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Exhibition On Rao Anwar’s Victims Forcibly Shut Down By ‘Military Officials’

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Citizens have voiced strong concerns over the forcible shutting down of an installation on extrajudicial killings at the Karachi Bienelle 2019 by ‘military officials’.

Authorities shut down an installation titled ‘Killing Fields of Karachi’ by artist Adeela Suleman. The work was displayed at Karachi’s Frere Hall as part of the Karachi Biennale 2019.

Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir held a press conference to inform people of the forcible shutdown of the display.

Jibran Nasir stated during the press conference that the exhibition was meant to symbolise the violence in Karachi, particularly the 444 murders committed by former SSP Malir Rao Anwar.

Pillars had been installed at the venue to mark the deaths of those those who had been killed at the hands of the notorious police officer.

The activist also said that part of the exhibit was meant to show a video with Naqeebullah Mehsud’s father and the place where Naqeebullah was killed.

Naqeebullah was an aspiring model from South Waziristan who ran a shop in Karachi, and who was murdered in a fake police encounter led by Rao Anwar in 2018.

Jibran Nasir said that in the morning, some people who introduced themselves as members of sensitive organisations said that the venue should be closed, otherwise all materials such as laptops, projectors, and paintings would be destroyed.

Artist Adeela Suleman said that two persons in civilian dress arrived at the exhibition venue in the morning and pressurised the Frere Hall Administration to stop the exhibition otherwise they would forcibly put a stop to it.

Adeela stated that her aim was to repeat an event that had taken a year back (Naqeebullah’s murder) and that she did not say anything that was not common knowledge.

Moreover, in a Twitter post, Jibran Nasir revealed that his press conference was ‘disrupted’ by unknown men who threw away the mics of media.

The video showed the man, who later introduced himself as director general Parks, asking Jibran to leave the venue and do whatever he wanted outside the venue.

Jibran later shared the video of the DG Parks admitting that the people who had shut down the exhibition in the morning were military officials from Corps V.

 

After the activist initially shared the news of the forcible closure of the exhibition, journalist Mubashir Zaidi took to Twitter to share that ‘LEAs personnel’ had raided the Karachi Bienelle to stop and remove the exhibition, and that ‘trucks and men’ had descended all over Frere Hall.

Journalist Omar Quraishi also stated on Twitter that LEAs had raided the exhibition and the venue had been shut down.

Moreover, people took to social media to express their resentment over the incident. One Twitter user, while sharing the news, said that no amount of ‘flower pots’ could ‘beautify’ the ugliness of the city and state LEAs.

Referring to the incident, another user stated that the words ‘freedom of speech or expression’ had become a veneer used for our international propaganda.

Academic Nida Kirmani shared the photos of Adeela Suleman’s installation, in what she said was an act of solidarity and resistance.

Lawyer Haider Imtiaz stated that this was ‘blatantly unconstitutional’ and that the purpose of Naya Pakistan was becoming clearer, which was to convert Pakistan into a police state run on fascist principles.

Another social media user pointed out how killings were not an issue, but their depiction through art was.

Meanwhile, Karachi DIG South has stated to media that police had been notified about the matter and they were investigating it.

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