ZUBAIR TORWALI

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Zubair Torwali lives in Bahrain, in the Swat Valley of northern Pakistan, and is a social, cultural, civil society and human rights activist, author, journalist, researcher, and the most powerful voice for the rights of all the marginalized linguistic communities of his region. He has been justly called “The voice of the unheard”.

In 2007, he founded the Institute for Education and Development to work to give an identity to the ethnic minorities such as the Torwali, Gawri, Gujars and others. Eight years ago the Torwali people didn’t know who they were. He began to write “Torwali” as his family name and since then over 1200 youth began writing Torwali with their names, a move which has given immense confidence to this indigenous people, who are no longer ashamed of their unique identity, but rather feel pride in it. Through his writings and media engagements, Zubair Torwali has made the Torwali community known both within Pakistan and internationally.

In 2009, after he witnessed beheaded bodies with his own eyes, he wrote a disturbing article which gained national and international recognition. It was called “From Swat – with no love” and it prompted civil society protests and subsequent government action against Taliban insurgents. His media articles and activism are testimony of the inexhaustible work he has been doing for these communities. He has been honoured by Human Rights Watch for his commitment to freedom of expression in a time when speaking up in Swat was extremely dangerous, a time when he had to flee his home for seven months.

The schools that his organization has established in the community to increase literacy have also helped to put female teachers on the forefront of quality education, and have become a beacon of hope for the future of education in one of the most troubled areas in the world.

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101 thoughts on “ZUBAIR TORWALI

  1. Diversity is peace and this is what he brings to a part of our country where there was brutal repression of culture and diversity.

  2. Sir Zubair Torwali , is a role model for the the marginalised communities . I strongly support him for this award , indeed this award will be for all the marginalised communities of the region .

  3. Zubair Torwali is indeed a role model for indeginous mountain communities. He is a prominent voice for environmental issues in Pakistan. My vote for Zubair…..

  4. Zubair has an untiring soul and an indomitable personality who has dedicated his life to the uplift of his people. Bravo Zubair, keep it up. We would always be with u

  5. hamay aap pay fakher hay. aur qoom k liye aap jasay auroo ki zarorat hay.
    nice job #Sir_zobair_torwali.

  6. Zubair Torwali is a tireless crusader for human rights in one of the most troubled areas in the world: Pakistan’s Swat Valley.

    Being a member of the minority Torwali tribe (only 150,000 in the world), in Pashtun-dominated Swat, Zubair has found a strong calling to preserve his mother tongue in the face of globalization. In 2007, with a group of like-minded friends, he formed a local NGO called Idara Baraye Taleem-o-Taraqi (IBT), with the intention of preserving his cultural roots by means of quality liberal education for his underprivileged tribesmen in Swat. This noble endeavour took place against an extremely adverse climate of Islamic fundamentalism taking root in Swat Valley, especially in the form of the Taliban militancy. When the Taliban decided to ban girls’ education in the valley, Zubair led a coalition of private school teachers to counter the Taliban’s violation of human rights. Their efforts succeeded in re-opening the schools in various parts of Swat. More importantly, it signalled to the Taliban and their supporters that there is a voice of freedom within Swat which dares to speak up against repression.

    During the reign of terror by the Taliban, Zubair penned strong articles in the local media against the repressive regime of the fundamentalists, at the risk of his life. His columns created national awareness of the dire situation, but he also received constant threats, to a point when he had to flee his hometown for seven months. But all the while, Zubair remained a staunch defender of the basic human right to education, and spoke up vocally in many platforms to rally national and international opinion against the Taliban.

    Today his NGO helps hundreds of children obtain quality education in one of the world’s most illiterate populace. In order to preserve his mother tongue, Zubair collaborated with educators and literati to formulate a sustainable system of education for young Torwalis, even going to the extent of creating a dictionary for a dying language that has had no history of the written word. The schools under IBT not only helped to put female teachers on the forefront of quality education, it has become a beacon of hope for the future of education in one of the most troubled areas in the world.

    Zubair’s bold and unapologetic stance against the repression of education deserves both admiration and emulation. As a documentary photographer who has been documenting the plight of Swat from 2009 till now, I have been a witness of his unwavering passion to spread the light of education to the darkest corners of his homeland.

    For his courage in the face of adversity, and his passion and resilience in forwarding his cause for education in one of the most repressive environments in the world, I strongly recommend Zubair for the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

    Zubair’s previous awards include:

    1. Winner of the 2012 Hellman/ Hammett Grant by Human Rights Watch for Commitment to Freedom of Expression
    2. Selected fellow of Asian Leadership Fellow Program by International House Japan and Japan Foundation.
    3. Winner of the 2nd prize in the award Professor Anita Ghulam Ali Teachers Award 2010 for Teachers and Education in Emergencies.

  7. Zubair is an active person taking successful initiatives for endangered languages, culture, environment and human rights. My vote for Zubair.

  8. Great efforts each and every time …
    Feeling proud for Ur nomination and our best wishes for u that u will get this opportunity

  9. Zubair’s efforts for protection and promotion of marginalized ethnic diaspora, his endeavours for the furtherance of education and development are highly commendable and thus deserve the right of recognition at highest levels as the present one.

  10. My vote is to Zubair Torwali, a voice of marginalized Dardic community in Swat. His voice for the complete north is appreciable.

  11. Zubair tirwali’s work is appreciated. He is really a powerful voice of the disenfrechised and marginalized . He periled his life for peace in swat valley and in pakistan. I endorse his nomination.

  12. I support and I vote for Zubair Torwal as he really deserves it .May God give him more courage and strength.

  13. Sir zubair Torwali-
    In my thought He don’t need of any applause.
    But he deserve it because of a Great love for human bieng in his Heart.
    He did More for peace and It is continues,And may He will do more.

  14. Brother Zubair Torwali has given us a collective identity and a reason to ask for our rights being a marginalized community. He undoubtedly deserve this award because his efforts to unite us together is remarkable.

  15. Well done Zubai Torwali. Keep up the good work. Hope you and your team will continue to be a true torch bearer for promotion and longevity of Torwali language

  16. has big contributions in our society specially in education. You can say that he is the one who got and give to the society. Pak encouraged him or not but The world recognized him.
    Best wishes for Sir Zuber

  17. Feeling proud for Your nomination Sir. and our best wishes for You
    Keep Continue Your Struggle ..
    Best Of Luck

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