the well known and educated professionals of the area working in big cities of country and losing their lives. Only this month 8 professional were targeted in which only one was lucky to be safe. One of them was called for jobs interview and was shot dead when he reached their office. One was known tribal leader, ruling political party president in the area and well known Gastroenterologist Syed Riaz Hussain Shah. In short no one is safe from these bastards. If you watched news, everyday innocents Shia losing lives. Few days before 119 Shia were killed in Quetta during 3 suicides attacks.

Same is the case with me, I lost my all when they burnt my village and I was continuously threatened of kidnapping and murdering. So I was left with no option other than to leave my country, my family and everything there. I hope your people will understand my pain and will help me.

Syed Muhammed Mustafa
Votive Church, Vienna
20 February 2013

3 thoughts on “A brief history of violence

  1. Pingback: Eine kurze Geschichte der Gewalt « (Un)Occupy | Decolonize | Liberate

  2. i live in parachinar and its a really painful life here! you cant imagine what happens here! our people are extremists, army is a terrorists friendly army! so we cant do anything ! they even dont allow journalists here.
    incase you need any information regarding FATA/pakistan, or Parachinar, u can contact me any time and i can make you sure that you will get the right information from my side!
    And i would like to thank you for highlighting our problems!

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