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UK Sikh group wants a formal apology from Cameron for Jallianwala

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photo source:www.makemytrip.com

13th April,2016 marked the 97th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Indian Workers’ Association (IWA) has asked Prime Minister David Cameron to repeat his statement regretting the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh incident .

According to PTI, “The Indian Workers Association (IWA) has written to Cameron to repeat his description of the massacre as a “deeply shameful act in British history”, made during his visit to Amritsar in February, 2013, in the House of Commons.”

According to IWA vice-president Harsev Bains “This single action will cost nothing. The effect on the people of India and the Indian diaspora will be of historic magnitude.”

The dreaded Jallianwala Bagh massacre was headed by British Col Reginald Dyer who had ordered soldiers to open fire on thousands of Sikhs who had gathered at the Bagh as part of an anti-Raj rally. This incident has taken the lives of 379 people though actual figures are believed to be much higher.

Cameron had almost apologised when he wrote on the visitor’s book at the memorial site in 2013, while on an official visit to India.

“This was a deeply shameful act in British history, one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as ‘monstrous’. We must never forget what happened here and we must ensure that the UK stands up for the right of peaceful protests,” Cameron had written.

He later  said  “I don’t think the right thing is to reach back into history and to seek out things you can apologise for. I think the right thing is to acknowledge what happened, to recall what happened, to show respect and understanding for what happened”.

Indian Workers’ Association (IWA) is an organisation founded in 1938. It fights for the rights of Sikh’s and Indian origin worker’s in UK. The IWA believes that the time has arrived for Cameron to formally apologise for the incident .

  • Chetna Karnani

    Rightly said by Cameron, I believe even though India was suppressed for the longest time in history, one cannot apologise for the acts of past.

  • Chetna Karnani

    Rightly said by Cameron, I believe even though India was suppressed for the longest time in history, one cannot apologise for the acts of past.

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Commemoration of third anniversary of Yazidi massacre and their sufferings

Members of the Yazidi religious community in Iraq and around the world commemorated the third anniversary on Thursday

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Yazidi Massacre
Yazidis in Iraq. Wikimedia

August 4, 2017: Members of the Yazidi religious community in Iraq and around the world commemorated the third anniversary on Thursday of the massacre of thousands of civilians in their historic homeland, Sinjar, at the hands of Islamic State group militants.

Amid expressions of grief and calls for action by the international community, Yazidi officials said the tragedy their minority group suffered in Iraq in 2014 continues: Thousands who disappeared while IS extremists were in control are still missing, and large numbers of other Yazidis who fled for their lives have not been able to return.

“The IS genocide against our people continues to this day,” said Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi member of the Iraqi parliament. “We need the international community to support us in starting a new beginning.”

Also Read: Yazidi Woman who Survived Genocide Equates the Current Situation to Jewish Holocausts

Ancient roots for Yazidis’ religious beliefs

Yazidis, an ethno-religious minority group of about 550,000 people, mostly reside in northern Iraq, in an area also populated by Kurds and Arabs. The extreme and rigid version of Islam that Islamic State professes regards the Yazidis as “devil worshippers” who must either renounce their religious views or die.

Yazidism is linked to ancient Mesopotamian religions and combines aspects of Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. As an ethno-religious group, most Yazidis marry only within their community; those who do not are considered to be Yazidis no longer.

According to international organizations, IS was responsible for the killing and abduction of roughly 9,900 Yazidis and destroying 68 Yazidi shrines in 2014.

When the terror group entered the Yazidi ancestral city of Sinjar, Aug. 3, 2014, they murdered roughly 5,000 men and boys and enslaved thousands of women and children. Those who managed to escape were trapped on Sinjar Mountain, leading to an international outcry and response, including U.S. airstrikes.

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World decried ‘genocide’ against Yazidis

The United States, United Nations, European Union, Canada and other countries maintain that Islamic State’s all-out assault against Yazidis amounted to genocide.

Those who represent the religious minority say that recognition is welcome, but more action is necessary to rescue the Yazidis whose lives are still controlled by Islamic State.

“We have managed to rescue 3,054 people, but 3,360 people are still under IS,” Dakhil, the Yazidi member of Iraq’s parliament, said during an appearance this week at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington.

She said more than a thousand Yazidi children, ages 4 to 10, have been brainwashed and trained by IS to conduct suicide attacks.

“Those children now have forgotten their names, language, and parents. They have been trained to kill Yazidis and Christians,” Dakhil added.

Refugees live under harsh conditions

Dakhil appealed to the international community to help those who fled, to assist them in returning to their homes or resettling again in the Yazidi community.

According to Yazidi organizations and advocates, about 400,000 displaced Yazidis are living in refugee camps in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, and another 90,000 have emigrated to Europe and the United States.

Those who reside in refugee camps complain about harsh living conditions and a lack of basic services.

“We have been placed in those refugee camps without clean water or other basic services,” Kachal Jardo, a displaced Yazidi from Sinjar who lives in a camp north of Nineveh Plains, told VOA.

Jardo contends Iraqi officials have failed to protect 43 mass graves that hold the remains of Yazidis executed by IS. And Yazidis have not been allowed to exhume the remains for reburial, he said.

“Those mass graves are abandoned and no one knows what is going to happen to them. Only God and foreign countries can come to help us find our missing people and bring them home,” Jardo said.

Sinjar is still in ruins

Iraqi Kurdish officials estimate the mass graves hold the bodies of hundreds of Yazidis massacred by Islamic State fighters.

U.S.-backed Kurdish forces known as the Peshmerga removed IS from Sinjar in November 2015. But more than 80 percent of the city’s buildings and infrastructure are in ruins. Yazidi officials said residents have not been able to return, mainly because of disputes among anti-IS groups over control of Sinjar.

Experts say efforts to rebuild Sinjar and bring it back to life also should address issues such as who will govern the area and what will happen to its Arab population.

Yazidis claim Sinjar’s Arabs cooperated with IS and served as guides for the extremists during their bloody massacre.

“Sinjar could be a flashpoint for an internationalized tension … where you have the sensitivities between minorities themselves, and you have regional countries like Turkey and Iran who have a stake in this,” said Sarhang Hamasaeed, an Iraqi expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Reconciliation a difficult goal

Restoring security to Sinjar and other territories in the post-IS era, Hamasaeed said, will ultimately depend on local communities’ reconciliation.

“Reconciliation for the minorities, at least in the first stage, would be for them to be able to go home. It touches on their security: Will our neighbors attack us again?’“ the Iraqi analyst said. “To prevent that, there have to be not only protective measures, of how do you put up a security parameter around those minorities, but how do you work on that relationship [so that] at least in the first stage it’s a nonviolent coexistence.”

Vian Dakhil of the Iraqi parliament said she recognizes the importance of reconciliation between Yazidis and other Iraqi groups, but such a task could be difficult and time consuming.

“How can I tell someone in my community who lost 68 people of his relatives to come back and trust the neighbor who reported him to IS?” Dakhil asked. (VOA)

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Former Soviet Dictator Josef Stalin’s Victims Still Being found 80 Years After The Great Terror in Russia

A group Memorial discovers unrecorded burial sites of the victims of the Great Purge

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November 12, 2016: The Great Purge or Great Terror are terms used to refer to the darkest periods of Russian history. Thousands were massacred in Russia under the suspicion of being enemies of the people of the Soviet Union.

The purge was inspired by the idea of eliminating dissenters and to fortify the authority of Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union. The prosecutions were majorly focused on eminent bureaucrats, military leaders and many other members of the Communist Party. It also affected many other sects of the society. The “fifth column” communities or the national minorities faced number of NKVD (Soviet Secret Police) operations. Most of the purges were explained as precautionary campaigns to eliminate the risk of espionage.

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Victims were accused of being anti-Soviet agitators taking part in sabotaging the country by conspiring against the state. These terrorized victims were reportedly tortured for confessions and many were executed by shooting them or sent to labor camps to work in the poorest conditions possible. Many perished due disease, starvation and exposure to very harsh work environments.

Nikolai Yezhov
Nikolai Yezhov. Wikimedia

Although The Purge was initiated by NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda, it reached its epitome under the supervision of NKVD chief Nikolai Yezhov (September 1936-August 1938).

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Once perceived as an enemy, the fate of the victim was sealed. There are records of mass burial sites where the bodies were dumped. But even today, multiple burial grounds have been discovered which have no existence in the records. This shows that there may have been a lot more casualties than recorded.

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A group called ‘Memorial’ has started collecting evidence and records of the massacres in the 1990s. The group has been trying to document the massacres during this dark chapter of Russian history. The researchers at Memorial have been requesting for documents mentioning the locations of the mass burials and execution grounds but the FSB keeps denying the existence of any such documentation in its archives.

Every autumn, ceremonies are held to pay respect to the victims. Memorial has also launched a program called Last Address in which plaques are placed holding the identities and addresses of the victims of Stalin’s political repression.

– by Shivam Thaker of NewsGram. Twitter: @Shivam_Thaker

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Udham Singh: The legend who was not only a freedom fighter but also a mechanic and an actor

In blink-and-miss roles, Singh has also acted in at least two Alexander Korda productions

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Jallianwala bagh,Amritsar. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Among the many youths and organizations that galvanised post the massacre, Udham Singh, 20 at that time, was deeply scarred
  • It was in USA that he developed his liking for pseudonyms
  • Hanged in 1940, his remains lay in Sunam in Punjab, where Singh was born

While to most of us Udham Singh is best known as a freedom fighter and a revolutionary who assassinated British administrator Michael O’Dwyer in 1940, but there are more roles the renegade assumed during his short life.

Born in 1899 in Sunam in undivided Punjab, Singh was brought up in an orphanage when the state was going through a serious political upheaval.

Before killing Michael O’Dwyer, the governor of Punjab at the time of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Singh tried his hand at various occupations and most intriguingly had also appeared as a movie extra in at least two Alexander Korda productions.

Udham Singh. Image Source: Wikipedia.org
Udham Singh. Image Source: Wikipedia.org

Among the many youths and organizations that galvanised post the massacre, Udham Singh, 20 at that time, was deeply influenced with the gory incident. It is believed that the scar on his arm was due to the injury he sustained during the commotion in the Jallianwala Bagh. A story goes that he was serving water to the thirsty crowd that day.

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While Singh took his time to get attached with the armed resistance, he began his journey abroad in 1920.

He first worked in East Africa as a labourer for the railway lines, and then moved to the USA. However, it was in San Francisco that he made contacts with Ghadar members (a movement formed by immigrants from Punjab in the west coast of the United States of America against colonial rule).

It was here that he developed his liking for pseudonyms. He used the names Ude Singh, Sher Singh and even Frank Brazil (giving himself a Puerto Rican identity) to hide his identity.

According to an article published in Scroll.in, Singh spent five years in travelling to various cities like Chicago and New York. As Frank Brazil, he used to travel to Europe. It was with this alias that he worked as a carpenter on a ship returning to India and came back to Punjab in 1927.

It was in the same year that he was arrested for the possession of illegal weapons and the radical newspaper, Ghadr di Gunj. After which he served four years of imprisonment till 1931.

Even after his release, Singh went through a series of police harassment. They doubted him of having links with the Irish Republican Army and the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association led by Bhagat Singh. The investigation forced him to leave for England in 1933, again using a false passport.

It was at time he traveled to London, Poland, Germany, Holland, Italy, Austria and the Soviet Union.

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In London, Singh engaged himself as a peddler and a carpenter, and also went ahead and associated himself with different socialist groups.

Singh found employment briefly as a signboard painter and a mechanic but seems like destiny had more in store for him. At that time he began appearing as an extra in Alexander Korda’s movies in a blink-and-miss role.

He was first seen in ‘Elephant Boy’ (1937), based on Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Toomai and the ‘Elephants from The Jungle Book.’ And next in ‘The Four Feathers’ in 1939, an adaptation from AEW Mason’s 1902 novel of the same name.

General Michael O’Dwyer, Image Source: Wikipedia.org
General Michael O’Dwyer, Image Source: Wikipedia.org

Only a year hence, on March 13, 1940, Singh assassinated Michael O’Dwyer in London. The place was Caxton Hall, where O’Dwyer had come to  participate in a discussion on Afghanistan.

During his trial, Udham Singh gave his name as Mohammad Singh Azad and was hanged in July 1940 at London’s Pentonville prison.

It was only later after a campaign in 1974 leb by the Congress party legislator Sadhu Singh Thind, that Singh’s remains were flown from London prison to Delhi. Currently, they lay in Sunam in Punjab, where he was born.

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