Category Archives: Statements/News Releases

SANSAD mourns Hassan Gardezi

The following resolution was adopted at the SANSAD AGM on June 24, 2017:

We deeply mourn the passing of our dear friend and comrade Hassan Gardezi in April this year and wholeheartedly endorse the following obituary penned by Zahid Makhdoom:


(19 February 1933 – 20 April 2017)


It is with extreme sorrow, the Committee of Progressive-Pakistani Canadians (CPPC), announce the passing of Dr. Hassan Nawaz Gardezi, one of the founding members of the CPPC. He truly had remained a lifelong and a tireless activist for justice, peace, secularism, and socialism, a huge inspiration to its members, friends, and associates. Death of a human being is always a sad affair. Somehow death of an individual always creates big craters in the lives of those who survive to see another day. But, when a person of such an intellectual and academic presence and stature, like Professor Gardezi, leaves from our midst the void left is simply impossible to bridge, the sorrow that follows exacts an enormous toll, the scars of the loss become indelible. Although his loss is impossible to even fathom, his contributions shall forever live to produce a universe of possibilities, a pathway to a just and a fair society.


Professor Gardezi had taught sociology to several cohorts in the reputable Canadian, American, and Pakistani universities. A large number of his students went on to become professors, journalists, writers, judges, lawyers, trade unionists. Many developed and maintained a lifelong relationship with him and his thoughtful spouse, Rosalie Gardezi. Whether in Pakistan or in Ontario or any place else that the Gardezis lived, their home was always a meeting place where intellectuals, activists, mandarins, and bohemians congregated. Lively discussions and debates were always welcomed. Hassan and Rosalie’s calming presence and amazing hospitality was a constant at these events.


After his retirement from being the head of the Department of Sociology at Algoma University at Sault Ste. Marie, Dr. Gardezi and Rosalie moved to Peterborough, Ontario. The choice of Peterborough was logical to them as their children were attending at the nearby universities. During his years of retirement, Hassan, maintained an exemplary life of an intellectual. Publishing regularly, attending and presenting papers at international conferences, engaging in activism for justice, peace, secularism, and socialism. He also wrote beautiful poems in his first language, Siraiki. He translated some classic Sufi tracts from the Siraiki language into the English language. His two-volume biography of Dada Amir Haider Khan, a leader of the Communist Party of India, presents a remarkable account of the emancipatory movements in the colonized South Asia and their nexus with the workers and peasant movements throughout the world.


As a visionary, Hassan always encouraged younger comrades and friends to organize. He indeed played a big part in organization of numerous organisations and associations struggling for just, fair, and peaceful society. Indeed, Hassan was instrumental in the organization of the CPPC. His vision is reflected in the mission of the CPPC. While we are still struggling to cope with the loss of this remarkable person, we continue to bask in the light of his vision, his compassionate and thoughtful fellowship and friendship, his unfathomable wisdom and generosity. Our hearts are with Rosalie and their beautiful children. May we all and may the Gardezis find peace.



Call to unite against fascism in India

SANSAD News-release, June 28, 2017

Unite against progressing fascism in India

The following resolution  was adopted at SANSAD AGM June 24, 2017 and is being issued as a news release on June 28 in solidarity with “Not In My Name” rallies being held in Delhi and several other cities across India as well as London, Toronto, Boston, and Karachi:

Whereas the renowned social scientist and historian Partha Chatterjee recently stated that in Kashmir, India is witnessing its General Dwyer moment given the similarity between the British army’s justifications of its mass killings in Punjab in 1919 and the Indian army’s defense of its actions in Kashmir today,

and whereas within India as a whole today there is a similar moment of Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass in Nazi Germany as the lynching of Ambedakarite Dalits and Muslims are normalised as everyday events and ordinary people desensitized as spectators,

and whereas since the coming to power of the present Hindu-fascist RSS led BJP Government in 2014 there has been an unrelenting attack on Ambedakarite student and youth movements, left and progressive political formations and Muslim minorities in general that stand in Hindutva’s way to discard the Indian constitution and turn India into a Hindu Rashtra,

and whereas India  is on the verge of a fascist takeover, with innumerable vigilante squads operating with impunity all over India under various names and organizing programmed spontaneity of mob violence against Muslim and Dalits, especially in states ruled by the BJP,

Therefore be it resolved that we call on networks of Ambedkarite Dalits, progressive people and persecuted religious minorities of South Asian origin in North America to organize against the fascist Hindutva takeover of the Indian state and in support of civil society organizations, academics, cultural groups, artists and activists in India who are resisting this murderous regime and its genocidal agenda.

South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD):

Uphold independence and freedom of press

SANSAD News-release June 8, 2017

Uphold the Independence and freedom of the Press

South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD) condemns the Central Bureau of Investigation raid on the offices of NDTV and the residence of its owners in and around New Delhi on June 4 as a blatant politically motivated attempt to intimidate and silence its independent and critical voice. NDTV is one of the most respected and influential media outlets in India, and one of the very few such voices left in an increasingly gloomy mediascape. The current raid is the latest of a series of episodes of harassment faced by NDTV, which the government had tried to shut down for 24 hours in 2016 as punishment for its coverage of the terrorist attack on the military base in Pathankot.

Journalism in India is in a state of acute crisis. Most of the mainstream media is owned by a small number of corporate houses whose owners are also intimately connected with the ruling BJP and the government of Narendra Modi. Indeed, NDTV too is indebted to Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India and owner of Reliance corporation, and has promoted the interests of the BJP and the multinational, Vedanta. Such corporate and political domination ensures that the media presents the official narrative of the party and the government without question and has established hyper-nationalism as hegemonic. Any dissent is branded “anti-national” , with the cry taken up by an increasingly mobilized section of the populace affiliated with the party or its various social forms who hound the culprit  on social media or attempt to silence her/him with physical violence. In addition, any media attempting to cast a critical eye on the government and its friends is  branded “Presstitute” by the ruling politicians and their supporters bringing the media into disrepute. Since Modi’s coming to power in 2014 it has become almost impossible to expose manipulated data and opaque government operations. This is the background against which the President of India recently affirmed in an important speech to journalists that discussion and dissention were essential to a vibrant democracy and public institutions had to be held accountable for all their actions and inactions.

India has 406 news channels in various languages and tens of thousands of newspapers and magazines. Yet this year it has fallen 3 places to 136th among 180 countries ranked in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, which places India below Afghanistan and United Arab Emirates. This is not surprising given the Hindu nationalist’s rampage to cleanse India of all “anti-nationalist” thought, as a result of which in 2014 at least 114 journalists were attacked, with only 32  attackers arrested, and between January 2016 and April 2017 there have been 54 attacks reported though the actual number is much higher since many attacks are unreported because of threats from politicians, police, and the vigilantes.

We, members of the South Asian diaspora in Canada stand in solidarity with the many brave people of India fighting for democracy against fascistic developments and with the courageous journalists and independent media engaged in the struggle for press freedom, which is the bedrock of all democracy.  We applaud the declaration of NDTV that it will fight all attempts to bully it. We demand that the government of India stop using the institutions of the state to attack the freedom of the press and take appropriate action against those who use violence to silence critical voices.

SANSAD News-release May 29, 2017

SANSAD Hails the Fight-back against Oppression of Dalits

SANSAD hails the formation of the Bhim Army in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, as the instrument of fight-back against persistent caste discrimination and the recent spate of violence against Dalits. The Bhim Army, named after Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, the great champion of Dalits, has been in the forefront of the opposition against upper-caste Rajput violence against Dalits in Saharanpur which has been aided by the state. Two Dalits have been killed in this violence and sixty Dalit homes burnt while the state has arrested several Dalits and is conducting a witch-hunt against the leader and members of the Bhim Army. In protest the Bhim Army organized a rally of thousands in New Delhi on May 22 at the popular site of Jantar Mantar in defiance of the police refusal to grant them permission.

The Bhim Army was created by the young Dalit lawyer, Chandrashekhar Azad in 2015 in response to the discrimination experienced by him and his fellow Dalits in school, where they were beaten up for drinking water, not cleaning benches or sweeping floors, or for studying too hard and what he learnt of the ordeals of his father, who as a chamar, a member of the leather-working caste, had faced constant humiliation for his low social status despite being the headmaster of a school. In two years it has spread across several states and attracted more than 40,000 members. It also runs 300 schools for Dalit children in and around Saharanpur. Its tactics of direct action have appealed to long-suffering Dalits who are disappointed at the absence of mainstream Dalit politicians from the scenes of violence. Many have come out in support of the Bhim Army in the face of the former Chief Minister of UP and leader of the BSP, the party of Dalits, Mayawati’s comments (The Hindu, May 28, 2017) labelling the Bhim Army the creation of the ruling Hindu nationalist party, BJP. Prominent Dalit public intellectual, Anand Teltumbde has called the Bhim Army a byproduct of the failures of BSP and sees in it the “potential to transcend the BSP and present a new politics of emancipation of the Dalits” (Indian Express, May 29).

Against this background SANSAD commends Chetna Association of Canada, Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation, Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University, and Department of Asian Studies, Centre for India and South Asia Research, and Buddhism and Contemporary Society program at University of British Columbia for coming together to establish the annual Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture in Vancouver, BC. This important lecture series was announced at a celebration of Dr. Ambedkar Day held in Surrey Centre Library on April 10. The event was dedicated to the memory of Rohith Vemula, the Dalit scholar at the University of Hyderabad who was pushed to suicide by societal, political, and administrative oppression in February, 2016.

Dr. Anne Murphy and Dr. Sara Shneiderman, representing UBC, said “Dr. Ambedkar has shaped our world today in fundamental ways, through his work as an activist-scholar; as architect of the Indian constitution and, through it, the implementation of structural forces for equity within an inequitable structure; and as Buddhist philosopher, organizer, and practitioner. Bringing greater knowledge of scholarship about Dr. Ambedkar and his work, as well as about issues related to caste and inequality in South Asian societies in broader terms, to students, faculty, and the public at large will allow for a fuller understanding of South Asian societies and histories, and will resonate deeply with ongoing issues in Canadian society.”

Institute for the Humanities, SFU said in a message: “Dr. Ambedkar, as well as Rohith Vemula, exemplified the moral compass that we so desperately seek today at a time when we are witnessing the ascendancy of a despotic intolerance.


Dr. Ambedkar once said: ‘cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.’ With the marriage of the corporeal and the corporate, we are at a unique juncture in human history that threatens to destroy the essence of our humanity. By instilling a passion and commitment to justice, education could provide the necessary counter force to this trend.

The Institute for the Humanities are committed to Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy of social liberation and justice. We are honored to be partners in this homage paid to this legacy through the Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture, which embodies Dr. Ambedkar’s important message. ‘So long as you do not achieve social liberty, whatever freedom is provided by the law is of no avail to you.’

The message from Hari Sharma Foundation read, “Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy remains vital because it challenges all settled beliefs and orthodoxy and calls for a fundamental examination of society  in order to topple its structures of oppression. It calls on scholarship to provide the ground for a social transformation in which the annihilation of caste will also be the annihilation of class and bring about the liberation that will be the coming into being of the truly Human.”

South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD) is proud to stand in solidarity with the struggle of the Dalits in India and the diaspora and honored to report the establishment of the Dr. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture in Vancouver that will extend this struggle.