ARTESIA, CA - Jagriti and Kashmir Hindu Foundation , USA worked together to raise awareness of the atrocities people are facing in many parts of the world , at an event at Tara’s Himalayan Cuisine restaurant here on June 26. The two organizations jointly recognized World Refugee Day, a day the United Nations has dedicated...
Events like this have been taking place since the 1990s, focusing on the Kashmiri Hindus. However, this year’s event was unlike that of previous years.
“This is the first year we have had speakers from Tibet, Balochistan, Sindh, Kashmir, and Bangladesh,” said Dr Amrit Nehru, one of the speakers and main organizers of the event. The speakers for the night were Yangchen Dolkar Gaykil (Tibet), Aziz Baloch (Balochistan), Dr. Saghir Shaikh (Sindh), Dr. Amrit Nehru (Kashmir), and Dr. Richard Benkin (Bangladesh). Each of the speakers were given an opportunity to speak about their respective issue after Sunny Singh and Dr. Rangaesh Gadasalli led the audience in the Star Spangled Banner and Vande Mataram, respectively .
Pravin Syal, master of ceremonies for the evening, first took the time to recognize and thank all the volunteers who helped with the event adding , “Two people who single-handedly put this event together are Amrit Nehru and Kamlesh Chauhan, Founder of Jagriti.”
Chauhan invited Rajendra Sohi, an Indian army soldier who served for about 23 years, to come on stage. She thanked him for his service and presented him with a plaque. Richard Benkin then read a letter he received from Congressman Ed Royce, who expressed his support for the World Refugee Day. Gaykil, President of the Tibetan Association of Southern California, brought attention to the plight of Tibetan refugees. “We must raise our voices against violence and injustice,” said Gaykil, Tibetan born and raised in India. She talked about what it was like to grow up as a refugee in exile in India with almost nothing and now how she hopes to do meaningful work and help to make a difference.
Aziz Baloch, representative from the International Voice for the Baloch Missing Persons, brought light to the involuntary and enforced disappearances of people in Balochistan by Pakistan and Iranian regimes. Baloch continued about how the Baloch people have been facing continuous discrimination. “We need support from the international community to help us,” said Baloch. Shaikh, Secretary General of the World Sindhi Congress, came on stage and spoke about the persecution of Sindhi Hindus. He mentioned there is a correlation between security and refugees. “Security problems cause wars which creates refugees,” said Shaikh.
If security problems around the world are fixed then ultimately there will not be any more refugees, was a significant point he made. Nehru then spoke on the Pakistan sponsored terrorism which has resulted in violent expulsions from Kashmir.
“We need to work together to rehabilitate our homes, because home is where the heart is,” said Nehru.
Benkin spoke about Bangladesh. Benkin is a well-known Human Rights activists who has researched and written books about the atrocities committed in Bangladesh against the Hindus.
“We must meet to take action and create concrete results,” said Benkin as a way to move forward. Meeting just to talk and raise awareness has no point unless it results in appropriate actions that can be taken in the right direction, was one of the many points Benkin made. After the presentations, an enlightening Q& A session followed. Plaques were given to each of the speakers.
The event winded down and came to a close after dinner was served.