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Black Day Commemoration Dinner 2015
(Photos: Nisar Ahmed)

Young Pakistan Association of Australia arranged memorial ceremony in Sydney for Shaheed students of the Army Public School Peshawar

On Thursday 17 December, 2015 the Young Pakistan Association of Australia (YPAA) held a commemoration dinner marking Black Day. The event was held to honour the victims of the Army Public School attack in Peshawar on 16th December, 2014. The High Commissioner for Pakistan,

Her Excellency Naela Chohan was the Chief Guest of the event. A mix of youth, religious leaders and patrons of the Pakistani Australian community were in attendance at a packed function centre to pay tribute to the victims of Black Day.

Proceedings were opened by the Master of Ceremony, Sidra Hameed who began by acknowledging the tragedy that occurred in Peshawar last year. Ms Hameed asked all guests to honour the victims with a one-minute silence and short prayer.

The crowd then rose for the National Anthems of both Australia and Pakistan. This was followed by a video of last years candle light vigil held in Hyde Park, Sydney. On conclusion of the video,

Talal Shah of the YPAA gave an opening address in which he thanked everybody who supported last year’s candle light vigil that was attended by more than 1000 people on 24 hours’ notice. Talal then outlined the purpose of the YPAA and welcomed all of the honourable guests and religious leaders.

The President of the Australia wide Pakistan Australia Council and the Pakistan Australia Business Council, Mr Iftikhar Rana was next to speak. Mr Rana spoke about the community’s attitude towards the Black Day tragedy and paid his respects to the victims. MC Sidra Hameed then introduced

Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane MLC who attended the function despite having plans to travel overseas the very next morning. Hon.Moselmane MLC commended the efforts of the YPAA in hosting the event and also wished the crowd a Merry Christmas and Eid Milad un-Nabi Mubarak.

A transcript of Hon. Moselmane’s speech can be found here

Recently retired Member of Parliament and former President of the NSW Legislative Council, Amanda Fazio was next to take the stage. Amanda spoke of her close connection with the Pakistani-Australian community and mentioned how she has visited the country of Pakistan many times. Amanda also expressed her grief at the tragic events that occurred on Black Day and applauded the response of the Pakistani Australian youth in Sydney.

Entree was served as the interfaith dialogue was brought to a start by Francis Ventura from the Peshawar School for Peace. Francis introduced the religious leaders of Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Sikh faiths.

First to speak was Zalman Kastel from Together for Humanity. He was then followed by Father Patrick . They were followed by an enthusiastic young Muslim leader, Usman Ali Syed and a representative of the Sikh community, Jasbinder Minhas. Each of them spoke about what their religion says in regard to peace amongst one another and how treat people of different faiths before reading a short prayer. On conclusion, all of the religious leaders and Mr Ventura held hands in prayer as a symbol of peace.

The Chief Guest who had arrived from Canberra specifically for the event, Her Excellency Naela Chohan then gave her key note address. H.E. Naela Chohan spoke about the hard work of the YPAA in co-ordinating the event and hosting so many notable members of the Pakistani Australian community and wider community. She also applauded their efforts in getting a high number of youth to turn out to the event. The crowd paid great attention as Her Excellency spoke about the efforts of the Pakistani government in eradicating terrorism. The full transcript of H.E. Chohan’s speech can be found here  and H.E. Naela Chohan's speech is also available on YouTube.

MC Sidra Hameed then asked the crowd to assemble for a group photo in which guests could hold LED candles and placards.

After the photo session, dinner was served. Tribute songs for the Army Public School victims were played throughout the dinner break. Proceedings were re-commenced with a tribute video.

After the video, the Junior Vice-President of the YPAA Mr Faraan Mirza gave a vote of thanks to the guests. Mr Mirza acknowledged all of the honourable guests, religious leaders, youth and those who were unable to make it but had forwarded through an apology, including Brigadier Muhammad Asghar Defence Advisor, High Commission for Pakistan, Canberra Australia.
The program was then brought to a close and guests stayed back to take photos and sign messages of peace that are to be delivered to the Army Public School in Peshawar.


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