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Tributes Paid to Sikhs who Sacrificed Lives for Freedom of People of Europe

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    On Armistice Day on 11 November hundreds of Sikhs from Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and the UK will gather in the Belgian town of Ypres (Ieper) to commemorate the sacrifices of Sikh soldiers who fell in the First World War.

    Sikhs will participate in the ‘poppy parade’, a yearly ceremonial walk of thousands from the centre of Ypres up to the Menen Gate, where the names of numerous Sikhs who sacrificed their lives are individually listed. Sikhs will walk behind a large banner with the image shown below to get across an important message.

    The Last Post – the traditional (British) salute to the fallen warrior – that is sounded every evening under the Menen Gate, a British memorial to commemorate all soldiers who fell around Ypres, will be heard at 11am. Sikh representatives from across Europe will then lay wreaths under the Menen Gate and pay tribute to Sikhs who sacrificed their lives so the people of Europe could live in freedom.

    Thousands of postcards will be distributed to highlight the importance of the Sikh identity. The postcards will read:

    'Around 80,000 Sikh troops fought in Belgium and France during World War I. More than one quarter of these soldiers became casualties. In the first battle of Ypres in Flanders in 1914 a platoon of Sikhs died fighting to the last man.'

    'The people of a free Europe should never forget the contribution and bravery of Sikh soldiers during World War 1. Sikhs recognise their sacrifices as an important part of their modern history. The Sikhs ‘European’ past and sacrifices for the freedom and liberation of Europe needs much greater exposure and proper recognition as part of the existing commemorations of the fallen.'

    'During these challenging times the distinct Sikh identity and their tradition as fighters for freedom depicted by those courageous Sikh soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our freedom should be promoted and celebrated across Europe. The visible Sikh identity is fundamental to the way of life and very existence of a Sikh and should be protected and given the highest respect by European governments and institutions.'

    In the two world wars 83,005 turban wearing Sikh soldiers sacrificed their lives and a further 109,045 were wounded for Europe's freedom. The programme on Saturday 11th November 2006 in Ieper to commemorate the 88th Anniversary of the end of the First World War is as follows :

    09.30 a.m. Service at the Saint-Martin’s Cathedral
    10.45 a.m. Ceremony at the Belgian Memorial
    11.00 a.m. Ceremony at the Menen Gate
    12.00 a.m. Academic session and reception in the Town Hall

    Following the gathering of Sikhs from across Europe on Saturday 11 November in Ieper Sikhs in Belgium have arranged for a large European-wide tribute to the Sikh Nation's martyrs on Sunday 12 November at Gurdwara Sangat Sahib, 20 Halmaaldorp, B-3800 Sint Truiden, Belgium. Sikhs from across Europe are being urged to take part in the weekend of activities aimed at raising awareness of the Sikh identity and history.

    For further information on the bravery of our forfathers in Europe , please read the link below:

    Ieper - Belgium 2005
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