Sunday 30th of April 2006, Sikh Federation (UK)
London, UK (KP) – The Sikh Federation (UK) in collaboration with Sikh organisations throughout Europe is organising the first ever European Sikh Lobby Day. The 'Sikh Freedom Lobby' will be taking place in Brussels on the afternoon of Wednesday 31 May 2006 from 12 noon.
The four freedom issues to be covered are:
* the freedom of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and other Sikh political prisoners languishing in Indian jails
* the freedom of Sikhs in Europe to practice their faith
* the freedom to expose the genocide of Sikhs in 1984 and the widespread abuse of human rights in India
* the freedom for Sikhs to exercise their right to self determination
Freedom of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and other Sikh political prisoners
A written Declaration 0030/2006 on the punitive treatment of political and human rights activists in India concerns the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and is reproduced below. The Written Declaration was tabled yesterday and will be an important focus for the lobby.
Sikhs throughout the 25-member EU Member States are encouraged to immediately contact their MEPs and urge them to sign Written Declaration 0030/2006 and also ask their MEPs to get other MEPs belonging to the same EU political grouping to support the declaration.
The Written Declaration will remain open for 90 days until the 26 July 2006, but we need to work together over the next four weeks and at the 'Sikh Freedom Lobby' to try and get the maximum number of MEPs to sign the declaration to put pressure on India.
On 26th of May 2006, Professor Davinderpal will be 42 years old having spent the last quarter of his life in prison in India. We owe it to such political prisoners to do all we can to secure their release.
Freedom of Sikhs in Europe to practice their faith
Religious freedoms are a major concern for Sikhs living in Europe. For the last couple of years the right to wear the dastar in France with respect to school children and when obtaining documentation, such as passports and driving licences have been well publicised. However, similar problems exist for school children in Belgium and difficulties have also occurred in Germany.
The right to wear the Kirpan is facing increasing challenge in many countries throughout Europe and is likely to become more problematic due to security considerations.
Recently a delegation of MPs has returned from Punjab and promised to take the dastar issue up with the French authorities. The 'Sikh Freedom Lobby' is an ideal opportunity for Sikhs from across Europe to unite and demonstrate our opposition to all restrictions on our articles of faith.
Freedom to expose the genocide of Sikhs in 1984 and the widespread abuse of human rights in India
International human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the UN Rapporteur on Torture have been prevented from entering Punjab for over 25 years. There are still over one hundred known Sikh political prisoners that are being held without trial or on fabricated charges. Sikh human rights activists that have tried to expose human rights abuses, such as torture, fake encounters and disappearances have met with the same fate.
The Indian authorities have recently admitted they sponsored the killing of innocent people in Punjab to create an atmosphere for the police to allow them to use excessive force, stage fake encounters, torture and make people disappear at will, use extortion and kill anyone that dared associate with the Sikh independence movement.
As Sikhs in countries across the world are making preparations to mark the 22nd anniversary of the June 1984 massacre the 'Sikh Freedom Lobby' in Brussels provides an excellent political platform for Sikhs from across Europe to exert political pressure on India to allow the international community to learn the truth of 1984 and the events of the last 25 years and seek the justice Sikhs deserve.
Freedom for Sikhs to exercise their right to self determination
Two months ago a paper was presented to UK Parliamentarians titled "Self determination as a human right and its applicability to the Sikhs". This started a debate with UK politicians on why Sikhs believe it is legitimate for Sikhs to have the right to self-determination.
The Sikh Federation (UK) has argued there must be an open dialogue with Sikhs on their right to self-determination and that the "territorial integrity" of India cannot be used as an excuse if politicians believe in the principles that have been established at the UN.
Politicians that apply the territorial integrity "limitation" to India have been reminded:
The limitation only applies where “States conduct themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination" – India opted out of this defence in 1966 when they put down a "reservation" when ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. India in effect stated in the UN that the right of self-determination only applied to people living outside India. France, Germany and the Netherlands objected to the reservation on the grounds self-determination must apply to ALL people. The UN has invited India to withdraw this reservation, but India has neglected to respond.
It is now internationally recognised that any government which is oppressive to peoples within its territory may no longer be able to rely on the ground of ‘territorial integrity’ as a limitation on the right of self-determination.
The 'Sikh Freedom Lobby' in Brussels will allow Sikhs for the first time to engage at the European level on the importance of the Sikh right to self determination and why organisations, such as the Sikh Federation (UK) passionately believe in the establishment of an independent sovereign Sikh State, Khalistan.
Editors can be reached at: [email protected]