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Charges laid against man who allegedly defaced Komagata Maru memorial in Vancouver

Click to play video: 'City of Vancouver issues official apology for role in Komagata Maru incident' City of Vancouver issues official apology for role in Komagata Maru incident
WATCH: The City of Vancouver has issued an official apology for its role in the 1914 Komagata Maru incident. As Andrea Macpherson reports, more than a century later, those impacted by this dark chapter in our history will be honoured at Vancouver's first Komagata Maru Remembrance Day – May 18, 2021

After four months of investigation, Vancouver Police have laid a mischief charge against the man believed to have defaced the Komagata Maru memorial in Coal Harbour.

The memorial was splattered with white paint and hand prints sometime last August, and at the time, the detachment said it promised to do “everything in our power” to uncover who was responsible.

A province-wide warrant has now been issued for the arrest of 39-year-old Yuniar Kurniawan.

Read more: Komagata Maru memorial in B.C. vandalized: police

“This crime reverberated throughout the community because of what this memorial reveals about our past and the steps we have taken to become a more inclusive community,” said Sgt. Steve Addison in a Wednesday news release.

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“We promised to do everything in our power to solve this crime, and we’re pleased that evidence has led us to a criminal charge.”

Click to play video: 'Name of politician behind Komagata Maru incident removed from federal building in Vancouver' Name of politician behind Komagata Maru incident removed from federal building in Vancouver
Name of politician behind Komagata Maru incident removed from federal building in Vancouver – Aug 9, 2019

The memorial contains the names of nearly 400 people who sailed from India to Vancouver aboard the SS Komagata Maru in 1914, but were denied entry due to racist immigration exclusion policies against those of Asian origin.

According to Parks Canada, a 1908 order-in-council required “Asiatic” immigrants to have at least $200 to enter the country. A second order-in-council required all immigrants to come to Canada via “continuous journey,” directly from their country of origin, even though non-stop travel from India to Canada was largely unavailable at the time.

“Sikh businessman Gurdit Singh chartered the Komagata Maru from Hong Kong to confront these restrictions and hoped that he and his passengers, all British citizens, would be able to enter Canada,” says an entry on the Parks Canada website.

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“This would not be the case.”

Read more: What was the Komagata Maru incident and why does it matter?

Immigration officials would not allow the vessel to dock, and nearly all 376 of its passengers were forced to return to India. They only obtained food and provisions for the journey after weeks of advocacy and fundraising for a lawyer by the local South Asian community.

According to scholars at Simon Fraser University who studied the incident, 19 of the passengers were killed by gunfire upon disembarking in India. Others were imprisoned.

More than 100 years later, the federal government formally apologized for its role in the tragedy, and in May last year, the City of Vancouver did the same.

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