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The Afghan Hindus and Sikhs say they will not celebrate this year’s Diwali festival due to deadly incidents took place in the country recent months.

The festival was not held last year either due to a deadly incident in Kabul.

Hindus and Sikhs living in Kabul said that the death of 14 Hindus and Sikhs in Nangarhar bombing July, assassination of former Kandahar police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq and Helmand parliamentary elections candidate Abdul Jabar Qahraman are some of the violent incidents that have left them with no option rather than canceling the celebration of the festival.

Diwali is a Hindu festival with lights, held in the period October to November.

“How can we celebrate our happiness while everyday soldiers, ordinary people and elders are killed?” asked Narinder Singh Khalsa, Hindus and Sikhs representative.

The Hindus and Sikhs said their safety has been fragile in the recent years as according to them many Afghan Hindus and Sikhs have left the country over the past years.

“We don’t want to hold Diwali festival this year due to Jalalabad incident and the loss of important figures such as Gen. Raziq and Jabar Qahraman,” said Sorpal SinghKhalsa, deputy head of a committee of Hindus and Sikhs.

Diwali is one of the most valued festivals for Hindus and Sikhs in the world and they celebrate it by music, fireworks and lighting candles.

“In previous years, we were doing fireworks and based on the principles of the festival, our sisters were coming and we were giving them their expenses as gift and we were very happy,” said Cartar Singh, a resident of Kabul, who explained their excitement in Diwali celebrations of previous years.

“This festival was celebrated widely in Afghanistan in previous years, but now our population has decreased here. In the past, we were 120,000 families in Afghanistan,”said Ragbir Singh, member of Hindus and Sikhs committee of Dharamsala in Kabul.

Hindus and Sikhs have lived in Afghanistan for generations; however, various conflicts have forced many of them to leave the country and settle elsewhere.

 

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Sikh 24

OTTAWA, Canada—UNITED SIKHS this week announced a call to action in the House of Commons alongside several members of Parliament to address the increasingly desperate plight of religious minorities in Afghanistan. After gaining the support of several policy stakeholders, including MPs Garnett Genuis, Elizabeth May, Cheryl Hardcastle, Harold Albrecht, Lisa Raitt, Arnold Viersen and Bob Saroya, following a series of targeted terrorist attacks against Sikhs over the summer, the non-profit human rights organization is now calling upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urgently process asylum for minorities facing religious persecution.
“I was very pleased to join with so many members of various opposition parties, including the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party, to table a petition in the House of Commons in support of persecuted minority communities in Afghanistan,” said MP Genuis, who led the news conference on Wednesday. “The cross-party engagement on this will hopefully help to move the ball forward and bring about government action – in terms of advocacy, and in terms of facilitating the private sponsorship of refugees by the community here in Canada.”

The news conference comes within weeks of a written human rights statement the organization submitted to the United Nations during a Human Rights Council Session held in Geneva, Switzerland last month. The three main areas of concern for religious minorities in Afghanistan, as outlined by UNITED SIKHS, are personal safety/security, religious freedom, and the right to life.

As recent as last month, a marked uptick of attacks against Hindus and Sikhs across Afghanistan have become increasingly brutal. On Sept. 1, Satnam Singh and his son, who are both identifiable Sikhs, were shot and killed in their own shop in the Herat Province. This is believed to be the second marked attack on the Sikh minority after the Taliban orchestrated a suicide bombing on July 1, in which 13 Hindu and Sikh dignitaries were targeted and killed while on their way to a meeting with government officials in Jallalabad.

“The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating for religious minorities,” said Jagdeep Singh, UNITED SIKHS Director of Human Rights Policy, during the news conference. “Sikhs are forced into segregation and Muslim conversion, and Gurdwaras (Sikh schools of spiritual learning) are regularly attacked by the Taliban and other extremist groups. In 1992, historic records indicate 60,000 lived in Afghanistan (down from 200,000 at one time). Today, there are as few as 1,200 in the country.”

In conjunction with the news conference, a petition of thousands of Canadian residents was formally submitted in the House of Commons, led by MP Garnett Genius, urging the Prime Minister to expedite asylum and grant the local Sikh and Hindu community with requested sponsorship.

“This petition calls for the government to do more to advocate with our Afghan counterpart for the rights of these minorities, and it also asks the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to use the powers granted him to create a special program to help persecuted minorities in Afghanistan,” Genius stated to the Speaker while submitting the petition during regular proceedings on the House of Commons floor. “The community here in Canada is ready to sponsor these communities. It’s been three years, it’s time for action.”

“At one time, Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and today, less than 5,000 remain,” said MP Harold Albrecht in support of the petition presented. “We’re calling on the Minister, pointing out to the Minister, that he already has the power, by legislation, to allow vulnerable minorities to come to Canada as privately sponsored refugees directly from the country where they face persecution, and further urging the Minister to raise the persecution faced by this community with the Afghan counterpart and to strongly advocate for more to be done to protect them.”

Building upon this effort, UNITED SIKHS will formally request a meeting with the Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. In addition, the organization will continue to raise the issue with members of Congress in the United States and Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom.

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BBC News

Narinder Singh is the only Sikh candidate in the upcoming Afghan elections.

He is standing in place of his father, Avtar Singh Khalsa, who was killed in a suicide blast in Jalalabad last July.

The parliamentary election will be held on 20 October and more than 2,500 candidates are reportedly standing in it.

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have urged a boycott of the vote and there have been threats of violence.

On 2 October, a suicide attacker killed 13 people and injured more than 30 at an election rally in Nangarhar province.

Watch Video

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VOA – Dari

Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, although far from the homeland, remember their country.
Southall, a town in the west of London, is the 35th largest region of Greater London. The population of this region is considered to be 28,000, most of whom are Indian, Pakistani and Afghan Sikhs and Hindus. The bazaar of Southall is considered one of London’s most prominent tourist destinations, and thousands of tourists visit from around the world every year.
This corner of London is unique as it has restaurants and shops of various foreign cultures, especially Asian, in between the English and Indian bazaar. The Afghans living there call it ‘Little Shorbazaar’. Sameer Rassoly, from Voice of America, has recently visited this bazaar and prepared an interesting report (with English subtitles).

تعداد باشندگان این منطقه تا ۲۸ هزار نفر ارزیابی شده است که بیشتر آن را هندو و سیک های افغان، هندی و پاکستانی تشکیل میدهد.

بازار سوت هال یکی از نقاط با اهمیت سیاحتی در لندن محسوب میشود و همه سال هزاران سیاح از سراسر جهان از این بازار دیدن میکنند.

این گوشۀ شهر لندن، بدلیل داشتن دوکان ها و رستورانت های متفاوت که نمایندگی از فرهنگ های مختلف بخصوص آسیایی را میکند، در میان انگلیس ها به هندو بازار شهرت دارد، اما افغان های مقیم در لندن آن را شوربازار کوچک مینامند.

سمیر رسولی از صدای امریکا به تازگی از این بازار دیدن نموده و در مورد یک گزارش جالب را تهیه کرده است.

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