Français   |  

Subscribe to the whole site

Home > English > NEWS AND ANALYSIS > Canadians on the Streets for Human Rights, Equality, Dignity in India and (…)

Canadians on the Streets for Human Rights, Equality, Dignity in India and Pakistan

Friday 8 September 2023

Demonstrators call out growing fascism in India and protest the rise of Hindu Supremacist, groups in Canada

Ottawa, ON, August 20, 2023. Over hundred protestors from several cities, including Montreal, the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa converged in Ottawa to shed light on the urgency of addressing human rights violations in India and combating the rise of Hindutva (Hindu supremacist) extremist ideologies in Canada.

Seventy-six years after independence from British rule, India is increasingly becoming a fascist state under the Hindu ultra-nationalist government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Protesters marched to stand up against hate and made their voices heard in defence of democracy and support for a pluralistic, multifaith, multiethnic vision of India. They further denounced the prolific growth of Hindutva or Hindu supremacist groups in Canada that are spreading hate in schools, digital platforms, and community forums.

"This rally is more than a demonstration; it’s a resolute stand for the rights and dignity of minority communities both in India and Canada. The threat of Hindutva extremism and erosion of democratic principles demand our attention. Today, we’ve united under shared human rights values and declare that we will not be silent spectators to fascist forces that seek to divide and oppress the most vulnerable." said Taha Ghayyur, Executive Director of Justice For All Canada.

Organized by an alliance of twenty diaspora organizations and diverse community partners from across Canada, the march started at the Human Rights Monument in Ottawa. Giving an opening speech, Chinnaiah Jangam, Associate Professor of History at Carleton University and co-founder of the South Asian Dalit Adivasi Network (SADAN), emphasized the sentiment of the protest: "SADAN stands in solidarity with all the victims of violence orchestrated by the Hindu right-wing forces in India and will firmly stand against hate and fight for the protection of democracy and the constitutional rights of all citizens." Speaking about the situation here in Canada he added, "there is growing violence against Muslims and Dalits in India. Caste supremacy is overtly present in Canadian public life and Dalit and other marginalized communities especially children experience caste-based violence and discrimination in schools and playgrounds. Moreover, Hindu right-wing organizations are posing a serious threat to the multicultural society of Canada.”

The protest demonstrated that the concerns for minority rights and equality extend beyond borders, serving as a reminder that collective action remains essential in safeguarding these values.

According to human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, India’s ruling BJP government is responsible for hate speech and discriminatory laws empowering systematic marginalization of minority communities, making way for the emergence of Hindutva groups promoting exclusionary ideologies in India and Canada. As a result, minorities in India are facing unprecedented violence and racism with near impunity from state authorities.

Protestors proceeded to Parliament Hill and then to the Prime Minister’s Office to symbolically deliver a joint letter with over 80 organizational signatories. The letter calls for the Canadian government to take tangible steps to combat hate and stay true to NEVER AGAIN, including:

  1. Addressing Human Rights Abuses: To acknowledge and condemn the escalating human rights violations, especially the alarming situation in Manipur and other identified regions.
  2. Publicly Denouncing Rights Breaches: For the Federal government to issue public condemnations of documented human rights violations.
  3. Strengthening Trade Oversight: To enhance scrutiny and oversight mechanisms in trade agreements with India to ensure human rights are central to any bilateral cooperation, particularly under the Indo-Pacific Strategy.
  4. Probing RSS-Linked Entities: To investigate and monitor organizations in Canada such as SEWA Canada and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh that enjoy charitable tax status that have known affiliations or ideological ties with the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), the paramilitary organization and ideological parent of the right-wing BJP, assessing their actions under prevailing hate speech laws.
  5. Investigating Election Meddling: To investigate potential interference by RSS-affiliated entities within Canadian democratic processes.

The protestors also highlighted how India is borrowing the Israeli playbook in its oppressive treatment of the minorities.

In his remarks at the protest, Bruce Katz, Co-President of Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), underscored the parallels between the struggles for Kashmiri sovereignty and Palestinian self-determination: "The India-Israel alliance is an alliance of institutionalized racism; both states use the alibi of security as justification for their respective illegal occupation. The parallels between the occupation of Kashmir and the occupation of Palestine are glaringly obvious. Both occupations are illegal (not to mention morally reprehensible and politically untenable). PAJU stands in solidarity against Hindutva nationalism and supports Kashmiri sovereignty. Western countries look on in complicit silence. Canada, shamefully, is one of them."

Shivangi Misra, international human rights lawyer and organizer in Ottawa, said “India’s public institutions have been systematically eroded to serve the interests of Hindutva ideology and the far-right. There is a severe lack of accountability and access to justice for the ongoing extreme violence against minorities, the state-led destruction of their homes, dilution of workers’ rights, and for silencing human rights defenders with false cases. People in India need urgent international support and solidarity for the atrocities that minorities, especially Muslims, Dalits, Christians, and women, are facing.”

The organizers concluded with a call to solidarity. “We witnessed an extraordinary unity among individuals, organizations, and communities, all of whom recognize the urgency of confronting the challenges posed by the rise of extremist ideologies," stated Titas Banerjee, spokesperson for SADAC. "The demonstration has served as a platform to amplify our voices against hate and discrimination and we call on Canadian civil society to voice their opposition to hate groups in Canada and support democracy, justice, and equality in India and Canada."

Source: South Asian Diaspora Action Collective (SADAC)

Contact: For more information or media inquiries, please contact:
Dr. Chinnaiah Jangam, SADAN - South Asian Dalit Adivasi Network- Canada
(613) 410-5786
Titas Banerjee, South Asian Diaspora Action Collective (SADAC)

Joint letter can be accessed here:

Co-organised/supported by:

  • Alternatives International
  • Canadian Council of Indian Muslims (CCIM)
  • CERAS (Centre sur l’Asie du sud)
  • Hindus for Human Rights—Canada
  • India Civil Watch International
  • International Council of Indian Muslims (ICIM)
  • Justice for All Canada
  • Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU)
  • People’s Health Movement Canada/Mouvement populaire pour la santé au Canada
  • Pro-People Arts Project Media Group O/A Sarokaran Di Awaz
  • Progressive Cultural Association Calgary
  • Punch Up Collective, Ottawa
  • Punjabi Literary and Cultural Association Winnipeg
  • Rang Collective
  • SADAN - South Asian Dalit Adivasi Network- Canada
  • Solidarity Across Borders / Solidarité sans frontières
  • South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), Vancouver
  • South Asian Diaspora Action Collective (SADAC)
  • The Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia University (QPIRG Concordia)
  • The Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) at McGill

This is the English-language newswire for social justice groups in Montreal.
To subscribe to the French-language newswire, send a message to
To unsubscribe from this list, send a message to
Follow us

This report has been submitted for publication by Rushdia Mehreen of SADAC


Solidarity Vigil for Pakistani Christians
2nd September 2023

Close to 200 people gathered in Montreal, Canada on the afternoon of 2nd September 2023 to demonstrate their solidarity with the Pakistani Masihi community (Pakistani Christians) who were brutally attacked on 16th August in Jaranwala, Pakistan. Those gathered expressed outrage at this attack, the latest in a long history of attacks on Masihi and other minorities over the years and they held the Pakistani state responsible for not ensuring the safety and security of its citizens.

The vigil was held in the Park-Extension neighbourhood of the city, home to many people from South Asia and was organized by Ceras (Centre sur l’asie du sud), Rang Collective, SADAC (South Asian Diaspora Action Collective) and Teesri Duniya Theatre.

In the recent attack on Jaranwala, an entire neighbourhood was razed to the ground and all the families lost their homes and sources of livelihood. The Christians of Jaranwala, who were already socio-economically marginalized, have been left destitute. Places of worship and cemeteries were desecrated and burnt, as were sacred books.

Many people spoke at the vigil, including members of the Masihi community resident in Canada, as well as members of the Pakistani diaspora belonging to the majority Muslim community and other Pakistani minorities. Pastors of the Masihi communities in Montreal also spoke. Slogans were raised in Urdu, Punjabi, French and English. People who had been killed in earlier episodes of anti-Christian violence were remembered. Some of the speakers pointed to the similarities between attacks on minorities in other countries of South Asia, notably India.

Iftekhar Ahmed of Rang Collective said, “This is an utter and complete failure of the state and government of Pakistan, in providing safety and security for its citizens. Under the constitution of Pakistan, all citizens regardless of their ethnicity or religion have the right to safety and security.”

Repeatedly speakers identified political motivations as behind the attacks on minorities. Dolores Chew of CERAS said, “Politicians have obligations to their populations. Their disregard for minority rights can have negative repercussions on their countries and societies overall.”

Kanita Ahmed of Rang Collective spoke about the history of the blasphemy laws of Pakistan. She noted, “although the death penalty for blasphemy has never been enforced in Pakistan, it has still taken too many lives - an estimated 85 people accused of blasphemy have been killed before trial by mobs or vigilantes since 1990 - most of them Christian or Ahmadi”. The blasphemy laws are used as tools of intimidation to settle personal scores and property disputes. She also noted that there is no penalty or punishment for making a false accusation of blasphemy in Pakistan though such a penalty would greatly benefit religious minorities.

Slogans such as: FOR PRAYING FREELY! AZADI (freedom)!, FOR LIVING SAFELY! AZADI!, FROM BLASPHEMY LAWS! AZADI!, FROM HATRED! AZADI! were raised during the vigil.

Parveen William, a member of the Pakistani Christian community said, “Condemnation is not enough. It’s time to bring changes to law 295-C which is always used against the Christians. And I want to tell Christian brothers and sisters in Pakistan we are with you!”

It was pointed out that many in the local community were political refugees, fleeing the kind of violence and intolerance characteristic of the Jaranwala attack.

Those gathered also called on the government of Canada to speak out for rights of Pakistani Christians and to take the issue up with the government of Pakistan.

The sentiment that was palpable was anger at what had happened, that impunity must not be enjoyed by the perpetrators and that governments must be held accountable for the safety and security of their every citizen, regardless of religious affiliation.

Iftekhar Ahmed, The Rang Collective- Canada
(514) 386-6110
Dolores Chew, CERAS

Co-organised by: CERAS (Centre sur l’Asie du sud); Rang Collective; South Asian Diaspora Action Collective (SADAC); Teesri Duniya Theatre

This report has been submitted for publication by Rahul Varma from Teesri Duniya Theatre