Tuesday, November 18, 2008Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) commemorates Vancouver journalist Tara Singh Hayer, who was killed 10 years ago today. On November 18, 1998, the then 62-year-old publisher of the Indo-Canadian Times was shot to death at his Surrey, B.C. home. His murder remains unsolved. CJFE's Executive Director Annie Game says "The murder of Hayer was the greatest test, and, indeed, the greatest failure of press freedom in Canada." Despite repeated warnings, threats, and a previous attempt on his life, police were unable to protect him. With each passing year that his murder goes unpunished, it appears that these killers, on Canadian soil, have gotten away with murder. Hayer was almost certainly targeted for his investigative work on the Air India case. The 1985 bombing of an Air India flight, plotted and initiated in Vancouver, was the deadliest incident of aviation terrorism in Canadian history. Prior to the high-profile trial, Hayer had made statements to police that would incriminate members of a militant Sikh separatist group. He was also on the list of potential witnesses to be heard at the trial. Nor was this the first time Hayer had been attacked. A previous attempt on his life ten years before had left him confined to a wheelchair. Today, CJFE calls upon the RCMP to ensure that justice is done in this case. "The courage of this brave journalist deserves a more fitting legacy than a place in the unsolved pile of murders," said Game. "This is a burden of shame for all Canadians. We need closure on this case." When Hayer died, Canada lost an irreplaceable voice for the Indo-Canadian community - a devastatingly high price to pay in the name of free expression. In 1999, CJFE named its press freedom award given to Canadian journalists who have shown great courage in the course of doing their work after Tara Singh Hayer. CJFE is co-sponsoring an event tonight (November 18) with Langara College's Journalism Program in honour of Hayer. Details: Open to the public/Free Admission Venue/Time: Langara College, 100 West 49th Vancouver, A-130/7:00p.m. Speakers: Rupinder Hayer-Bains, Indo-Canadian Times; Kim Bolan, Vancouver Sun; Terry Milewski, CBC's The National. Moderator: Rob Dykstra, Chair, Dept. of Journalism, Langara
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