– Canada: Four persons of Indian origin appointed to Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet

Among them is former law professor Anita Anand, who is the first Hindu minister in the country’s Cabinet.

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 21 November 2019. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed four persons of Indian origin to his 36-member Cabinet, Hindustan Times reported on Thursday. They are Navdeep Singh Bains, Harjit Singh Sajjan, Bardish Chagger, and Anita Anand, who is the first Hindu minister in the Cabinet.

While Sajjan will remain the minister of defence, Bains has been appointed the minister of innovation, science and industry. Chagger is the new minister of diversity, inclusion and youth, while Anand will lead the ministry of public services and procurement.

Anand is one of the only two new members of parliament elevated to the Cabinet along with Quebec environmentalist Steven Guilbeault, reported CBC Canada. She has taken charge at a time when the government is putting the finishing touches on a multi-billion dollar purchase of new fighter jets.

A resident of Nova Scotia, Anand has taught law at the University of Toronto, and is known as an expert in shareholder rights.

Meanwhile, Trudeau moved Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland to the ministry of intergovernmental affairs and will tasked with keeping the minority government afloat and prevent a national unity crisis, The Guardian reported.

She will also have the symbolic role of deputy prime minister. Freeland will be responsible for the government’s dealings with the country’s western provinces that have increasingly come into conflict with the prime minister’s environmental policies that they believe are harming the struggling oil and gas industry.

The former foreign minister, who is known as a skilled negotiator, will also continue overseeing the country’s relationship with the US. She has been replaced at the foreign ministry by Quebec-based international lawyer Francois-Philippe Champagne.

His appointment, along with that of Montreal’s Pablo Rodríguez as House leader, is indicative of the growing importance of Bloc Quebecois, a federal party pushing for a sovereign Quebec that is crucial to the survival of Trudeau’s minority administration.

Former Trade Minister Jim Carr will be the prime minister’s special representative to Alberta, Saskatchewan and the central province of Manitoba to ensure they have “a strong voice in Ottawa”.

Asian Lite News – Special – 18 MPs and Sikh separatism in Canada

Is Canada’s Justin Trudeau government pandering to Sikh separatism? Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had said the Trudeau government’s move to remove reference to “Sikh extremism” was politically motivated.
A special report by Asian Lite News.

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 25 October 2019. The election of 18 members from the Sikh community grabs headlines across the world. It is more than the elected MPs from the Sikh community in India. But is it going to improve Indo-Canada ties?

Leader of Canada’s second largest party, Jagmeet Singh, may be a kingmaker in Ottawa, but for New Delhi he remains a ‘pro-Khalistani and a pro-Pakistani’ ringleader despite his deep Panjabi roots In India.

As many as 14 of the 18 Punjabi candidates fielded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party registered wins, mostly in the suburbs around Toronto and Vancouver. This time, a record half-a-dozen turbaned Sikhs will sit in the House.

Those who won from the Liberal party are Hoshiarpur’s Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South), Ludhiana’s Bardish Chagger (Waterloo) and Navdeep Bains (Mississauga Malton), all three are ministers.

The others from the party who won are Sukh Dhaliwal (Surrey Newton), Gagan Sikand (Mississauga Streetsville), Rameshwar Sangha (Brampton Centre), Randeep Sarai (Surrey Centre), Maninder Sidhu (Brampton East), Kamal Khera (Brampton East), Ruby Sahota (Brampton North), Sonia Sidhu (Brampton South), Anju Dhillon (Lachine Lassalle) and Raj Saini (Kitchener Centre) and Anita Anand (Oakville).

Of the 19 Punjabi candidates fielded by the Conservatives, only four won. They are former MP Tim Uppal (Edmonton Mill Woods), third-timer Bob Saroya (Markham Unionville), first-timer Jasraj Hallan (Calgary Forest Lawn) and Jagdeep Sahota (Calgary Skyview).

Uppal is the brother-in-law of Congress MLA from Jalandhar Cantt, Pargat Singh. Liberal Anita Anand is a first time MP.

In the 2015 elections, the 1.25 million-strong Indo-Canadian community doubled its representation in the Parliament with the election of 19 MPs.

Indo-Canadians comprise 3 per cent of the population of Canada.

In 2011, almost all the Indo-Canadian MPs were Conservatives, but the trend changed in 2015. The victory of Justin Trudeau in 2015 catapulted 15 Indo-Canadian Liberals to the Parliament in Ottawa.

Among Canada’s half-million strong Sikh community quite a number are reported to be supporters of Sikh extremism. In April, the Justin Trudeau government removed a reference to Sikh extremism from a report that had earlier termed Sikh terrorism as one of the five threats facing Canada.

Pro-Khailistani groups had criticised the “Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada” released last December by the Canadian Department of Public Safety.

The removal of reference to Sikh terrorism was seen as an attempt to woo Canadian Sikhs, and came just ahead of Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit to a Vancouver gurdwara for Baisakhi festivities. According to the now-deleted portions of the report, Sikh radicalism remains one of Canada’s top five flavors of homegrown terrorism, alongside Islamic radicalism and far-right fanaticism.

Under the heading “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism,” the report noted that “some individuals in Canada continue to support Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements”.

It said that “two key Sikh organizations, Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation, have been identified as being associated with terrorism and remain listed terrorist entities under the Criminal Code.”

The report cited the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 by British Columbia-based Sikh extremists. It noted that there were “extremely limited” instances of Khalistani violence on Canadian soil, and added that both Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation continue to be blamed by Indian authorities for ongoing violence.

The report explicitly referred to Canadian-based “financing” for the Khalistani organisations.

Sikh community leaders and Sikh members of the ruling Liberal Party protested against the report which they termed as an attack on Sikhism. Pro-Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) demanded Prime Minister Trudeau’s resignation over the report.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, SFJ legal adviser, in a statement said: “For close to a year you and your government stood behind a completely unsubstantiated terror report that labelled our community as Sikh extremists or terrorists.

It’s despicable that you drop the offensive language from your report the day before you come calling for money and votes in Vancouver.”

Latest reports suggest that Jagmeet Singh is also trying to bring Khalistani and Kashmiri separatists under one umbrella in Canada. Recently he held a meeting in this connection at his residence in Ontario.

The report was then officially softened in April, to coincide with Trudeau’s attendance at a Baisakhi parade in British Columbia.
Mention of “Sikh extremism” and their motive of a “Sikh homeland” were expunged. Instead, there was a vague sentence on “Extremists who Support Violent Means to Establish an Independent State Within India.”

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had said the Trudeau government’s move to remove reference to “Sikh extremism” was politically motivated.

“The Trudeau government has taken this decision under political pressure and is targeted to woo Sikhs in the election year. Trudeau is playing with fire as the decision will hit Indo-Canadian ties. Removal of reference to Sikh extremism will also pose a threat to India’s national security” Amarinder Singh said.

Canadian politician Ujjal Dosanjh a former federal Liberal cabinet minister and NDP Premier of British Columbia in an interview to the Sun said that with the move Trudeau’s government “has bowed to hard-right Khalistanis”.

“If he had bowed in the same way to hard-right fundamentalist Christians on any issue, there would be devastating criticisms of him by the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP. Except in this particular case the identity politics has won the day.

This is an extreme case of political pandering by Mr Trudeau. He capitulated to the hard-right Khalistanis and undermined the Canadian intelligence agencies or at least their independence in the way they want to identify their threats.”

Jagmeet Singh the King Maker

New Democratic Party (NPD) leader Jagmeet Singh, a contender in Monday’s Canadian general elections and also the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit as a provincial legislator in Ontario, has reached out to young voters in the country via TikTok, the video sharing app.

Singh has made it a priority to try to connect with young voters through his campaign, using tools and strategies other political leaders either cannot or have chosen not to try, CBC News reported on Sunday.

A dossier prepared by Indian Intelligence agencies says that Jagmeet, leader of the New Democratic Party(NDP), not only shelters activists of Khalistan in Canada, he leads the anti-Indian movement in the Americas, more vociferously, after India revoked special status to Jammu and Kashmir, early August 2019.

To the surprise of many diplomats in South Block, the seat of India’s foreign office in New Delhi, Singh, born to immigrant Indian parents, organised a conference of pro-Khalistan activists in Ontario in 2013, aimed at maligning the image of India abroad.

Two years later in 2015, as legislature member of NDP, Singh appeared at a pro-Khalistan rally in San-Francisco. He blatantly showered praises for dreaded terror leader Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, killed in a gunfight in Operation Blue Star.

In 2016, Singh went a step further when he endorsed the use of violence as a legitimate form of resistance to achieve an independent Sikh homeland out of India. Since 2012, Jagmeet Singh now 40, has been on the radar of Indian Intelligence agencies.

On a specific report of Research and Analysis Wing (RA&W), India’s external Intelligence agency, Singh was denied a visa in 2013 for his anti-Indian stance.

The RA&W revealed in one its report that Singh had been funding Khalistani outfits, operating from Pakistan. He is also connected with prominent Khalistani and Kashmiri separatist groups based in different countries of Europe.

Latest reports suggest that Jagmeet Singh is also trying to bring Khalistani and Kashmiri separatists under one umbrella in Canada. Recently he held a meeting in this connection at his residence in Ontario.

After the abrogation of Article 370 by the Modi government, Singh had expressed his support to pro-Pakistan propaganda on Kashmir. In various local media platforms Singh issued statements against India and accused the country of human rights violations in the region.

“I want the people of Kashmir to know that I stand with you, I stand against the injustices happening, and I denounce what India is doing to the people of Kashmir,” he told the media.

Though Singh’s meteoric rise in Canadian politics is seen as triumph of multiculturalism but there are many Canadians of Indian origin who are now questioning NDP leader on his proximity to sympathisers of slain terror kingpin Talwinder Singh Parmar, prime suspect in Kanishka (Air India) bombing.

Parmat, the militant who lead the Babbar Khalsa outfit still has many followers in Canada, allegedly having close ties with Singh.

Sources in the Ministry Of External Affairs said that India is watching the developments in Ottawa closely. As far the political rise of Jagmeet Singh is concerned, New Delhi’s stand is quite clear.

Those found harbouring terror outfits or their supporters would not be entertained in India. A point also endorsed and acknowledged by foreign policy makers in Canada.

There are many people outside India, Sikh or non-Sikh who are critical of the way India treats its minorities. Many Panjabi Sikhs in the UK and Canada would like to see a state of Khalistan, outside the Union of India. There are links between ‘Khalistani’ and Kashmiri’ separatists in both countries.

These people are separatists, but not extremists or terrorists. In democratic countries like Canada or the UK it is legal to campaign for an independent Quebec or Scotland. India is not a democracy, and it defends itself and its appalling human rights record by equating separatism with extremism and terrorism.
Man in Blue – Canada: 18 Sikh leaders elected to Parliament, five more than India

One of the Sikh leaders, Jagmeet Singh, is being seen as a kingmaker because Justin Trudeau, who lost majority, will need his help to form the government.

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 23 October 2019. As many as 18 Sikhs were voted to the Canadian Parliament in the recently-concluded federal elections. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday won a second term after his Liberal Party secured 157 of 338 seats.

However, Trudeau will lead a minority government as his party failed to secure the majority of 170. The main opposition, the conservatives, secured 121 seats.

The number of Sikhs in the Canadian Parliament’s lower house, the House of Commons, is higher than those in India’s Lok Sabha even though Sikhs make up about 2% of the population in both countries, The Times of India reported on Wednesday. India has 13 Sikh MPs in the Lower House.

Among the newly-elected Sikh MPs in Canada, 13 are from the Liberal Party, four from the Conservative Party and one is from the New Democratic Party.

The Liberals include Harjit Singh Sajjan, Randeep Singh Sarai and Sukh Dhaliwal from British Columbia; Navdeep Singh Bains, Gagan Sikand, Rameshwar Singh Sangha, Maninder Singh Sidhu, Kamal Khera, Ruby Sahota, Sonia Sidhu, Bardish Chagger and Raj Saini from Ontario, and Anju Dhillon from Quebec.

Alberta MPs Tim Singh Uppal, Jasraj Singh Hallan and Jag Sahota, and Ontario’s Bob Saroya are Conservative members. New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh won from British Columbia province. Jagmeet Singh is being seen as a kingmaker because Trudeau’s party will need his New Democratic Party’s help to form the government.

The New Democratic Party won 24 seats, losing nearly 50% of the seats it had won in 2015 but the Left-leaning party is still expected to play a major role.

The Globe and Mail – Jagmeet Singh addresses turban head-on in new Quebec NDP advertisement

Kristy Kirkup

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 04 September 2019. Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is including his identity as a turbaned Sikh in his pitch to voters in a province immersed in debate over separating the state from religious symbols.

Mr Singh, who is expected to face a fierce battle in Quebec in the forthcoming campaign, is featured in a new advertisement that begins by showing the leader with his hair down, a marked difference from his usual appearance, where his hair is concealed under coloured turbans.

The ad release comes as Mr Singh is dealing with challenges such as slumping fundraising, naming a roster of candidates and the Tuesday announcement that 14 former candidates from the New Brunswick NDP are now joining the provincial and federal Green parties.

Mélanie Richer, a spokesperson for Mr Singh, played down the announcement from the Greens on Tuesday, adding the NDP will soon be announcing a full slate of candidates in New Brunswick and that “people change their mind for who they would like to support.”

The party is also hoping that through its Quebec advertisement, set to be circulated online and on television, that it can deliver a message that its leader may look different but that he shares progressive values on issues such as climate change.

Intense debate has played out in Quebec over a law barring public-sector employees such as teachers from wearing religious symbols in the workplace.

For his part, Mr Singh said he will not shy away from talking about his turban.

“What I want to achieve with that is assure folks that I kind of get Quebeckers have had to fight, for respect, for space, for their language, for their identity,” he said.

“It has been tough. I’ve had to as well, fight for a lot of things in my life and I get that it is not easy.”

The advertisement amounts to a show of authenticity for the leader, said NDP Quebec lieutenant Alexandre Boulerice, adding Quebeckers will appreciate that he is being genuine about who he is. – Statement by the World Sikh Organization on India’s revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy

Sikh24 Editors

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 06 August 2019. The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply concerned by the Government of India’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

Article 370 gave the State of Jammu & Kashmir the right to its own constitution and decision-making processes for all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs. Article 370 dates back to 1949 when Kashmir agreed to become part of the Indian Union on the condition that it would retain a degree of autonomy.

The revocation of Article 370 came unannounced and accompanied by a bill to divide and reorganize the State of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories. The freshly divided State of Jammu & Kashmir would relinquish major powers to the Central Government but would retain a state legislature while the newly carved out State of Ladakh would be under direct central governance.

The shocking measures adopted today, came after the deployment of 35,000 extra troops into Kashmir in recent days- an area that is already one of the most militarized regions in the world. Authorities have also suspended internet services creating a blackout of the entire region.

Many Kashmiri political leaders have been arrested and taken into custody. Late Sunday in Kashmir, Indian forces laid steel barricades and razor wire on roads and intersections and issued a security order banning public meetings, rallies and movement and the closure of schools.

WSO President Mukhbir Singh said today:

“The Indian Government’s revocation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and the division and reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir is shocking and unprecedented. Kashmir joined the Indian Union based on the terms set out in Article 370 and to withdraw those protections without due process or consultations with the people of Kashmir flies in the face of democratic values and norms.

The Indian government has acted in an authoritarian manner by stripping Jammu & Kashmir of its constitutionally mandated autonomy and relegating it to an occupied territory. The rule of law and basic democratic values have not been respected.

We fear for the people of Kashmir as their political leadership is under mass arrest and their civil rights have been suspended. The international community must not silently observe as human rights are trampled in Kashmir.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, the irrespective of race, religion , gender, ethnicity, social and economic status.

Ottawa Citizen – Leader of India’s Punjab calls for sanctions against Canada if it does not crack down on Sikh extremists

‘India had, for too long, been soft towards Canada and needed to crack its whip aggressively, even seek UN sanctions if needed, to end the growing threat once and for all’

Tom Blackwell

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 27 June 2019. Captain Amarinder Singh has always made it clear he thinks Canada is soft on alleged Sikh extremists in this country.

The head of India’s Panjab state government once alleged the Liberal cabinet harbours four “Khalistani” advocates of an independent Sikh homeland, publicly snubbed Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and gave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a list of purported Sikh terrorists living here.

But Singh went even further with his critique in an unexpected statement issued this week, accusing the Canadian government of providing “overt and covert” support to the Khalistani movement, and calling on New Delhi to consider sanctions against Canada if it does not take a tougher stance.

The Panjab chief minister urged India’s national government “to mount global pressure on Canada to put an end to the use of its soil to unleash terror against India, particularly the Sikh community being targeted by Khalistani terrorists.”

“India had, for too long, been soft towards Canada and needed to crack its whip aggressively, even seek UN sanctions if needed, to end the growing threat once and for all, the Chief Minister stressed,” said the news release posted on the Punjab government’s website Monday.

The comments add to ongoing tension between the two countries over the Khalistani issue, and the degree to which Canadian politicians support the movement.

It’s unclear what prompted the latest outburst, although it follows a decision by the federal government in April to remove specific references to Sikh extremism from a contentious Public Safety Canada report on terrorism.

Global Affairs Canada, asked about the statement, was unable to respond by deadline.

The Indian government has also voiced concerns over Canadian politicians’ approach to Sikh nationalism, but the Indian High Commission in Ottawa did not reply to a request for comment.

For Sikhs here, Singh’s verbal attack comes “completely out of left field,” said Balpreet Singh, legal counsel for the World Sikh Organization.

The allegations are unfounded, and some of them are “outlandish”, but they will nonetheless harm Canadian members of the faith, he said.

It hurts us here as a community

“What this looks like to us, is foreign interference, a narrative created in India and pushed into Canada about Canadian Sikhs,” said Singh. “It hurts us here as a community. It’s something that affects our reputation, and affects folks here on the ground.”

Singh suggested the Panjab leader may simply be angry that Canada barred him from coming here in 2016 to campaign among the Indian diaspora, a group considered to have considerable influence and financial clout in Punjab politics.

Accusing another country of giving a safe haven to terrorists could also help distract voters from the state’s struggling economy, he said.

Amarinder Singh, a former Indian army officer, first aired his criticisms of Canada in April 2017, when he insisted the four Sikhs in Trudeau’s cabinet were Khalistanis, a charge denied by all of them, and refused to meet Sajjan when the minister visited Punjab.

Peaceful support for an independent Khalistan in India is strong among leadership of Sikh temples [Gurdwaras] in Canada, with some gurdwaras displaying portraits of alleged extremists, and Canadian politicians have for years now reached out to such leaders as they court the powerful Sikh vote.

One of the guests on Trudeau’s ill-fated India trip in February 2018 was Jaspal Atwal, convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986.

Trudeau sat down with Singh for a fence-mending session during that same trip, with the Punjab chief minister handing over a list of nine alleged Sikh extremists in Canada.

Whether by coincidence or not, at least three Sikhs were for the first time placed on the federal no-fly list last year. Last December’s edition of the annual terror report also mentioned the threat of Sikh terrorism for the first time, though that phrasing was removed and replaced with a reference to extremists who pursue separatism in India after an outcry from Sikh leaders here.

In his statement, Singh referred to the list of “wanted terrorists” he provided to Trudeau last year but said “the lack of response from their government so far has exposed their intent.”

Canada’s “failure to check anti-India activities being carried out from its soil would be detrimental to its own security and interests in the long run,” he warned.

As evidence, the chief minister quoted extensively from the 2010 findings of a public inquiry into the Air-India bombing by Sikh terrorists, which concluded the attack followed a “cascading series of errors” by security agencies 34 years ago.

Singh’s statement exhibits a less-than-perfect knowledge of Canadian political geography, indicating the seat of federal government is Toronto, not Ottawa.

Global News – Ralph Goodale says Canada will reconsider descriptions of Sikh groups in terror report

Mia Rabson

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 14 December 2018. Canada’s public-safety ministry will reconsider the way Sikh organizations are described in a recent report outlining terror threats in Canada, the department’s minister Ralph Goodale said Friday.

The Canadian Sikh community, including one of Goodale’s fellow Liberal MPs, wants him to do far more than fix a few words.

Goodale said he is confident the security officials who wrote the 2018 report on terrorism threats facing Canada did not mean to malign entire religions when describing Sikh, Shia and Sunni extremism but he is still asking them to make changes to be more precise.

Balpreet Singh, a lawyer representing the World Sikh Organization of Canada, said Goodale has missed the point. Singh said this is the first time Sikh extremism has been mentioned in the annual terror-threat assessment but provides no evidence for doing so.

He said the only incident the report mentions is the bombing of an Air India flight leaving Canada for New Delhi and Mumbai. That attack killed 329 people but it was in 1985.

“Reevaluating the language is fine but just the fact that this section was there is very troubling given that there is absolutely no context beyond something that happened three decades ago,” said Singh.

The report says “some individuals in Canada continue to support Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements.”

Khalistan is the name for an independent Indian state proposed by some Sikhs. Extremists demanding Sikh independence were behind the Air India bombing, but Singh said there is simply no evidence Sikh extremism exists in Canada today.

He said just advocating for an independent Sikh state is no different from wanting Quebec to separate from Canada.

Ralph Goodale says Canada will reconsider descriptions of Sikh groups in terror report – Jagmeet Singh hopes Canada will recognize inhuman carnage of Sikhs as genocide

Sikh24 Editors

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 03 November 2018. Jagmeet Singh, who heads the National Democratic Party in Canadian Parliament, has released a statement on the 34th anniversary of the 1984 Sikh genocide.

In his statement, Jagmeet Singh has expressed hope that the House of Commons in Canada and the Canadians will soon recognize the inhuman carnage carried out by the fanatic Hindu mobs in November-1984 as genocide.

Wording of his statement is as follows:

“From November 1st to 4th, Canadians and Human Rights Advocates will mark the 34th anniversary of the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

Sikh men were burned alive. Women were subject to unthinkable sexual violence and children were murdered in gruesome fashion.

Many, including, former Indian Supreme Court Justice, G T Nanavati have pointed out that state resources were instrumental in these premeditated killings.

That is why I join and express my solidarity with the thousands of Canadians that live with this pain as survivors and bearers of inter-generational trauma.

It is also why efforts for healing and reconciliation must be prioritized.

Unfortunately, the statement from a member of the Liberal government to mark today’s solemn anniversary did not do this.

By referring to the tragedy as “riots” the Liberal Government contradicted and undermined the spirit of reconciliation.

Truth-telling is a prerequisite to justice and the naming of these crimes is instrumental to the healing and reconciliation process for those impacted.

In this spirit, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh and as well as the Delhi Assembly and the Ontario Legislature have recognized these atrocities as genocide.

It is my hope that the House of Commons in Canada and this government will do the same.

The path to reconciliation will not be easy, but for the victims and survivors, today we remember”. – United Sikhs call upon Canadian Prime Minister and House of Commons to provide asylum to Afghan minorities

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 26 October 2018. United Sikhs this week announced a call to action in the House of Commons alongside several members of Parliament to address the increasingly desperate plight of religious minorities in Afghanistan.

After gaining the support of several policy stakeholders, including MPs Garnett Genuis, Elizabeth May, Cheryl Hardcastle, Harold Albrecht, Lisa Raitt, Arnold Viersen and Bob Saroya, following a series of targeted terrorist attacks against Sikhs over the summer, the non-profit human rights organization is now calling upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urgently process asylum for minorities facing religious persecution.

“I was very pleased to join with so many members of various opposition parties, including the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party, to table a petition in the House of Commons in support of persecuted minority communities in Afghanistan,” said MP Genuis, who led the news conference on Wednesday.

“The cross-party engagement on this will hopefully help to move the ball forward and bring about government action, in terms of advocacy, and in terms of facilitating the private sponsorship of refugees by the community here in Canada.”

The news conference comes within weeks of a written human rights statement the organization submitted to the United Nations during a Human Rights Council Session held in Geneva, Switzerland last month.

The three main areas of concern for religious minorities in Afghanistan, as outlined by United Sikhs, are personal safety/security, religious freedom, and the right to life.

As recent as last month, a marked uptick of attacks against Hindus and Sikhs across Afghanistan have become increasingly brutal. On Sept. 1, Satnam Singh and his son, who are both identifiable Sikhs, were shot and killed in their own shop in the Herat Province.

This is believed to be the second marked attack on the Sikh minority after the Taliban orchestrated a suicide bombing on July 1, in which 13 Hindu and Sikh dignitaries were targeted and killed while on their way to a meeting with government officials in Jallalabad.

“The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating for religious minorities,” said Jagdeep Singh, United Sikhs Director of Human Rights Policy, during the news conference.

“Sikhs are forced into segregation and Muslim conversion, and Gurdwaras (Sikh schools of spiritual learning) are regularly attacked by the Taliban and other extremist groups. In 1992, historic records indicate 60,000 lived in Afghanistan (down from 200,000 at one time). Today, there are as few as 1,200 in the country.”

In conjunction with the news conference, a petition of thousands of Canadian residents was formally submitted in the House of Commons, led by MP Garnett Genius, urging the Prime Minister to expedite asylum and grant the local Sikh and Hindu community with requested sponsorship.

“This petition calls for the government to do more to advocate with our Afghan counterpart for the rights of these minorities, and it also asks the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to use the powers granted him to create a special program to help persecuted minorities in Afghanistan,” Genius stated to the Speaker while submitting the petition during regular proceedings on the House of Commons floor.

“The community here in Canada is ready to sponsor these communities. It’s been three years, it’s time for action.”

“At one time, Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and today, less than 5,000 remain,” said MP Harold Albrecht in support of the petition presented.

“We’re calling on the Minister, pointing out to the Minister, that he already has the power, by legislation, to allow vulnerable minorities to come to Canada as privately sponsored refugees directly from the country where they face persecution, and further urging the Minister to raise the persecution faced by this community with the Afghan counterpart and to strongly advocate for more to be done to protect them.”

Building upon this effort, United Sikhs will formally request a meeting with the Prime Minister and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. In addition, the organization will continue to raise the issue with members of Congress in the United States and Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom.

We should not forget the plight of the Shia Hazaras, an ethnic and religious minority despised by most Afghans, whose mosques are regularly bombed by Taliban and other violent groups.
Man in Blue

The Hindu – Canada strips Aung San Suu Kyi of honorary citizenship

Ottawa had given the long-detained democracy advocate and Nobel laureate the rare honour in 2007.

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 28 September 2018. Canada’s parliament has voted unanimously to effectively strip Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary Canadian citizenship over the Rohingya crisis.

Ottawa had given the long-detained democracy advocate and Nobel laureate the rare honour in 2007.

But her international reputation has become tarnished by her refusal to call out the atrocities by her nation’s military against the Rohingya Muslims minority, which Ottawa last week declared a genocide.

“In 2007, the House of Commons granted Aung San Suu Kyi the status of honorary Canadian citizen. Today, the House unanimously passed a motion to remove this status,” said Adam Austen, spokesman for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, on Thursday.

A brutal military campaign that started last year drove more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh, where they now live in cramped refugee camps, fearful of returning to mainly Buddhist Myanmar despite a repatriation deal.

Many have given accounts of extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and arson.

The military has denied nearly all wrongdoing, justifying its crackdown as a legitimate means of rooting out Rohingya militants.

But after a fact-finding mission, the United Nations on Thursday set up a panel to prepare indictments against Myanmar’s army chief and five other top military commanders for crimes against humanity.

Ms Suu Kyi’s democratically-elected government remains in a delicate power balance with the generals, whose presence in parliament gives them an effective veto on constitutional changes.

Mr Austen cited Ms Suu Kyi’s “persistent refusal to denounce the Rohingya genocide” for the withdrawal of the Canadian honour, which is symbolic and comes with no special privileges.

“We will continue to support the Rohingyas by providing humanitarian assistance, imposing sanctions against Myanmar’s generals and demanding that those responsible be held accountable before a competent international body,” he added.

Honorary Canadian citizenship has only been granted to five others including the Dalai Lama, girls education advocate Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandela.