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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Poetry tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti

Pakistani-born poet, children’s author and publisher Cheryl Antao-Xavier dedicated a poem from her upcoming collection, “Bruised But Unbroken” to the slain Federal Minister for Minorities Mr Shahbaz Bhatti.

Cheryl Antao-Xavier, presented Mr Shahbaz Bhatti’s brother Mr Peter Bhatti with a copy of her book in Toronto, Canada, at a memorial service held for Shahbaz Bhatti by Mr Peter Bhatti and family.

She also handed Mr Peter Bhatti a plaque with the poem inscribed on it:

A tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti * by Cheryl Antao-Xavier

Justice and freedom
Has taken a heavy toll for many
Who rise from the shadows of anonymity
To decry an oppressive decree
Who fall at the hands of those who cannot –
Who will not – see justice triumph.
Warrior and martyr.
Shahbaz bhai, we honour you.

Heroes seldom walk alone
And there are precious lives
That will fall as the struggle moves on.
These faceless freedom warriors
Must people the shadows of our minds
As we raise our hands in salute
As we bow our heads in prayer.

Brave are they, who
Stand up from among the silent dissenters
And fearlessly – or fearfully yet resolutely
Raise their voice in protest on verbal battlefields.
They who fight with words,
With passion and conviction
Using weapons of truth and justice
Fight a noble battle – with a victory assured
Their role is traced in the annals of the universe
Where their names shine with the radiance
Of eternal glory.

*Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian federal minister in Pakistan was assassinated in 2011 for his support of the repeal of the infamous Blasphemy Law which is often misused to oppress minorities and liberals.

‘For Shahbaz Bhatti’ is taken from Bruised but Unbroken by Cheryl-Antao-Xavier, IOWI, 2011.

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