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Hardeep Singh Nijjar was presented with a medal on Sunday, September 12 at Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey.

Vancouver-based online magazine Radical Desi, which covers alternative politics, gives out medals to individuals who speak out and stand up against injustice and repression anywhere in the world.

Nijjar was honoured for organizing special prayers for the indigenous children whose unmarked graves were recently discovered all across Canada, and for holding events in commemoration of the victims of racist and hate attacks in and outside the country.

The Radical Desi medal of courage was presented to him at the temple congregation by the publication’s director and co-founder Gurpreet Singh.

Singh briefly spoke on the occasion, praising Nijjar for being a true follower of Sikhism, which teaches everyone to stand up for others. He mentioned that Nijjar had also supported a Radical Desi petition asking for the immediate release of the jailed Indian scholar G.N. Saibaba.

In spite of being disabled below the waist and suffering with multiple ailments, the former Delhi University Professor is being incarcerated under inhuman conditions, after being convicted of trumped-up charges for merely raising his voice against the oppression of religious minorities and the Adivasis, or the indigenous peoples of India.

Nijjar is the 25th recipient of the Radical Desi medal.

Among other recipients so far are India-based human rights defenders Teesta Setalvad and Deepika Singh Rajawat, besides daring Indian journalists Niranjan Takle and the late Jarnail Singh, and Canada-based courageous Editors Kimball Cariou and Charlie Smith.

A prominent progressive filmmaker, Anand Patwardhan, and well-known Punjabi rapper Jazzy B were given the medal on separate occasions. Ravi Singh, a world renowned philanthropist, also received it during his visit to Surrey.

Anti-racist campaigners and educators such as Annie Ohana, Susan Ruzic, Imtiaz Popat and Shushma Datt have also received the medal.

Sherry Duggal, a passionate poet, student activist Sahib Kaur Dhaliwal, and community activists Dupinder Kaur Saran and Iswhinder Singh were given this medal for raising their voices for Indian farmers who have been camping outside New Delhi since November 26, 2020 seeking for the repeal of unjust farming laws.

Among the Canadian politicians who have received it for speaking out for minorities suffering under the right wing Hindu nationalist government are BC Minister for Jobs and Economic Recovery Ravi Kahlon, Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson, New Westminster City Councillor Chuck Puchmayr, Surrey City Councillor Mandeep Nagra, Burnaby City Councillor Sav Dhaliwal, and former Burnaby School Trustee Baljinder Kaur Narang.

Former BC Federation of Labour Leader Irene Lanzinger is also among the recipients of the medal. which bears the famous quote by Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”


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