Sunday, November 15, 2009

Komagata Maru tragedy: Apology from Canadian Parliament sought

Komagata Maru tragedy: Apology from Canadian Parliament sought
Komagata Maru tragedy: South Asians seek Canadian Parliament apology, MP Perneet Kaur approached
Komagata Maru tragedy: Memorial approaches Perneet Kaur seeking apology from Canadian Parliament

Chandigarh, November 12
Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, Canada has sought apology from the Canadian Parliament over the infamous Komagata Maru ship incident of 1914 that left around 376 people, mostly Sikhs, spurned from landing in Canada and many subsequently dead.
The foundation has submitted a memorandum to the Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur seeking her intervention to take up issue up through diplomatic channels with the Canadian Government and Prime minister of Canada who is likely to visit India next week.
In a press statement issued here today president of foundation Sahib Thind and vice-president Ravinder Gill stated that Canadian Parliament has already issued apologies to Japanese community, Chinese community and native people.
“The Canadian government has issued an apology in parliament to Japanese community for wrongful imprisonment of Japanese during the WWII. It issued an apology in parliament to Chinese community for head tax on Chinese immigrants. It has also issued an apology to the native people for residential school abuses. But when it comes to apologizing the South Asians, why the government is not willing,” questioned Sahib Thind.
He added that foundation demands that Federal Government should issue an outright apology in the Canadian Parliament. “A memorial should be established at Stanley Park where the ship tried to land. A living memorial should come up and maintain structures and practices that promote acceptance, understanding and inclusion of all people regardless of race, religion, gender or color,” Sahib Thind demanded.
Foundation feels that an account of the Komagata Maru tragedy and South Asian history should become part of the school curriculum in BC and across Canada.
In 2002 the foundation had initiated a petition asking for an apology from Canadian government. This petition was presented to Canadian Parliament with thousands of signatures, but matter still remains undecided.
Foundation submitted second petition to the Federal Government in April 2008 with over 20000 signatures again asking for an apology.
“It was the efforts of our foundation that after 94 years, the B.C. legislature unanimously passed a motion on May 23, 2008 apologizing for the Komagata Maru incident. Liberal House Leader Mike de Jong had deeply regretted for passengers who sought refuge but were turned away.
In August 2008, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephan Harper halfheartedly offered an apology in Surrey, BC, parking during the annual Gadri Babiyan da Mela organized by the foundation, however, community immediately rejected this political statement.
The community demanded a respectful apology in the Canadian parliament. To date no such apology is forthcoming from the Conservative Government. The Conservative Government refuses to apologize in the House of Commons for the Komagata Maru to the South Asian Community.

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