Stand with Kashmir chapter hosts first panel

Toward Freedom, Justice and Peace’ included four speakers and a moderator

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(Lynus Erickson/ Daily Collegian)

By Haleigh Kierman, Collegian Correspondent

In the Integrative Learning Center on Wednesday, Feb. 19, the Stand with Kashmir chapter at the University of Massachusetts held a panel to spread awareness of the issues faced by Kashmiris, Kurds, Palestinians, Syrians and many others.

The panel, titled “Toward Freedom, Justice and Peace,” welcomed speakers Mohamad Junaid, Ozlem Goner, journalist Budour Hassan and Yasser Munif. The event was moderated by Sut Jhally, a professor of communication at UMass. Goner, an assistant professor of anthropology and sociology at the City University of New York, explained that the event was hosted to bring together some of the struggles and violence displaced by colonized populations.

“We want to build solidarity and talk about our experiences to see if we can move from there to develop something political,” Goner said.

According to their website, Stand with Kashmir is a “Kashmiri diaspora-driven independent global citizen grassroots group” which stands in solidarity with the people of Kashmir and supports their right to self-determination. The even was the first for the UMass chapter of Stand with Kashmir.

“The desire for freedom and peace unites the Kashmiris, Kurds, Palestinians, Syrians and many others living under military tyranny, political oppression and occupation,” read the promotion for the event. “What also connects them is their resilience and their will to fight for freedom, peace, justice and the right to self-determination. The fight for daily survival forms the basis for the affinities and unities among these struggles.”

During the discussion, Goner encouraged students to get involved in solidarity groups happening all throughout campus and local towns. He  believed that it was important for students to attend events like this one to “learn about the U.S. role in colonial structuring of the Middle East.”

“They should learn about the struggles and violence against these populations throughout the world and learn about their resistance as well,” Goner said.

Dinah Waheed, an international student from Pakistan who attended the event, explained how she felt interconnected to the situation happening and wanted to become more educated so she could help in the future.

“It is important to raise awareness of events happening outside of the U.S. It is up to anyone with a moral code to educate themselves on what is happening, so we can help change it. It is truly inhumane what India is doing,” Waheed, a biochemistry and molecular biology student, said.

“It is about learning to speak up for what is right. It doesn’t matter where you come from it matters that you want justice for those who deserve it,” Waheed added.

Haleigh Kierman can be reached at [email protected]