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The Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLiFF) is devastated at the loss of our friend, comrade and Board member, Abbas Syed, a remarkable community leader, who dedicated his life to pursuing justice, equality, and progressive ideals. Abbas left us on November 18, 2023, leaving a legacy of peace and social justice that resonates with so many of us.

Abbas was one of the co-founders of the Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLiFF). It was a perfect medium for him to join two of his great loves – art and labour!

Born in a progressive family in Hyderabad, Deccan, in 1943, Abbas and his family were deeply involved in Pakistan’s left-leaning student politics and labour movement. He embarked on a new chapter of his life by moving to Canada in 1974, where he initially lived in Vancouver and then moved to Toronto later that same year. In Toronto, he met with other friends and comrades who were working to raise awareness against the brutal martial law regime of General Zia-ul-Haq and violations of civil liberties, including freedom of expression and the rights of women and religious minorities in Pakistan.

With others, Abbas co-founded the Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians (CPPC) and was an active member for more than 40 years.  Abbas’s unwavering commitment to progressive values shaped our actions through the platform of this Committee.

Abbas’ commitment to justice in the world extended to both CLiFF and the CPPC. His goal was to bring Canadians into the fold of the working-class people’s struggles in Canada. The best tribute we can give to Abbas is to carry forward his torch of peace and working-class struggle.

Our deepest condolences go out to Abbas’s family and friends. May he rest in peace, knowing that his legacy lives on, and we will continue to do everything we can to make his ideals a reality.

Rest in Power, Comrade Abbas Syed. We will take it from here!

#RestInPower #WorkersOfTheWorldUnite