Understanding Human Rights in Pakistan – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Understanding Human Rights in Pakistan

The Human Rights and Genocide Symposium recently welcomed Fatima Gul, executive director of the Sindhi American Political Action Committee, for a discussion on systematic violence within the Sindh region of Pakistan. Gul’s presentation, titled “Understanding Sindh: Advocacy for Peace and Prosperity in the Forgotten Region of Pakistan,” was the latest installment of this semester’s lecture series.

“As an ethnic Sindhi, Fatima Gul was excited to spread awareness and knowledge about human rights issues that few people know about in our community,” says Sarah Walters ’19, president of the Symposium. “The event was not only informative for those who attended, but offered an opportunity for students, professors and community members to ask questions and gain better insight into the issues presented.”’

The only domestic political action committee for Sindhi Americans, SAPAC advocates for a U.S. relationship with Pakistan that prioritizes protection for the Sindhi people while raising awareness for the humanitarian crisis in the region of Sindh, where the racial minority has faced fatal violence in recent years that also threaten their access to education and constitutional rights.

“What Gul and her organization do, is work to educate young Americans, and communicate with the American government in order to bring awareness to these acts of violence in Sindh,” says Walters. “The organization helps to create methods of curbing such human rights violations while reinstating cultural and ethnic pride for the people of Sindh and Sindhi refugees who have come to live all over the world.”

Ryan Montbleau ’19, outreach chair on the Board of the Symposium, interned for Sindhi Foundation with Gul and her husband, Executive Director Sufi Laghari. In his role, Montbleau helped the foundation establish a digital presence and wrote research papers for the organization based in Washington, D.C.

Gul introduced the talk with a tribute to 8,000-year old Sindhi culture through dance or tamab. Current injustices in Sindh range from military control and unemployment to media censorship.

Attendee Dominique DeRubeis ’18 drew similarities between Sindh corruption and the countries studied in her “Political Economy of Corruption” class with Professor of Political Science Feisal Khan.

“It was interesting to hear the attitudes of the people in Sindh, and reassuring to know people are dedicated and working to fight corruption,” she says.

At the end of the talk, Gul elaborated on how continued lobbying work can help the region. In addition, the first country-wide census in 19 years will take place this year. The census will help account for educational inequities and demographics, as well the current corruption that contributes to human rights violations in the region.

Established in 1999, the HWS Human Rights and Genocide Symposium is a semester-long series featuring presentations from guest speakers. Sustained by generous grants from Dr. Edward Franks ’72, the symposium seeks to help participants learn more about the circumstances in which genocide is perpetrated.