Sikh Federation – Over 25 000 to gather to remember victims of the 1984 Sikh genocide

On eve of General Election legal and political pressure to be increased for independent public inquiry into Margaret Thatcher’s complicity in the 1984 Sikh Genocide and anti-Sikh measures against British Sikh activists.

International pressure to be increased for a UN-led investigation into the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

Renewed efforts to present a case under international law for the establishment of an independent Sikh state, Khalistan to act as a buffer between India and Pakistan.

One minute silence at around 3 pm for all the innocent civilians killed in 1984 Sikh Genocide, in Manchester and last night in London.

The theme of the annual event is Truth, Justice and Freedom.

Truth will focus on the need for a judge-led independent public inquiry into UK involvement in the attack and anti-Sikh measures against the British Sikh community and activists following pressure from the Indian authorities in return for trade.

Further details will be revealed about the ongoing legal action and political campaign for an independent public inquiry to get to the truth of UK involvement.

The Labour Party has committed in its 2017 General Election manifesto to hold an independent public inquiry into the actions of the UK Government.

A senior figure in the Labour Party is expected to address the 25 000 Sikhs gathered in Trafalgar Square a few days before the General Election on 8 June and confirm the inquiry will also address restrictions imposed on British Sikhs in the UK.

Justice will focus on the need for a UN-led investigation into the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

Those gathered for the event will be told using the definition of Genocide in Article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide 1948 the series of events in June 1984, the killings and disappearances in the months that followed and the systematic and deliberate killing of innocent Sikhs in November 1984, separately and collectively constitute Genocide.

The Sikh Federation (UK) will disclose at the rally in Trafalgar Square they have been lobbying the five permanent members of the UN Security Council for a UN-led inquiry into the atrocities committed by the Indian authorities in 1984.

Freedom will focus on the right to self determination being a basic human right founded in international law and absolutely fundamental to the protection of individual rights.

Those gathered will be told 70 years ago in 1947 and despite a number of extant Anglo-Sikh friendship treaties Britain illegitimately divided the Sikh homeland during the disaster of Partition and created India and Pakistan.

For more than 35 years the Sikhs made substantial efforts aimed at securing greater rights within India. The demands for greater autonomy for Punjab were not only violently rejected by the Indian State but have been crushed with Indian state terror.

India has refused to change its Constitution and have legal safeguards for the culture, language and religion of the Sikhs and lost the right to rely on the territorial integrity argument by oppressing the minority Sikh community.

Those present will be told that following the recent criticism of India at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Narendra Modi-led Indian Government at the UN Human Rights Council that UN member states have an appetite to push for accountability and change.

On 6 June a written submission will be presented to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – UK, US, UK, France, China and Russia. It will be communicated that international law and the experience of the Sikhs over the last 70 years is the basis on which Sikhs have a legitimate demand for an independent state.

The UK Government will be pressed that it has a historic, legal and moral responsibility towards the Sikhs to help through diplomatic means and respect for international law to resolve a conflict that still continues.

There will also be a push for UN rapporteurs and independent experts to carry out independent investigations into the torture, disappearances, false encounters and extra-judicial executions.

Note 1 – 1984 Sikh Genocide

In 1984 up to 150,000 Indian army troops were sent to Punjab, the Sikh homeland, equipped with helicopter gunships and tanks. Punjab was cut off from the rest of the world. 24-hour curfews were imposed, all telephone and telex lines cut, all Indian journalists were expelled and orders to shoot on site were widely carried out.

As the Christian Science Monitor stated on 8 June 1984 ‘the whole of Punjab, with its 5,000 villages and 50 major cities, was turned into a concentration camp’.

Operation Blue Star in June 1984 resulted in over 125 other Sikh shrines being simultaneously attacked on the false pretext of apprehending ‘a handful of militants’ lodged inside the Sri Harmandir Sahib or Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar.

The Indian army unleashed a terror unprecedented in post-independence India. Tanks let loose a barrage of highly explosive shells, which destroyed the Sri Akal Takht Sahib, the temporal seat of the Sikhs.

The timing chosen for the attack was when Sikhs were marking the Martyrdom of the Fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji when it was known tens of thousands of Sikh and non-Sikh pilgrims would be in Amritsar.

Thousands of innocent pilgrims, men, women and children were killed, some shot at point blank range with their hands tied behind their backs with their turbans. An estimated 11,000 pilgrims never returned to claim their shoes.

Operation Woodrose was launched concurrently by the Indian army in the countryside when tens of thousands of Sikhs, overwhelmingly young men aged 15-35, were detained for interrogation and subsequently tortured and many killed.

According to Dr Sangat Singh, Joint Intelligence Committee, about 100,000 youth were taken into custody within the first 4 to 6 weeks of the operation and that many of them were not heard of again. The operation continued for another 8 to 10 weeks and ended in September 1984.

For 33 years UN rapporteurs and independent experts as well as Amnesty International have been denied access to Punjab to investigate widespread allegations of torture, disappearances, false encounters and extra-judicial executions.

In November 1984 we had the systematic killing of an estimated 30,000 innocent Sikhs across India. Most were burnt alive in 18 states and in over 130 cities across India. Sikhs on public roads were burnt alive, dragged out from trains and lynched on the railway platforms and set on fire.

Property worth millions was looted and destroyed. Hundreds of Sikh women were gang raped by goons, police officers and civil administrators. Small children were ruthlessly killed by pulling their legs apart while their mothers were being raped. More than 300,000 Sikhs were displaced and rendered homeless.

Hundreds of Gurdwaras and the living Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sikh scriptures was burnt and desecrated in a systematic and planned way across India.

Note 2 – UK involvement and calls for an independent public inquiry

There was widespread shock in January 2014 when papers released under the 30-year rule revealed that the UK Government had directly assisted the Indian authorities in helping to plan the Indian army assault on Sri Harmandr Sahib that led to the massacre of thousands of innocent Sikh pilgrims.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister immediately asked the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to carry out an internal review. However, before the report was published and presented to Parliament with unprecedented speed, concerns were publicly expressed about the narrow terms of reference for the review.

In particular the review had inherent limitations as it only examined files and documents available from December 1983 through to June 1984.

Cabinet papers in the months before December 1983 when defence-related sales to India were discussed were ignored. Similarly, Cabinet papers from November 1984 were brought to the attention of the Cabinet Secretary and clearly showed the British cabinet were under pressure from India with respect to trade of £5bn.

Details of the specific British military advice given in February 1984 have not been revealed, nor has the reason why the UK Government agreed to advise the Indian government on how to attack the Sikhs’ holiest shrine.

More recent disclosure of Cabinet Office and Foreign Office papers show how India continued to use potential arms sales to force the UK Government to try and curb activities of British Sikhs and further SAS support was offered by Britain to the Indian authorities immediately after the June 1984 massacre of Sikhs.

Of considerable concern is information looked at by the Cabinet Secretary in January 2014 remains deliberately withheld and is the subject of ongoing legal proceedings. The lack of openness strongly suggests they have something incriminating to hide and are worried about the reaction of Sikhs across the globe.

The 2014 internal review has been proved to be incomplete and unsatisfactory. It has now been revealed deliberate omissions were needed to safeguard Britain and India with respect to the treatment of Sikhs and many questions remain unanswered including the extent to which Parliament was misled in 1984 and 2014.

The legal and political campaign for an independent public inquiry to get to the truth of UK involvement continues. In June 2014 the Scottish Parliament voted for the UK Government to conduct an independent, fair and transparent inquiry.

The Labour Party has committed in its 2017 election manifesto to hold an independent public inquiry into the actions of the UK Government around the time of the June 1984 Indian Army attack on Sri Harmandr Sahib and the systematic killing of Sikhs in India in November 1984, as well as into restrictions imposed on British Sikhs in the UK.

The Labour leader in the election campaign said: “this is our opportunity in this manifesto to elect a government that is absolutely serious about uncovering the truth of what went on their on that terrible occasion.”

Note 3 – UN-led inquiry into the 1984 Sikh Genocide and independent investigations of widespread human rights violations in the Sikh homeland

The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in late December 2014 referred to what happen to the Sikhs in November 1984 as ‘Genocide’ and that ‘justice would be meted out to the victims only when the perpetrators of the crime are punished’ and ‘that until these persons are punished, victims will not get relief’.

33 years later there have been no independent inquiries in India into what happen in June 1984 or what followed. India’s judicial system and ten commissions have failed to bring justice to the victims of November 1984.

After nearly 33 years the organisers and perpetrators of the Sikh Genocide roam free, instead they have been promoted and held positions of power.

Using the definition of Genocide in Article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide 1948 the series of events in June 1984, the killings and disappearances in the months that followed and the systematic and deliberate killing of innocent Sikhs in November 1984, separately and collectively constitute Genocide.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council are being lobbied for a UN-led inquiry into the atrocities committed by the Indian authorities in 1984 and for UN rapporteurs and independent experts to carry out independent investigations into the torture, disappearances, false encounters, extra-judicial executions and use by the police of criminals, goons, gangsters and smugglers to impersonate Sikh ‘militants’, widely known as Black Cats.

Note 4 – Sikh homeland, Khalistan is the only solution

Self determination is a basic human right founded in international law on which other human rights depend. The UN Human Rights Committee has stressed that the right of self-determination is absolutely fundamental to the protection of individual rights.

The UK Government working with other permanent members of the UN Security Council has a historic, legal and moral responsibility towards the Sikhs to help through diplomatic means and respect for international law to resolve a conflict that still continues.

India has lost the right to rely on the territorial integrity argument by oppressing the minority Sikh community and has failed to respect the political and human rights of the Sikhs in the Indian Constitution. Demands for greater autonomy for the Sikhs have been violently rejected and crushed with Indian state terror.

International law is the basis on which Sikhs have raised the demand for an independent state. The classic mechanism for implementing the right to self-determination is the use of a plebiscite.

The Sikhs have not of course been offered the opportunity but it is interesting to note that the former UK Indian High Commissioner, Kuldeep Nayar has admitted that if, after the horrors of 1984, the Sikhs were given a plebiscite they would have gone for an independent state.

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Sikh Federation – Tens of thousands of Sikhs from across the UK will gather today in Trafalgar Square

Tens of thousands of Sikhs from across the UK will gather in Trafalgar Square in a show of defiance to terrorists to remember the tens of thousands of Sikhs who lost their lives in 1984 and innocents killed and injured in the last few weeks in Manchester and London.

London 4 June 2017. Over 25,000 Sikhs were due to gather in central London on Sunday 4 June to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the June 1984 attack on the Sri Harmandir Sahib Complex, often referred to as the Golden Temple Complex.

Sikhs were to gather in Hyde Park between 11am and 1pm followed by a remembrance march through central London before holding a massive freedom rally in Trafalgar Square between 2-5pm.

Having discussed arrangements for the Remembrance and Freedom event with the Metropolitan Police last night and this morning we have come to an agreed decision that the event will continue to show defiance to the state terrorism of 1984 and the current terrorist threat across the globe.

In recognition of the policing and security situation in London following the terror attacks last night we have however decided that the event will be a static event in Trafalgar Square form 12 noon to 5pm as a remembrance march in the circumstances is not appropriate.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“The massive gathering today in Trafalgar Square sends a strong and powerful message of defiance to all terrorists. No one will stop us remembering the tens of thousands of Sikhs who lost their lives in 1984”.

“We are grateful for the police support and cooperation. Trafalgar Square today will become a focal point for all freedom loving people. It is also be an opportunity to remember and to stand shoulder to shoulder with the innocents killed and injured in the last few weeks in Manchester and London”.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Sikh Federation – Labour resurgence expected to lead to several Sikh MPs

London, 25 May 2017

With less than two weeks of campaigning remaining before the General Election on 8 June it appears to be a clear two-horse race between the Conservatives and Labour in England.

If the trend of a national Labour revival continues alongside effective local campaigns the possibility of four Sikh MPs, three Labour and one Conservative, in two weeks time remains high.

In Wales the first two polls showed clear Conservative leads and indicated they were on course for a historic electoral breakthrough. The first was at the very start of the campaign and gave the Conservatives a ten point lead in Wales.

The most recent one following the resurgence of Labour conducted straight after the Conservative manifesto launch had Labour with a ten point lead. A projection of these figures would see Labour winning all its current seats in Wales and gaining Gower from the Conservatives.

The national opinion polls before the Manchester terror attack showed Labour had more or less halved the gap due to the popularity of some of the policies in the Labour manifesto and doubts and criticisms of controversial aspects of the Conservative manifesto.

All polls were before Theresa May’s embarrassing social care U-turn on a policy that was deemed by many as politically toxic. If the trend in polls continues over the next two weeks England could follow a similar pattern to that in Wales.

According to Labour candidates their manifesto compared to the Conservatives has given them all a boost. Labour’s education policies, limiting class sizes, extending free childcare and ensuring schools are properly resourced have been universally welcomed.

The abolition of tuition fees, the cap on rents and scrapping zero hour contracts have also struck a chord with many students, younger people and parents.

Bhai Narinderjit Singh, the General Secretary of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“Given the latest U-turn many simply do not trust the Conservatives, whether this be health, social care, education or immigration.

No one yet knows the full damage of Conservative policies on older people with scrapping the triple lock on pensions, removing the winter fuel allowance and forcing those who need social care to pay for it with their homes, despite the apparent U-turn.

The state of the NHS, waiting times in A&E and schools facing crippling cuts and class sizes soaring is what has dominated on the doorsteps.”

“Theresa May was under fire for her policies and making the social care U-turn when campaigning ground to a halt with the terror attack. It is too early to know what if any impact there will be with local campaigning resuming today. There is no doubt the Manchester terror attack has cast a dark shadow over the general election campaign.”

Currently Tanamnjeet Singh Dhesi who is defending a 7,306 Labour majority in Slough is set to become the first turban wearing Sikh MP in the Commons. Unfortunately the feedback on the ground is there are concerns about how the race card is being played, but the continued resurgence of Labour should ensure a comfortable victory.

If the Labour resurgence continues Preet Kaur Gill the Labour candidate in Birmingham Edgbaston who is defending a majority of 2,706 (6.5%) and running an excellent local campaign should also be elected.

She said: “There has been a fantastic reaction of voters on the doorstep in Edgbaston who like Labour’s policies on protecting the NHS. Waiting lists, waiting times in A&E and treatment of junior doctors has been raised again and again.

Voters also recognise and appreciate our plans for transforming social care and addressing homelessness in Birmingham. I have been able to reassure voters and explain why securing a strong independent local Labour voice from Edgbaston on health and education is crucial.”

“I have confidence in the people of Edgbaston putting faith in someone local with a track record of delivery. It is clear from the hundreds of voters I have personally met since I started the campaign that local issues are extremely important and they have made clear they want someone like me to represent them that they know, can relate to and trust.”

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“We are quietly confident history will be made in two weeks time and we will have our first turban wearing Sikh MP in Tanmanjeet and Preet will become the first Sikh woman MP. They are both hard working and run excellent campaigns. Preet in particular has had tremendous local support.

She is a great listener and the feedback we have been getting is despite the national position people in Edgbaston want someone local they can trust.”

In Wolverhampton South West with Rob Marris having stepped down for Labour Paul Uppal for the Conservatives is expected to easily overturn a Labour majority of 801 (2%) and return after a gap of two years.

The result in Telford is expected to be tight where Kuldip Singh Sahota, the former Labour leader of Telford & Wrekin Council is hoping to overturn a Conservative majority of 730.

Telford was traditionally a Labour stronghold. From the time it was created in 1997 until the election two years ago, it had always returned Labour MPs. So it was one of the biggest upsets of the 2015 election when Lucy Allan took the seat for the Conservatives with a slim majority.

Despite the Conservative lead in opinion polls Kuldip Singh Sahota could spring a surprise if he can get voters to focus on local issues, such as keeping open the accident and emergency unit at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital.

The race card is also at play in Telford, but whoever can motivate undecided voters to turn out and vote is probably the one that will win.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Sikh Federation – International community must recognise and respond to increasing threat and challenge of extreme Hindu nationalism in India

From: Sikh Federation (UK) sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk
To: sikh_news_discussion@yahoogroups.com

Right wing Indian politicians, cricketers and Bollywood stars join in abuse and fail to distance themselves from rape and death threats against dead army man’s daughter, 21-year old Gurmehar Kaur for her stance on peace and free speech

London, 1 March 2017. The Sikh Federation (UK) following the abuse and threats targeting 21-year old Gurmehar Kaur has written to the five permanent members of the United Nations and appealed to the international community to recognise the increasing threat and challenge of Hindutva.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“The international community and governments across the globe need to come together and recognise and stand up to the rising threat of extreme Hindu nationalism being openly promoted by the ruling establishment in India.”

“Indian politicians and officials appear to be able to intimidate and silence many individual governments with its threats, often linked to trade with India. Only countries like the United States and China are strong enough and prepared to openly criticise those running India, but it requires a collective effort to tackle the rising threat.”

“If the international community does not respond and extreme Hindu nationalists are allowed to literally get away with murdering minorities and those that stand up to them while they simply watch, this will become an international problem that could easily get out of control.”

“The BJP ruling party has now been allowed in the last three years to get away with supporting extreme actions by right wing Hindu groups.

Today a 21-year old Sikh student is not only being intimidated and ridiculed, but openly threatened with rape and murder. Those hounding her are being protected and encouraged by those with power and influence. She is standing up for peace and free speech while governments are choosing to coward away and be silent.”

Gurmehar Kaur, an English literature student and an ambassador for Postcards for Peace, a charitable organisation that helps eliminate any form of discrimination has reportedly left Delhi, after receiving threats of rape and murder.

She lost her father, Captain Mandeep Singh in an attack in 1999 when she was just two years old.

On Friday, she mounted a rather simple protest against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s (ABVP) violence at Ramjas College last week. ABVP is the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swamayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

She posted a picture of herself on a social media site holding up a placard that read: “I am a student of Delhi University. I am not afraid of the ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me.” Her post incited extreme reactions from the ruling establishment.

Rape and death threats have been made against her, but shockingly she has been ridiculed and trolled by celebrities like cricketer Virender Sehwag and mocked by Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda. One of the RSS’s top intellectuals, Rakesh Sinha, ludicrously said that Gurmehar Kaur was “trolling” her dead father.

The Union government rather than engaging with the serious issue being raised has resorted to bullying Gurmehar Kaur, with Minister Kiren Rijuju asking, “Who’s polluting this young girl’s mind?” BJP MP Pratap Simha outrageously compared Gurmehar Kaur to India’s most-wanted terrorist, Dawood Ibrahim.

The rise of Hindutva that started in the 1980s is not restricted to the ruling party and unleashed powerful forces.
Today, even cricketers, wrestlers, actors and social media users propagate its basic ideas. Foreign governments will be forced to respond as the Modi government in a more significant and worrying move has reached out to persons of Indian origin in foreign lands, making them a part of his political rhetoric.

Every time Modi holds a gala in New York or London with foreign politicians sucking up to him and gets American or British Hindus to support him. This overseas support is seen as approval for his Hindutva policies.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Sikh Federation – UK Governent condemned on handling of application to have ban lifted on International Sikh Youth Federation

Sikh Federation (UK) representatives who made the application praised by leading lawyer

London, 22 December 2016. David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in the last of his six annual reports released earlier this month into the operation of the Terrorism Acts has heavily criticised the UK Government on its handing of the application to have the ban removed on the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF).

The UK’s outgoing terror watchdog David Anderson QC in his damning 142-page report states: “It is . . . important that:

– Applications for deproscription are promptly handled, and statutory time limits respected.

– Deproscription must follow automatically, without regard for discretionary factors, if the statutory test (“is concerned in terrorism”) is not met.

– When an application for deproscription is refused by the Secretary of State, the fullest possible reasons are given so that the organisation in question can properly assess the prospects of appeal.

– Persons should not be put to the expense and uncertainty of resorting to the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission (POAC) unless the Government is prepared to defend its judgement and has the evidence confidently to do so.”

In his final report after six years in the influential post, David Anderson QC states: “None of these standards appears to have been met in the case of the application made on behalf of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) in February 2015.”

Last year he reported the application was not determined until almost three months after the expiry of the 90-day statutory time limit and the decision letter refusing the application for deproscription gave no detailed reasons, and none were provided on further request.

In a damning indictment he has pointed out that “remarkably, the Government presented no evidence to POAC in favour of its own positon. Indeed it elected not to defend the case in December 2015, on the final day appointed by POAC for the submission of such evidence.

Given the opportunity to state in Parliament whether new evidence had come to light by December 2015 . . . the Government declined to do so.”

David Anderson QC has made clear: “Without resorting to legal action, the ISYF would remain a proscribed organisation today” despite the complete absence of evidence. “The ISYF was fortunate to have both the resources to take the case to POAC, and sympathisers willing to put their head above the parapet. This will not be true of other organisations.”

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“The leadership of the Sikh Federation (UK) were the ones who decided to challenge the UK Government and prove there was no evidence to retain the ban on the ISYF.”

“We were confident of a victory as we have discovered increasing evidence in the last two years under the 30-year rule of how the Indian authorities have in effect been using promises of trade since the mid-1980s and ‘blackmailing’ the UK Government to take wholly inappropriate and extreme anti-Sikh measures.”

“Many of these measures have been through the British intelligence services and police who have been working hand in glove with their Indian counter parts. We will do our best in 2017 to stat to reveal the truth behind the Anglo-Indian conspiracy against the Sikhs.”

“The actions taken collectively by the British and Indian authorities against the minority Sikh community are a complete disgrace given the huge contribution and sacrifices by Sikhs for freedoms in both the Indian sub-continent and Europe.”

“The words of the Prince of Wales today on the persecution of religious minorities are equally relevant to the Sikhs in the UK and India.”

“Ever since the ban in March 2001 we have kept in close contact initially with Lord Carlisle of Berriew CBE QC who held the position of terror watchdog for nine years and David Anderson QC for the last six years. As leading lawyers familiar with the politics they have understood and sympathised with our position.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

The Guardian – ‘Lack of representation in parliament is concerning’: Sikhs on living in the UK

We asked you to share your experiences of being a British Sikh. Here’s what some of you said

Rachel Obordo and Guardian readers

Almost one in five Sikhs has experienced discrimination in a public place over the last year, according to the UK Sikh Survey 2016.

The Sikh Federation, who published the survey, said British Sikhs have been “invisible to the government since 9/11,” and found that those who wear religious clothing, such as the dastar (head covering), are most likely to experience abuse.

The survey found more than two-thirds of Sikhs were born in Britain and nine out of 10 describe their nationality as British. The overwhelming majority reject being described as Indian or Asian. Sikhs are five times more likely than the average to be a member of a political party, however there are currently no Sikhs in parliament.

We asked readers to share their experiences of being a British Sikh and whether the situation has changed over the years. Here’s what some of them said.

‘How do we find ourselves seeing each other so differently?’

Raj Singh, an educational psychologist working with young people with disability, hoped his children wouldn’t share the same experiences he did. “As a child I got used to people making remarks and even physical attempts at intimidation,” he said.

“I imagined that my children would grow up in a different environment where people would be accepting of differences even if they did not quite understand it all. We became accustomed to some verbal abuse and curiosity, but it did not stop us from enjoying our country.”

After 9/11 Raj felt he had to justify who he was. “My turban and my beard afforded people an invitation to abuse me and my identity,” he said. “By telling people I was innocent and not a Muslim I turned to the very thing I was protesting against – discrimination.”

‘My generation is different from my parents’ – they’re more tolerant’

Kay who is a 20-year-old student living in Birmingham says she hasn’t experienced any racism while growing up. “My experience of life has actually been quite good in the UK compared to my parents when they were my age,” she said. “I have never received any racist abuse in my life, but my parents did when they were growing up in Birmingham.

“The people of my generation are different from my parents’ – they’re more tolerant and care about social justice issues. However Sikhs are still severely under-represented in everything.

There are very few members in parliament and rarely any representation in TV or in the film industry. Not many people know about us as a minority and that needs to change.”

Most concerning for me is our lack of representation in parliament

Twenty-two-year-old Pav Virpal, who moved from London to Manchester to study medicine, was surprised to experience unprovoked comments directed at him.

“An elderly looking white woman yelled at me ‘to go back to my own country’ in the middle of Market Street in Manchester,” he said, “It took me a while to realise this was directed at me by which time I had walked on.

Another time I was asked if I was part of ISIS when I asked if I could share a table with bunch of local punters in a pub in Fallowfield.

“I grew up in Ilford, an area with a large Sikh community and moved to Manchester to study. Throughout my childhood and teenage years I never experienced a single racially motivated event till recently. It took me a while to process the sentiment behind the statements because I don’t identify with the slurs I was subjected to.

“Most concerning for me is our lack of representation in parliament. This is perhaps the biggest failure of our community, despite being consistently lauded by both parties for being an example of integration we do not have any representation of our views.

While it is unfortunate that there are some bigoted people who may mistake us for Muslims and hurl abuse at us, the issue to be tackled here is ignorant hate first not the mis-identification of our religion.”

Most people are just curious to see someone like me

Self-employed Kulvinder Singh from Hounslow says he’s been refused entry to a restaurant because of the way he looks. “I have a large turban and an unshorn beard. In inner city multicultural areas, I have no issues. When I leave my local area to go on holiday he attitude changes in some places – people stare.

“I have been refused entry to a restaurant in Italy, but most of the time in the UK I meet lots of lovely people, who are just curious to see someone like me.

People always make conversation and I think they just want to see what I am about. School kids in rural areas are the worst, as they point and laugh and shout comments. It’s helped me to be strong as a person and be proud of who I am.

I’ve learnt to live with it: ‘Why fit in, when I was born to stand out?’.”

I and many Sikhs are well-integrated and proudly British

Thirty-five-year-old Ay who is a researcher in London hopes his experience continues to be positive. “As a child in the 80s and 90s, although I did suffer from episodic racism whilst attending an all white school, people were generally interested in my cultural background and a quick discussion led to friendship and integration.

Later at an all white FE college, I was treated like everybody else. It felt great and life was good.

“But after 9/11, things changed slightly. Turbans became associated with terrorism and racist taunts changed from ‘Paki’ to ‘Taliban’. The present day is different. There is a growing intolerance towards minorities and it feels like religion in general has become a dirty word.

Questions about my faith sometimes have a hostile undertone. My parents (both pensioners) have suffered from two notable episodes of racism in the last five years.

During one, they were tormented whilst using a self-service till and the other, somebody ran up to my father and knocked his turban to the ground in the middle of a busy street before making off. Both episodes were very upsetting for them.

“I and many Sikhs are well-integrated and proudly British. Historically, many Sikhs joined the British army and fought in the wars. Indian doctors helped build the NHS.

There is some representation of Sikhs in society – such as in cricket; three peers in the House of Lords; and of course, the 100-year-old marathon runner, Fauja Singh. I would still say that as a Sikh my experience remains positive but we live in interesting times. I just hope my experience continues to remain a positive one”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/05/lack-of-representation-in-parliament-is-concerning-sikhs-on-living-in-the-uk

Sikh24.com – UK Sikhs invisible to government despite hate crimes increase

Sikh Federation says public bodies ignore community as survey finds 20% of Sikhs faced public discrimination last year

Harriet Sherwood

London, UK, 25 November 2016.British Sikhs have been “invisible to the government since 9/11” despite increased levels of discrimination and hate crimes, the Sikh Federation has said as a comprehensive survey of the UK’s fourth largest faith group was published.

According to the UK Sikh Survey 2016, almost one in five Sikhs has encountered discrimination in a public place over the past year and one in seven has directly experienced workplace discrimination.

The report found that Sikhs who wear religious iconography or clothing are most likely to experience abuse, with men more vulnerable than women. The most common places where discrimination is experienced are airports and public transport.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the chair of the Sikh Federation, said the survey contained critical messages for the government and policy makers “on how the political elite is failing to properly represent British Sikhs and the issues that concern them”.

British Sikhs, he said, “have remained ‘invisible’ to the government since 9/11 despite increased levels of discrimination and hate crimes targeting Sikhs”.

The report says the government and public bodies have “systematically failed the minority Sikh community by not adequately responding to the disproportionate impact of racism and hate crime targeting Sikhs since 9/11”.

Hate crimes against Sikhs are wrongly recorded as Islamophobic incidents by police suggesting religious illiteracy and throwing doubt on the accuracy of recorded data, it adds.

The survey also records 17% of Sikh women between the ages of 16 and 30 saying they or a relative or friend had been targeted by grooming gangs. Among all Sikhs, 90% feel not enough is being done to tackle sexual grooming.

The poll of 4,500 Sikhs in the UK, conducted online, in written questionnaires and in face-to-face interviews, was managed by the Sikh Network. It provides a comprehensive picture of the community, say the authors.

According to the 2011 census, there were 432,000 Sikhs in the UK, or 0.7% of the population. The biggest faith group was Christians (59.5%), followed by Muslims (4.4%) and Hindus (1.3%). Jews and Buddhists each form 0.4% of the population.

The survey found that more than two-thirds of Sikhs were born in Britain and nine out of 10 describe their nationality as British. The overwhelming majority reject being described as Indian or Asian.

A majority (58%) do not wear a turban, yet almost all (94%) would welcome a statutory code of practice for those who do and those who adhere to the 5Ks: kesh (uncut hair), kara (steel bracelet), kanga (wooden comb), kachha (special underclothing) and kirpan (ceremonial sword).

Sikhs form one of the most highly educated groups, with 58% having a degree or equivalent. Unemployment among Sikhs is almost half the general UK jobless rate, with more than one in five self-employed. They have the highest rate of owner-occupation for any group in the UK, at 92%.

In the last general election, 82% of Sikhs voted compared with the national average of 66%. They are five times more likely to be members of a political party than the general population.

Yet there are no Sikhs sitting as MPs in the current parliament, although there are three Sikhs in the House of Lords. Only one in nine feels parliament effectively represents them.

UK Sikhs Invisible To Govt Despite Hate Crimes Increase

Sikh Federation – We stand with and will defend the right of those who peacefully protested at Leamington Gurdwara

We condemn the over reaction by the police and the disgraceful and inexcusable behaviour by the Management Committee at Leamington Gurdwara that have unashamedly brought the law-abiding Sikh community into disrepute by fuelling false and sensationalised media reports.

London, 11 September 2016. We stand with those who peacefully protested earlier today against the actions of the Management Committee at Leamington Gurdwara who have conducted themselves disgracefully.

As facts of the incidence have emerged throughout the day, the Sikh community has concluded that Warwickshire Police overreacted by unnecessarily deploying armed officers on the basis of false and fabricated information presumably provided by the Management Committee at Leamington Gurdwara.

It now materialises the police were told masked men forced their way into the Gurdwara carrying a range of bladed items other than Kirpans, that are worn at all times by Amritdhari or initiated Sikhs and it may have been suggested they were holding hostages.

The police have now admitted those protesting simply walked into the Gurdwara in the early hours and they have only found small Kirpans that were being legitimately worn by Amritdhari or initiated Sikh protesters.

The police should either apologise to the Sikh community for the disproportionate response or take strong action against those who provided false information and wasted police time and resources by exaggerating the seriousness of the situation.

One media outlet has used the headline: ‘sword-wielding gang storm Sikh temple’. However, this could not be further from the truth. The protesters were respectful and peaceful at all times in the Gurdwara from video footage from inside the Gurdwara.

CCTV footage will show they simply walked into the Gurdwara in the early hours and none of them were ‘wielding’ swords.

This was a small group of young protesters who justifiably objected to an interfaith marriage that was to be carried out as a Sikh religious ceremony or Anand Karaj.

The highest seat of Sikh temporal power, the Sri Akaal Takht Sahib or the throne of the timeless one, in Amritsar that exists to address spiritual and temporal concerns of Sikhs has ruled a Sikh religious ceremony or Anand Karaj is only appropriate between two Sikhs.

A Sikh who therefore wishes to marry a non-Sikh and have an interfaith marriage is free do so, but an alternative to the Sikh religious ceremony or Anand Karaj that is conducted in a Gurdwara is necessary.

In August last year and following a number of protests Gurdwaras across the UK came together and agreed not to perform any Anand Karaj ceremonies unless it was between two Sikhs. Virtually all Gurdwaras adopted this approach for all future bookings.

When the agreement was reached last year protesters were requested to hold off having any protests for six months to allow Gurdwara Management Committees time to explain the situation to any couples from a Sikh and non-Sikh faith who may already have incorrectly made a booking for an Anand Karaj ceremony.

To the credit of the vast majority of management committees at Gurdwaras up and down the country and protesters there have been virtually no incidences of disruption to any Anand Karaj ceremonies in the last 12 months.

However, their have been consistent reports that the Management Committee at Leamington Gurdwara were defiantly still booking Anand Karaj ceremonies between Sikhs and non-Sikhs ignoring the ruling of the Akaal Takht that is binding on all Sikhs worldwide and disregarding the agreement on implementation reached by UK Gurdwaras last year.

As reports of the incident started to emerge this morning attempts were made by the Sikh Federation (UK) to contact the National Community Tension Team via telephone and email. Warwickshire Police were contacted by us at around 12.30pm so we could try and help explain and diffuse the situation.

We lodged a complaint with them at around 9pm as we were concerned the police were telling friends and family of those arrested and community representatives late into the evening that they were in contact with the Sikh Federation (UK) when in fact they had not responded to any of our communications.

We are also disturbed with the nature of questioning by the police of the peaceful protesters.

The police have reported they have arrested fifty-five people on nothing more than suspicion of aggravated trespass as it now transpires no force or violence whatsoever was used as the protest was calm and peaceful.

We have become aware most if not all of the protesters have been released, however small Kirpans worn at all times by Amritdhari or initiated Sikhs have been seized without good reason and unnecessary bail restrictions imposed.

In our view these restrictions on where the protesters may or may not go to a Gurdwara impinge on their freedom of worship, especially given next week will see the largest annual gathering of Sikhs at our National Sikh Convention at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Sedgley Street, Wolverhampton that will attract in excess of 10,000 Sikhs from across the UK.

Today marked the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and the Management Committee at Leamington Gurdwara should be ashamed of their actions. We are meeting government officials and Ministers tomorrow where hate crime and discrimination targeting the Sikh community are to be discussed.

This incident of a legitimate peaceful protest given the unnecessary media hype and the police overreaction will no doubt cause considerable debate.

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)