Pakistan

I want her to be remembered as a human being who cared very deeply for people who were oppressed: Sabeen Mahmud’s mother

Speaking to a leading English magazine, mother of slain Pakistani activist Sabeen Mahmud spoke about the night of the fateful shooting and revealed what Sabeen was like in person.

Sabeen Mahmud was shot during the late hours of April 24, 2015 when she was returning from T2F cafe (a platform for intellectual discussions). Her mother Mahnaz revealed that she had not been to the cafe since long but had accompanied her daughter that day, in order to be by her daughter’s side. “I have to go today, and I have to be around, just to show her my support.”

Mahnaz divulges deep into the ordeal that took place the night of Sabeen’s shooting. The activist was with her mother when the motorcycle with the armed men stopped nearby. As the assailants brandished their weapons, Mahnaz thought it was a mere mugging; a common incidence in the city of Karachi.

“I said to Sabeen, “Just look, I mean these guys, what do they want?” I thought it was a mugging actually, I thought they wanted a handbag or phone, because that’s pretty common in Karachi. But then I heard the gun shots, the glass shattered and Sabeen was gone and they disappeared.”

Mahnaz also elaborated that she had been shot twice whereas Sabeen had taken five bullets. Their vehicle was stationery, as they had stopped at a red light. After the shooting had taken place, Mahnaz had tried talking to a seemingly unconscious Sabeen and told her that she would be taken to a hospital. Another part time driver who was in the back of the vehicle, rushed them to a hospital nearby where Sabeen’s mother was provided with first aid and told that she would be shifted to another hospital whereas Sabeen had been dispatched to a morgue.

Sabeen Mahmud’s mother also narrated how she was shocked and surprised to see the outpouring of grief, sympathy on social media following her daughter’s death. She also stated that scores of people showed up at Sabeen’s funeral and though she didn’t count the actual number, she was informed that close to two thousand people had showed up to pay their respects.

“After she died, there was a huge outpouring of support on social media. I have no idea how many people came to the funeral but I was told there were more than 2,000 people. I don’t know how many people I hugged that day. I’m a bit overwhelmed by all the people who came. I still can’t fathom it, because to me, she wasn’t this public person, she was my family, she was part of me. She was my daughter, and who are all these people mourning her now? It’s a bit awe-inspiring, it’s overwhelming, I can’t fathom it.”

Mahnaz also state that Sabeen had a strong sense of fairness in her since a very early age and always helped the oppressed, minorities during their difficult times. Sabeen’s mother also revealed that her daughter had been threatened and forced not to conduct the session she had hosted, the night of her murder.

“She had received some warnings and some threats. She knew that this event she was hosting [on the day she died] was a risky one – the event was called Unsilencing Balochistan.”

In an emotional conclusion, Mahnaz also revealed how she wanted people to remember Sabeen as.

“I want her to be remembered as a human being who cared very deeply for people who were oppressed or people who couldn’t speak up – for freedom of expression. Somebody who was lively, intelligent, fun and very caring. She talked a lot about love. I think Sabeen defies definition.”

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