Remembering Sabeen Mahmud: A Fearless Human Rights Defender

Remembering Sabeen Mahmud: A Fearless Human Rights Defender

Today marks the 8th death anniversary of Sabeen Mahmud, who was gunned down on April 24, 2015.

Sabeen was a Pakistani social activist, entrepreneur, and human rights defender widely recognized for her contributions towards promoting peace and human rights. Born on June 20, 1974, in Karachi, Sabeen was always driven to stand up for justice.

Sabeen was a woman of many talents. She received her education in Pakistan. One of her significant accomplishments was founding The Second Floor (T2F), which quickly became a cultural hub for Karachi, hosting literary events, music performances, and art exhibitions.

Sabeen was dedicated to promoting peace and creating an inclusive society, which she demonstrated with her various public initiatives, talks, and exhibitions. Her work’s motto was "disruptive conversations," as she believed in creating change through open and honest dialogue. She had a keen interest in technology and how it could be used to facilitate social change. 

Sabeen was also a champion of human rights and social justice. She was a vocal critic of the Pakistani government's controversial policies, including those on human rights and religious extremism. Her work towards promoting a better future for all was in line with the philosophy of democratic liberalism.

Sabeen was gunned down for speaking about Balochistan autocracies

Sabeen's dedication to social impact was not without its challenges. She faced significant opposition from the authorities, which culminated in her tragic and untimely death. On 24th April 2015, Sabeen was assassinated by unidentified gunmen just minutes after hosting a discussion on Balochistan's social-political issues at T2F. Her death was a massive loss to Pakistan civil society, which had already seen years of political instability.

Sabeen’s legacy lives on

However, Sabeen did not die in vain. Her legacy lives on through the numerous initiatives she launched, which continue to do inspiring work in her name. T2F is still a thriving cultural hub that serves as a beacon of hope for Karachi's marginalized communities, giving voices to the voiceless and a platform for discussions on topics that have been ignored for too long.

Sabeen's story is a testament to the power of one person's vision and commitment to creating a better world. Her message remains as relevant today as it was when she was alive, reminding us that we all have a role to play in building a more inclusive and peaceful society.

Always remembered

Sabeen will always be remembered as a fearless fighter for human rights, social justice, and peace. Her courage and determination to stand up for what she believed will continue to inspire generations to come. She proved that change is possible, and we only need to have the courage to start an open and honest conversation to make a difference.

NOTE: Changes of a factual nature have been made to this article correcting Sabeen's education history, her involvement in the local startup incubator and technology scene upon intimation from her family.

The writer is a senior correspondent at The Friday Times with a focus on politics, economy and militancy. He also hosts the Hassan Naqvi Show on Naya Daur.