The campaign for a formal apology from the British Government for the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919 and for the teaching of decolonised colonial history as an integral part of the National Curriculum will step up ahead of the next year’s General Election, a meeting in the House of Commons agreed, write Joginder Bains and Amarjite Singh.
The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre 1919 Centenary Committee had an excellent and productive meeting at the House of Commons, on 30th March 2023. The committee is grateful to Hon. Virendra Sharma MP for Ealing Southall and his team for their time and commitment for making all the arrangements and creating a welcoming environment for the attendees.
The meeting was attended by over fifty people who travelled from across the country, showing their commitment and be counted in the just cause and supporting the demands by the campaign. Everyone participated in informative and productive discussion with a plan of action running up to the next general election. The meeting was chaired by Hon. Virendra Sharma. A condolence resolution on passing away of Rt Hon. Lord Mohamed Sheikh, who was a committed supporter and advocate of the campaign for a formal apology from the British Government for the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre 1919, was read out by Pervez Fateh. Hon. Virendra Sharma read out messages of best wishes sent by many MPs and Lords who were unable to join the meeting in person.
As well as Hon. Virendra Sharma the meeting was addressed by Hon. John McDonell, MP for Hayes and Hon. Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth. Paying tribute to the loss of life of innocent and unarmed civilians who had gathered in the Bagh (park), near the Golden Temple, Amritsar) to protest on attacks by the Colonial Government on their to expression and assembly. In the gathering were those who came to worship at the Golden Temple and to celebrate Vaisakhi (the harvest festival), All three MPs articulated the importance of a formal apology by the British Government for the shocking and atrocious attack on humanity where live ammunition was used, without warning on innocent civilians, killing around 1500 people.
The MPs confirmed their commitment to the just demands for a formal apology and teaching of colonial history as an integral part of the National Curriculum. They affirmed their support to do everything in their capacity, they said, to raise pressure on the Government to commit to both demands.
An apology, they stressed, will act as a deterrent to the crimes against humanity and human genocides for which Britain has been an active partner. They added that the British public deserve to know the truth of the dark side of the Empire and crimes committed in their name. In addition our children also deserve to learn the true history of British Empire that will enable them to ask critical questions and gain a better sense of their place in their own country
Similarly the participants articulated how descendants of immigrant communities from ex-colonies continue to suffer racism in Britain.
Learning about colonial history and the sacrifices their ancestors had made will enable them to challenge racism, white supremacy and inequalities making this a better country for all. Showing commitment to the campaign the meeting discussed ways for taking the campaign forward. The participants unanimously agreed:
- To write, and personally meet the local MPs and all – cross party candidates – for the next year’s General Election asking their commitment to the demands by the Campaign.
- Visit and write to the candidates for the local May Councillor elections and ask their commitment to the demands for a formal apology for the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre from the Government and for teaching of decolonised colonial history as an integral part of the National Curriculum.
- Our Prime Minister’s, Rishi Sunak, ancestral home, Gujranwala, was at the heart of the many brutalities committed by the British Empire followed by the mass murder of over 1500 Indian civilians and injuring four times the dead in the Massacre. The PM should be written to stressing demands by the campaign and calling him to exercise his position of power to deliver an apology to the victims of the massacre, their descendants and the people of the Indian Sub-Continent.
- To develop partnership with all places of worship, communicate with congregation the importance of the demands by the Campaign, encouraging and influencing them to play an active role in the campaign.
- The ancestral home of Humza Yousef – the new leader of SNP – is also Punjab, the province that was the main target of the British Empire’s inhumane activities and attack on civil liberties. The Campaign must correspond with Humza Yousef and seek his support.
Joginder Bains (Mrs) is Secretary and Amarjite Singh President of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre 1919 Centenary Committee
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