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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A man way ahead of his time!

to say
years ago!

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Monday, September 19, 2011


48 Years

Azhar Kidvai

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

You Don't Know Jack : Jacob "Jack" Kevorkian

“Dying is not a crime.”
(May 26, 1928 – June 3, 2011 )

An American pathologist, euthanasia activist, painter, composer and instrumentalist, Kevorkian marketed limited quantities of his visual and musical artwork to the public.

All the big powers they've silenced me.
So much for free speech and choice
on this fundamental human right.

Jack Kevorkian started writing about euthanasia in the late 1980s. He wrote, first, in a German journal ‘Medicine and Law’, outlining his proposed system of planned deaths in suicide clinics. Later, he started writing for journals and papers in the USA.

His first 'suicide' was the 1990 death of Jane Adkins, 54. She suffered from Alzheimer's disease and died in his Volkswagen van near Holly, Michigan. Her death was assisted by a 'suicide machine’, built by Jack Kevorkian “using $30 worth of scrap parts from garage sales” and hardware stores at his kitchen table.

Jack Kevorkian and his “suicide machine”

He opened a 'suicide clinic' in 1995, in an office in Michigan, but was thrown out by the owner a few days after his first client died.

“When your conscience says law is immoral,
don't follow it.”

On November 22, 1998, viewers of the CBS television program, 60 Minutes, watched in horror as Dr. Jack Kevorkian killed fifty-two-year-old Thomas Youk who was suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. Youk had asked Kevorkian to end his life, and Kevorkian complied by injecting him with poison to stop his heart.

Youk was not the first person Kevorkian had helped to die, but he was (probably) the last. In 1999, the seventy-year-old Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to jail for ten to twenty-five years. What Kevorkian had done was deliberately hasten another person's death, an act of active ‘euthanasia’. He had assisted in the deaths of 130 persons.

Kevorkian said, “You're basing your laws and your whole outlook on natural life on mythology. It won't work. That's why you have all these problems in the world. Name them: India, Pakistan, Ireland. Name them - all these problems. They're all religious problems.”

Although acquitted of the charge of assisting suicide by three juries in the 1990s, Kevorkian finally crossed the line in 1998 by not only administering the lethal injection but also videotaping Youk's death and defying prosecutors to charge him. His goal in life was to overturn America's laws prohibiting both active euthanasia and assisted suicide.

“Am I a criminal? The world knows I'm not a criminal. What are they trying to put me in jail for? You've lost common sense in this society because of religious fanaticism and dogma.”



For those who missed seeing Kevorkian or his programs, You Don’t Know Jack is a brilliant HBO film (I saw it again, last night!) about his life, with Al Pacino playing the Doctor. Pacino won an Emmy for this role and so did the story writer Adam Mazer.

Jack Kevorkian : CD
Kevorkian Suite: Very Still Life

Jack Kevorkian : glimmerIQs
Paintings, Poems, Cartoons, Riddles, Writings
from his prison days

Jonathan D. Moreno : Arguing Euthanasia


“When history looks back,
it will prove what I'll die knowing.”
Jack Kevorkian

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Four Decades Ago

1971: Mazhar - a distant cousin - had been living at my house, shifting away from his parent's house, pretty soon after the time he'd come from India almost 2 years ago.

Totally uninterested in studies of any sort, he said hilarious things that drove us laughing or made us think of the way we are:

1. Coming from Lucknow, a place with a famous Imam Baa∂a, he asked us one day: "I know who Hasan and Husain are, but who was the third brother called Imam?"
2. He once tried to open a bottle that Nuzhat couldn't open and said: "Aap nay mayree nisvaaniat ko lalkaara haé …"
3. During a car accident we had in August, for which Nuzhat and I had to go to court, Mazhar was always with us. He just could not understand why people were lying against us in court about being at the site when they were not there at the time. I told him they'd been bribed. "Laykin yeh to court haé. Yahaañ to yeh naheeñ kar saktay."

During the days we were appearing in court, the holiday of 6th September arrived. The night before, Mazhar said he'd like to spend the night at his parent's house. Of course, I learnt the next day that he chose that option because he felt that I would have asked him not to go to the picnic he'd decided to go to with some friends. But that's too late to think of, now.

On the evening of the 6th I got a call from his sister saying Mazhar had drowned at Hawke's Bay. We rushed over to his house and were informed that people had phoned their place up and said they'd seen him drown. His eldest brother and I went off to the place and came back, much later, having found nothing except two witnesses who saw him jumping into the water to save a child ... and he couldn't make it back to the shore in the rough tide.

A whole day of crying and sadness in that house - and at ours - went on. The next day we were told by a friend of his that he had tried very hard to swim back but couldn't. The navy boat people who were there had also seen this happen.

"The Navy boat? What Navy boat?"
"The people who are there as coast guards, I think", said the boy.
"There are no coast guards there, " said I, "in fact we don't have such people."
"Ohh, they were there," said the boy. "But they only save the person if he's from the Navy."

I couldn't believe this — and, in fact, I suspected that there was something wrong or was being misrepresented here.

On the morning of the 8th we were told that Mazhar's body had washed up ashore and could we go over to identify him. His brother and I went off to Hawke's Bay and saw his naked body lying there. Mazhar's arms had cracked near the shoulders. Another body had already been taken away yesterday, we were told.

 I took off my shirt and covered him as best as I could. I told his brother to go and inform the police and get things started so we could take him home. He left.

While I sat next to Mazhar's body, a young Petty Officer marched up to me and said "Iss ko yahaañ say üthaa layñ. Saahab aur bachay tahelnay aatay haéñ idhar. Yeh jagah saaf hona chaahiyay." ("Please take this body from here. The chief and his family will be walking this way in a while. The place must be cleaned.")

I went to town on him. Totally and as angry as I could get. Perhaps seeing that I was sitting without a shirt he wasn't expecting me to speak in English. When I told him that I was a Merchant Navy Master, he started to say Sorry to me. I then asked him that someone has said there were people from the Navy here. Could they not have helped? He said, "Sir - they are only allowed to help Navy people! It's not their fault, sir." — I could say nothing. I just told him to get his Saahab to go the other way but I would be sitting here until people arrived. He went back, running, to prevent a Navy man see a dead body.

An hour or so, later, the brother arrived with a few policemen and others. "The body is to be taken to the Mortuary at Civil & Military Hospital. You'll have to take it from there." The body was loaded and taken.

We followed. Other friends arrived. We met the family of the other young boy who had also lost his life in the same place. He had gone with Mazhar's friends, too. We were all told to come back the next day because the doctor wasn't at the place and would be there the next day. We shouted at everyone and finally got the phone number of the doctor who should have been there but was at a friend's house. Playing Bridge! He finally agreed to come as soon as he could. We also got some help from the other boy's family who phoned up a couple of people, as did we.

While waiting for the body I walked around and came upon an old man, perhaps 75-ish, crying near there. He was holding an old topi and asking people to donate some money to him. I asked him what the problem was. He said his only son had died by falling off the top of the house and the body had been here for two days. He wanted to bury his son. The people at the mortuary had told him that unless he paid up Rs 500 he could not take the body and that it would be used for medical research by students. He had Rs 430 now and could I give him the rest. I gave him the money. But I said he will not have to pay the amount as I would speak to the doctor. He should keep the money for his son's ghüsl and other things.

The doctor arrived an hour later and insisted that we must allow for a post-mortem. We used everything we could and finally got Mazhar, the other boy, and the old man's son out of there. It took an hour or more, but all we could do we did …

I knew then, as I do now, that we were in a really bad space. Nothing would ever change, except for the worse.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Missing you …