Of Occupation, Resistance and Music: An Appeal

We submit that it is incumbent upon the people of Germany to put pressure on the German Embassy to immediately recognize the reality, the horrifying context, within which this proposed concert is to take place, issue a statement that accepts the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir, and recognizes the pain and legitimate political and legal struggle of its people. Crucially, pressure must be put on the German Embassy to withdraw its support to the concert.

"Zubin Mehta, Indian Army, and Kashmir" by Mir Suhail Qadiri
“Zubin Mehta, Indian Army, and Kashmir” by Mir Suhail Qadiri
September 2, 2013
To                                                                                                       
The People of Germany
(Political Representatives, Civil Society, Artists, Activists and Citizens)
 
Of Occupation, Resistance and Music: An Appeal
 
1.      On 22 August 2013, the German Embassy, New Delhi, issued a press release that Zubin Mehta would be conducting an orchestra on 7 September 2013, at the Mughal Garden, Shalimar Bagh, in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.  The press release stated that the concert was “a wonderful cultural tribute to Kashmir,” and intended “to reach the hearts of the Kashmiris with a message of hope and encouragement.”  “The ‘Kashmir Concert’ is part of a broader engagement,” it further stated.
2.      On 26 August 2013, civil society members of Jammu and Kashmir – from lawyers and businessmen to poets and scholars – registered a strong protest against the proposed concert. To date, the German Embassy has failed to respond – privately or publicly – to this letter of protest.  Faced with this unforeseen and complete apathy from the German embassy, we believe it is incumbent upon us to reach out to the people of Germany to express our serious concerns with a concert that seeks not to entertain, but to subtly control the political message from Jammu and Kashmir, i.e. manipulate it into a message of “peace” and “normalcy” that ignores ground realities. For example, even as we write this appeal, Jammu and Kashmir Police are conducting door to door searches and identification exercises at the homes of the residents in and around the Shalimar neighborhood, the proposed venue of the concert.  Surely this exposes the rot at the core of the much-touted “peace” and “normalcy.”  
3.      The people of Jammu and Kashmir take immense pride in our rich history of resisting oppression. We also have historically cultivated a sublime tradition in, and love for, music. Music – which appeals to the higher truths of love, justice, dignity, and peace; which genuinely acknowledges the long-suffering, yet bravely resisting, Kashmiris; and which is performed for the actual public – is wholeheartedly welcome.
4.      However, legitimizing an occupation via a musical concert is completely unacceptable. Art as propaganda, as abundantly documented in history, is put to horrific use across the world. We are sure you will understand that we cannot welcome anything even remotely analogous in Jammu and Kashmir.  In a state of affairs where the poets and musicians of Jammu and Kashmir, such as Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, well-known Kashmiri national singer, Inayatullah Bhat, a guitar/harmonium player, and Ali Mohammad Shahbaz, a poet from Handwara, have themselves been victims of the violence of the Indian State, it is but obvious that there needs to be a political understanding of the uses and abuses of art.  Given this sordid context, which cannot be naïvely wished away, we must then ask this crucial question of the people of Germany, and the world citizenry at large: Should we, as people of conscience, support art which not only does not highlight the sufferings of an oppressed people, leave alone which offers balm to its pain, but instead which, through its setting within the particular landscape of power, actively serves to silence and obfuscate our appeals to the rest of humanity, and thus furthers oppressionContinue reading “Of Occupation, Resistance and Music: An Appeal”

Thinking of Spring in Summer: Martyrs’ Day in Kashmir

by Huma Dar
July 13, 2013

for Naheed Shah-Sheikh

in conversation with the attached photograph by an anonymous photographer…

Frisking Ghosts: India Prepares for Martyrs' Day in Kashmir, July 13, 2013.  Photographer Unknown.
Frisking Ghosts: India Prepares for Martyrs’ Day in Kashmir, July 13, 2013. Photographer Unknown.


In my homeland
beloveds are planted as seeds
singly, or in mass
23, 54, 77, 131…
(each madness has its method —
each massacre its algorithm)
marked, unmarked, empty graves
or those packed like sardines
in football fields where children once played
or open meadows where people once prayed. 

In my homeland
the bodies of my martyrs
even in death
are deemed seditious,
dangerous, explosive.    Continue reading “Thinking of Spring in Summer: Martyrs’ Day in Kashmir”

Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir [The Reality of Kashmir]: A Journey of Counter-Memory

On Sept 7, we invite EVERYONE to come join us at noon, at the Municipal Park (near GPO), Srinagar, as we mark the “dark times” of the military occupation, and commemorate the luminosity of AZADI: the light of faith, of freedom, of our blood-soaked struggle for justice, dignity, and true peace. Luminosity that cuts through the deep darkness of the “dark times” and reflects the resilience of human spirit in all its grace.

Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir: The Reality of Kashmir
Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir: The Reality of Kashmir

A Cultural Aesthetic Tribute to the Resilience and Struggle of the People of Jammu & Kashmir

“In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.”
~ Bertolt Brecht

On Sept 7, we invite EVERYONE — and not just a handpicked 1500 — to come join us at noon, at the Municipal Park (near GPO), Srinagar, as we mark the “dark times” of the military occupation, and commemorate the luminosity of AZADI: the light of faith, of freedom, of our blood-soaked struggle for justice, dignity, and true peace. Luminosity that cuts through the deep darkness of the “dark times” and reflects the resilience of human spirit in all its grace.

We invite EVERYONE to send in cultural aesthetic texts: poetry, paintings, photographs, multimedia, performance art, songs, et cetera on the ABOVE THEME to haqeeqatekashmir@gmail.com

Continue reading “Haqeeqat-e-Kashmir [The Reality of Kashmir]: A Journey of Counter-Memory”

Legitimizing A Military Occupation With Music: Zubin Mehta in Kashmir

It is most unfortunate that the German Embassy should seek to collaborate, perhaps unwittingly, with the Indian State in Kashmir, recognized as an international dispute by the United Nations and the international community, without any sensitivity to the aspirations of the people, or issues faced, or the machinations of the Indian State.

"Facing the Music!" by Suhail Hassan Naqshbandi
“Facing the Music!”

PLEASE SHARE WIDELY! Thanks!

26 August 2013

To
Ambassador Michael Steiner,
German Embassy,
New Delhi, India.

Subject: URGENT Protest Letter to German Embassy on scheduled Zubin Mehta concert in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, on 7 September 2013

1. On 22 August 2013, a press release was issued by the German Embassy that Zubin Mehta would be conducting an orchestra on 7 September 2013 at Shalimar Bagh, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.

2. The press release quoted you as stating that the concert was for the people of Jammu and Kashmir by way of a cultural tribute. The press release also reads that the concert was intended to give a message of hope and encouragement to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The concert, said to be a part of a “broader engagement” is being organized by the German Embassy and supported by the “competent authorities both at Central as well as at Union State level.” The costs of the concert are covered by “benevolent sponsors mainly from the business world in India and Germany, as well as “Incredible India” and the German Foreign Office”.

3. The people of Jammu and Kashmir take immense pride in our rich history of resisting oppression. We also have historically cultivated a sublime tradition in, and love for, music. Music – which appeals to the higher truths of love, justice, dignity, and peace; which genuinely acknowledges the long suffering, and yet bravely resisting, Kashmiris; and which is performed for the actual public – is wholeheartedly welcomed. However, legitimizing an occupation via a musical concert is completely unacceptable. Art as propaganda, as abundantly documented, was put to horrific use in Nazi Germany. We are sure you will understand that we cannot welcome anything even remotely analogous in Jammu and Kashmir. Sadly, the occupation will be amply reflected in the demographics of the audience of the proposed concert – the list of “invitees only” is bound to be restricted to the members of the apparatuses of the Occupying State: from perpetrators of crimes, as heinous as murder, rape, and torture, to the local collaborators of the State and perhaps some powerless, vulnerable and compliant few. Continue reading “Legitimizing A Military Occupation With Music: Zubin Mehta in Kashmir”

Anything but Stationary

kaaGhazi hai pairahan har paikar-e tasveer ka
Robed in paper are all pictures manifest:
this world is nothing but
Your paper!

by Huma Dar
for my N, Z, many Shahids, and the One

Write to Me.  photo credit: Natasha Dar, 2012
Write to Me. photo credit: Natasha Dar, 2012

The moon did not become the sun. 
It just fell on the desert 
in great sheets, reams 
of silver handmade by you. 
The night is your cottage industry now, 
the day is your brisk emporium.  
The world is full of paper.

Write to me.
Agha Shahid Ali, “Stationery”

(I)
The tilted goblet drips
mocking
Pacific amber:
liquid lunatic luminous.
And makes a slippery mess
of Highway 1
the night
memory and desire —
relentless, ebon, a plumbless
dream of falling.
Like tresses distraught
entwining your imagined arm
(make the bleeding black night
all yours)
your aching memories knotted in my gut
my exiled ghost lost, found
and willfully entangled
again
in the lines of your words
your stone-cold feet in my shaalfa —
an ablution performed in blood.

I will die at the golden hour…

by Huma Dar
dedicated to the memory of Agha Shahid Ali (4 Feb 1949 — 8 Dec 2001), and that of some other Shahids…
Untitled.  photo credit: Huma Dar, 2008
Untitled. photo credit: Huma Dar, 2008
I will die at the golden hour
on a Fall afternoon
in a car:
the driver’s seat

A Scene from Pulp Fiction in Kashmir

PUMPKIN: Everybody be cool, this is an occupation!
YOLANDA: Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you!
JULES: So, tell me again about those killing-for-promotions there…

"Pulp Fiction Bananas" by Banksy, once near Old Street Tube Station, London, now whitewashed.  From http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-images-by-street-artist-banksy.php
"Pulp Fiction Bananas" by Banksy, once near Old Street Tube Station, London, now whitewashed.

PUMPKIN: Everybody be cool, this is an occupation!
YOLANDA: Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you!
JULES: So, tell me again about those killing-for-promotions there…
VINCENT: What do you want to know?
JULES: Killing is legal there, right?
VINCENT: Yeah, it is legal but it ain’t 100% legal. I mean you can’t walk into a house and start shooting right away. You’re only supposed to take those fucking pricks to certain designated places and blast off their fucking brains? You have to give them some name…
JUKES: Those are encounter sites?
VINCENT: Yeah, it breaks down like this: it’s legal to kill them, it’s legal to own it and, if you’re the occupier of the encounter site, it’s legal to bury them there. It’s legal to carry their bodies, but that doesn’t really matter ’cause — even if you got a truckload of them — if the cops stop you, it’s illegal for them to search you. Searching you is a right that the cops in Kashmir don’t have. Continue reading “A Scene from Pulp Fiction in Kashmir”