With love, from Pakistan: as students, we are facing assault on free-speech too!

Prerna Gupta

Student groups from across the border have expressed solidarity with #StandWithJNU movement against the police attack on JNU, the arrest of the Union President and vilification of the student community.

Democratic Student’s Alliance (DSA), which is a group of left leaning students aiming for progressive changes in Pakistan rejected the charges of sedition used to silence voices of dissent adding, “we know well the struggle and cost of challenging state narratives. We strive for the revival of student union in Pakistan and admire their existence in India…”

LUMS Students and Alumni Action Committee (LSAAC) which wrote to India Resists expressing solidarity with JNU and condemning the highhanded intervention by Indian state authorities in the campus, is an informal collective of concerned students at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

LSAAC said that their institution was also branded ‘anti-national’ and ‘anti-state’ when they tried to organize an academic Panel Discussion “Unsilencing Balochistan” on the Human Rights violations by the Pakistani State in Balochistan along with DSA in April, 2015. LSAAC started #LUMS4AcademicFreedom campaign when discussion could not be organized in the LUMS campus due to threats by the Inter-Stae Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan. It was an attempt to talk about struggles for an independent state in Balochistan and the insurgency by the Pakistani army in the region which is much like the situation in Kashmir.

As victims of similar academic repression in Pakistan, these student groups from Pakistan defend the democratic ethos of JNU. LSAAC established after the events of the Second Emergency declared by Pervez Musharraf in 2007, is currently involved with protests for lifting the ban on Student Unions along with DSA.

The full text of both the solidarity letters is as below:

“We, the students of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in Lahore, Pakistan, stand by the young men and women of Jawaharlal Nehru University and JNUSU. We condemn the highhanded intervention by Indian state authorities at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Dehli. We also condemn the deliberate sensationalization of a dissenting protest into ‘anti-national schemes’ by certain Indian media outlets. The Modi-led BJP government have also arrested the President of the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) Kanaihya Kumar on sedition charges, for simply dissenting against the state, which goes against basic rights of free speech and protest.

As victims of similar repression in our own country for raising voices for Baluchistan and minorities, we realise the importance of dissent and dialogue for the development of a democratic and inclusive society. JNUSU came forward to defend the attack on the University’s Academic freedom and well-known Democratic ethos, which we deeply respect and hope withstands this breach of basic rights. Therefore, we wish you the best of luck and stand in solidarity with your struggle. More power to all of you!”

With Love from Pakistan

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