"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Emergency meeting on Kashmir held in Surrey Featured

 

An emergency meeting was held on the contentious issue of Kashmir in Surrey on Monday night.

Organized at the Jamea mosque on September 9, the meeting was called in response to the current situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, where thousands of troops have been deployed and civil liberties have been suspended by the right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

Among those in attendance were three federal Liberal MPs - Ken Hardie, Sukh Dhaliwal and Randeep Singh Sarai – who came on behalf of the Canadian government to listen to the concerns of the participants.  

On August 5, the Indian government unilaterally scrapped special rights given to the state of Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian constitution, arresting local leaders on the pretext of maintaining public safety.

The BJP government claims that the act was necessary to stop terrorism in the only Muslim dominated state of India. Since then, Kashmir has been turned into an open jail, communication channels such as internet have been shut, and leaders fighting for freedom and autonomy have been detained indefinitely. These include political figures and activists who have been advocating for peaceful resolution of the problem of Kashmir, where people have been struggling for right to self-determination.

The organizers of the meeting said that the Canadian government has failed to step in and raise its voice against growing atrocities in Kashmir. They included local Kashmiris who have collected close to 3,000 signatures on postcards addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for his intervention. They handed over some of these cards to the three MPs, who assured the gathering these would be passed on to Trudeau. 

Those present also confronted the MPs , seeking to know why the Canadian government hasn’t done enough to send a strong message to the Indian government, when their constituents have been holding rallies and demonstrations in Metro Vancouver and elsewhere in Canada.

Though Canadian Minister for Global Affairs Christiya Freeland has issued a statement, it wasn’t critical of the actions of the BJP government, according to Kashmiri activist Auzeb Manzoor who spoke on the occasion.  Moninder Singh who spoke on behalf of the BC Sikh Societies felt the same. He pointed out that the blockade of Kashmir is part of the same pattern under which minorities continue to be attacked with impunity all across India. 

Others in the gathering included Federal New Democratic candidate Annie Ohana, who was very vocal on the issue. While she reiterated the statement made by her party condemning the Indian government, none of the local New Democratic MLAs showed up, despite the fact that Surrey has four NDP MLAs of Indian origin. However, MLA Rachna Singh had sent her message of solidarity. The New Democratic government in BC remains silent on the issue, citing this to be a federal matter.

 

 

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