AWP condemns the brutal murder of a Sri Lankan national

Calls immediate arrest of all culprits, a ban on the use of religious symbols and names of sacred verses and figures in political party posters and fliers

Press release

The Awami Workers Party condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific lynching of a Sri Lankan national in the name of ‘blasphemy’ by a mob in a Sialkot factory.

AWP President Yousuf Mustikhan, General Secretary Akhtar Hussain and all national presidents and members of the Federal Committee called the incident a barbaric act and a shameful moment for Pakistan and an inevitable consequence of the appeasement of religious fanaticism.

In a statement, the AWP leaders expressed sympathies with the family of Priyantha Kumara. They came down heavily on the government and security apparatus for the patronage of religious extremist groups as a strategic security project.

“The mob violence is a direct result of the weaponization of Islam for political gains by the state and mainstream parties,” said Yousuf Mustikhan.

This was evident from the fact that the accusation against the victim was related to taking down a poster of a rightwing fascist party, whose slogans the mob was raising while committing the gruesome crime, he said.

The same party was strengthened and used by the establishment to oust the previous government and install rulers of its choice and brokered a deal with it recently to end their violent march that claimed eight police officials’ lives, Akhtar Hussain said. 

AWP Deputy Secretary-General Ismat Shahjehan said Pakistan had suffered for decades due to the shortsighted policy of the state by using religion and militant outfits for cementing its own power and as part of the imperialist war agenda in the region.

She said that unless these mistakes were admitted and the use of religious fanatics for political gains was abandoned, the destruction of the country’s social and democratic fabrics would continue unabated.

Dr Farzana Bari, a member Federal Committee pointed out that the state’s destruction of left-wing organizations, trade unions and student unions amid rising inequality had also created the breeding ground for mobilization of religious sentiments for violence by religious parties.

Ultimately, fascist politics always thrives in the wake of the destruction of the Left and workers politics, she added.

Former Punjab president Dr Asim Sajjad Akhtar said yet another innocent has lost his life in Sialkot at the hands of a lynch mob dispensing kadi justice in the name of defending the faith.

He said that it is horrific that many young people were part of the mob and were taking selfies.  He held the establishment responsible for cultivating such an alienated, brutalized mass of young, working men who resort to unspeakable violence on an almost everyday basis. Those who do not themselves act violently have learned to stand idly by as lynch mobs do their business.

Sadly, the establishment and its ideologues are still weaponizing religion. They have no vision for this country other than to unleash fires so as to maintain their power, assuming that they will be able to control these fires whenever they want. One day, they too will reap what they have sown. We can only hope – and struggle – to ensure that the fire has not engulfed us all when that day comes, he said.

While demanding strict action against the perpetrators, the AWP leaders said that lasting change would only become possible through the widespread social, economic and cultural transformation of the state, education system and the capitalist economy.

They demanded a ban on the use of religious symbols and names of sacred figures in political party posters and fliers to stop political organizations from framing opposition to them as blasphemy.

AWP leadership also reiterated its call for workers, students, women and progressive forces in the country to unite to build a class-based struggle against fascism and all forms of oppression, exploitation and violence. They said that such fanaticism and the destructive inequality it thrived in could only be defeated by re-organizing the Left on a mass level in Pakistan.