Tag Archives: Peshawar School Attac

147 dead students in Kenya and our deafening silence

By ZOYA ANWER

Watching the 8am news is a part of my daily routine now — it helps kickstart my mind as I set out to work, it provides ‘food for thought’ for that part of me that isn’t still numb from working in a newsroom.

Yesterday, as I sipped my morning tea, I was thinking about the Pakistanis in Yemen cheering as the fleet arrived on time, their cheers drowning out the pleas of their ‘fellowmen’ caught in a war forced upon them but, well, at least ‘my people’ were safe and sound.

Little did I know this deep nationalist sentiment would ricochet as the good news was followed by the report of 147 students killed in the Garissa University College campus in Kenya.

I gasped as I saw the number for it instantly took me back to December 16. It felt like déjà vu.

Was it? It had to be. The last time I checked the figure it was around 20.

As the day progressed, I failed to understand the absolute lack of an outcry. This here was the deadliest attack in Kenya after almost a decade. And yet, all eyes fixed on Lausanne, where world powers and Iran were meeting to agree on a framework for a nuclear deal?

Did the students running for their lives in their nightwear just before the break of dawn not matter? To anyone?

I remember how the Peshawar attack shook all of us to our very core.

We rushed to our corners to shed tears silently before bracing for the task of carefully cropping pictures and choosing words. This was Peshawar too, for the militants of Al-Shebab used the same tactics: they attacked students, mostly non-Muslims, to what they called teaching the Kenyan government a lesson for its military intervention in Sudan.

The very name Al-Shebab is ironic because Shebab means prime youth. So cruel were these ‘defenders of the youth’ that they promised the students their lives on the condition that they step out of their dorm rooms and form rows. Once the students obeyed, they were all shot at in the back of the headone by one.

“If you want to survive, come out!” the militants yelled. “If you want to die, stay inside!”

The students’ affiliation with Islam, or the lack of it was also a deciding factor.

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