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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Joint Christian and Sikh delegation to 10 Downing Street and the Pakistani Embassy

Funeral of Jaspal Singh
A community mourns one of their dear departed

In the aftermath of the recent Taliban beheading of a Sikh man, I approached leaders of the Sikh community to encourage them to join us to petition for better Human Rights for minority faith groups in Pakistan. Sources state that Jaspal Singh was travelling with two other men whilst on a visit to other members of their family, when they were kidnapped by Taliban militants and a ransom was exhorted from their families. Reports state that the kidnapping occurred 41 days ago and it is said that the families of the the victims did not initially want media or Police involvement, due to a fear of reprisals. Since the devastating news of the death of Jaspal that has alarmed the Sikh Community, the Taliban have requested a 20,000,000 Pak Rupee ransom to free Surjeet Singh and Gurvinder Singh the remaining abductees.

I received the following comment from Ravjeet Singh of United Sikhs:

"Hi Wilson, Thanks for your email. I will look into if we can help in anyway with your cause, sadly I can't make Thursday as its to short notice but I will try and ask someone else. I have put my name on the petition. Please see our press statement relating to recent events in link below."

Community Mourns the Brutal Beheading of Peshawar Sikh by Taliban
UNITED SIKHS Appeals for Concrete Action to Protect Minority Communities in the Region

Dr Jasdev Rai of the Sikh Human Rights Group, could not attend our petition submission to 10 Downing Street or the Pakistani High Commission, however, he has indicated his support.

I am pleased to announce that Upkar Rai and Sukminderjit Deol, from the British Sikh Council, will be attending the petition submission event at 10 Downing Street and the Pakistani Embassy. I have a particularly dear and strong friendship with the Sikh Community, much due to a friendship with a Tarsem Lalli an ex-colleague of mine who has been a Human Rights activist for many years. Tarsem and I challenged the UK Passport Office on a discriminatory practice that resulted in the refusal of entry to baptised Sikhs at Passport Offices, due to their wearing of a Kirpaan (ceremonial knife). An ensuing risk assessment has made it possible for Sikhs to be served in the same way as other British Citizens without any "potential" threat to the safety of others. I should advise that no Sikh has ever been prosecuted for misusing their Kirpaan in the UK.

Sikhs and Christians in Pakistan have a history of working together and supporting one another. In the UK this allegiance is no different. By working together in this way we hope to raise the profile of the injustices and malpractice occurring in Pakistan. Our aim is to bring succour to persecuted communities of all faiths in particular minority faith groups. We challenge the Pakistani Government to provide safer communities, better quality of life, parity of opportunity, equal citizenship and fairer justice to all. Moreover, we hope our efforts will inspire the British Government and European Union to take a more concerted interventionist policy in resolving these issue, for a country that operates as one of their allies and is in receipt of various funding streams for internal development.

Our Petitions will be delivered to 10 Downing Street at 12:00 on Thursday 25 February 2010. We also hope to deliver a petition to the Pakistani Embassy for 13:30 and await final confirmation. Please come and join us to show support if you are free and pray for the event itself - that it might create some impetus for change in Pakistan. Most importantly, pray for succour, and justice for the families of Jaspal Singh and Shazia Bashir two victims of the social injustices in Pakistan.

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