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Written by QUAYUM RAJA
Fame and popularity are two different things in my opinion. One can become famous even by committing a senseless act, while the popularity requires special qualities and characteristics. Lord Avebury is a unique personality with an enormous sense of humanity and political commitment and skills.
Lord Avebury is a distinguished British politician. He was born on 29 September 1928. He was qualified in
Upper Canada and Balliol
College . He served as a Second Lieutenant in
Welsh Guards from 1949 till 1951 and in various other national institutions as
a remarkable officer before joining politics becoming a Liberal MP in 1961
serving two terms until 1970. He has been serving in House of Lords since 1971
when he inherited the title Baron Avebury. While most Life Peers were removed
in 1999, he was re-elected by his fellow Liberals to retain the title. He first married a lady by the name of Kima
Maria O’ Kelly in 1953 that lasted until 1983. In 1985, Lord Avebury married
again.. The name of his second wife is Lindsay Stewart. I have not met with
her, but spoken a number of times over the phone. From her accent, vocabulary and mannerism, she
sounds a highly educated and graceful lady. Lord Avebury has 4 children from
two wives. Oxford
Lord Avebury chaired a Parliamentary Group on Human Rights for many years. He is now ill and old, but still active on human rights. Lady Avebury is a significant support to Lord Avebury. He can hardly walk now, but he still attended a meting on the Muslims of
by the terrorist Burmi government. The
Muslim rulers on the other hand, remain indecisive as what to do on the
matter. Lord Avebury is British by race
and a Buddhist by faith, but a humanist by politics. He has been supporting
almost all Burma
Movements seeking self-determination that has made him respectable and popular.
The oppressive governments opposing self-determination and democracy though
perceive him as “a pain in the neck!” Independence
I first heard of Lord Avebury back in 1981 when I set up a campaign in Europe with the help of my European fellow students to persuade the European governments to stop India from hanging the Kashmiri leader Muhammad Maqbool Butt, whose only crime was that he wanted his homeland reunited. I sent a letter to the London-based Amnesty International from
in which I appealed to support our campaign to save Maqbool Butt. The Amnesty
replied to me forthwith that they were already dealing with the matter. They
enclosed among other documents, a letter from Lord Avebury supporting the
campaign to protect Mr. Butt’s life. He
was probably approached by Amanullah Khan, the then chairman of the JKLF in the
Although my all activities were peaceful, there was a turning point in my life when a group of young British Kashmiri kidnapped an Indian diplomat in
demanded the release of Maqbool Butt, Hameed Butt, Riaz Dar, Iqbal Qureashi and
some other political prisoners. The
kidnappers and killers escaped, but some of us were arrested and tried. The
worst treatment was received by me and Riaz Malik of Kotli, who were sentenced
secretly on circumstantial evidence. We first challenged the British government
against the secret sentences where the Britain
High Court quashed our secret sentences, but the Home Secretary reinstated them
because of vested political interests. We then challenged the British
Government in the European Courts of Human Rights, which released Riaz after 19
years and me after 22 years. London
Lord Avebury played an imperative role, not just to secure our release, but in our day to day welfare in prison. For instance, when the British government classified me as a “Top Security” prisoner, the authorities prevented me from having a normal visits and receiving letters. I contacted Lord Avebury, which was my first every letter to him. He replied to me in three days enclosing a copy of a letter to the Home Secretary to which the latter replied that I was getting too many letters and Lord Avebury should advise me to reduce my written communication. Without consulting me, Lord Avebury retorted the Home Secretary that Mr. Raja had no family in the UK and telephone access and now you (the Home Secretary) is suggesting that he should not have a sufficient communication of mail with his family either. The Home Secretary kept me High Risk until I challenged him in the High Court 13 years later to remove this category, but I was allowed to write as many letters as I wanted to my family and friends as a result of Lord Avebury’s logical argument. The ground on which I petitioned to the High Court against the Home Secretary was annual reports by the prison authorities in which I had been consistently described as “ a MODEL PRISONER” , while I was not treated accordingly.
When I won the case in the European Court of Human Rights after about 22 years, I chose to come back home, because had I accepted the conditional stay in Britain, I could not have possibly seen my people and country for many years to come. I love my people and romantically beautiful country, which has been described by many European writers as “A HEAVEN ON EARTH!” but I continue to disagree and challenge certain political values and customs in my homeland. When I challenged certain prison rules in the beginning of my arrest, the prison authorities which tried to mould me remarked that: “don’t worry young man, you will be forced to adopt gradually.” I retorted the governor that I would never accept those rules which I see as disgraceful. The same thing happened when I returned home. When I challenged the undemocratic values in my native culture, certain serving politicians and their followers remarked that this political culture would gradually force me to change myself. Now, they say “Raja sahib is not going to give up the values he has brought with him from Britain” and when I was in Britain, the British authorities mentioned in a report that had been conducted after 15 years that there was no point trying to change Mr Raja, because he was not going to give up his Islamic values.” These are some of my experiences, which make me laugh at the wisdom and lovers of the status quo, who exist in every culture!
When Lord Avebury heard that I received a “HERO WELCOME” on my arrival back home, Lord Avebury and Dr Brian Iddon MP were the first two serving British politicians, who congratulated me and wished me good luck for the future. They predicted how difficult it might be for me to re-adjust myself in my native culture, which I left as a teenager 26 years earlier of which 22 were spent in prison. Although I have not forgotten and will never forget those compassionate people, who supported me during what then appeared to be as the most difficult time of my life (the deaths of my son born after my release and previously the death of my mother and brother were even more difficult) in prison, I was sorting out my files a few weeks back when Lord Avebury’s above mentioned letter caught my eyes. I read it again and felt guilty for not keeping in touch with such a compassionate political believer. I emailed him immediately to find out of his well-being. I was still not happy and I rang him. Lady Avebury answered the phone, who advised me to ring a half an hour later. When I did that, Lord Avebury attended the phone himself. I apologized for not remaining in contact and he said he was delighted to hear again from me. I was shocked to hear when he said that his life was going to end by July 2016 because of a blood cancer!
However, the brave Lord Avebury seems to have reacted to the sad news very well. His morals are still very high and he still participates in social and political activities as much as he can. He considers death not as something to worry or mourn about, but as a natural process. He has always supported the Natural Justice and therefore he will remains in the hearts and minds of the millions around the world. He also visited
during the 1990s uprising. On his return
from the Valley of Kashmir, he concluded that certain Kashmiri leaders
were themselves a big problem in solution to Kashmir
question. We can not disagree. We pray
that this great human being enjoys every moment of his remaining life in this
Posted by Tanveer Ahmed at 9:26 AM
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Monday, February 10, 2014
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Abdul Quayyum Raja was born into a Rajput clan famous for resistance against invaders throughout the ages. He was born on the 15th of September 1956 in the forcibly divided land of Kashmir. He matriculated from his home town Khuıratta before moving to Europe in 1979. He continued his education and obtained a Master's Degree ın Social Sciences and a degree in Psychology, including certificates in International History, English Language and Literature as well as in the German and Dutch languages. He has authored six books and hundreds of articles on various issues of public concern. His current column is 'Speaking the Truth'.
While studying in Paris in the mid 1980s, an interview by the 16 year old daughter of the Father of Movement for the Reunification of Kashmir: Maqbool Butt - caught hıs eye - in which she cried for help in a plea to save her father whose hanging by India was nigh. Raja launched a political and diplomatic campaign to save the Kashmırı hero. As he was well-known in political circles in Europe, he was ınvıted to a meetıng ın London, where the issue of the prospective hangıng of Maqbool Butt had been dıscussed. Quayyum Raja, who had joined Maqbool Butt’s political party: the Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF) a few months earlier, had been ınvıted to the meeting. He urged an intensification of the political and diplomatic efforts to save Maqbool Butt. However, a few days later, some young British Kashmiris captured an Indian diplomat in England and demanded the release of Maqbool Butt. The Indian Government promptly hanged Maqbool Butt and the Indıan diplomat was killed in revenge by his captors. As the killers escaped to Pakistan, Quayyum Raja who had been previously asked by the British Police and pressurized to co-operate. He refused. He condemned both the hanging of Maqbool Butt and the killing of the Indian diplomat. The situation deteriorated further when the Pakistani government told it's British counterpart that it would not hand over the escaped Kashmiris unless the British handed over the former Governor of the Punjab, who had escaped to London following a military coup.
As a result, Quayyum Raja and his friend Rıaz were charged with murder but sentenced secretly in 1985. Ten years later, the London High Court ruled that the secret sentence was unlawful. The documents also revealed a secret plan between the Indian and the British governments to keep Raja and Riaz in prison for the rest of their lives. They took the British government to the European Court of Human Rights. Consequently, Riaz was released after 19 years but Raja was kept in detention until the European Court ordered his release in 2005. By then, Raja had served 22 long painful years in prison. Raja, who was denied the right to stand for election from British jail, fielded a candidate on his behalf, who wrested away a seat held by the then British ruling Labour party for 35 years.
Quayyum Raja, received a hero's welcome in Kashmir, but almost half of his family members had already passed away, including his mother and eldest brother. He married a teacher after his release and has three daughters and one son whose ages range between 1-7 years. Raja found Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) or Pakistani-administered Kashmir as a most comatose and powerless system. Terming the education system as vandalism, he took the AJK government to court for not including their national history in the national curriculum. Raja won the case. He was offered political adjustment but he refused to accept it at the expense of his dream for the re-unıfıcatıon of Kashmır. That implies the re-unification of hundreds of thousands of forcibly divided families. As a result, hıs personal life became much harder than ever before. He is currently chairman of the Diplomatic and Political Committee of Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Conference, whose president Arıf Shahid was assassinated on 13.05.2013.
Finally, in living memory Raja is perhaps second only to Nelson Mandela in terms of enduring the longest political sentence for a national cause.
Posted by Tanveer Ahmed at 12:11 PM
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Monday, March 18, 2013
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Saturday, January 12, 2013
EROL ADAYILMAZ IS Head of Foreign Affairs in Turkey’s ruling AK or Justice & Development Party. He speaks English fluently and distinctly apart from being well-versed with national and international history. Like most Turks, he is proud of Ottoman history and the vision of his leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
As Turkey has always been very close to my heart, I already knew of the Erdogan Administration’s political, economic and diplomatic achievements to some extent, however what I witnessed during my recent visit to Turkey was far more substantial than originally thought. As I raised some questions about the Ottoman victory over the Roman Empire and recent achievements, I was invited by Erol Adayilmaz to his office in Istanbul, where the following conversation took place.
Historical research indicates that when the Ottoman Empire took over Istanbul, the local people of Greek background happily accepted the authority of the Ottomans. What was the reason?
The Sultan declared that locals were safe. That nobody would be expelled. The conflict was between the Roman and Ottoman empires, not against the local people of Greek background. The Turks were famous for good administration and justice. They delivered justice and established an effective administration and therefore, people responded positively.
(In separate interviews with Professor Fethi of Istanbul University and Seven Turan - Foreign Desk Editor - of the daily Hurriyet, they concurred with the above statement.)
Did any section of Istanbul's population oppose Kemal Ataturk's 'Movement of Independence'?
Over all, there was unity. The respect for multiculturalism played an important role.
How will the AK Party balance it's membership with the EU and Muslims at large?
Turkey is a bridge. Turkey is the only Muslim country applying for EU membership. Our country is in a unique position, geographically and historically. Turkey understands its role and will Inshallah play it effectively.
Who deserves the credit for Turkey's economic achievements thus far?
The Prime Minister Erdogan, of course. He was the Mayor of Istanbul before he became prime minister. He started an economic development campaign whilst Mayor. PM Erdogan is a sincere, visionary and charismatic leader with great management skills.
Do you have or envisage a full welfare state with free medical treatment, free education, housing, child benefit, social security and a pension for all citizens?
Yes, Inshallah. We are working for this task and we call it vision 2023, the year when we will mark the anniversary of a hundred years of independence of our Republic.
Does everybody have a job? If not, how do the unemployed survive?
We have only 8 percent unemployment, which is yet less than developed EU members. The unemployed people do get some social help.
How do you define your Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's 'Diplomatic Vision'?
Good relationship with everyone for peace and humanity.
Is his "Zero Conflict" policy with neighbours working?
Yes, despite the Syrian conflict - which is directly affecting Turkey - the relationship continues.
How do you describe his diplomatic style?
Sincere, active and simple. He involves himself with people in need.
The AK Party's government has done very well on Palestine, Myanmar and the Kashmiri victims of the earthquake in 2005. The people of Kashmir are very thankful to you for that but can you be specific on the resolution to the Kashmir problem? Do you think Kashmir is a territorial problem between India and Pakistan or is it rather a matter of birth right of the people of kashmir?
I have to study the Kashmir Issue more carefully and specifically before answering this question.
What rights do Syrian or any other refugees obtain here in Turkey in terms of residence, education, health and social security benefits?
We set up camps for them where they get rations, health facilities and education.
What are the AK Party's future national goals?
Vision 2023: further improving our legal, educational and health systems whilst targeting full employment and a comprehensive welfare system.
Finally, any message to Pakistanis and Kashmiris at home and abroad?
Our future is common. We should all work together for a world with a better future.
Posted by Tanveer Ahmed at 10:25 PM
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Posted by Tanveer Ahmed at 5:42 AM