Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In support of Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy, renowned Indian novelist and activist, may be charged with "sedition" by the Indian government for speeches she made recently in militarily-occupied Kashmir.

I publish her response as a gesture of support:

Pity the Nation
by Arundhati Roy


Kashmir, Oct. 26 -- I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning's papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators, have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.

Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer's husband and Asiya's brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get insaf -- justice -- from India, and now believed that Azadi -- freedom -- was their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

In the papers some have accused me of giving 'hate-speeches', of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.

Arundhati Roy is the author of the novel The God of Small Things, for which she received the 1997 Booker Prize. Her newest book, published by Haymarket, is Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers, a series of essays examining the dark side of democracy in contemporary India. More on the ongoing debate in India over Roy's comments on Kashmir: <ibnlive.in.com/news/sedition-case-civil-rights-groups-back-arundhati/133762-37-64.html>.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The fact that Arundhati Roy gets away with such hate talks is because there are hate-mongers like you to support her. Stick your butt to writing about your own country and its issues!

Limner said...

I believe that change comes when mothers and women unite and speak out. Women must act. I think Arundhati Roy is brave. How can anything she said be considered hate talk? Especially if what she says is true?

Thank you for printing this.

Anonymous said...

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All best

Varun said...

Arundhati Roy has actually inspired me to read between the lines.
There is a lot of injustice in our so called democracy, and it's all covered up by labeling it as prevention of terrorism, and all plethora of excuses possible to imbibe in credulous people's mind a belief, fallacious belief.

Sad, that in this world, the askers of justice are repressed by the oppressors of world masquerading as proponents of justice.

eet said...

beg your pardon - somehow I was interrupted - my blog is http://einarschlereth.blogspot.com/
My letter started with
Hakuna matata

eet said...

The beginning of my letter that disappeared from eet:
Hakuna matata says an Egyptian woman. I thought there is a lot of trouble now in Egypt.
I just stumbled on your blog because I'm writing an introduction to a book of Arundhathi that I'll publish in October in Germany, The article you published have I already published in German. She is a wonderful woman and writer. My blog
http://einarschlereth.blogspot.com/
Einar