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Civil Society

`They Moved to US to Try their Luck’

Javed Bhutto, 64

In the picture, Nafisa Hoodbhoy and Javed Bhutto are radiant. They’re wearing pale pastels and unreserved smiles, sitting among friends in Karachi, Pakistan. It was 1993 and they were recently married. “We were very much in love,” she says.

When they met, Nafisa was a journalist covering a murder. The victim of that murder was Javed’s sister. They sought justice for the young woman, and in the process, they fell in love.

They moved to the U.S. nearly 20 years ago to try their luck here. As a teacher and reporter they seemed to get poorer, no matter how hard they worked in Pakistan—but they always planned to return one day.

Nafisa says her husband was “probably the most gentle human being I’ve ever seen.” Any time he had some money, he would send it back home to the person most in need.

The walls of their home in D.C. held hundreds of books on philosophy and history. Javed had earned his PhD in philosophy, taught, and was most proud of his work as a philosopher.

When he died, he was planning a trip to Pakistan. “He told me, ‘I’d like to stay there for two months because I have so many friends that I want to see.’”

Instead she went back alone, and found those friends and hundreds more gathered at the airport. “He was so modest, he would never project himself,” she says. “So what really baffled me is how the day after this happened, suddenly it just burst out in the open about who he was as a person. Everybody had stories about him. And there’s this collective love that I’ve seen coming out of people that’s really overwhelmed me.”

Now Nafisa is back in the U.S., seeking justice—on her own this time.

“I miss him so dearly,” she says. “I cannot tell you.” —Alexa Mills

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Civil Society

Mental Health Agency Director Finally Answers…. (Nov 21, 2019) Washington City Paper, By Amanda Michelle Gomez

D.C.’s mental health agency was asked to speak to several concerning incidents during a Council oversight hearing Wednesday night, including why the city’s sole public psychiatric hospital went without clean water for a month, and what systems are in place to prevent that from happening again. But the head of the agency could not provide satisfactory answers, as the department is still reviewing what exactly happened in September.

Dozens of residents gathered at Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church in Southeast D.C. with lots of questions and demands for the Department of Behavioral Health, whose director was present for the hours-long hearing beginning at 5:30 p.m. Before Department of Behavioral Health Director Barbara Bazron testified, dozens of residents voiced concerns to her and Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray, who oversaw the hearing. Topics ranged from the city’s response to the soaring homicide rate to the overall mental health of students. But the troubles at St. Elizabeths Hospital dominated a discussion that lasted more than six hours.

The meeting was not live-streamed by the Council.

St. Elizabeth Hospital went without running water for more than a month, which public witnesses attribute to the city government’s overall neglect of a public hospital that primarily serves low-income black residents. This is the second time in three years that the hospital experienced a water outage. As first reported by City Paper, the hospital’s water supply tested positive for dangerous bacteria on Sept. 25. The hospital, that serves an average of 270 patients, wasn’t cleared until Oct. 23. For a month, patients and staff were without running water, using bottled water for drinking and cooking and wipes for bathing. The temporary fixes cost $1 million.

Disability rights lawyers also reported patient abuse at the hospital, namely the repeated use of seclusion and restraint. Indeed, the number of patients locked in secluded rooms more than doubled since 2014, according to the hospitals own records.

“The mission of St. Elizabeths hospital is to provide person-centered care… the story of St. Elizabeths changed over time, evolving theories of how to care for the mentally ill along with racist psychiatric treatment and lack of care or concern that has directly impacted your ward,” Jacob Smith, of Black Youth Project 100, told Gray. “I urge you to think beyond temporary issues with the hospital, fund the efforts of its mission to be a hospital committed to providing intensive services for recovery.”

While most residents that stopped by the church to testify at Wednesday’s hearing talked about the water emergency and patient abuse, Bazron spent most of her opening testimony detailing the city’s response to the opioid crisis; albeit, she began by addressing problems at St. Elizabeths.

Gray, for his part, began his tough line of questioning on the tragic death of Javed Bhutto, who was fatally shot by a patient discharged from St. Elizabeths. Nafisa Hoodbhoy, Bhutto’s widow, attended the hearing.

Bazron said DBH failed to monitor Hilman Jordan, who killed Bhutto. Jordan was a patient convicted of murder in 1998, discharged from St. Elizabeths Hospital in 2015, and went on to kill Bhutto this year.

DBH found the agency’s Forensic Outpatient Department and the Outpatient Forensic Review Board failed to follow protocol; these sub-agencies are responsible for supervising patients released by D.C. Superior Court so they can live in the least restrictive setting possible for further treatment. Specifically, the sub-agencies failed to comply with five of the 19 requirements outlined in the court order. For example, FOPD did not notify the court of four urine tests in which Jordan tested positive for weed during a 37 day period between June and August 2018. Testing positive for drugs should have meant that Jordan return to hospital confinement.

“Mr. Bhutto would still be alive if this order had been obeyed,” said Gray, looking to Bazron for a reaction. As she searched for the words to respond, Bazron let out a quiet yes and shrugged.

“I share the grief and the deep concern of Mr. Bhutto’s widow,” said Gray. “It seems to me there’s an awful lot of explaining for the District of Columbia to do at this stage.”

In response, Bazron said, “we have put procedures in place to make sure that the forensic review board and the forensic staff really examines what’s happening with every single one of the [court] conditions. What we found was that process was not in place before and it is in place now.”

Bazron outlined various steps taken in the aftermath of Bhutto’s murder, including the replacement of the chair of the Outpatient Forensic Review Board. Actions that followed the St. Elizabeths Hospital water emergency pale in comparison.

“We thank the staff for their determination to do the best for patients at all times and the patients for their resilience,” said Bazron in her opening testimony.

“With the support of water management experts, the hospital is working to identify the possible sources of water borne bacteria and will put policies and practices in place where needed to minimize the risks and prevent a reoccurrence.”

During questioning, she elaborated, saying DBH is in the process of securing a water expert to develop a management plan. She also stressed there were no reports of patient or staff illness during the emergency.
“We are reviewing everything that happened during that time period. We are doing it internally and external consultants will help us with that,” she said.

When her office got word of the Disability Right DC report that outlined severe patient abuse, however, Bazron said she was quick to dispatch clinical staff to review and other government agencies investigated as well.

“DC Health found that no patient abuse took place,” she said. However, her chief clinical officer and the Accountability Administration recommended more staff training to make sure hospital staff follows its own protocol on seclusion and restraint.

Andrea Procaccino, with Disability Rights DC at University Legal Services, said she’s pleased that Bazron has agreed to her organization’s recommendations and hired a consultant that has a lot of experience in trauma-informed care.

“Our report recommended DBH develop a strategic plan to significantly reduce seclusion and restraint and hire a consultant to analyze the causes of the increase, to develop strategies to ultimately eliminate the use, and to oversee the implementation of the strategies,” said Procaccino.

Disability Rights DC has recently met with the consultant. But as Procaccino noted to the consultant last Friday and again at the hearing, past changes and oversight had not lasted.

Categories
Civil Society

Murder Case in DC Raises Questions about the Insanity Defense and Predictions of Dangerousness.

A recent murder has raised a number of broader deeper issues regarding the insanity defense and the danger that those found to be insane pose to society.

Unfortunately there is a societal myth, that has been disproved by sociological empirical studies, that persons with mental illness pose a greater risk to society than those who don’t have a mental illness. Those who have a mental illness are no more likely to commit crime than those who don’t have a mental illness.

However the empirical data is less clear about the links between a small subset of this population, namely those who have a severe mental illness and suffer from psychosis. These concerns have been raised in the context in the recent murder of Jawaid Bhutto, a Pakistani philosophy professor in southeast DC.

The murder suspect in that case, Bobby Jordan, has previously been found not guilty by reason of insanity of another murder ten years previous to the Bhutto murder.

Contrary to public belief, the insanity defense does not act as a get-out-of-jail card. When a defendant is found to be insane, he does not receive the same punishment compared to those who are found guilty of the same offense. Such offenders who are ordinarily found guilty face criminal incarceration in our nation’s prisons for a definite period of time i.e they have a definite release date.

However, for those found to be insane, they are not only sent to a different institution, but they are also sentenced to indefinite confinement in such a psychiatric institution, as occurred in this case where Jordan spent many years in a psychiatric hospital before being released.

Persons found to be insane are confined in a psychiatric hospital until they no longer are mentally ill or until they no longer pose a danger to society. However, such determinations of whether an individual will pose a risk to society in the future are incredibly difficult to make, and as occurred in this case, these dangerousness determinations can prove to be wrong and the released person can go on to commit further dangerous crimes. Cases such as Jordan’s release and committing another seriously violent crime subsequently questions the ability of psychiatrists to accurately predict the dangerousness of an individual.

Despite popular belief, empirical social science studies have shown that insane defendants actually serve longer sentences on average than sane offenders who commit similar crimes. However, it appears that this Jordan case appears to be the exception to this rule, having served less than ten years in a psychiatric hospital before being released.

But generally the longer sentences that mentally ill defendants usually serve also have the effect of contributing to the societal negative stereotype that the individuals with mental illnesses are inherently dangerous. In fact, as stated, persons with mental illnesses are no more likely to commit dangerous crimes than persons without mental illnesses.

Public opinion of the insanity defense has been found to be informed mostly by the media’s coverage of a number of high profile graphic cases. As a result, it is important at times like these to not let the exception to the rule to dominate the discussion and allow the exception to perpetuate the myths that exist. As such, we need to remember that most persons with mental illnesses do not pose a danger to others in society.

We should also be mindful that if we are to believe in the power and ability of persons to change and reform, we must provide meaningful opportunities for insanity acquitters to get released into the community when they no longer pose a danger to others in society.

One way to strike a balance between the need to protect society and also to give opportunities to insanity acquitters to reform and to become reintegrated into society, is to have supervised release. This could involve the individual released checking in regularly with a parole officer and adhering to certain conditions, such as attending counseling sessions, attending an addiction course if relevant, or attending anger management classes. They could also be required to consistently take their medications and undergo drug tests periodically.

Categories
Civil Society Terrorism

No sane reason Hilman Jordan was let out of a D.C. mental hospital 17 years after shooting a man. Now he’s accused of killing again.

Javed Bhutto, a caregiver to mentally disabled adults, got home from work about 11 that morning with bags of groceries in his Toyota Corolla. After his overnight shift at a residential facility, he had stopped in a supermarket with a list from his wife. In the parking lot of the small condo complex where the couple lived, he stepped out of his car in the chill March air, opened the trunk and reached for his bundles.

A man identified by D.C. police as Hilman Jordan — who had killed before for no sane reason and was locked in psychiatric wards for 17 years — walked up behind Bhutto, pulling a 9mm semiautomatic from a pocket of his coat. Spreading his feet in a combat stance, he aimed the weapon with a two-handed grip at close range. Bhutto, leaning into the trunk, didn’t see him coming.

Although they were neighbors in City View Condos, in Southeast Washington, the two were barely acquainted. Bhutto, a few days shy of his 64th birthday, was a former philosophy professor in Pakistan who found a new career in his adoptive country, working in group homes. Jordan, 45, acquitted by reason of insanity in an unprovoked fatal shooting in 1998, had been released from St. Elizabeths Hospital and was renting a condo largely at taxpayer expense.

The first slug whizzed past Bhutto, striking the Toyota, and he spun around aghast, holding up his hands. The attacker tried to squeeze off another round, but the Smith & Wesson jammed. He racked the slide again and again, ejecting unspent cartridges onto the pavement, as Bhutto ran, arms flailing, toward the parking lot gate. The gunman caught him there, pistol-whipped him until he fell, kicked him twice in the head and fired a bullet into his heart.

Now the victim’s widow, Nafisa Hoodbhoy, 63, angrily wonders why the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health, legally obligated to monitor Jordan, wasn’t also required to warn City View residents that he was a St. Elizabeths outpatient with a homicidal history. And echoing others, she questions why Jordan was allowed to remain free despite what neighbors say was his chronic pot smoking — a trigger for his psychotic delusions and a violation of his court-approved release terms.

After Bhutto was shot to death March 1, detectives say, they saw Jordan sitting calmly on his balcony overlooking the crime scene, his right shoe stained with blood. They say they found a 9mm Smith & Wesson and a marijuana joint in the condo.

“Someone didn’t do their job, obviously,” Hoodbhoy, a journalist, says bitterly. “Someone who should have been watching this insane murderer didn’t do their job.”

Schizophrenia and paranoia had driven Jordan to kill years earlier. The court order authorizing his release from hospital confinement in 2015 required Behavioral Health staffers to screen his urine regularly for traces of intoxicants, and a failed test was supposed to land him back in St. Elizabeths immediately. Yet he rapped about pot use in YouTube videos that show him with apparent marijuana joints on his balcony, his eyes narrowing as he smokes. Neighbors say he would sit outside getting high for hours.

Seven weeks before the shooting, Bhutto, who lived directly above Jordan, complained to Jordan’s landlord about the persistent odor of marijuana coming from downstairs, and the landlord says he warned Jordan that Bhutto was upset.

After the killing, a prosecutor said in court, Jordan “tested positive for PCP,” or phencyclidine, a powerful hallucinogen. The drug, often mixed with marijuana, can induce frenzied aggression, especially in users who are prone to violence.

Jordan, about 5-foot-10 and heavyset with graying whiskers, also was forbidden to have a firearm; how he allegedly got one isn’t publicly known.

Citing privacy rules, the Behavioral Health agency, which pushed for Jordan’s release in 2015, won’t comment on his mental state then or discuss details of its supervision of him at the condo complex. The agency’s chief of staff, Phyllis Jones, says records show Jordan “was in compliance with the conditions of his discharge,” but she adds, “An internal review is ongoing.”

Today, six months after the shooting, the internal review still isn’t finished, Jones says.

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s office also won’t comment on Jordan, referring questions to mental-health authorities. In D.C. Superior Court, though, Judge Milton C. Lee Jr. made his opinion clear at a June hearing. Rather than return Jordan to St. Elizabeths, which is run by Behavioral Health, Lee ordered him jailed while he awaits a trial on a first-degree murder charge.

“I have no faith whatsoever” that the agency and hospital “will do what is necessary to keep you consistent with your treatment and to monitor you in a way that will protect the community,” the judge said, staring down at the shackled Jordan, who has yet to enter a plea in the killing. “It appears in this regard they have failed, and I’m not going to give them another opportunity.”

‘It’s just me — I did it.’

Born in 1973, Hilman Ray Jordan was raised in Silver Spring, Md., the second-youngest of eight siblings, according to a St. Elizabeths report. His stepfather was a custodian, and his mother stayed home with her children. “Mr. Jordan does not have a history of severe misconduct or any psychological disorder” as a child or adolescent, the report said.

His psychiatric treatment over the years is described in hundreds of pages of clinical documents filed in Superior Court.

After finishing high school, Jordan worked in landscaping and construction. In April 1998, he lost his maintenance job at a hotel. Struggling to get by, he moved back in with his mother and stepfather in their rented townhouse.

The onset of his psychoses that spring, weeks before his 25th birthday, was swift and devastating, a report said: He lost his appetite and 25 pounds; he showered 10 times a day; he became increasingly agitated and fearful — a recluse who hardly slept — thinking strangers planned to kill him; he “believed messages were being sent to him from the television”; he “heard voices in his head . . . being critical of him”; he pummeled a punching bag in the townhouse for hours at a stretch.

In an attempt to calm himself, reports said, he began smoking marijuana heavily that summer, which might have worsened matters. Studies show that the active ingredient in pot, known as delta-9-THC, can exacerbate the paranoia and delusions of someone in the throes of mental illness. As his downward spiral accelerated, a report said, “his family urged him to see a doctor, but he refused,” preferring to self-medicate with cannabis.

Then, in midsummer, he was gripped by an irrational belief that a relative and longtime friend, Kenneth Luke, had raped him. The imagined trauma and humiliation consumed Jordan’s disordered mind. “This man took my manhood,” he later told a homicide detective, “and I want it back.”

A little past 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, 1998, the two were walking in Southeast D.C. when Jordan pulled out a revolver, held it to his friend’s head and squeezed the trigger. Luke, 27, pitched to the pavement, mortally wounded. Jordan ran three blocks and waited on a street corner, gun in hand, until police cars rolled up. Surrendering without a struggle, he told the officers, “It’s just me — I did it.”

After being held in St. Elizabeths for months, taking a regimen of antipsychotic drugs, Jordan was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in January 1999. With his client locked in a hospital ward, awaiting a trial, lawyer Matthew Alpern argued to prosecutors that Jordan’s schizophrenia and paranoia had been so severe at the time of the killing that he wasn’t legally culpable.

Alpern said Jordan should be declared not guilty by reason of insanity and, like any insanity acquittee in the District, he should continue receiving treatment at St. Elizabeths until he was deemed safe enough to be released, as the law requires. The U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, which handles both federal and local criminal cases, waited to review more in-depth mental evaluations of Jordan before deciding how to proceed.

Here’s how the insanity defense works

Insanity-defense laws vary among U.S. jurisdictions. In D.C. Superior Court, as in about 20 states, a defendant is entitled to acquittal if he proves that during the offense, he “lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law” because of mental illness.

Research shows that a majority of the public thinks the insanity defense is a loophole through which criminals often escape punishment. In fact, trials involving the defense are exceedingly rare nationwide, and the success rate for defendants in those cases is minuscule. Usually when lawyers invoke the defense, they have valid reasons for doing so, and prosecutors typically end up conceding that the defendants aren’t legally guilty.

So it was with Jordan.

Fourteen months after the killing, he admitted in court that he pulled the trigger, and a prosecutor acknowledged he wasn’t criminally responsible. On Oct. 1, 1999, a judge declared him not guilty by reason of insanity and committed him to St. Elizabeths.

Back then, the hospital, in Southeast D.C., resembled the 19th-century asylum it had once been, with Victorian-era brick edifices and acres of rolling fields behind a forbidding wrought iron fence. Today, the rebuilt hospital houses about 260 patients, half of them “civil commitments,” meaning people not charged with crimes. The rest, being treated in prisonlike wards, are insanity acquittees or defendants undergoing pretrial psychiatric evaluations or accused criminals found mentally incompetent for trials.

Jordan was ordered confined there “indefinitely.”

Which wouldn’t be forever.

‘Homicidal thoughts’

In the eyes of the justice system, he was innocent of any crime, and the hospital’s job was to reduce his psychotic symptoms until the law considered him fit to be released.

Jordan’s illnesses caused “persecutory delusions . . . hallucinations . . . and lethal conduct,” a clinical report said. But over time, psychotropic drugs led to “considerable improvement.” He learned coping skills and behavior-modification strategies. His marijuana dependence, a catalyst for his psychoses, was addressed in counseling. Gradually, his symptoms subsided, a report said, and he presented “little or no management problem.”

In December 2003, he would taste freedom again.

Just as the process of adjudicating insanity verdicts is highly subjective, so is the process of deciding when acquittees should be freed. Jurists and others without medical training are forced to predict the future behaviors of latently dangerous mental patients, relying on recommendations from psychiatrists who acknowledge that theirs is an inexact science.

If Jordan had been convicted of first-degree murder in 1998, he would have been imprisoned with no parole eligibility until 2028. But the legal principles for dealing with insanity acquittees are far different. The parameters were established by federal appellate decisions in the past half-century, including landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings in forensic mental-health law.

People found not guilty by reason of insanity — known as NGRIs — can’t be punished. They are legally entitled to freedom after successful treatment, and hospitals must try to render them sane enough that they won’t pose too much of a threat if let out.

The ultimate goal for NGRIs is total liberty. But first comes a progression of smaller freedoms called “conditional release.” While still an inpatient, an NGRI might be allowed unescorted home visits a few times a year. If all goes well, these furloughs might be expanded to two visits a month or more.

In the District, the final phase of conditional release, before complete freedom, is called “convalescent leave” from St. Elizabeths, in which an acquittee resides in the community as an outpatient while being monitored by the Department of Behavioral Health.

The agency says 129 NGRIs are under its supervision. Of those, 61 are inpatients (about half of whom are occasionally let out of St. Elizabeths on furloughs). The remaining 68 are living full time in the community on convalescent leave — including 13 who, like Jordan, were charged with murder or manslaughter. The rest of the 68 were found not guilty by reason of insanity in assaults, arsons, robberies, burglaries, property crimes and “various sexual offenses,” the department says.

Every step in the incremental release process, each new liberty, requires permission from a Superior Court judge. In most cases, a defense attorney and a prosecutor negotiate the limits of a requested new freedom, with input from St. Elizabeths, and submit their agreement to a judge in the form of a proposed “consent order.” Before deciding whether to sign the order, the judge reviews a “risk assessment” prepared by the patient’s treatment team.

Here the process gets especially dicey.

As the D.C. Public Defender Service says in a manual for lawyers, “in order to grant conditional release, the court need not find that the acquittee’s release will pose absolutely no risk.” The standard is merely “preponderance of the evidence.” If the judge concludes there’s a 51 percent chance that the acquittee won’t be dangerous to the public, then the consent order must be approved — regardless of the 49 percent probability that the release will end badly, maybe tragically.

So it was with Jordan.

On Dec. 9, 2003, after a prosecutor and a defense lawyer negotiated the terms of Jordan’s first conditional release, Judge Fred B. Ugast signed a consent order allowing him to spend Christmas, New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day with his mother and stepfather in Silver Spring. In subsequent months, his furloughs were expanded until he was permitted to visit his family one day a week and every holiday.

It did not go well.

In 2005, Jordan was “feeling ‘stressed,’ ” which “led him to smoke marijuana,” prosecutor Colleen M. Kennedy said in a court filing years later. She said the U.S. attorney’s office didn’t know in 2005 that Jordan was violating his release terms. However, she said, members of his treatment team at St. Elizabeths were aware of several transgressions back then, which they failed to disclose to prosecutors or the judge.

“He submitted multiple urine screens that were positive for marijuana” and was “engaging in a sexual relationship with a female staff member,” Kennedy wrote. When Jordan’s mother reported that he tended to sit silently in her home, gazing into space, and that she felt nervous and ill-equipped to deal with him, the hospital staff assured her that her son was “fine,” Kennedy said.

Then, in June 2005, he stole a pistol from his stepfather during a home visit and smuggled the gun into St. Elizabeths, Kennedy wrote. Possibly because he had been using cannabis, he was having “homicidal thoughts” toward a fellow patient. Kennedy said Jordan “apparently made plans to shoot’” the man, “including requesting additional privileges to increase his chances of encountering the patient,” before he gave up on the idea.

“The gun was concealed on the hospital grounds for several weeks” in 2005 “while Mr. Jordan awaited an opportunity to confront the peer,” St. Elizabeths said in a court filing nearly a decade after the violation. Jordan told a counselor about the gun and his potentially deadly fixation in October 2005, a report said. Without informing the court or U.S. attorney’s office, the hospital terminated his furloughs and locked him in a maximum-security ward indefinitely.

Which, again, wouldn’t be forever.

Marc Dalton, chief clinical officer for the Department of Behavioral Health, says he and his staff are barred by law from commenting on specific cases. Asked about their confidence level in assessing patients such as Jordan for release, Dalton, a forensic psychiatrist, notes that recidivism among insanity acquittees is “very low.”

Still, he shakes his head.

“Even with the best treatment,” he says, “there are never certainties.”

‘Community re-entry’

After his admitted gun-smuggling in 2005, Jordan spent five years in maximum security and made halting progress in therapy, according to hospital reports.

Still plagued by “paranoid delusions,” he complained of “feeling snakes crawling on his chest and hearing hissing noises.” He “initiated” three fights with two patients, one of whom needed 17 stitches to close a mouth wound. In 2007, after he shoved a fellow insanity acquittee to the floor, fracturing the man’s collarbone, he “was observed to have more paranoid and delusional thoughts” and “worsened auditory hallucinations.”

In 2009, he told a counselor “that he intended to continue abusing marijuana when he was granted privileges,” a prosecutor said in a court filing.

His medications were adjusted, and his behavior slowly improved. He was transferred out of maximum security in 2010 and allowed to stroll the grassy acreage of St. Elizabeths. But that summer, after he again “disclosed homicidal ideation . . . regarding the patient he had planned to kill in 2005,” his grounds privileges were curtailed.

By 2012, though, upbeat reports were mentioning his “active and insightful participation” in counseling. He was taking Haldol, Abilify, Klonopin and Geodon, and a psychologist noted “the lowest baseline level of paranoia and anxiety” in Jordan that she had seen in four years. In a letter to a Superior Court judge, the hospital said he was ready for “a well-planned, gradual process of community re-entry.”

Thus the incremental steps of conditional release began anew.

His attorney at the time, J. Patrick Anthony, asked the court to let Jordan leave the hospital for unescorted weekend day visits with his family and for weekday therapy sessions at a community mental-health center. Prosecutor Colleen Kennedy, having just learned of his 2005 violations, “strongly” objected in writing, saying Jordan’s “own actions have clearly shown” that he “is not a good candidate for release.”

Kennedy wrote that she was “perplexed” by the proposed furloughs. However, she faced the fact that she would probably lose a court fight to keep Jordan confined, given the low legal threshold for an acquittee to gain release — the 51/49 percent “preponderance of the evidence” standard. So she and Anthony negotiated a consent order allowing for unsupervised trips to the community center but, initially, no family visits. In June 2013, Judge Lee F. Satterfield signed the order.

Anthony, Kennedy and other lawyers involved with Jordan over the years either won’t comment on him or didn’t respond to interview requests. A Superior Court spokeswoman says judges are barred by judicial rules from publicly commenting on defendants.

Sometimes, usually in notorious cases, the U.S. attorney’s office battles relentlessly to prevent releases, and judges seem more likely to err on the side of caution. After his insanity acquittal in 1982, for example, it took 34 years for would-be presidential assassin John W. Hinckley Jr. to get out of St. Elizabeths on convalescent leave, to live with his mother. But for acquittees who aren’t infamous, such as Jordan, the process often moves much quicker.

In 2013 and 2014, his furloughs were repeatedly expanded through consent orders until he was staying overnight with his family every Friday to Sunday.

Jordan’s treatment team enthusiastically supported his new freedoms. He was still hearing “a hissing sound which grows in intensity until he has the sensation of an electrical jolt emanating from his abdomen,” a report said, but the hallucination afflicted him mainly in the stressful confines of St. Elizabeths, not when he was out and about. In July 2015, the hospital joined Anthony in asking the court to let Jordan live in the community.

As an outpatient, he “should be monitored closely” for intoxicants, the hospital said, because “destabilizers such as marijuana” could cause a disastrous relapse. Otherwise, he “was found to be within the moderate range for risk of violent recidivism.” After the U.S. attorney’s office agreed to a consent order listing 19 conditions, including regular urine tests, Judge Satterfield approved Jordan’s convalescent leave.

All that remained was for the 42-year-old patient to find hospital-approved housing in the Washington area, with help from social workers.

They would not have to look far.

A sister’s murder

Javed Bhutto, born in 1955, was the eldest child in a Pakistani family of modest means. “For a while after college, his father sent him to medical school,” his widow, Nafisa Hoodbhoy, says. “But he didn’t like medicine. He preferred philosophy.”

Bhutto left his dusty hometown, 300 miles inland from the Arabian Sea, and traveled to Bulgaria, where he earned a graduate degree at Sophia University in the waning years of communist rule. In the late 1980s, back in Pakistan, he joined the philosophy faculty at the University of Sindh, eventually becoming chairman.
He met his future wife in tragic circumstances.

Hoodbhoy, a year younger than Bhutto, was raised in the sprawling port city of Karachi, where she attended English-language schools. After moving abroad in 1978, she got a master’s degree in U.S. history at Northeastern University and worked as a reporter for London’s Guardian newspaper. Then, in 1984, she returned to her male-dominated Muslim homeland to become a pioneering female journalist.

As the only female reporter on the staff of Dawn, Pakistan’s biggest English-language daily, her goal was to “affect change” for women in the Islamic world, many of them brimming with career aspirations, as she was, yet stifled and routinely victimized.

Fauzia Bhutto, a younger sister of Javed Bhutto’s, was killed in 1990 in Karachi at age 26. The death brought Hoodbhoy and Javed Bhutto in the same orbit. They formed a bond and later married.

So it was that in 1990, after a young medical intern vanished from her Karachi apartment and suspicion fell on her clandestine lover, Hoodbhoy was the first journalist to publicly identify the man: Rahim Baksh Jamali, a wealthy legislator and an influential member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party. She also tracked down Jamali’s driver, who told her what he had told the police: that he was present when Jamali, middle-aged and married, shot his mistress in her bedroom, and that he helped Jamali get rid of her body.

The intern, Fauzia Bhutto, 26, turned up dead on remote scrubland. As the case became a cause celebre, with women’s groups clamoring for Jamali to be punished, the victim’s brother Javed Bhutto was a beacon of calm and resolve. The philosophy professor, the eldest surviving male in his family, was duty-bound to seek redress. And he meant to do it his way — not violently or by tribal custom, but through Pakistan’s judiciary, which he believed should function blindly for both sexes and without favor to the politically connected.

Bhutto “knew full well that the administration would not act unless pressured,” Hoodbhoy wrote. For weeks in 1990, as he gently, doggedly implored legal authorities to do their jobs, Hoodbhoy studied him with a reporter’s eye — this “unselfconscious” fellow “driven by a sense of purpose” — and she watched admiringly as the women’s protest movement coalesced around him. “The victim’s brother mobilized society to follow the rule of law,” she told readers.

Jamali, who was arrested and jailed for two years before getting out on bail, lost his seat in a provincial assembly. But his trial dragged on for more than a decade until the driver recanted his story and Jamali, now deceased, was acquitted by a judge.

As for Hoodbhoy and Bhutto — “a study in contrasts,” the pushy newshound and the reflective scholar — they formed a bond that ran far deeper than their common interest in civic integrity. On Aug. 28, 1992, they married.
“He was my everything,” she says now.

A new country, a new life

After a tumultuous decade of democracy, Pakistan’s return to military rule in 1999 prompted the couple to emigrate.

They moved into a tiny apartment in Massachusetts — just the two of them; they never would have children — and Hoodbhoy began a teaching fellowship at Amherst College in 2001. Bhutto thought he’d find a place in academia, too, but it turned out his Soviet-bloc master’s degree and Pakistani professorship weren’t sufficient for U.S. higher education.

He toiled in low-wage jobs for months before discovering a new vocation, working in group homes with developmentally disabled adults. “He had such a way with people, such compassion,” his widow says. “Even the mentally effected people really took to him. I mean, he adored them.”

In 2003, Hoodbhoy joined Voice of America in Washington as an Urdu-language radio host. (She now writes for VOA’s Extremism Watch Desk.) She and Bhutto bought a one-bedroom unit at City View Condos, a brick blockhouse in the tumbledown Barry Farm area of Southeast D.C. Hoodbhoy planted peppers and cilantro in balcony pots, and Bhutto stuffed the place with his vast collection of philosophy texts. In 2012, they raised their right hands in a federal building and were sworn in as U.S. citizens.

A Northern Virginia nonprofit, CRi, which says its mission is to help people with developmental disabilities improve their lives, hired Bhutto in 2015 as a caregiver in an Alexandria group home — and he would work there happily until the morning he was killed. “He was so adept at knowing what everyone’s needs were,” a former colleague says, referring to the support Bhutto gave to the home’s four residents. “He’d study them, study their cues, and understand them as unique human beings.”

In his adoptive country, he went by the first name “Jawaid,” which is pronounced in English the way “Javed” sounds in Urdu. Hoodbhoy recalls hearing him in the condo bedroom holding forth in their native language on Skype and Facebook Live. Scores of students at his old university would gather for video talks by the long-departed professor, who lectured for the joy of it.

She’d peek in, see him hunched at a computer under shelves filled with books, smiling, gesturing, querying, expounding.

“Content, at peace,” is how she remembers him.

‘Not crazy’

Newly approved for convalescent leave, Hilman Jordan moved into a rental unit at City View Condos, a mile from St. Elizabeths, on Dec. 3, 2015, taking up residence directly below Bhutto and Hoodbhoy in the three-story building.

The unit’s landlord, Joe Holston, a friend of Jordan’s, says he heard from mutual acquaintances that Jordan needed a place to live. The two had known each other since boyhood, and Holston, now 42, had occasionally visited Jordan in the hospital. He says Jordan “always seemed okay to me in there. You know, not crazy.”

Leasing his condo to Jordan was a safe deal for Holston because the Department of Behavioral Health gives city housing vouchers to insanity acquittees on convalescent leave. Jordan’s share of the $1,200 monthly rent amounted to 30 percent of his Social Security disability benefit, while the D.C. government took care of the rest.

At Behavioral Health, the forensic outpatient department was responsible for making sure Jordan obeyed his release terms, which mandated frequent therapy sessions and check-ins with a counselor, who was supposed to visit him in the condo at least once a week. His meds, switched from oral to longer-acting injections, were to be administered by mental-health workers on a specified schedule.

Jordan was required to appear regularly at the outpatient department’s Northeast Washington offices, not only to get his injections but also to have his urine tested at least once a month for traces of intoxicants.

City View’s other residents were left in the dark about his history. “There is no legal reporting requirement to notify neighbors that an NGRI is living within the community,” a spokeswoman for Behavioral Health says. Holston, who resigned as president of the City View owners association after the killing, says he also kept quiet about Jordan, telling no one in the building that his tenant was fresh out of St. Elizabeths, having shot a friend in the head in the throes of a psychotic delusion.

No law required Holston to warn people. Asked why he didn’t alert them, anyway, he says, “I don’t know.”

‘They call me dynamite’

In Jordan’s time at City View, a span of 39 months, Behavioral Health staffers had nothing negative to say about him in three brief reports on file in Superior Court.

After his release, Jordan got married. He attended Narcotics Anonymous conventions in Ocean City, in 2017 and 2018, and in August 2018, he and his wife celebrated their wedding anniversary in Williamsburg, Va. In notifying the court and U.S. attorney’s office that Jordan planned to take the trips, different mental-health workers used identical language in the three reports.

“He visits the Forensic Outpatient Department (FOPD) every month for psychiatric management and monitoring of compliance,” was all they said about his conduct.

At the condo building, Joyce Morris, a tenant who befriended Jordan, says Jordan’s wife sometimes angrily moved out, leaving him by himself for long periods. “Smoking marijuana, it was like his everyday relaxing thing,
chilling on his balcony,” Morris recalls. “That was his zone, you know? His peace zone. Hanging on his balcony, smoking his weed. He’d be there for hours and hours.”

Morris, 53, lives on the first floor, which is partly below ground. The second floor, where Jordan lived, is near street level. She’d sit on the building’s front stoop, with Jordan just to her left, perched on his balcony, and “we’d talk about our issues,” she says. “Me, I’m bipolar with a little bit of schiz, and I’d be like: ‘Why I can’t be normal? Why I can’t have a life without all these meds?’ And him, too; that’s the way he was — like his problems had him down to where he didn’t care what happened.”

Gazing at her lap in the dim light from her kitchen, she says quietly: “He was a beautiful man, a beautiful man with a mental illness. And his mental illness got the best of him.”

Last summer, when Jordan’s marijuana habit grew “really heavy,” Morris says, she wondered about his drug tests. In some cases, delta-9-THC, the mind-altering chemical in cannabis, can be detected in the bodily waste of a frequent user even after 60 days of abstinence. Yet there was Jordan, week after week, getting high on his balcony, Morris says. Although she never asked him about it, she says, “the way he was smoking, I didn’t figure he had to take them urines anymore.”

On the balcony directly above, where Hoodbhoy nurtured her garden in the warm weather and her husband liked to sit and read, the reefer aroma became too much for Bhutto. One day in June 2018, he asked his wife, “What do you think I should do?” Hoodbhoy, who has a weak sense of smell, suggested he try to ignore it.

The couple knew little about Jordan, just that he was an odd-looking sentinel peering out from his balcony at the small parking lot. They’d smile and nod hello, and he’d nod and smile back. “Javed said he reminded him of the mentally effected people he attended to in his facility,” Hoodbhoy says. “We thought, well, he’s probably being put here by some kind of social worker or institution and they’re taking care of him.”

In the fall, after they closed their balcony door for the season, the odor of marijuana came up through the floor inside, further annoying Bhutto. Downstairs, meanwhile, Jordan recorded video rap-rants posted to his YouTube account in November, featuring bitter, frenetic, semi-coherent laments about his 17 years of hospital confinement.

In one, after taking a drag of what appears to be a joint, he squints. “They cause psychotic disorder/they said I smoke too much.” Waving a hand, he gives a shout-out, “Hey, ’OPD,” apparently meaning Behavioral Health’s forensic outpatient department, known in the court system by its initials. In another, there’s a close-up of rolling papers and an apparent joint on his balcony table, followed by a panning shot of the parking lot, soon to be a homicide scene. “Don’t get too close/they call me dynamite/and nothin’ can save you.”

Finally, on the evening of Jan. 17, Bhutto emailed Joe Holston, Jordan’s landlord, complaining about the pungent aroma permeating his and his wife’s condo. “Our clothes, bedsheets. . . . Other people visiting this building has also observed that it smells as if someone is smoking ‘weeds’ here.”

“I will look into this issue,” Holston replied the next morning. “Sorry for any inconvenience.”

He says he warned Jordan that the neighbors right above him were griping about his pot smoking, and Jordan agreed to stop. “He didn’t seem to think it was an unreasonable request,” Holston recalls. Hoodbhoy says the odor went away for a while, but in February, a few weeks before the shooting, it came back strong. And Jordan’s demeanor toward her and Bhutto turned cold.

They’d nod hello, she says, and he’d stare.

The morning it happened, March 1, she was at work.

From a security camera:

Bhutto, done with his overnight shift, pulls into the lot in his Toyota at 10:56 a.m. and parks in spot No. 7, directly below his and Jordan’s balconies. On the second floor, a man identified by police as Jordan leaves the balcony and walks downstairs to the lot. He is smoking something.

Bhutto opens the trunk and bends in, gathering his groceries. The attacker strides toward him, a hand in a pocket of his coat. Whatever he’s smoking, he flicks it away.

“I won’t watch,” Hoodbhoy says of the video. “I can’t.”

A week later, she flew to Pakistan to bury her husband in Shikarpur, his hometown, next to the grave of Fauzia Bhutto, dead almost 30 years. The crowd that gathered at Karachi’s airport for the coffin’s arrival — relatives and friends, former colleagues, old philosophy students and comrades from the women’s protest movement — overwhelmed Hoodbhoy, who led a caravan of mourners inland for the interment.

A slain sister, a slain brother, side-by-side now in the provincial dust. For Fauzia, there was no justice. For Javed, she can only hope.

paul.duggan@washpost.com

Categories
Civil Society

SANA Announces Jawaid Bhutto Scholarship

Sindhi Association of North America has concluded its 35th convention in Toronto with the announcement of the Jawaid Bhutto scholarship for students in Pakistan.

SANA also resolved in favor of naming Jawaid’s former department at Sindh University the `Jawaid Bhutto Department of Philosophy.’ Moreover, participants extended support to a future Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences to be created in Jawaid’s name at Sindh University, Jamshoro.

SANA president Mohammed Ali Mahar made the announcement at a session, June 30, 2019 at the Hotel Sheraton in Toronto, addressed by contemporaries, students and friends of Jawaid Bhutto.

Speakers included the SANA president, Ayub Shaikh, Mir Mazhar Talpur, Mir Muzzafar Talpur and Nafisa Hoodbhoy.

Speaking on the occasion, Ayub Shaikh spoke about how Jawaid Bhutto was “snatched away” at a time when he had peaked in his intellectual capacity and in his development as a Sufi.

Mir Mazhar spoke about how Jawaid’s mystical teachings of Sufi poet Shah Latif Bhitai were the need of the hour. He said that the issues that Jawaid addressed were meant to orient people of Sindh as to what they needed to do to redress the problems of the society.

Mir Muzzafar spoke about Jawaid’s evolution from being a student of philosophy in Bulgaria to achieving a level of understanding that depicted how he had evolved intellectually over the years.

Nafisa Hoodbhoy spoke on how the `disappearance’ of Jawaid Bhutto reminded his students and admirers of how Rumi’s mentor Shams Tabriz had “vanished.” The analogy seemed to hold for Jawaid “since no one who knew him personally ever saw him after that fateful day,” she said.

Categories
Civil Society

Jawaid’s Work Place in Virginia Pays Rich Tributes for his Services (June 15, 2019)

Last
Glowing tributes were paid on June 15 to Jawaid Bhutto for his work as a mental health counselor at Welford Street Community Residences Inc. in Virginia.

The management of CRI and his colleagues described Jawaid as a thorough professional, who arrived on time, inspected the quarters to make sure that mentally challenged residents were “still alive” and then proceeded to ask the shift staff if they had fulfilled their duties.

CRI staff said that Jawaid never let on that he was a philosopher. It was only when the newspapers and television reported the incident against him that they found out his background.

His manager from Africa, Ayo Whetho said that the depth of Jawaid’s knowledge about his country surprised him. He found Jawaid to be a learned person who was well informed in history.

One by one, his colleagues praised Jawaid’s modesty. They said that despite being a “very intelligent” person, he never projected himself or imposed his ideas on others.

Staff members paying tribute to him on the occasion described Jawaid as a very gentle person “who would not hurt a fly.”

There were tears in the eyes of several staff as they eulogized him.

Categories
Civil Society

JB Assailant Locked up Without Parole

In the first preliminary hearing held on Monday Jawaid Bhutto’s attacker was sent back to prison without the possibility of parole.

Wearing an orange jump suit with his hands in handcuffs, defendant Hilman Ray Jordan was brought by US marshals in Judge Lee’s court and asked by the judge if he was prepared to face a preliminary hearing. On the advice of his counsel, he waived the right for a hearing to defend his actions.

Earlier Assistant US attorney Marybeth Manfreda had prepared to show the court the shooting incident in which Jordan was filmed attacking Bhutto. Detective Washington had also come prepared to give evidence from witnesses.

Jordan’s counsel sought mental health treatment for his client, diagnosed as a schizophrenic who engaged in substance abuse. To which the judge remarked “We will cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Meanwhile Judge Lee said that he was unwilling to allow Jordan back into the community, remarking he could be a danger to other people.

The next date of the hearing has been fixed for September 6, 2019.

Categories
Civil Society

In Memory of Jawaid Bhutto

It was but yesterday that
you were moving with the moving sea
and you were shoreless and without a self
Then the wind, the breath of Life
wove you, a veil of light on her face
Then her hand gathered you
and gave you form,
and with a head held high
you sought the heights
But the sea followed after you,
and her song is still with you.
(Shoreless without a Self – Khalil Gibran)

Categories
Civil Society

Khalil Gibran Speaks of Marriage

You were born together, and together you
shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white
wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the
silent memory of God.

Categories
Civil Society

BAN THE GUN

ON March 1, a burst of gunfire snuffed out the life of a gentle soul in Washington D.C. He was a social worker helping the mentally challenged and drug addicts. He was Jawaid Bhutto, a teacher of philosophy and a progressive scholar in Pakistan before he moved to the US. I knew him as my friend and the husband of a former colleague Nafisa Hoodbhoy. Bhutto’s death grieved us immensely.

The irony didn’t escape me on this occasion. Here was a man who was known to be an ardent advocate of peace and love as well as gun control laws being killed by someone who was not entitled to be carrying a gun, given his mental state, so it was reported.

Such are the ways of America where the gun is god. I would also say this was a murder committed not by just one man — it was a killing by the entire gun lobby in America which has now globalised its reach. I still remember the pain in Barack Obama’s voice when he said in a television interview that “failure to tackle gun control has been the greatest frustration of my presidency”. It was horrifying to learn that Bhutto’s killing was the 50th case of homicide in D.C. alone since the start of the year. According to New York Times column writer Nicholas Kristof, the US has suffered more gun deaths (1.45 million) since 1970 than have occurred in all the wars that America has fought in the same period.

A fortnight after his killing, the world was shaken by the mosques shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, that took the lives of 50 worshippers as the country’s gun control laws were lax and a white supremacist could buy guns and shoot at will. The prime minister of New Zealand, Ms Jacinda Ardern, reacted with compassion, immediately promising, “Our gun laws will change”. And they did within a week.

It was a murder committed not by a single man but by the entire gun lobby.

These gunshot incidents are horrifying. Yet we in Pakistan react differently. I can count people known to me personally who were shot dead in Karachi — Perween Rahman, Abdul Waheed Khan, Zara Hussain and Sabeen Mahmud. Thousands have been targeted but these deaths didn’t stir our leadership the way similar killings moved Obama (who actually cried in public) and Ms Ardern.

Glance at some of the data to know where we stand and why we need the compassion of Obama and Ardern in our macho leadership. Guns in Pakistan have more than doubled in the last decade — 1.8m in 2007 and 4.39m licensed (with another 30m illicit ones) in 2017, says Naeem Sadiq of Citizens against Weapons, the sole civil society group in the country demanding a ban on guns.

Why is the government so unresponsive? True the laws are weak and inadequate. Sadiq says they allow too much discretion to the licensing authorities. They are discriminatory and licences are given to the rich and powerful as a bribe or political favour. Surely the government can change this. It doesn’t because it uses guns as a political tool. The excuse given is that guns are ostensibly needed for the security of the citizens. This is an incongruous excuse in a country where the state is bound to protect the lives of all its citizens and where the Constitution bans private armies (Article 256). Given this attitude, it is not surprising that no strict background checks are carried out by the licensing authorities.

For the last several years, CaW’s has been the single voice in Pakistan, demanding unequivocally a de-weaponisation programme that includes the surrender of all illicit weapons and buyback of all licensed arms. CaW has cited Australia and Britain as models for this process.

CaW also wants “the government to explicitly declare that all categories of weapons lie only in the domain of the state and no citizen, group or gang will be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon — licensed or otherwise”.

It is time each of us who value human life should demand the same. Pakistan is at a watershed point. It is a do-or-die moment for the country. The choice is between surviving by cracking down on the militant extremists who thrive on terrorism or perishing by allowing a free rein to those who believe their path to paradise is awash with the blood of victims of terror attacks. They should have been disbanded a long time ago under the National Action Plan.

NAP could never have succeeded even if the government was serious because it had no provision for de-weaponisation. Today, there is much that is being said about mainstreaming the terrorist lashkars, but again, the issue of de-weaponisation does not figure in the picture. It would be horrifying to visualise hordes of fully armed bloodthirsty brutes being let loose in the name of mainstreaming.

There is a need to look at the gun control issue more closely and wisely.

www.zubeidamustafa.com

Categories
Civil Society

Scholar Jawaid Bhutto’s murder termed great loss for Sindh

HYDERABAD: Speakers at a condolence reference paid rich tribute to philos­opher and scholar Jawaid Bhutto, who was gunned down in Washington on March 2, and called him a great asset of Sindh.

They were speaking at the programme organised by Progressive Writers Associa­tion and Awami Workers Party at Sindhi Language Authority on Friday.

Late Jawaid’s widow and writer Nafisa Hoodbhoy recalled that her husband had always loved such gatherings and was a regular in them. The man who mur­dered her husband was a mentally sick person, she said.

She said she badly missed Jawaid today. His murder was mysterious and she failed to reconcile with the fact that her husband had been killed and was no more with her, wondering why that man killed an innocent person like Jawaid.

Sindh United Party presi­dent Syed Jalal Meh­mood Shah said that Jawaid was a nice and humble man who had always felt people’s pain. In such incidents one paid the price for the mis­takes committed by others. He had had several meetings with Jawaid but philosophy was never discussed between them, he said.

Rahat Saeed observed that one must discuss as to why Jawaid left Sindh. Perhaps he had thought that he was talking to walls and there was no one to listen to him. Such conditions always caused despondency among people but his love for Sindh always brought him back to his land and people, he said.

She said that Jawaid believed that philosophy of Karl Marx ensured eman­cipation of humanity and he never gave up being compa­ssionate to people. This was something that led him to mysticism.

Awami Workers Party president Dr Bakhshal Tha­lho recalled that he had first witnessed Jawaid talking to students on philosophy in Sindh University in the ’90s and he could never forget that moment. Jawaid was a free-thinking soul and he always believed in moulding opinion but he never compromised over truth, he said.

He said that Jawaid was a teacher of philosophy and his death was a great loss for Sindh. “There are many poets and artists today but we do not find philosophers in our society and since Jawaid was a teacher of this subject he had command over every subject. Jawaid was not a conventional socialist or communist but he was a man who believed in ground realities,” he said.

Imdad Chandio said that Jawaid always remained in search of truth and redis­covering everything. The late scholar had defined an intellectual as a person who could challenge establish­ment and stand for uprig­htness and truth, he said. He said that today Sindh needed people like Jawaid who had the art of explaining different concepts and ideas. He was a great asset of Sindh, he added.

Writer Amar Sindhu cal­l­ed for redefining progre­ssi­vism in Sindh and said that only people like Jawaid could interpret real progressivism. If anyone was able to redefine progressivism for the educa­ted lot of Sindh it would be a great achievement.

https://www.dawn.com/news/print/1471258

Categories
Civil Society

Glowing Tributes Paid to Jawaid Bhutto in Karachi

The gathering in Karachi Arts Council was as untraditional as Jawaid Bhutto’s life had been. The portrait of him looking down on the gathering was the face of a thinker, a philosopher who reflected in the most intense way on the meaning of life.

But Jawaid was no hardnosed intellectual. Instead, he was a `peoples person,’ loving the human spirit through his clear prism of love and humility.

Ever effervescent Ayub Shaikh, who was master of ceremonies, started with a minute of silence for Bhutto. It echoed the celebration of his life that had been held in Washington DC a week ago. There, again Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus and secular admirers… spoke of the man who radiated pure love… his spirit rising far above the hate filled bullets of a deranged tenant who lived below us and whose dark past had been kept a secret from us.

Jawaid’s nephew Ranwal recalled the amazing uncle he lost, senior journalist Mazhar Abbas remembered Jawaid’s friendship from his days in Karachi University; Niranjan Rajwani his days in Bulgaria; Rafiq Chandio, Amar Sindhu and Arfana Mallah his inspirational teaching years in Sindh University; Afrasiab Khattak recalled the comrade whose vision of a tolerant society will continue to inspire; Moonis Ayaz his generous friendship; Qaiser Bengali the gentleman like qualities of the man; Nuzhat Kidwai how his beloved sister, Fauzia Bhutto’s murder had taken him on the path to seek justice. And Mir Mazhar Talpur about how Jawaid had taken a stand on pot smoking in the gentlest way before he was gunned down.

Tribute to Jawaid Bhutto at Arts Council Karachi

Posted by Aziz Ahmed on Saturday, March 16, 2019

Voice of Sindh, London carried the following report on Youtube

Categories
Civil Society

Gathering in memory of Jawaid Bhutto

Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi has arranged a sitting in memory of Jawaid Bhutto, a man of values, a progressive intellectual who lost his life in Washington DC on March 1, 2019 at the hands of a deranged killer.

Friends will pay tribute to the man whose life was filled with love for his fellow beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, color or religion. A sufi at heart, Bhutto’s life was devoted to upliftment of humanity especially the long suffering people of Sindh.

Please join us on 16th March 2019, 3:00pm at New Auditorium, Arts Council of Pakistan

President & the Governing Body Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi

Categories
Civil Society

SU VC pays glowing tribute to Javed Bhutto

Javed Bhutto was Socrates of Sindh. It was Sindh’s ambassador of love and peace to the world. People like Javed Bhutto stay immortal in the hearts of people on account of their intellectual contribution to society. Javed Bhutto’s death has created a void which will be hard to fill.

This was stated by VC-SU Prof. Dr. Fateh Muhammad Burfat while he addressed the condolence reference organized by SU Department of Philosophy to pay tribute to legendary lover and practitioner of philosophy, former chairman Department of Philosophy, University of Sindh Javed Ahmed Bhutto.

Dr. Burfat also reminisced fondly the days he spent with Bhutto as his batch mate at Karachi University and the pleasant memories of Bhutto’s visit to SU and his subsequent interaction with him at the eve of his lecture at Shaikh Ayaz auditorium last year.

Secretary SUTA and Javed Bhutto’s close associate Prof. Dr. Arfana Begum Mallah said she was one of those blessed individuals who profited hugely from Bhutto’s erudite company. Dr. Mallah, terming Bhutto a modest mystic, opined that Bhutto loved men regardless of their social status. She declared him essentially “a peoples’ person”.

Categories
Civil Society

Philosopher Jawaid Bhutto laid to rest in ancestral burial ground

HYDERABAD: Amid elegies sung by pall-bearers, the 64-year old intellectual and philosopher Jawaid Bhutto, who was shot dead in Washington DC on March 2, was laid to rest in a graveyard in Shikarpur district on Sunday. His funeral prayers were offered earlier at Faisal Mosque in Bath Island, Karachi, on Saturday night.

Writers, poets, intellectuals and civil society activists, including men and women, attended the burial rites at Chirangi graveyard which is the ancestral burial place of Bhutto. His wife Nafisa Hoodbhoy, who arrived in Pakistan along with his body on Saturday, also attended the rare burial event in which women also went to the graveyard.

“Jawaid can’t die,” she expressed this conviction in her brief comments in the graveyard. “He is as alive in my heart as he was before his death.” She regarded her husband as a truthful and courageous person who wanted justice for all.

“I was drawn towards him due to the truthfulness of his heart,” said Hoodbhoy, who first met Bhutto when she was a journalist working for daily Dawn. “Jawaid’s marriage to me was the luckiest thing to happen to me in my life.”

She said that the couple, who spent over 18 years in the United States of America, had planned on returning to Pakistan and that they had almost completed the preparations. “But then this incident happened.” According to her, the man who killed her husband was a convicted murderer who was released from prison due to his mental health condition.

She told that the local police did not inform the neighbourhood about his past criminal record. “We should have been informed who was living below our apartment.” Recalling the incident, Hoodbhoy said that she had sent her husband to bring things from the car parked on the road when he was shot from behind. “His death is like a bad dream from which you can’t wake up.”

Pakistani philosopher Jawaid Bhutto murdered in US
Pervez Mari, a contemporary, informed that Bhutto received his early education from Shikarpur and Sukkur. He became affiliated with the Maoist party during his college days in Sukkur. He later got enrolled in Bolan Medical College in Quetta during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government but discontinued his medical studies in less than two years and started studying philosophy at University of Karachi.

After completing his doctorate from Sofia University, Bulgaria, he started teaching philosophy as a lecturer at Sindh University. Bhutto came in the limelight when he started struggle to get justice for his sister Fouzia Bhutto who was killed by former Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Rahim Bux Jamali when she was a student of Nawabshah Medical College.

“We weren’t expecting Jawaid’s sudden death,” said Zahid Mangi. “He always supported Sindhi and Balochi movements for their rights.”

Categories
Civil Society

The life and death of Jawaid Bhutto

It was Sunday morning on March 3, 2019. The last day of the KLF was about to start when Dr Ayoub Shaikh posted on Facebook a most devastating piece of news for the friends and students of Jawaid Bhutto. He had been killed in broad daylight in the capital of the most advanced and powerful country of the world. Washington DC is not an unlikely place to get killed in the US. Somebody can murder you there, as they can do in Chicago or New York. But for Jawaid Bhutto it was an unlikely place.

This column is not an obituary, nor is it a lamentation of American law and order. Obituaries are normally written of people who are famous, notorious, or rich. Jawaid was none of these, but to his dozens of friends and hundreds of students he meant a lot. His life was a lesson for many, right from his decision to quit medical studies to his opting for philosophy as his vocation, and from socialism to Sufism as his preferred mode of thinking, Jawaid Bhutto carried a torch for many. A look at his life gives us a reflection of the past four decades both in and out of Pakistan.

In the early 1980s, Pakistan was under General Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship. Five of the 11 years of his repressive rule had already seen a prime minister going to the gallows, and not hundreds but thousands of activists, democrats, journalists, intellectuals, and political leaders arrested, sentenced to imprisonment, or lashed in full public view. It was a reign of terror unleashed by General Ziaul Haq against all those who wanted to see Pakistan return to civilian rule and strived to make it a democratic and welfare state rather than a state based on religious and sectarian strife.

The Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) was in full swing but it was mostly confined to Sindh. Punjab, which had supported Z A Bhutto for at least 10 years and had seen PPP workers immolate themselves in protest against the death sentence to him, was now relatively calm. The press was in chains and under siege as described by Zamir Niazi, a journalist and writer who documented the establishment’s onslaught against freedom of expression. While the MRD struggle raged across Sindh, the rest of Pakistan was relatively calm with a graveyard silence imposed on it.

It is in this background that I met Jawaid Bhutto in Karachi in the early 1980s. He belonged to Shikarpur, went to Bolan Medical College to study medicine, soon got tired of it, and moved to Karachi University to study philosophy. I was still a teenager studying at the Government College of Technology (formerly Karachi Polytechnic Institute) near Sher Shah. Student politics in Karachi was dynamic and vibrant, with the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) supported by General Zia on the one side, and some liberal, left-wing and progressive student unions on the other. It was not a level playing field.

Jawaid Bhutto and I belonged to the Democratic Student Federation (DSF). This new DSF was sort of a reincarnation of the old DSF that was active in the 1950s and was led by progressive student leaders such as Dr Adeebul Hasan Rizvi, Dr Haroon Ahmed, Dr Muhammad Sarwar (father of journalist Beena Sarwar), Dr Rehman Hashmi and many others. This new DSF, in which Jawaid Bhutto and I met, was a nursery of progressive ideas for many of us. Jawaid Bhutto was almost ten years older than me and he served as a guide and mentor for countless young students.

Rarely does one come across a young man who is so immersed in knowledge of almost all social sciences, especially of philosophy. His room was always full of books in English, Sindhi and Urdu. He was not one of those who pretend to read a lot by displaying books and by dropping names of philosophers and writers. His understanding of political ideas, social theories and philosophical frameworks was immense and he was always ready to impart his knowledge to anyone who came to him and showed a willingness to learn. He was always open and smiling, even at the most stupid of questions.

As the MRD was not visible in Karachi, the students of the DSF and other progressive student outfits decided to stage protests, do wall chalking against the dictatorship, and even hijack and torch buses. Jawaid Bhutto was less of an activist and more of an intellectual with us. He and his brother Shahid Bhutto were also music lovers, composed poetry into songs and recited poetry – from Faiz Ahmed Faiz to Shaikh Ayaz. They were also active with us in the Dastak Theatre Group led by the legendary Aslam Azhar and Mansoor Saeed (father of actress Sania Saeed).

But the might of the dictatorship was not mild for anyone who dared to challenge the narrative of jihad in Afghanistan and promotion of sectarianism in Pakistan under the guise of Islamisation. The goons of the IJT were targeting all liberal and progressive student activists and the DSF was no exception. In these bleak times, many left the country. Some went to Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, India, Libya, Scandinavian countries, Soviet Union, and Syria. When Jawaid Bhutto and I left Pakistan and went to India, we were accompanied by Farhan Azmi, son of comrade Dr Aizaz Nazeer, and Khurram Khalid, son of comrade Saif Khalid.

Fehmida Riaz was already there and had been declared a traitor in Pakistan. The death of Fehmida Riaz last year in Lahore and the way she was paid homage and respect across the country proves that the label of traitor only enhances the public prestige of the victims of state repression and not the other way round. It was in India that Jawaid and I spent months together. His grasp of Indian art and culture, history, philosophy, politics and religions was impressive to say the least. Even there, he was always looking for books and engaged in heated discussions with our hosts, especially with Noor Zaheer, daughter of Sajjad Zaheer.

Ultimately, Jawaid went to Bulgaria, and I landed in Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University in Moscow. Our stay there relieved us of our romantic revolutionary zeal as we saw the socialist system in the full monty, warts and all. The crumbling of the socialist bloc prompted us to rethink the so-called universal applicability of Marxism that was our staple earlier. We came back to Pakistan almost at the same time in the late 1980s. He joined the University of Sindh as a lecturer in philosophy, and I was given a copywriting job in IAL/ Saatchi by Sarmad Ali (now MD of Jang Group).

In 1990, Jawaid had to suffer a major blow within his family when his sister, Fouzia Bhutto was murdered in her medical college hostel in Karachi. The murderer was Rahim Bux Jamali, a political leader who was arrested and spent some years in jail. After almost 20 years, Jamali was also murdered by someone on another account. It was during the murder trial of his sister that Jawaid came to know journalist Nafisa Hoodbhoy, sister of Dr Pervaiz Hoodbhoy. They got married in the mid-1990s. Jawaid continued to teach and enlighten his philosophy students for almost a decade.

Jawaid and Nafisa decided to move to the US in the late 1990s and settled in Washington DC. Jawaid kept reading and working in a rehab centre where he helped many drug addicts, mostly African-Americans. But he himself became a victim of a drug addict. Jawaid had complained of the rowdy behaviour of his neighbour; this enraged the man who shot Jawaid dead at 11am on March 2. Rest in peace Jawaid; you were needed in Pakistan more than in the US. Your dream for a democratic, progressive and secular Pakistan lives on.

The writer holds a PhD from the
University of Birmingham, UK and works in Islamabad.
Email: mnazir1964@yahoo.co.uk

Categories
Civil Society Pakistan Politics

Remembering Siddiq Baloch

Siddiq Baloch had a personality that made a distinct impression on people who met him. He was a moving force, fiercely proud in the Baloch tradition. His inquiring mind led him to explore independently, never willing to take other people’s account of reality. It also made him a fine journalist in Pakistan’s English language newspaper, Dawn where he sought answers to the nation’s intractable problems.

I met Siddiq upon joining the Dawn Reporters Room in 1984. His rugged, warrior like appearance belied the sensitivity that lay underneath. Foremost in his personae was a commitment to seeing justice, prominently for the people of Baluchistan. Moreover, his energy and bustling humor brought life to the city desk where we reported to encapsulate the politics of an ever-burgeoning Karachi.

It was a period when Gen. Zia ul Haq had ushered in military rule and when journalists and management alike walked a tight rope of censorship. As an activist in the National Awami Party and a follower of Ghaus Baksh Bijenzo, Siddiq was imprisoned for five years by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto under the Hyderabad conspiracy case and freed only after Gen. Zia overthrew Bhutto’s government.

Notwithstanding the twists and turns in Pakistan’s politics, Siddiq kept up his unrelenting opposition to military rule. He was elected president of the Karachi Union of Journalists in 1981, at a critical juncture in history. Thereafter, he energetically worked around Gen. Zia’s draconian laws against the print media, which was then the primary source of news and information.

The MQM led by Altaf Hussain was just then consolidating its grip on Karachi. The city was divided on ethnic lines even as it burned during violence, strikes and curfew.

Driving into the Dawn newspaper compound, I would see Siddiq Baloch energetically revving up his motor bike, with our mild-mannered Sindhi colleague Ghulam Ali clutching the rear. The two would zoom off to expeditions to Liaquatabad, Nazimabad, Orangi Town and far flung areas of Karachi, where MQM was testing out its new-found strength.

By late evening the two returned triumphantly from the frontlines, with eye-witness accounts of a city that had turned into a battlefield.

Both these colleagues lived in Lyari, where the lines between Baloch and Sindhis have blurred, and which added to the sense of fraternity one saw between them.

Ghulam Ali, who sat next to me, popped a joke every few minutes. The jokes were often about martial law, and what the average person… the barber or the rickshaw driver had said about the khakis. It complemented Siddiq’s remarks, who kept up his cynical commentary on military rule.

Lighter moments with Ghulam Ali and Siddiq Baloch stand out in memory. It was a hot, muggy summer evening in the Dawn Reporters Room, when fans circulated the stale air. Sweat dribbled down my colleagues and the grumbling grew louder that we had been condemned to work in a non-ventilated cubby hole.

Suddenly, the door opened and Siddiq and Ghulam Ali entered shirtless – wearing only vests over trousers. I laughed with delight at the sight of the two of them. They looked so comic in their zeal to show the bosses our plight. Siddiq sent for a photographer, where he dutifully took pictures of the burly, sweaty men typing away without their shirts.

Word got out to the management that two planned to keep up their shirtless protest. But one day of high drama served the cause of propaganda. In due course, an air conditioner was installed in the cubby hole and we were eventually able to type away in peace.

Siddiq had a sense of camaraderie that made him engage with every colleague. In the evenings, our short statured bulky colleague, Sabihuddin Ghausi would enter the Reporters Room with aplomb – newspapers rolled in one hand and a cigar in the other. Invariably, Siddiq looked up from his typewriter and in his inimical style teased Ghausi with an affectionate slight:

“Here comes the drug mafia!”

Ghausi was unfazed. While Siddiq was getting into economic reporting, Ghausi was the soul of Dawn’s Economic and Business Review (EBR) section – ferreting news with his penetrating intellect and sense of integrity. Siddiq shared Ghausi’s serious economic bent, even as he focused on Balochistan’s political economy – of which he became a notable authority.

I would see Siddiq’s mischievous smile around our colleague, Hameed – known by his by-line H.A. Hamied. Our colleague distinguished himself from the `riff raff’ by his starched white shirts, suspenders and supercilious remarks.

Whenever I heard Hamied say, `Har Shakh pey Uloo Baitha Hai’ (there’s an owl on every branch) I knew he was heaping contempt on some character being discussed in the room. Straightforward to the core, Siddiq would join the banter. He jokingly called Hamied by his by-line, Humaiy-eed to make him sound refined.

Siddiq’s other friends from Lyari were Latif Baloch and Aleem Pathan – both of whom worked with him in the sub-editor’s room. In time, Latif Baloch also joined reporting, bringing the flair of the locality to which he and Siddiq belonged.

Fair skinned Aleem was a Pathan from Lyari, who walked slowly and smoked in deliberate fashion. He told me that foreign journalists mistook him for Italian. When Siddiq was not around, Aleem would transport Ghulam Ali on his motor bike to riot-stricken areas like Orangi town.

Even when the 1985 Mohajir Pathan riots had peaked in Orangi town, Ghulam Ali would return from the affected area with a new joke. Returning from a dangerous expedition with Aleem, Ghulam Ali narrated with his flair for drama:

“When I turned around and said Aleem… he put his finger to his lips and said, Shhh go no further.” Aleem could have been concerned that Ghulam Ali would blow his cover, that he was no foreigner!

As was his habit, Siddiq liked to chuckle at his buddy’s jokes – which changed according to the seasons.

It was this sense of camaraderie that kept us going under the toughest circumstances. Once, Siddiq walked into the Reporters Room and picked on me – the only young woman among middle aged male colleagues. He began to sound the alarm that the Taliban were coming…. they would drive me off my job and make me stay at home.

As was Siddiq’s nature, he joked so energetically that for a while I thought he was serious. But I stood my ground and returned his verbal fire, telling him that even Mohammed Bin Qasim soldiers could not put my family in purdah. Knowing that I took his banter as “friendly fire,” Siddiq withdrew his joking offensive.

On another occasion, Siddiq had just returned from Saddar where he had an altercation with a police man who tried to ticket him on the ground that his motor bike was “illegally parked.” Knowing this was a prelude to taking a bribe, he narrated to me… eyes flashing as they did when he was animated… what he had said to the policeman:

I told him, “The whole government is illegally parked, and you talk about my motorbike!”

Each week the editor of Dawn, Ahmed Ali Khan would summon our weekly meeting. The meetings were more akin to showing presence in an imperial court rather than to elicit debate. While other reporters generally spoke to please the editor, Siddiq spoke with the conviction that showed he was his own boss.

Once in a while Dawn’s editor asked Siddiq for an update on his signature pieces – among them the Saindak copper and gold mine project in Balochistan. Siddiq gave updates on how Saindak had fallen victim to bureaucratic wrangling with the Punjab. Listening to him over the years, to me the Saindak project began to sound as intractable as the problem of Kashmir.

With his fierce Baloch nationalism, Siddiq was not one to give up. As late as 2017, he returned to the issue of Saindak mines, then being run by the Chinese. In an article written in the newspaper, he owned, The Daily Balochistan Express, Siddiq expressed his life-long desire that the people of Balochistan should benefit from their own resources.

“The Federal Government should surrender all the revenue in favor of the Government of Balochistan for the simple reason that the Government had failed to develop the basic infrastructure for future development during the past 70 long years.”

While Siddiq did not live to see the Saindak mines benefit the Baloch people, he saw China help construct the road network around Gwadar Port in Balochistan. Having traveled on the roads that were built under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, he told me with a touch of sarcasm aimed at the Pakistan government.

“More roads have been constructed in these parts in the last few years than in 70 years of Pakistan’s existence.”

Being firmly grounded among his people, it was but natural that Siddiq would leave Dawn in 1989 and move to Balochistan to start his own newspaper. It was a risky decision, given the financial capital needed to survive in a province with a low literacy rate.

Indeed, Siddiq’s first newspaper publication `Sindh Express,’ did not survive. Undeterred, he pursued his passion and a few years later began publishing `The Balochistan Express.’

I glimpsed his sense of independence at the time he left Dawn. His parting words have stayed with me:

“I’ll eat grass but I won’t eat from the `seth’ (boss).”

Seated next to me, Ghulam Ali wistfully remembered Siddiq long after he had left. With his incorrigible sense of humor, he kept joking about how all the newspapers Siddiq had been publishing… `Sindh Express,’ `Balochistan Express,’ `English Weekly Express,’… sounded like “railway timetables.”

Being an office bearer of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and the Karachi Union of Journalists, Siddiq kept returning to Karachi to speak at events that promoted freedom of expression and a living wage for media workers.

After the events of September 11, 2001, I was living in the US when an international media organization, Internews sponsored me to visit the border areas of Afghanistan to report on the state of the media. My research into Balochistan’s media found numerous “dummy publications” out to get advertising revenue, and newspapers that “paid” reporters by merely giving them the organization’s visiting cards.

Despite the poverty levels and the terrorism that engulfed Balochistan because of the war in Afghanistan, Siddiq Baloch kept the flame of journalism alive. Apart from the English language newspaper, The Balochistan Express, he also became chief editor of the Urdu language Azadi newspaper.

In recent years while visiting Karachi from the US, I drove through Saddar when the light turned red. With my car stopped at the signal, lo and behold I saw Siddiq Baloch approaching on foot – with an entourage of young men behind him. Instinctively, I put out my hand and shook hands with him. His smile was just as energetic and encompassing, even though our paths had long since diverged.

In July 2016, Siddiq Baloch spoke at the launch of the expanded edition of my book `Aboard the Democracy Train,’ at the Quetta Press Club. The book had arrived late, and my ex colleague had not had the opportunity to read it. Still, he spoke generously about our years in Dawn – leaving me touched by his observations.

That was the last time I saw Siddiq Baloch. Despite being diagnosed with cancer in 2014, he had kept up a brave face. Indeed, when I expressed my concern to him about not being well, he brushed off any suggestion that his health was in decline.

Meanwhile, creeping commercialization of the electronic media also took a toll on Siddiq’s attempt to promote journalism. After 2001, investors with little experience of media had obtained TV licenses – hiring non-journalists and young women for infotainment rather than news. Their golden rule was to stay in the good books of the government.

With declining advertising revenues and a tighter military grip on news, the space shrank further for a print era journalist like Siddiq Baloch.

Indeed, Baloch nationalists who protested against the theft of their resources were still being `disappeared’ and their bodies found in wastelands. The military painted as `anti-state’ the voices that expressed concern at Baloch marginalization by China’s investment in their province.

Six months before he passed away, Siddiq sounded dejected about the government’s clampdown on the media.

It concerned me to hear Siddiq say that his right of expression was being muffled not only in print but in speech. Still, knowing him to be an adept political worker, I figured he was laying low until the wind blew over.

Despite his ailment, Siddiq was preparing his family members to run his newspapers. They would be equipped with the baton of the press that advocates the genuine rights of the people of Balochistan

In February 2018, Siddiq Baloch joined the list of my colleagues in the Dawn Reporters Room – Huzoor Ahmed Shah, Saghir Ahmed, H.A. Hamied, Aleem Pathan, Ghulam Ali, G.D. Ghauri, Ali Kabir, Shamim ur Rehman and Sabihuddin Ghausi – who departed the earth.

Among them, Siddiq Baloch stands out as a moving force who inspired a generation of journalists to write passionately about Pakistan… and his beloved province of Balochistan… at a time when the business of building the nation is still unfinished.

Categories
Civil Society Religion Women

A Princess Vanishes. A Video Offers Alarming Clues

BEIRUT — The princess known as Sheikha Latifa had not left Dubai, the glittering emirate ruled by her father, in 18 years. Her requests to travel and study elsewhere had been denied. Her passport had been taken away. Her friends’ apartments were forbidden to her, her palace off-limits to them.

At 32, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum went nowhere without a watchful chauffeur.

“There’s no justice here,” she said in a video she secretly recorded last year. “Especially if you’re a female, your life is so disposable.”

So it was with a jolt of astonishment that her friends overseas read a WhatsApp message from her last March announcing that she had left Dubai “for good.”

“I have a very uncomfortable feeling,” one of them, an American sky diver named Chris Colwell, messaged back. “Is this real,” he added. “Where are you.”

“Free,” she responded. “And I’ll come see you soon.” She added a heart.

Her escape — planned over several years with the help of a Finnish capoeira trainer and a self-proclaimed French ex-spy — lasted less than a week.

Within a few days of setting sail on the Indian Ocean in the Frenchman’s yacht, bound for India and then the United States, the Sheikha went silent. She has not been seen since, except in a few photos released in December by her family, which says she is safely home after surviving what they said was a kidnapping.

Yet thanks to the video she made before fleeing, the sheikha’s face and voice have made their way around the world, drawing more than 2 million views on YouTube, spurring avid news coverage and marring Dubai’s image as a world capital of glitz and commerce like a graffiti tag.

Like the young women who have fled Saudi Arabia’s restrictive regime, Sheikha Latifa has made sure no one can forget how few freedoms are allotted to women in the Middle East’s most conservative societies — or how costly crossing Dubai’s ruler can be.

For all its megamalls, haute cuisine and dizzying skyscrapers, Dubai can flip at speed from international playground to repressive police state. It has drawn headlines in the West for detaining foreigners for holding hands in public and drinking alcohol without a license.

Last year, it was widely condemned for holding a British academic, Matthew Hedges, after accusing him of being a British spy. In recent years, the authorities have also intensified a crackdown on internal dissent.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re an ordinary Emirati citizen or a member of the royal family or an expat from a close ally like the U.K.,” said Hiba Zayadin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch. “If you’re harming that carefully tailored image,” she added, “you will face the consequences.”

Over the video’s 39 stark minutes, her voice composed and forceful, Sheikha Latifa described in fluent English her life of constricting privilege and stunted hopes. She hoped it would change if she could win political asylum in the United States.

“I don’t know how, how I’ll feel, just waking up in the morning and thinking, I can do whatever I want today,” she said. “That’ll be such a new, different feeling. It’ll be amazing.”

Fearing for her life if she was caught, she said she was recording the video in case she failed.

“They’re not going to take me back alive,” she said. “That’s not going to happen. If I don’t make it out alive, at least there’s this video.”

Sheikha Latifa first faced rigid restrictions after her sister’s failed escape attempt years earlier.

When she was 14, her older sister Shamsa escaped from her family’s security detail on a trip to England. Her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, owns a large estate and a prominent thoroughbred racing stable, Godolphin, there.

Hervé Jaubert, right, spoke at a news conference in London after Sheikha Latifa was captured aboard his yacht. He said he was helping her escape. Sheikha Latifa’s father said Mr. Jaubert had kidnapped her.

Hervé Jaubert, right, spoke at a news conference in London after Sheikha Latifa was captured aboard his yacht. He said he was helping her escape. Sheikha Latifa’s father said Mr. Jaubert had kidnapped her.

News reports at the time said Emirati personnel eventually tracked Shamsa to a street in Cambridge, forcing her into a car. When a Scotland Yard detective began investigating her case as a kidnapping, Dubai authorities refused to let him interview her. The case dead-ended there.

Sheikha Latifa said Shamsa, the only of 30 siblings to whom she was close, had been drugged into docility ever since, “basically like walking around with a cage following her.”

Horrified by Shamsa’s treatment, she said she tried to escape across the border to Oman. Retrieved almost immediately, she said she was held in solitary confinement for more than three years.

Emirati family law allows women to be punished for disobeying, and she said she was frequently pulled out of bed to be beaten, deprived of medical care and, until the final few months, even a toothbrush.

Even after she was released at 19, her life was defined by her family’s constraints as much as by its wealth.
She lived in a palace behind high walls, with 40 rooms spread over four wings — one for each female relative who lived there, said Tiina Jauhiainen, a Finnish woman who began training Sheikha Latifa in the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira in 2010. There were about 100 servants and an athletic compound with its own swimming pool and spa. Wherever the sheikha went, a Filipino maid went too.

But hers was a life of enforced, confined leisure. She could spend her money only on hobbies and sports including horseback riding and scuba diving, or on treating friends to lunch or manicures. She was not allowed to study medicine as she had wanted, friends said.

Nor could she travel, even to the next-door emirate of Abu Dhabi, one of seven city-states making up the United Arab Emirates. She pressed friends to describe every trip for her “like she was traveling with me,” said Stefania Martinengo, her friend and skydiving coach.

She was also barred from visiting any nonpublic places, even friends’ homes. An avid sky diver, she once parachuted secretly into an unapproved part of the city for 20 minutes of kayaking with Mr. Colwell.

When friends rode along in the boxy black Mercedes that often ferried her around, she put on headphones and sat in silence, refusing, in front of the driver, to say a word.

Skydiving was her chief distraction.

Dropping into the sky, “you’re equal to everyone,” Ms. Martinengo said. “You don’t talk, you’re just flying. I think she enjoyed being free in the sky.”

At first glance, she seemed neither fabulously wealthy nor wildly unhappy.

Introducing herself as Latifa, she was often taken for just another local woman. Under the all-covering abaya she wore in public, she usually dressed in T-shirts and athletic pants. She demurred her way out of most photos. She listened rather than talked. She never outright complained about her situation, friends said.

She never spoke about her family. Dubai’s dazzlingly wealthy flaunted their lives on Instagram; she was barely Googleable.

But she fantasized about running her own life. She talked about starting an Emirati skydiving team, hoping her father would let her travel to international competitions. A vegan who had become passionate about wellness and detox, she planned to invest in a yoga-and-juice center in Europe with Ms. Martinengo.

When Ms. Martinengo asked how she would help run the business without traveling, she said, “I have a feeling things might change.”

Almost no one realized until later that she had been planning to run for several years.

She first contacted Hervé Jaubert, whose website describes him as a former French intelligence officer and “no ordinary man,” who had once managed to escape Dubai in a small rubber boat by dressing as a woman.

She then enlisted Ms. Jauhiainen. At one point, they trained to dive and swim to Oman via underwater scooter.
Ms. Jauhiainen said Sheikha Latifa wanted to help other women who had been trapped in similar situations, and she wanted to get Shamsa out. If necessary, she thought she could work as a skydiving instructor.

To show that she was safe at home, the government of the United Arab Emirates distributed this picture showing Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, left, with Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, in December.

To show that she was safe at home, the government of the United Arab Emirates distributed this picture showing Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, left, with Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, in December.

“I’m ready to flip burgers or do anything as long as I have my freedom,” she told Ms. Jauhiainen.

A few days before they left, she sneaked out of a mall to record the video at Ms. Jauhiainen’s apartment.

“I’m feeling positive about the future,” she said. “I’m feeling like it’s the start of an adventure. It’s the start of me claiming my life, my freedom, freedom of choice.”

“I’m really looking forward to that,” she said.

The morning of the escape, Sheikha Latifa was driven to eat breakfast with Ms. Jauhiainen at a restaurant, as she often did. According to Ms. Jauhiainen, they got into her car and made for Oman, where they rode an inflatable raft, then Jet Skis, out to Mr. Jaubert’s yacht. A selfie they took in the car shows Sheikha Latifa grinning behind mirrored sunglasses, elated.

“We’re like Thelma and Louise,” Ms. Jauhiainen joked, referring to the 1991 American film.

“Don’t say that,” Sheikha Latifa protested. “It has a sad ending!”

As they sailed toward India on the evening of March 4, the women were getting ready for bed below decks when they heard loud noises. They locked themselves in the bathroom, but it filled with smoke. The only way out was up.

On deck, armed men whom Ms. Jauhiainen identified as Indian and Emirati pushed Mr. Jaubert, Ms. Jauhiainen and the Filipino crewmen to the ground, tying them up and beating them. They told Ms. Jauhiainen to take her last breath. Ms. Jauhiainen saw Sheikha Latifa on the ground, tied up but kicking, screaming that she wanted political asylum in India.

Before long, an Arabic-speaking man boarded. He made it clear, Ms. Jauhiainen said, that he had come to retrieve the sheikha.

“Just shoot me here,” she cried, Ms. Jauhiainen recalled. “Don’t take me back.”
Then she was gone.

Her father, Sheikh Mohammed, did not address her whereabouts until December, when the BBC was about to air a documentary. His office issued a statement saying that she was safe in Dubai, celebrating her 33rd birthday with family “in privacy and peace.” (Ms. Jauhiainen said the sheikha had not chosen to spend her birthday with family in years.)

The statement accused Mr. Jaubert, whom it called a “convicted criminal,” of kidnapping her for a $100 million ransom.

Sheikh Mohammed did not reply to a request for an interview sent to his office. The Emirati embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Things have only gotten stranger since.

On Christmas Eve, Dubai released the first public photos of Sheikha Latifa since her disappearance. They showed her sitting with Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who confirmed that she had met the sheikha at her family’s request.

Ms. Robinson said Sheikha Latifa was safe with her family, but said she was receiving psychiatric care, calling her a “troubled young woman” with a “serious medical condition.”

“This is a family matter now,” Ms. Robinson said.

The sheikha’s advocates were taken aback that a respected human rights crusader had seemingly embraced Dubai’s official line. They disputed that she had a psychiatric condition, apart from any she might have developed because of imprisonment or drugging.

“I know 100 percent for sure that she doesn’t need mental care,” Ms. Martinengo said. “Maybe now, after all these treatments, but not before. How can you think that a person who’s been in prison for nine months wouldn’t seem troubled?”

Friends also found Sheikha Latifa’s appearance in the photos — slightly dazed, her eyes missing the camera — concerning.

With negative attention thickening around her, Ms. Robinson issued a statement saying that she had made her assessment “in good faith and to the best of my ability,” adding that the sheikha’s “vulnerability was apparent.”

By mid-January, a lawyer who had been working with activists left the sheikha’s case without explanation.

Several friends still in Dubai said they were too frightened to speak, while Mr. Jaubert abruptly stopped responding to requests to be interviewed for this article.

Sheikha Latifa had little doubt about what would happen to her.

“If you are watching this video, it’s not such a good thing,” she said in her video. “Either I’m dead, or I’m in a very, very, very bad situation.”

Categories
Civil Society

Pakistani journalist arrested for critical Twitter posts

Washington, D.C., February 9, 2019–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Pakistani authorities to immediately release and drop all legal proceedings against Rizwan-ur-Rehman Razi, a TV host for Din News, a privately-owned Urdu-language news station. Razi was arrested and taken into custody this morning in Lahore, according to news reports and CPJ reporting.

“Expressing opinions, even critical opinions, should not be a crime, in Pakistan or anywhere,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler. “Justice–and Pakistan’s constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press–can only be served by Rizwan Razi’s immediate release.”

Razi, also known as “Razi Dada,” was taken from his home at 10:30 a.m. today, according to his son, Osama Razi, who told CPJ his father was beaten and bundled into a black car, which he then chased after as it sped away from the house in Lahore. In an interview with CPJ, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed that Razi had been arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency for social media postings that allegedly violated Pakistan’s Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act. A photograph was later circulated showing Razi in handcuffs.

A First Information Report released by the FIA Cyber Crime Wing, which CPJ has seen, said that Razi had put up “defamatory and obnoxious posts” on his Twitter account against the “judiciary, government institutions and intelligence agencies” of Pakistan.

The FIR further stated that Razi had “confessed” to uploading the posts, apologized and promised to refrain from posting similar material in the future. The agency also said it had seized and searched Razi’s mobile phone.

Although it was unclear what specifically led to the arrest, earlier this month, Razi had criticized extrajudicial killings in Punjab at the hands of security forces and pointed fingers at the Army, according to screenshots of Twitter postings provided to CPJ. Razi’s Twitter account, @RaziDada, appeared to have been disabled on Saturday.

Osama Razi said that he expected his father to be released after he goes before a judge for formal charging, although this was not guaranteed.

Steven Butler
Asia Program Coordinator
sbutler@cpj.org
+1 (202) 445-3216
Facebook.com/CPJAsia
@CPJAsia

Aliya Iftikhar
Asia Program Research Associate
aiftikhar@cpj.org
+1 (212) 300-9023
Facebook.com/CPJAsia
@CPJAsia

Committee to Protect Journalists
330 7th Avenue, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001 – United States

Categories
Civil Society Women

Fahmida Riaz passes away in Lahore

LAHORE: Well-known progressive Urdu writer, poet, human rights activist and feminist Fahmida Riaz has passed away on Wednesday night. She was 73 years of age.

She passed away after a prolonged illness in Lahore where she was with her daughter

Fahmida Riaz was born on July 28, 1945 in a literary family of Meerat, UP, India. Her family settled in the city of Hyderabad following her father’s transfer to the province of Sindh. Her father passed away when she was four and so she was brought up by her mother.

She learned about the Urdu and Sindhi literature in her childhood and later learnt the language of Persian. After completing her education she began working as a newscaster for Radio Pakistan.

Fahmida Riaz was encouraged and persuaded by her family to step into an arranged marriage after the graduation from college. She spent some years in the United Kingdom with her first husband before coming back to Pakistan after a divorce. During this period she worked with the BBC Urdu service (Radio) and got a degree in film making.

She has one daughter from that marriage.

She has two children from her second marriage with Zafar Ali Ujan, a leftist impressive political worker.

Fahmida Riaz worked in an advertising agency in the city of Karachi before beginning her own Urdu publication Awaz. The liberal and politically charged content of Awaz grabbed the attention of the Zia era and both Fahmida and her husband Zafar were charged with various cases—the magazine shut down and Zafar was imprisoned.

Fahmida Riaz was faced with challenges due to her political ideology. More than 10 cases were filed against her during General Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship. She was charged with sedition under Section 124A of the Pakistan Penal Code. After her husband was arrested she was bailed out by a fan of her works before she could be taken to jail and fled to India with her two small children and sister on the excuse of a Mushaira invitation.

Her friend the renowned poet Amrita Pritam who spoke to then prime minister (late) Indira Gandhi which got her asylum.

Her children went to school in India. She had relatives in India and her husband later joined her there after his release from jail.

The family spent almost seven years in exile before returning to Pakistan after Zia-ul-Haq’s death on the eve of Benazir Bhutto’s wedding reception. During this time Riaz had been poet in residence for Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi and it is during her exile that she learnt to read Hindi. She was greeted with a warm welcome upon her return from exile.