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South Asian activists came together to show solidarity with the people of Kashmir at a rally organized by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) in Surrey on Saturday, October 5.

The Indian-occupied Kashmir remains under siege since August 5. This week marks two months of the blockade.

The participants at the rally carried placards in support of the people of Kashmir, and raised slogans against the Indian government for ongoing human rights abuse in the state in the name of national security and the so- called war on terror. The demonstration ended peacefully as nobody came to disrupt it. The supporters of pro-India groups had earlier tried to interrupt at least two events in support of Kashmir in Surrey and University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The speakers unanimously condemned human rights violations in Kashmir and demanded that the two-month-long siege be lifted immediately and all political prisoners be released.

The speakers included Surrey-Greentimbers MLA Rachna Singh, who was the only elected official to show up. Two South Asian Members of Parliament from the governing Liberal Party, Sukh Dhaliwal and Randeep Singh Sarai, remained absent despite being invited by the organizers. However, the Conservative Party candidate for Surrey-Newton, Harpreet Singh, sent his message of solidarity and support. He had spoken at the previous rally organized by IAPI on Kashmir in August.

Singh told the gathering that she and her colleague Ravi Kahlon, an MLA from North Delta, are in the process of writing a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Commission on Kashmir, on behalf of their Kashmiri constituents.

Three Kashmiri activists, Humaayun Lone, Mujeeb Rashid and Sajjid also spoke on the occasion, to explain how difficult it has been for them to get in touch with their families back home because of the blockade and suspension of net services.

Notably, Sikh activists came out in big numbers to show their support. Among them was Barjinder Singh, who is part of a group that organizes the annual blood drive in memory of the victims of 1984 Sikh Genocide, Guru Nanak Sikh temple Surrey-Delta President Hardeep Singh Nijjar, and an independent author and thinker, Charanjit Singh Sujjon. They spoke in one voice to denounce repression of Kashmiris.

A revolutionary communist activist, Rawait Singh, said that by standing up for Kashmiris, the Sikhs have paid real tribute to Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, who taught us to stand up against oppression.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Sayed Wajahat, Sunil Kumar and Bhupinder Malih.


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