Policy analyst, journalist and author Raza Rumi fled his native Pakistan weeks after an attempt on his life that killed his driver in March 2014. A leading public voice in Pakistan’s fight against extremism and human rights violations, he is the newest writer in residence of Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA).
He will give a talk on campus, “Pakistan’s Battle Against Violent Extremism,” Thursday, April 5, at 12:15 p.m. in G08 Uris Hall. Sponsored by the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, the event is free and open to the public.
Rumi is the author of “Delhi by Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveler” (2013) and is writing a memoir. A visiting international scholar in residence in the honors program of the School of Humanities and Sciences at Ithaca College, he is affiliated with the New America Foundation and the United States Institute of Peace.
Following his work as an analyst for the Pakistani government and the Asia Development Bank, he joined Pakistan liberal weekly The Friday Times as a writer and editor in 2008 and has been a broadcast commentator and talk show host. He also served on the United Nations mission in Kosovo in 2000, is a former director and senior fellow at the Jinnah Institute public-policy think tank, and was a director at Justice Network, a coalition of NGOs. As a freelance policy professional he has advised international development organizations, governments and NGOs.
Now in its 15th year, ICOA is a project of the Center for Transformative Action and receives support from the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs at Cornell.
“Raza has actively engaged colleagues and students here on campus, particularly at the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies,” said Reppy Institute Director Matthew Evangelista, the President White Professor of History and Political Science. “We are grateful for Cornell’s continued support of ICOA, as the university and the broader community clearly benefit from having such a talented and energetic person contribute to enhancing the mission of a Global Cornell.”
Ithaca was officially designated a City of Asylum for exiled writers in October 2001, the second such city in the U.S. after Las Vegas. ICOA is the local affiliate of the International Cities of Refuge Network.
In cooperation with Cornell, Ithaca College and Wells College, ICOA has since hosted Chinese poet and activist Yi Ping, Swaziland novelist Sarah Mkhonza, Georgian peace studies scholar and fiction writer Irakli Kakabadze, Persian playwright and fiction writer Reza Daneshvar, and Sri Lankan investigative journalist and lawyer Sonali Samarasinghe.
Cities of Asylum offer refuge to writers whose works are repressed, lives are threatened, cultures are vanishing or languages are endangered. Designated cities provide exiled writers and their families with housing, part-time employment, a monthly stipend and medical, legal and social support.