This April, 2021, the Sindhi Foundation launched The Long Walk for Freedom, Nature, and Love, a 350-mile march starting just steps away from the United Nations Headquarters in New York City to the iconic Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The objectives of the Long Walk are to spread awareness of the human rights and environmental injustices occurring regularly in Sindh, Pakistan, while also building bridges between the Sindhi people and other disenfranchised communities.
On their first event for the walk, Sindhi human rights activists met with American activists, politicians, and others to speak on the human rights violations happening in Sindh, and around the world. Sindhi Foundation member, Andrea Salas, kicked off the event, introducing the issues happening in Sindh; “The Sindhi people have suffered from grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, forced conversions, enforced disappearances, censorship and torture. Sindhi activists, writers, teachers, and artists are silenced for speaking out against these atrocities… For the sake of the Sindhi people, we must not be silent.”
Sindhi-American Human Rights Activist, Fatima Gul, explored these issues in her speech, spotlighting the story of Sindhi school teacher, Notan Lal who was accused of blasphemy after reprimanding a student who told his father that the teacher had insulted the Prophet. “Notan Lal is just about to complete two years in prison for blasphemy. His family is struggling to understand what he did wrong. When children are sexually abused, the perpetrators are not brought to justice. But when there is an accusation of blasphemy, everyone has something to say.” Gul also said “this whole process of making the Long Walk a reality was brutal, but still not as brutal as all the atrocities against Sindhi people – not as brutal as the atrocities against children in Pakistan and Sindhi Hindu girls. Having that kind of perspective kept me going.”
Activist Anthony, “Tony,” Wright also attended the event and spoke about his own experience being wrongfully accused and convicted of a crime that he did not commit. It took twenty-three years for Tony to prove that he was not guilty of the murder and rape of an elderly woman, and another three years to be completely exonerated and released. He called out the importance of the Sindhi Foundation’s event, thanking Fatima Gul for inviting him. ”Thank you for helping inform myself and the world as a community of the atrocities happening not just here, where I’m from, but also in Pakistan, with the abductions of young girls and women in general. With a vision, we can do anything. Together, we can make it happen. We must unite our voices, we must emphasize our rights and we must stand up against injustice. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.”
Philanthropist Jean Shafiroff in her video contribution, added “I’ve learned about how unsafe it is to be pushed to be a minority in one’s homeland, especially a female one, in today’s Sindhi. We need to speak up for vulnerable Sindhi and people in all places.”
Since the Long Walk for Freedom started, the Sindhi Foundation and their supporters have marched across New Jersey, meeting with local officials and concerned parties.
In the coming days the Long Walk will visit:
April 15, 2021 — 1:00pm – 2:20 pm, City Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
April 17, 2021 – Wilmington, Delaware
April 25, 2021 – 3:00pm – 5:00pm, City Hall, Baltimore, Maryland
April 28, 2021 – University of Maryland
April 29, 2011 – Washington, DC , The Lincoln Memorial
Photo Credit: ©Johnny Nunez, Getty Images