Activist Jalila Haider to return her ‘women of courage’ award in protest

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Balochistan-based prominent rights activist Jalila Haider announced that she will return her ‘International Women of Courage Award’ in protest, saying that she hopes that her critics will now play a role in putting an end to Hazara massacre, instead of feigning intellectualism on social media.

The International Women of Courage Award is an American award which is annually presented by the US Secretary of State to women around the globe who have demonstrated “exceptional courage and in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment.”

Haider received the award in 2020 along with other activists from Afghanistan, Syria, Bolivia, Azerbaijan, Yemen and several other countries.

The state department said that Haidar specializes in “defending women’s rights and provides free counseling and legal services to poverty-affected women.” The state department also recognized that she was the first female attorney from her community and also led a hunger strike against attacks on fellow Hazaras.

The activist has now announced that she will return her prestigious award in protest. Taking to the social media, Haider said that she hopes that her critics will now play a part in stopping the massacre of the Hazara community in Balochistan.

Lambasting the people in foreign countries, she said that she hopes that they will work to bring about a revolution in Pakistan. “I have played my role; now it is your turn to play a role and show me what strategy you have to stop the genocide of my people,” she said.

It should be mentioned that Haider was also in BBC’s 2019 list of most influential women around the globe.

Ms Haider’s decision of returning the award comes a couple of weeks later the Machh incident, when 11 coal miners belonged to Hazara Shia community were brutally murdered in Machh area of Balochistan.

Due to their religious beliefs in Shia fraction of Islam, Hazara’s have been facing discrimination and persecution in Pakistan, as the majority of Pakistanis practice Sunni Islam. Hazaras have been targeted multiple times in militant attacks by religious extremist groups in Pakistan, resulted in killing hundreds of them. The latest attack was claimed by the so called Islamic State (IS).

Some of the Hazara leaders and Baloch nationalists hold Pakistani secret services responsible for the “Hazara genocide” in Balochistan. Baloch pro-independence leaders claim that killing of Hazara community is a tactic of Pakistan Army to divert the international attention from the ongoing insurgency in Balochistan.


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