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  1. Urgent email to your MP and number to ring Please send the following email and attachment to your MP. Also ring 020 7219 3000 ask for your MP and pass this message to your MP. Dear [MPs Name] Help save Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar On Friday 12 April 2013 the Indian Supreme Court refused to commute the death sentence of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. Professor Bhullar is an innocent man who was illegally deported from Germany in January 1995, convicted and sentenced to death on the basis of a controversial split judgement and has been mentally ill for over two years and in hospital. See attached briefing regarding Profess Bhullar. On Monday 15 April 2013 the Federation of Sikh Organisations and Gurdwaras supported by the Sikh Media have organised a protest outside the High Commission of India, India House, Aldwych, London WC2B 4NA between 12 noon and 2pm. We will then march from the High Commission of India to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster and lobby MPs. We hope to meet you between 3-5pm and hope you will confirm your availability to meet. Please show your support for the British Sikh community and opposition to the death penalty by joining us for this protest and then meeting Sikhs during the lobby. Yours sincerely [Your name and address, including postcode] PS. Just heard the Professor has been moved from hospital to Tihar Jail and may be hanged as early as tomorrow (Saturday). THE CASE OF PROFESSOR DAVINDERPAL SINGH BHULLAR.pdf
  2. UK DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER LISTENS AND RESPONDS TO SIKH CONCERNS AND AGREES TO REPORT ON PROGRESS WITHIN TWO MONTHS 26 March 2013 The Sikh Federation (UK) organised and led a meeting earlier today with the Deputy Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Nick Clegg and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes MP to discuss a range of issues of concern. Sikh organisations represented included the Sikh Federation (UK), Sikh Council UK, Sikh Womens Alliance and Young Sikhs UK. The Sikh media represented included the Sikh Channel, Sangat TV and Akash Radio. Others present at the meeting included former Liberal Democrat MP Paramjit Singh Gill, staff from the Deputy Prime Ministers office in the Cabinet Office and other Liberal Democrat activists. At the start of the meeting it was suggested by the Sikh Federation (UK) that they were keen to explore where the Deputy Prime Minister could assist in facilitating progress or help set up meetings with other Ministers to take issues forward. The Deputy Prime Minister listened carefully to a selection of issues where it was suggested there was a need for the UK Government to work with grassroots Sikh organisations to make progress. A number of Departments were highlighted where there was either a need for a regular dialogue with Sikhs e.g. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office and others where less frequent meetings were necessary as issues arose e.g. Department for Culture, Media and Sports. Areas where there was a specific focus was human rights concerns, the denial of British nationality to law abiding Sikhs, the continued impact of banning Sikh organisations in the UK 12 years ago and the failure of Ofcom to understand Sikh community TV channels. At the end of the meeting the Deputy Prime Minister listed the full range of issues that had been raised with him and was impressed how Sikh representatives had managed to raise so many issues in a relatively short meeting. It was agreed a series of short briefings relating to each area of concern would be provided by Sikh representatives by the end of the week and the Deputy Prime Ministers office would take these up directly with relevant Ministers with outcomes expected by the end of May. This was beyond what Sikhs were expecting. It was not just about opening doors for Sikh organisations to have a dialogue, but a promise by the Deputy Prime Minister to make progress and report back within two months. Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: This was an important meeting for the UK Sikh community and we were impressed by the Deputy Prime Ministers willingness to listen and agree to take a number of the matters forward within a realistic timescale. Gurjeet Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK) http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2013/03/29/uk-deputy-pm-listens-agrees-to-report-on-progress-within-2-months/
  3. SIKH REPRESENTATIVES MEET UK DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER LATER TODAY 26 March 2013 The Sikh Federation (UK) has organised and is leading a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Nick Clegg later today in the Cabinet Office. Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: We first met the Leader (Nick Clegg) and Deputy Leader (Simon Hughes) of the Liberal Democrats in April 2011 at Guru Teg Bahadur Gurdwara, Leicester before the Leicester South by election in May 2011. The meeting today with Rt. Hon. Nick Clegg will be in his role as the Deputy Prime Minister. The fact the meeting is taking place with the Deputy Prime Minister is in itself an achievement. However, we are hopeful Nick Clegg will respond positively to the range of issues we will be raising with him. The Sikh Federation (UK) has put together an impressive Sikh delegation comprising leading figures in the Sikh Federation (UK), prominent representatives of the Sikh Council UK, politically active young Sikhs and important media representatives who will be at the meeting. Last week Rt. Hon. David Cameron during Prime Minister Questions spoke about the immense contribution the British Sikh community makes to the UK and his appreciation for this and the respect that should be shown to Sikhs. Bhai Amrik Singh added: It appears all the leading political parties and their leaders are going out of their way to be seen to support the British Sikh community. This is very welcome however the community will judge them for their actions on difficult issues as opposed to their gratifying words. Gurjeet Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)
  4. India upset by Sikh activism in the UK and debate in the UK Parliament on abolition of death penalty Indian High Commission in London accused of trying to undermine democratic convention of MPs representing constituents Sikh Federation (UK) London, UK (March 14, 2013): Reporting in the India media suggests India is increasingly concerned with growing Sikh political activism in the UK. Two weeks ago on February 28, 2013 a two and a half hour debate was held in the UK Parliament on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India. On March 13, 2013 another debate on the British Sikh community was held in the Parliament of the UK, which shows the Sikh community is increasing its political activities and getting increasing recognition. In a detailed report sent to the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN), the Sikh Federation UK has accused the Indian High Commission in London for trying to undermine the democratic convention of MPs representing constituents. The full text of the article reads as follows: “The Sikh Federation (UK) has become aware through MPs that the Indian High Commission in London went to extreme lengths to pressure certain MPs to find excuses not to attend the debate on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India. For this reason some MPs no doubt stayed away from the debate in the main Chamber of the House of Commons in the UK Parliament on Thursday 28 February 2013. The debate was co-sponsored by John McDonnell MP (Hayes and Harlington) and Fabian Hamilton MP (Leeds North East). The two and a half hour debate started with an opening speech from John McDonnell and in total 22 MPs from four political parties spoke and a further 10 or so MPs attended for part of the debate, but did not speak. The number of MPs taking part in the debate was consistent with the numbers predicted by the Sikh Federation (UK) that has been involved in around half a dozen similar debates over the last decade. Many who have watched on television have commented the main Chamber looked fairly empty. However, the only time many see the main chamber on television is when Prime Minister’s Questions is on or when there is some other major debate when the chamber is packed out. At many other times, especially for backbench business, very few MPs are in the main chamber of the House of Commons. However, numbers were lower due to Indian High Commission pressure; the Eastleigh by election on the same day and the debate being on a Thursday. Virtually all MPs that spoke in the debate used it to pay tribute to the Sikh community and its senior leadership and at the same time criticise India for retaining the death penalty, a corrupt judicial system and other human rights abuses. Signs of pressure from the Indian Government during the debate There were signs of pressure from the Indian Government via the Indian High Commission. To counter the inevitable criticism from the Indian Government several MPs went out of their way to justify the debate, the importance of the constituent MP relationship and why they were personally taking part. It was hardly surprising that virtually all MPs emphasised they were friends of India and many mentioned India was the largest democracy in the world, although some used this to be all the more critical. One of the things those observing proceedings at the House and at home were very surprised to witness was the Deputy Speaker allowed the Minister to ‘respond’ 39 minutes into the two and a half hour debate and not hear the views and proposals of all MPs before responding at the end of the debate. This appears to be very unusual and a departure from normal practice. For example, the Minister spoke at the end of the debate that immediately followed on the Kurdish Genocide 25 years ago. Many see this as a sign the Indian Government has managed to interfere with the proceedings in the UK Parliament, described during the debate as the mother of all Parliaments”. http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2013/03/15/india-upset-by-sikh-activism-in-the-uk-and-debate-in-the-uk-parliament-on-abolition-of-death-penalty/
  5. UK Foreign Secretary responds on the abolition of the Death penalty in India London, United Kingdom (March 20, 2013): According to a recent press statement issued by Gurjeet Singh, General Secretary of the Sikh Federation (UK), the UK based Sikh body had taken the lead in exerting pressure on the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, before he left for India to raise UK opposition to the death penalty and raise the cases of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajoana when he visited India between 18-20 February. UK Foreign Secretary’s Letter “The Sikh Federation (UK) wrote to the UK Prime Minister on 12 February and through its lobbying network across the UK managed to contact over 100 MPs before the PM left for India. Around half of these MPs communicated their concerns before the PM left for India on the evening of 17 February” reads the statement. As per information the Sikh Federation (UK) also approached Fabian Hamilton MP, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs and Baroness Stern, the Chair of the APPG for the Abolition of the Death Penalty to also write to the PM. Fabian Hamilton wrote to PM and Foreign Secretary on 13 February. The formal response from the Foreign Secretary is attached. There is nothing new in the letter that has not already been communicated to Shadow Ministers by the Foreign Minister Hugo Swire. However, an official response from the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in response to the APPG for British Sikhs is significant. “Yesterday a joint meeting of the APPG for the Abolition of the Death Penalty and the APPG for British Sikhs, along with senior representatives from Amnesty International, Reprieve, Sikh Federation (UK) and Sikh Council UK took place in Parliament to make suggestions for a strategy for further actions to take individually and collectively at the UK, European and international level”, reads the statement. A further meeting to finalize the strategy will take place next week; this will also involve Human Rights Watch although certain actions are already being taken forward. http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2013/03/20/uk-foreign-secretary-responds-on-the-abolition-of-the-death-penalty-in-india/
  6. Special Report on 28 Feb. Debate UK MPs state Indias judicial system is corrupt and justice has ground to a halt Sikh Federation (UK) London, United Kingdom (March 19, 2013): In a recent statement issued by the Sikh Federation UK, the UK based Sikh body has stated that: It was pleasing that a number of MPs used the section of the Sikh Federation (UK) briefing titled: Indias judicial system that has failed the Sikhs to criticise Indias judicial system during the debate on 28 February. This included Simon Hughes, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Fabian Hamilton MP, David Ward MP, Richard Fuller, Conservative MP for Bedford and Virendra Sharma Labour MP for Ealing, Southall. It is notable that a debate was held in the Parliament of the United Kingdom on February 28, 2013 on a Kesri Lehar petition that was signed by more than 1,18,000 people. Introducing the vital issues with necessary details the Sikh Federation UK had reportedly sent a detailed documents to various MPs. In a recent article sent to Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) the Sikh Federation UK has shared certain excerpts from the text records of the debate comprising statements of various MPs regarding justice system in India. These statements are as follows: A real problem for . . . the Government of India, is that justice has often ground to a halt there. That is not just my view. The other day a bench of the Supreme Court in India spoke of how slow the processes are, and in January last year a Supreme Court bench said that peoples faith in the judiciary was dwindling at an alarming rate, posing a grave threat to constitutional and democratic governance of the country. It acknowledged serious problems such as the large number of vacancies in trial courts, the unwillingness of lawyers to become judges, and an inability to fill the highest posts. - Simon Hughes, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats I am concerned that there is corruption in the Indian legal system. According to Transparency International, judicial corruption is attributable to factors in India such as delays in the disposal of cases, shortage of judges and complex procedures, all of which are exacerbated by a preponderance of new laws. However, no case of judicial corruption has ever been put on trial in India; under the Indian system, it is almost impossible to charge or impeach a judge. Another factor at work in India is the low ratio of judges per million of the population; there are as few as 12 or 13 judges per 1 million of population in India, as against figures of 107 in the United Statesno surprise there75 in Canada and 51 in the United Kingdom. The high work load in India encourages delays and adjournments on frivolous grounds. The judicial system, including judges and lawyers, has developed a vested interest in delays, as well as corruption; it promotes a collusive relationship between the different players. - Fabian Hamilton MP (Lab) Leeds North East I have touched on the necessity for India to uphold the basic human rights that are espoused in the United Nations convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This is an important issue for my constituents, especially those in the Sikh community, who have long borne the brunt of judicial and societal discrimination in parts of India. - David Ward MP (LD) Bradford East There are issues relating to the Indian judicial system that exacerbate concerns about the existence of the death penalty. I have mentioned the implications for the mental health and well-being of people on death row. With the case load in Indian courts so backed up, what is it that says that a certain case should move forward or not? How are those decisions made? What is the due process in a system that finds itself not fully capable of dealing with its work load? - Richard Fuller MP (Con) Bedford We cannot always assume that the judicial system is faultless. Therefore, using death, an irrevocable act, as a punishment for a crime, puts the system at risk of punishing the innocent irreversibly. - Virendra Sharma MP (Lab) Ealing, Southall http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2013/03/19/special-report-on-28-feb-debate-uk-mps-state-indias-judicial-system-is-corrupt-and-justice-has-ground-to-a-halt/
  7. Special Report – MPs remain silent on Widespread Criminalization of Politics in India Sikh Federation (UK) London, United Kingdom (March 17, 2013): The Sikh Federation (UK) informed Sikh Siyasat News (SSN), through an article that during the debate in the UK Parliament on 28 February, 2013 UK MPs did not go as far as to mention the widespread criminalisation of politics in India despite the briefing provided by the Sikh Federation (UK). This combined with the way votes are secured in India seriously undermines the concept of India as a democracy, let alone the largest democracy. As per the Sikh Federation UK the MPs were supplied Andrew North’s report produced in February 2013 for BBC Newsnight that one third of India’s 4,835 elected representatives have declared criminal charges against them – many of them face serious cases like murder, rape and kidnapping. (See link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-21469286). “What will however worry India is that many politicians in the UK, across other parts of Europe and no doubt other parts of the developed world have increasingly been talking about this in private when the subject is brought up. It is only a matter of time before this is no longer a taboo subject and some openly challenge India and question if it is a properly functioning democracy’ the article states. “During the debate on 28 February David Ward, Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East speaking about the ‘big elephant in the chamber’ – trade links with India – said: ‘It would be immoral, in my view, if growing trade links were used as an excuse for holding back on deserved criticism.” it reads further. http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2013/03/17/special-report-mps-remain-silent-on-widespread-criminalization-of-politics-in-india/
  8. Special Report – UK MPs call for the death penalty to be abolished in India Sikh Federation (UK) London, United Kingdom (March 14, 2013): John McDonnell MP and Fabian Hamilton MP the co-sponsors of the debate in the UK Parliament on 28 February in their speeches provided background to the death penalty in India and how India had ended its unofficial eight year moratorium on 21 November 2012. John McDonnell admitted: ‘The eight-year moratorium lulled us into a false sense of security. Naively, many of us thought that although India retained the death penalty on the statute book the continuation of the moratorium was an indication that it would eventually be abolished once and for all. Unfortunately, that was a naive judgment.’ - John McDonnell MP (Lab) – Hayes and Harlington Fabian Hamilton stated: ‘Pranab Mukherjee, India’s President, has now ordered the death penalty for seven convicts in the past seven months, which is more than any other Indian President in the past 15 years. India is currently reporting one death penalty sentence every third day, according to The Times of India this month.’ ‘Human rights activists in India are worried that this precedent could affect the 500 or so people now on death row in India, including political prisoners such as Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajoana. As of 11 February 2013, 476 convicts were on death row in India.’ - Fabian Hamilton MP (Lab) – Leeds North East Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar: As expected the case that received the most attention during the debate was that of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. The person that spoke with the greatest passion, especially about the Professor was Fabian Hamilton. Using the Sikh Federation (UK) briefing he gave a detailed account of the Professor’s case and said: ‘his case is a real cause célèbre; he has been tortured and treated inhumanely in prison.’ He set out why he had to flee India for Germany in December 1994 and how he was deported in January 1995. The fact the Indian authorities gave specific assurances to the German authorities that Professor Bhullar had nothing to fear if he was returned to India and that he would not be tortured. Fabian Hamilton stated: ‘By deporting someone to a death penalty-prone country, Germany violated the European convention on human rights and remains morally obliged to do all it can now to seek the professor’s immediate release.’ He continued: ‘Professor Bhullar was examined by a police-assigned medical doctor. Although the professor is a highly educated man, his medical examination document is co-signed by him with a thumbprint. We know that the case against Professor Bhullar is highly dubious; it is based on information that has not been properly corroborated, with the prosecution having offered no corroboration at all. None of its 133 witnesses identified Professor Bhullar. Many witnesses actually claimed he was not the man they had seen. One prosecution witness, a rickshaw worker in Delhi, informed the court that he had no knowledge of the case but had been threatened and forced by the police to provide a false statement. Almost every legal system in the world is based on the idea of proof beyond reasonable doubt and respects procedures in order to obtain safe evidence. The Supreme Court of India seems to have departed from those things in the most important of all cases—that of the death penalty—thus setting an unfortunate new precedent for Indian law.’ Balwant Singh Rajoana The other prominent case that received numerous mentions in the debate was that of Balwant Singh Rajoana. John McDonnell pointed out his case has immense significance around the world and is important for its historical context as it symbolises the suffering of the Sikhs at the hands of the former Chief Minister Beant Singh in that period. John McDonnell stated: ‘We now know that Beant Singh personally commanded the police and security forces in the killing and disappearance of possibly more than 20,000 Sikhs—men, women and children. Faced with the failure of the Indian authorities to take action against the former Chief Minister for his crimes against humanity, Balwant Singh . . . took the law into . . . (his) own hands.’ In the debate MPs one after the other called for India to abolish the death penalty, including Hugo Swire MP, the Minister representing the Government. Some of the statements made are reproduced below: ‘Let me state clearly from the outset that the Government strongly supports the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. We believe that the death penalty undermines human dignity, that there is no conclusive evidence of its deterrent value, and that any miscarriage of justice leading to its imposition is both irreversible and irreparable.’ ‘It remains the British Government’s long-standing policy to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle, and I hope the Indian Government will re-establish a moratorium on executions in line with the global trend towards the abolition of capital punishment. When I was in Delhi last week, I reiterated the British Government’s position on the death penalty to India’s Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai. We will also raise our concerns about the death penalty at the EU-India human rights dialogue, which we hope will take place soon.’ - Hugo Swire MP, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office ‘I call upon the UK Government to use every forum and every mechanism of communication established with India, formal and informal, to press the Indian Government to halt the executions now and sign up to the UN convention opposing the death penalty. I urge the Indian Government to join now that community of nations that have renounced the use of the death penalty and have abolished it once and for all’ - John McDonnell MP (Lab) – Hayes and Harlington ‘It is very important that we in this Chamber make clear our views on the death penalty still being in use in India and around the world. We should stand up and show that we totally disapprove of that, and say that all nations should abolish the death penalty. It is tragic that India . . . still uses the death penalty. Our purpose today is to represent the views of the many Sikh . . . citizens in our constituencies . . . to show that we want to see India . . . abolish the death penalty for good.’ ‘India should honour articles 3 and 5 of the universal declaration of human rights: the right to life and not to be tortured or subject to any cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. We want India to be there with us in the group of nations that say that the inhumanity of the death penalty should be abolished. There should not be a moratorium; there should be a complete abolition. I hope that India will see the sense of abolishing, once and for all, this inhuman and evil act of execution.’ - Fabian Hamilton MP (Lab) – Leeds North East ‘Although a moratorium is desirable, the intent should really be outright abolition, because history teaches us that moratoriums are not always an effective long-term solution. As has already been mentioned, India has had a moratorium, and it has ended—the consequences of that remain to be seen.’ ‘There are real concerns that the existence of the death penalty in India will exacerbate the tensions within Indian society rather than achieving a better long-term solution.’ ‘The human aspect for those under threat of the death penalty must also be a considerable concern to us. It is inhumane treatment to leave a human being on death row for many years. No one should have to go through the psychological trauma of not knowing if or when their appeal may be heard and they may be executed. That is not a mark of a decent society. If India became a more active proponent of the death penalty, that would have significant implications for . . . the UK.’ ‘On the issue of the (abolition of the) death penalty it is often the politicians who have to lead public opinion, not the other way around. They should have the courage to halt executions immediately, and to step forward not just to reinstate a moratorium but to effect outright abolition.’ – Richard Fuller MP (Con) – Bedford ‘I . . . impress upon the Indian Government: the need for the abolition of the death penalty in India. The death penalty is abhorrent to the vast majority of Members . . . We want to make the call for its abolition loud and clear.’ - Geoffrey Robinson MP (Lab) – Coventry North West ‘We expect you (India) . . . to promote the standards of democracy and human rights that we expect, and to recognise that if the death penalty is used in this way, there is a risk that you will deepen the divisions between ethnic and religious communities in the country. There is a risk that you will make your country less safe and less peaceful for all who live in it.’ - Fiona McTaggart MP (Lab) – Slough ‘We participate in many debates in this House, but this one is literally about life and death. I have had a long-standing personal opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances and I am proud to live in a country where it has been abolished. This is a matter of humanity and, as someone once said, it is not for the state to kill people who kill people to show that killing is wrong’. - Seema Malhotra MP (Lab) – Feltham and Heston http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2013/03/17/special-report-uk-mps-call-for-the-death-penalty-to-be-abolished-in-india/
  9. PRESS RELEASE SIKH FEDERATION (UK) MPs TURN OUT IN LARGE NUMBERS FOR DEBATE IN UK PARLIAMENT TO SHOW SUPPORT FOR BRITISH SIKH COMMUNITY 14 March 2013 A one and a half hour debate titled The British Sikh Community took place in the UK Parliament yesterday organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs. The APPG for British Sikhs has a much broader appeal than similar groups in Parliament and was set up by the Sikh Federation (UK) in 2005 to focus on Sikh issues in the UK, Europe and elsewhere and is now also supported by the Sikh Council UK. The debate was led by Gareth Johnson Conservative MP for Dartford. At the start of the debate he paid tribute to Fabian Hamilton the Labour MP for Leeds North East and the Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs: I pay tribute to the inspiration behind the debate, which was that of the honourable Member for Leeds North East (Fabian Hamilton) who runs the all-party group for British Sikhs, and to the excellent work of that group in Parliament and the way in which it has helped to recognise the contribution of the Sikh community to our country. The debate that took place yesterday was described by many politicians as excellent and very successful in terms of the turnout. The Sikh Federation (UK) learnt of the debate last Thursday, but managed through its network and working with the Sikh Council UK to ensure over 50 MPs took part with around half that number having the opportunity to speak during the debate. Contribution of the Sikhs As expected many MPs used this as an opportunity to highlight the importance and significant contribution of the British Sikh community in all walks of life business, industry, commerce, in the professions, education, medical science, medical ethics etc. Below is just a selection of the comments made during the debate by politicians about the contribution of Sikhs: Sikhs . . . are fantastic, enterprising and educationally aspirational, with values of faith, family and community. Pat McFadden (Lab) Wolverhampton South East 'Sikhs have a deserved reputation for having a strong work ethic. Their belief in hard work and the importance of the family has been the reason for their success in the United Kingdom.' Gareth Johnson (Con) - Dartford The Sikhs punch above their weight, frankly. We should acknowledge that. Jim Cunningham (Lab) Coventry South I have always been impressed by how important public service is to the identity of Sikhs and how serving others is woven into their way of life. Sikhs are always seeking to do more and finding new ways of contributing. Chris White (Con) Warwick and Leamington I want to make some quick points about the tremendous contribution that the Sikh community has made to the success of the United Kingdom both in terms of business success, to our public services. . national health service as doctors, nurses and the likeand in terms of celebrating and vastly broadening our culture in the UK. Anas Sarwar (Lab) Glasgow Central It is worth reiterating the fact that within Sikhism, there is a recognition of the equality of women and of all people and a commitment to hard work, to sharing with others and to standing up for people and protecting them. All communities could learn a significant lesson from the way in which the Sikh community conducts itself. The Sikhs have made a huge economic contribution to the nation, creating many jobs and wealth for Great Britain. I also want to mention here cohesion and integration, which is a topic that I am currently working on. The Sikh community is a model of cohesion and integration and we could learn many lessons on the way in which it has conducted itself in the UK. Chris Williamson (Lab) Derby North It has been absolutely clear that the speakers in the debate, from all parties, have gone out of their way to celebrate the enormous contribution that members of the British Sikh community make to this country. I am delighted to be able to join them by making a similar expression of praise, thanks and congratulations to the Sikh community for its contribution. I am delighted to be able to sum up this debate, which has shown how much cross-party support there is for the huge contribution that is made by the Sikh community in this country. British Sikhs are among some of our greatest business men and professionals, and they are a peaceful, high-achieving community from whom we all have much to learn. This has been an excellent debate. Don Foster, Minister for Communities and Local Government The briefings produced by the Sikh Federation (UK) and Sikh Council UK also made reference to the Battle of Saraghari in 1897 and Sikh sacrifices in the two World Wars when 83,005 turban wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded. The objective was to try and get the new revamped teaching of British history in schools to celebrate Sikh contributions and that these should also be recognised as part of the WWI Centenary activities. Both issues were raised by MPs. Jonathan Ashworth Labour MP for Leicester South said Sikh contributions to the first and second world wars should be given greater prominence in our national debate as we look towards the commemorations of the first world war. Fiona Mactaggart Labour MP for Slough said the UK Government should: Ensure that the history curriculum properly reflects the contribution of many Sikh soldiers to the freedom of Britain. Don Foster, the Minister for Communities and Local Government in his response said: I want to make it absolutely clear that we certainly hope that we will see that contribution reflected in the commemoration of the anniversary of world war one which will be happening shortly. However, he did not comment on the history curriculum. Given the discussion around Sikh contributions several MPs commented on Sikh representation in politics: Gavin Barwell Conservative MP for Croydon Central said: It would be great to see more Sikhs represented on our local councils and here in this House, taking a wider role in public service. Anwar Sarwar the Labour MP from Glasgow Central added: We must recognise the tremendous contribution of the Sikh community and ensure that our Parliaments and council chambers reflect society. All political parties must work together to ensure that we have representation of Sikhs in council chambers, the Scottish Parliament and at Westminster. Issues raised by MPs during the debate Apart from the contribution of Sikhs MPs were briefed by the Sikh Federation (UK) and Sikh Council UK on three specific areas where the Sikh community has specific concerns: UK Government interface with the British Sikh community, Sikh identity issues and human rights concerns. UK Government interface with the British Sikh community MPs were urged to put pressure on the UK Government to engage with organisations that represent the grassroots of a community rather than two or three so-called community leaders that civil servants have known for many years if not decades and who have no real grassroots support or community engagement. MPs were made aware at the national level you have grassroots organisations like the Sikh Council UK (recently established in December 2010) and the Sikh Federation (UK) established in September 2003, which is a pressure group that specialises in political lobbying, has existed for almost a decade and is well known to politicians of all political parties through events they have participated in and who have been regularly quoted in the mainstream media on various Sikh identity and human rights issues. Below is just a selection of the comments made by politicians about UK Government interface with the British Sikh community during the debate: The Sikh Federation UK has supported our group (APPG for British Sikhs) so well, and I want to pay tribute to it for its work, together with that of the Sikh Council UK. Those two organisations ensure that British Sikhs are well represented. Fabian Hamilton (Lab) Leeds North East The Government should take the opportunity to work with organisations such as the Sikh Council UK, which seeks to act as a national advocate for British Sikhs. We should recognise the potential of working with democratically elected bodies such as the council, so that Sikhs feels that their voice is being heard. I would welcome the Prime Minister and Communities Secretary to have regular meetings with the council and other Sikh organisations in our country, so that we can explain Government policy and take on board the points made by the British Sikh community. Chris White (Con) Warwick and Leamington The Sikh Council UK has also asked that the Government formally consult with it on Government policy relating to a range of issues. I wonder whether the Minister might be able to comment on that request. Chris Williamson, Shadow Minster for Communities and Local Government Don Foster, the Minister for Communities and Local Government in his opening remarks at the end of the debate said: I am more than happy to have a meeting with the Sikh Council UK. This in itself was one of the objectives the Sikh Federation (UK) and Sikh Council UK were hoping to achieve from the debate. Sikh identity issues This was the second area the Sikh Federation (UK) and Sikh Council UK wanted aired in the debate. As expected many MPs commented on the visible Sikh identity from a historical context and others such as Chris White the Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington added: I believe that British Sikhs have a strong sense of their identity, both as Sikhs and as British citizens, and it is right that Parliament takes the time to recognise that. We should build on that and ensure that British Sikhs feel that their work is appreciated. Respect for the Sikh turban at airports across Europe Many MPs talked about the success of the UK Government working with grassroots Sikh organisations like the Sikh Federation (UK) in securing a solution for the respect for the Sikh turban at airports not only in the UK, but across Europe. Pat McFadden the Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East who was specifically briefed by the Sikh Federation (UK) to mention this in the debate stated: We have heard about searches of turbansthe Dastaarat airports, about which a great many Members on both sides of the House campaigned, as did Sikh organisations. I acknowledge the good efforts of the Department for Transport in working with the European Union and other Governments to reach a successful conclusion. Chris Williamson the Labour MP for Derby North and Shadow Minster for Communities and Local Government however commenting on the latest situation in terms of the new EU Regulation challenged the Minister to do more at the European level: Could the Minister give us any information about whether the Government will continue to monitor this situation? It is good news that the regulations have been updated, but it is important that we continue to monitor the situation to ensure that those more enlightened regulations are actually being implemented on the ground. Don Foster, the Minister for Communities and Local Government in his response said: we are now working very closely with our European colleagues to persuade them to adopt the same system. Challenges against the wearing of the Dastaar at work During the debate many MPs however recognised that Sikhs in the UK continue to experience difficulties as regards the Sikh identity, especially the Dastaar and Kirpan in work and in public life. Several MPs mentioned concerns with discrimination at work against Sikhs with turbans. For example Lilian Greenwood Labour MP for Nottingham South said: more needs to be done to tackle discrimination against Sikh workers in the workplace. Particularly, the Government could do more to ensure that employers understand the special protections for wearers of the Sikh turban. Chris Williamson Labour MP for Derby North concluding on the Labour benches said: Hon. Members have touched on issues that persist to this day about employment, whereby Sikhs are still discriminated against and find problems in the workplace in relation to the turban. As a former construction worker myself, I know that that is something that has been addressed on construction sites, but there are still a number of ongoing cases. I think that one relates to a lorry driver who is in danger of losing his job, and there have been a number of other incidents as well. I wonder whether the Minister could say a little about dealing with those employment rights issues for the Sikh community. Don Foster, the Minister for Communities and Local Government in his response said: The issue of hard hats was also raised and I assure hon. Members that my Department is now working with all the other agencies involved with that particular issue to see if we can make progress and enable Sikh turban-wearers not to have to wear hard hats in certain places of work. Challenges against the wearing the Kirpan at work and in public life With respect to the Kirpan John McDonnell the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington mentioned Amritdhari Sikhs who have been turned away at the London Eye, from concerts at Wembley and so on. Madame Tussauds was another example. We tried to ensure that at least some standard guidelines were issued, and to a certain extent, when it comes to public service, we have achieved that. The problem occurs when the individual private contractors are not taking note. More work needs to be done on that. What did however come as a surprise to many present in the debate was the examples quoted by Anas Sarwar the Labour MP for Glasgow Central who said: I want to raise a couple of concerns that have been mentioned to me. One is about equality in relation to the turban and the Kirpan. Recently, a high street operator refused to employ someone because they wore the Kirpan, and in court, someone was expelled from a jury for wearing one. Such things were protected by the equality legislation introduced by the last Government, and we must ensure that education takes place, so that such situations do not occur again. Don Foster, the Minister for Communities and Local Government in his response said: Freedom of worship is core to the British way of life. Public displays of religious belief, such as the wearing of faith symbols and clothing or the maintenance of dietary codes, are all vital aspects of religious freedom and we are keen to do all we can to support that freedom. The previous Government did excellent work in this field, but we recognise that there have been problems. We are also looking at a number of the other issues that have been raised today. For example, I was interested to hear the concern raised about a member of the Sikh community not being allowed to serve on a jury because he was wearing the Kirpan. If the hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Anas Sarwar), who raised that particular case, can provide me with details about it, I would like to take it up. Human rights concerns Although this debate was much broader than many debates in the UK Parliament, was for only one and a half hours and despite the debate less than two weeks earlier about the abolition of the death penalty in India the Sikh Federation (UK) and Sikh Council UK briefed MPs to again raise human rights issues. Most MPs on the Conservative side avoided raising the issue of human rights. However, John McDonnell the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington summed up why it was important to again raise human rights issues by stating: One of the fundamental issues that has been raised time and time again with us is human rights, and we cannot avoid the issue. We had discussion after discussion about what happened in the atrocities in the 1980s and the injustices that took place, many of which have never been addressed. I do not believe that any discussion on the Sikh community should not involve discussion of the need that there still is to bring to book the people who committed those atrocities during that period, because we have never found the ultimate truth and many of them have never been brought to justice. Pat McFadden the Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East continued: The community is a success in the UK, but it sometimes has a strange relationship with India. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) said, that in large part stems from the events of 1984, when many Sikhs lost their lives. The pain of that experience and the lasting sense of injustice among the Sikh community are very real. There is a lasting desire for greater transparency and honesty in the story of what happened. If the communitys relationship with India is strained, its relationship with the UK has been a good one. That is a tribute to the Sikh community and its efforts. Five MPs specifically mentioned the death penalty in India during the debate yesterday to keep up pressure on the UK Government. The cases of Balwant Singh Rajoana and Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar were specifically mentioned again with a particular mention for Professor Bhullar by Chris Williamson and John McDonnell. Chris White the Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington said he hoped that the Government will listen to those concerns and ensure that they communicate with British Sikhs about our countrys foreign policy. Anwar Sarwar the Labour MP from Glasgow Central added: One of the largest letter-writing campaigns that I have ever experienced as a Member of Parliament has been about the death penalty in India. Fiona Mactaggart joined John McDonnell to remind the House about the unanimity across the Chamber in urging India to abolish the death penalty.
  10. Please send the following to your MP as soon as possible and also get your friends and family to do the same: Dear [MPs name] We have learnt from the Sikh Council UK and Sikh Federation (UK) that the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs has secured a 90-minute debate in the UK Parliament on Wednesday 13 March 2013 at 9.30am in Westminster Hall about the British Sikh community. This is an excellent opportunity to not only celebrate the success of the British Sikh community, but also to raise a range of issues where Sikhs have concerns. These include issues relating to the UK Government interface with the British Sikh community, various Sikh identity issues, treatment of Sikhs and Sikh organisations in the UK and numerous long standing human rights concerns. The debate is also helpful on the back of the debate on 28 February on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India. The debate will be led by Gareth Johnson MP (Con) Dartford. We will send you a suitable briefing early next week for the debate on Wednesday 13 March and hope you will make time to contribute to the debate that will take place prior to Prime Ministers Question Time. Name Full postal address with postcode
  11. UK GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS OPPOSITION TO DEATH PENALTY IN INDIA Specific references to Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajoana 27 February 2013 On the eve of the debate in the UK Parliament on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India the Sikh Federation (UK) has been copied a letter dated 27 February 2013 sent by the Rt Hon Hugo Swire, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The letter to his counterpart the Rt Hon John Spellar, a shadow Foreign Minister notes the UK Government’s disappointment that India ended its de-facto moratorium on the death penalty in November 2012. The letter states: ‘it is the longstanding policy of the British Government to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances.’ Rt Hon Hugo Swire has confirmed that he met Indian Foreign Minister Ranjal Mathai in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs last week on 19 February in New Delhi as part of the UK Prime Minister’s delegation and raised the UK Government’s concerns. The letter continues to state: ‘I am aware of the high level of interest amongst the British Sikh community and Parliament in the cases of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajoana. I will continue to monitor these case closely . . . The British Government will also continue to make its position clear to the Indian government, both bilaterally and through the EU, and urge them to introduce a formal moratorium with a view to eventual abolition of the death penalty.’ Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), said: ‘We appreciate the UK Government’s response to our lobbying of the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron before he left for India and our demand that the issue of the death penalty and the cases of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajoana be raised when he visited India last week.’ ‘The letter to Rt Hon John Spellar does not come as a surprise as the UK Government are aware of the proposals we have asked MPs to push in the Parliamentary debate on 28 February and this is one way to counter calls for the UK Government and EU Members States to take the matter up at the United Nations General Assembly.’ Gurjeet Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)
  12. UK MPs PREPARE FOR HISTORIC DEBATE IN THE UK PARLIAMENT ON THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY IN INDIA 26 February 2013 The Sikh Federation (UK) has produced and distributed a 7,500 word briefing to over 100 UK Members of Parliament in the last 24 hours for those who can attend to use during a debate in the UK Parliament on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India. The two and a half hour debate is scheduled to take place in the main chamber of the House of Commons on Thursday 28 February 2013. The briefing begins by stating: Punishment by death is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. To highlight the significance of the issue the Sikh Federation (UK) briefing quotes the Times of India as reporting in February 2013 that India is currently reporting one death penalty sentence every third day. The briefing provides general background on the Death Penalty in India and extensive details on the case history and current situation of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar that many others misrepresent or are simply unaware of. Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), said: We expect at least one hour of the debating time to be focused on Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar alone. There is much that can be taken from his case history to show the fundamental failings of the Indian judicial system. If there is any justice in India the Professor should be released without any further delay. MPs are also expected to cover the case of Balwant Singh Rajoana and the worldwide protests by Sikhs to stop his hanging last year. The briefing sets out that Dilawar Singh and Balwant Singh Rajoana witnessed the former Chief Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh, order the mass killing of innocent Sikhs - men, women, and children and goes on to say: During Beant Singhs tenure it has been widely reported the police and paramilitary forces were responsible for the killing of more than twenty-five thousand Sikhs who were either disappeared or were killed and their bodies cremated by the police in extrajudicial executions. The briefing also provides specific examples of extra-judicial killings of Sikhs by the police in the last two years to demonstrate the Indian authorities have returned to eliminating Sikhs and political opponents through extra-judicial killings without having to take cases to court and secure prosecutions. UK MPs are expected to widen the debate and some may go as far as to question the Indian State as a democracy with the widespread criminalisation of politics and a judicial system that has all but failed. It is rumoured that many pro-Indian UK politicians are making excuses and will stay away from the debate. Privately they are believed to be furious a debate is taking place that will inevitably result in criticism of India. They are saying it will be a one-sided debate as the UK Government will have no choice but to condemn India for retaining the death penalty and other human rights violations. The Sikh Federation (UK) briefing concludes by asking UK MPs to raise a number of questions and make proposals that will exert pressure on the UK Government to work with EU Member States and other nations across the globe opposed to the death penalty to take the issue up at the United Nations.
  13. Akal Takht Jathedar should have urged Sikhs to boycott funeral of Swaran Ghotna: Sikh Federation UK London, United Kingdom (February 23, 2013): The Sikh Federation UK has expressed it’s opinion that Giani Gurbachan Singh, Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat should have asked Sikhs not to attend last rites of an infamous Punjab cop who reportedly died on February 16, 2013. “It has been reported that Swaran Ghotna, the police officer who tortured and murdered the former Jathedar of the Akal Takht Gurdev Singh Kaunke by tearing him in half has perished”, reads a statement by the UK based Sikh body. Given the heinous crimes ordered and committed by Swaran Ghotna on hundreds if not thousands of young Sikhs the Sikh Federation (UK) in a statement has said the current Jathedar of the Akal Takht should have issued a strongly worded statement and urged Sikhs to boycott his funeral in protest at his actions for which he was never brought to account. The Sikh Federation (UK) statement also said the Jathedar of the Akal Takht and SGPC should also have raised the issue of the Indian army assault on the Darbar Sahib Complex in June 1984, the Genocide of Sikhs in November 1984 and the cases of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajoana with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron when he visited the Darbar Sahib Complex. Gurjeet Singh the National Press Secretary of the Sikh Federation (UK) in a written statement said: ‘It had already been reported in leading Punjabi and English newspapers in Punjab leading up to the visit that these issues had been raised by Sikhs with the British Prime Minister. This was the first visit by a serving British Prime Minister so these opportunities rarely present themselves, but those advising the Jathedar of the Akal Takht and SGPC must live on another planet or demonstrate they are unable to take up issues with visiting foreign dignitaries where Indian Government criticism is absolutely necessary.’ Instead the SGPC press release and what has been reported in the media is that the only issue they requested the assistance of the British Prime Minister was in resolving the Dastaar issue in France. Anyone that understands the issue and British French relations will understand even if assistance was requested, as soon this was publicly reported it undermined anything the UK Government could do behind the scenes to assist Sikhs in France. Gurjeet Singh the National Press Secretary of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: ‘The Jathedar of the Akal Takht must improve the advice he receives and be alert to issues that concern Sikhs and issue statements when expected by the Sikh masses around the globe.’ http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2013/02/24/akal-takht-jathedar-should-have-urged-sikhs-to-boycott-funeral-of-swaran-ghotna-sikh-federation-uk/
  14. DAVID CAMERON COMES UP SHORT IN HIS VISIT TO INDIA 20 February 2013 On the one hand British Sikhs are delighted British Prime Minister David Cameron has today made the effort to visit and pay his respects at Harmander Sahib, the Golden Temple Complex. In addition, as the first serving British Prime Minister to visit the scene of the Amritsar massacre of 1919 we welcome his statement that: "This was a deeply shameful event in British history one that Winston Churchill rightly described at the time as monstrous. We must never forget what happened here. And in remembering, we must ensure that the United Kingdom stands up for the right to peaceful protest anywhere in the world." However, much has been written whether during his visit he has done enough to encourage Sikhs to vote Conservative in the UK in constituencies such as Wolverhampton South West during the next General Election. Whilst some Sikhs might be taken in by photographs of David Cameron in Amritsar, the vast majority will look at his actions and that of the Conservative-led Coalition. He would have been in the right and expected by British Sikhs to mention Indias own massacre in Amritsar in more recent times in June 1984 when the Indian Army used tanks and artillery to attack the Harmandir Sahib Complex and kill thousands of innocent Sikh pilgrims. The Conservatives need to realise this is far more important than the 1919 massacre given the majority of British Sikhs are born in the UK and the events of 1984 are very fresh in their minds and many of those who perpetrated those killings of innocent Sikh pilgrims have not been punished. Given the way the Indian Prime Minister ambushed David Cameron in their joint press conference yesterday about the UK helicopter firm AgustaWestland he should have used the opportunity to reach out to British Sikhs and demonstrate the UK will not be constantly blackmailed by threats to trade deals by India. David Cameron also failed to publicly condemn India for two hangings in the last three months and the growing trend to hang others despite many letters from UK MPs prior to his visit to condemn India for moving in this direction. A debate is planned in the main Chamber of the UK Parliament on 28 February for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India and this failure to publicly raise the issue will be exposed by opposition MPs. Gurjeet Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)
  15. DAVID CAMERON ACCUSED OF PLAYING POLITICS TO WIN OVER BRITISH ASIANS British Sikhs have accused David Cameron of coming up short in his visit to India. Hes become the first serving UK Prime Minister to pay his respects and lay a wreath at the memorial to the 1919 Amritsar massacre in India. Sukki Johal spoke to Dabinderjit Singh from the Sikh Federation UK earlier he says its simply not good enough to avoid a public apology because hes not accountable for the countrys past. Listen: http://www.buzzradioonline.co.uk/
  16. Channel 4 News coverage of David Camerons visit to Amritsar - Wednesday 20 February For those that may have missed the Channel 4 News coverage (Wednesday 20 February) of David Camerons visit to Amritsar - Harmander Sahib, Jallianwala Bagh and the debate that followed you may wish to use the following link to watch: http://www.channel4.com/news/catch-up/ Cameron in India: a visit, but no apology for Amritsar (3.46) David Cameron today became the first serving British prime minster to visit the site of the 1919 Amritsar massacre in India. But victims' relatives said they were disappointed with no apology, after waiting 94 years for justice. Debate: should Cameron have apologised for Amritsar? (5.03) Dr Maria Misra, a historian and expert on India and the British Empire and Dabinderjit Singh, spokesperson for Sikh Federation UK, join Jon Snow in the studio. . What did you think of the coverage?
  17. Sikhs angry at UK PMs iciness over 1984 massacre Thursday, February 21, 2013 LONDON: The Sikhs in Britain have expressed anger over the British Prime Minister David Camerons failure to sympathise with the Sikhs for the events of June 1984 when the Indian Army used tanks and artillery to attack the Harmander Sahib, the Golden Temple Complex in Amritsar to kill thousands of innocent Sikh pilgrims. Sikh Federation (UK) said that there was a lot of talk about the 1919 Amritsar massacre and while it was welcome David Cameron expressed sorrow over that tragedy but with an eye on trade deals the PM didnt utter a word about Indias own massacre in Amritsar in June 1984. Prime Minister said at the Temple: This was a deeply shameful event in the British history - one that Winston Churchill rightly described at the time as monstrous. We must never forget what happened here. And in remembering, we must ensure that the United Kingdom stands up for the right to peaceful protest anywhere in the world. Gurjeet Singh, Sikh Federations spokesman said PM Cameron has not won over Sikhs to his party and it will hurt his party in the constituencies where Sikhs live in large numbers. Singh said the Conservatives should realise that the 1984 massacre is far more important than the 1919 massacre given that the majority of British Sikhs are born in the UK and the events of 1984 are very fresh in their minds and many of those who perpetrated those killings of innocent Sikh pilgrims have not been punished. Bhai Amrik Singh, the chairman of the Sikh Federation (UK) said Sikhs would have greatly appreciated a public apology from the British Prime Minister for the bloody massacre in Amritsar. He said it is on record that he along with around another 180 UK MPs specifically supported opposition against the death penalty against Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and called for his release by signing an Early Day Motion before he became leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister. Prime Minister Cameron, he said, should have used this opportunity to reach out to the British Sikhs and demonstrate the UK will not be constantly blackmailed by threats to trade deals by India. David Cameron also failed to publicly condemn India for two hangings in the last three months and the growing trend to hang others despite many letters from UK MPs prior to his visit to condemn India for moving in this direction. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-2-161264-Sikhs-angry-at-UK-PMs-iciness-over-1984-massacre
  18. Prominent Sikh on Channel 4 news tonight starting at 7pm to debate visit to Darbar Sahib and Jallianwala Bagh by David Cameron.
  19. HOW FAR WILL UK PRIME MINISTER GO TO SHOW SUPPORT FOR SIKHS WHILE IN INDIA? 17 February 2013 British Prime Minister David Cameron has arrived in India and is expected to visit Amritsar on Wednesday 20 February and visit Harmandar Sahib and Jallianwala Bagh. There will be several challenging issues for David Cameron to address while in India. The Daily Telegraph national newspaper in the UK has reported the Prime Minister is said to be considering voicing Britains regret for the massacre in 1919 in Jallianwala Bagh, when over a thousand peacefully protesting Sikhs, including women and children, were shot dead by British troops. The Prime Minister must also decide if he will publicly condemn India for two hangings in the last three months and the growing trend to hang others. Last week the Sikh Federation (UK) wrote to the Prime Minister and got dozens of UK Members of Parliament to urge him to condemn India for the recent hangings. Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: The Sikh Nation would greatly appreciate a public apology from the British Prime Minister for the 1919 bloody massacre in Amritsar. We also have no doubt David Cameron will raise UK and EU opposition to the death penalty while in India as this is the official policy, but we suspect he will express his concerns in private and not make a public statement during this trip. However, the debate planned in the UK Parliament on 28 February for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India will almost certainly result in disquiet and the Indian media may force David Camerons hand to make a public statement condemning India. We also reminded the Prime Minister last week that it is on record that he along with around another 180 UK MPs specifically supported opposition against the death penalty against Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and called for his release by signing an Early Day Motion before he became leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister. Another issue that may come up is Indias own massacre in Amritsar in June 1984. An apology for the 1919 Amritsar massacre will make it possible for David Cameron to show public sympathy towards the Sikhs for the events of June 1984 when the Indian Army used tanks and artillery to attack the Harmandir Sahib Complex and kill thousands of innocent Sikh pilgrims. The Sikh Federation (UK) letter to David Cameron last week referred to June 1984 and asked him to reflect on this when he experiences the peace and tranquillity when he pays his respects at Darbar Sahib. It will not be lost on David Cameron, that when in opposition the Conservatives raised two separate Early Day Motions on the 25th anniversary of the June 1984 and November 1984 massacres. Another issue that may complicate David Camerons visit is his unusually strong declaration of support for Pakistan last Tuesday when he told the country's Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, at 10 Downing Street that, your friends are our friends, and your enemies are our enemies.
  20. UK Sikhs hope Cameron will regret Jallianwala Prabhjot Singh/TNS Chandigarh, February 18 Nearly half a million strong Sikh community in the UK, 56 per cent of which has British birth, hopes that Prime Minister David Cameron would regret the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, where hundreds of peacefully protesting Sikhs, including women and children, were done to death by British troops, during his visit to Amritsar on February 20. Representatives of Sikh community in Great Britain has over the weeks submitted memoranda and held meetings with the ruling Conservatives with a hope that the British Prime Minister would also take up the issue of abolition of death penalty as India has witnessed two hangings in the past three months. The Sikhs also want the British Prime Minister to reflect on the Operation Bluestar and the killing of innocent Sikhs in many parts of India in November 1984 as a fallout of the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. A section of the Sikh community believes that to avoid embarrassment to the hosts, he may take up some of these issues privately with the Indian Prime Minister than making any public statements. All these issues have been raised in a memorandum the Sikh Federation of the UK sent to David Cameron before he left for India on a three-day official tour. The Conservatives are keen to win over the British Sikh community over its side. Traditionally majority of Sikhs had been supporters of the Labour Party that was voted out of power in the last General Election. The Sikh Federation has reminded Cameron that when in Opposition, the Conservatives had raised two separate Early Day Motions on the 25th anniversary of both the 1984 Operation Bluestar and the Sikh massacre of November 1984. Going by reports in the British media, there is a strong feeling that Cameron during his visit to Jallianwala Bagh may convey British regret for what had been described as one of the major massacres of innocent people that took place on the Baisakhi Day of 1919. Even Canada regretted the Kama Gata Maru episode in which a large number of Indians, mostly Sikhs, were killed. The Canadian Government has also now raised even Kama Gata Maru memorials. Incidentally, both Canada and Great Britain have Conservatives in power. Both the Canadian and British Governments, recognising great contribution of Sikh immigrants towards nation building, have been bowing backwards to appease them and win them over. Of late while the Sikh community in Canada has won a foothold in federal politics by returning eight to nine Members of Parliament, their counterparts in England, however, are yet to become a strong political identity. Early this month, large number of British MPs had gathered in the House of Commons to pay tributes to Lord Tarsem Singh King, the first Sikh to be honoured as a Lord in 1999. India in Test cricket. A couple of other Sikhs, including Ravi Bopara, have also played for England. In Hockey, a number of Sikhs, including Sutinder and Kulbir, played for both England and Great Britain, in major hockey tournaments, including World Cup and Olympics. Though the first wave of Sikh immigrants to Great Britain were those who fought for the British in the first World War, most of the Sikhs who made Britain their home came from India while the rest moved from Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) and Hong Kong. Maharaja Duleep Singh still holds the official record of first Sikh settler in Great Britain in 1846. His statue in Butten Island is a major attraction for tourists in general and Sikhs in particular. The statue was unveiled in 1999. The first Sikh Gurdwara in Britain came up at Putney in London in 1911. Now there are hundreds of gurdwaras, including one of the biggest at Southall. A recent survey conducted by a British newspaper about different ethnicities and communities to have made Britain their home placed the Sikhs at number one, above Jews and Christians. Sikhs have the highest percentage, 82, for owning houses among all communities. http://www.tribunein...30219/main3.htm
  21. UK Parliamentarians to debate the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India 15 February 2013 Fabian Hamilton Labour MP for Leeds North East and also the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs announced live last night on Sangat TV that he had applied for a debate in the UK Parliament about the Abolition of the Death Penalty in India. He said the debate will be taking place on Thursday 28 February in the main chamber of the House of Commons. It will be the first debate following Departmental and Business Questions as well as any statements, so it could start as early as 11.30am or possibly 12.30pm depending on that mornings business. It was announced on the Raj Karega Khalsa programme on Sangat TV that the Sikh Federation (UK) had promised to ensure around 25-30 MPs speak in that debate and would be providing them detailed briefing on the death penalty in India and more specifically the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajoana. Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), said: There are many aspects of the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar that we will ask MPs to set out in the debate. The case of Balwant Singh Rajoana is different and the most important thing to highlight is the gross human rights violations perpetrated by the Beant Singh led Punjab Government. In addition, the debate provides an opportunity to expose the level of political corruption in India at the highest levels and a judicial system that has major flaws and means a minority community like the Sikhs can never get justice in India. The Sikh Federation (UK) also informed viewers that it had been reported that Pranab Mukherjee, India's President, has reportedly rejected the mercy petitions of four others on Tuesday. The President had now ordered the death penalty for seven convicts in the last seven months, more than any Indian President in the last 15 years.
  22. SIKH FEDERATION (UK) RAISE OPPOSITION TO DEATH PENALTY WITH PRIME MINISTER, DAVID CAMERON BEFORE HIS VISIT TO INDIA NEXT WEEK AND LAUNCH MASSIVE INTERNATIONAL LOBBY 12 February 2013 The Sikh Federation (UK) has written to UK Prime Minister, David Cameron ahead of his planned visit to India next week. The letter and other communications by the Sikh Federation (UK) with Ministers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have urged David Cameron to raise UK and EU opposition to the death penalty in India. The opposition to the death penalty has also been raised with French President, Francois Hollande who will be visiting Delhi on February 14-15. This visit will be followed by David Cameron who is also expected to pay his respects at the Harmander Sahib Complex in Amritsar. Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: The UK and France are two of the five Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council opposed to the death penalty. They are expected to voice their concerns in person with the Indian authorities about the worrying and backward trend of the reintroduction of hangings with two in the last three months. The letter from Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), to David Cameron states: The British Sikh community along with many others were alarmed to learn about the latest hanging in India on Saturday. That makes it two hangings in three months and there are worrying signs India has permanently moved backwards as regards the abolition of the death penalty. The latest hanging is highly provocative and suggests India is signalling a challenge to over 110 nations, including all EU countries, which have rightly turned their back on the barbaric use of the death penalty. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has had much correspondence from MPs representing the Sikh community about the plight of Balwant Singh Rajoana and Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar in recent years and we fear the politics in India at the present time will mean they could easily go to the gallows in the next few weeks. We understand you will be in India next week and are also likely to visit the Harmander Sahib (Golden Temple) Complex and sincerely hope you will not shy away from publicly condemning India for carrying out two hangings in the last three months and urge them to immediately reinstate the moratorium against the death penalty. In addition, the Sikh Federation (UK) has written to Baroness Stern as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Abolition of the Death Penalty and communicated with Fabian Hamilton MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for UK Sikhs urging them to also write to David Cameron. Khalsa Human Rights, the human rights wing of the Sikh Federation (UK) has also issued a letter that can be sent to MPs and MEPs to try and stop the imminent hanging of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and Balwant Singh Rajoana. Gurdwaras have been urged to get Sangat to sign these letters in large numbers as soon as possible and send to MPs. The Sikh Federation (UK) has also set in motion activities at the European Parliament in Brussels and at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
  23. SIKH FEDERATION (UK) LEAD EUROPEAN-WIDE DELEGATION TO MEET EUROPEAN COMMISSION STAFF RESPONSIBLE FOR POLICY ON SEARCH OF SIKH TURBANS AT AIRPORTS 23 January 2013 Earlier this week the Sikh Federation (UK) led a 12-member European-wide delegation of Sikhs to meet European Commission staff responsible for policy on airport security to clarify the position on search of Sikh turbans at airports. On 17 December 2012 the Department for Transport in the UK wrote to Sikh organisations, including the Sikh Federation (UK), to confirm the new Regulation on Aviation security was expected to be published before 31 December 2012 and implemented in early 2013. The new Regulation on Aviation Security will allow the option of Sikh turbans to be searched using the UK method that gives due respect to the Sikh turban. In the UK hand held metal detectors and Explosive Test Devise (ETD) technology (swab testing for chemicals) are used to check for anything inappropriate that may be in a turban. This means the turban does not need to be removed, searched by hand or even touched by hand. This gives due respect to the Sikh turban and provides a better security solution than hand searches. The European-wide delegation led by the Sikh Federation (UK) met with Margus Rahuoja, Senior Advisor (Aviation Policy and Security) to Siim Kallas, Vice-President and European Commissioner for Transport. He commended the Sikh Federation (UK) for taking a robust, but sensible and pragmatic approach in dealing with the Department for Transport in the UK in securing both the need for respect for the Sikh turban and the need for suitable security. Mr Rahuoja pointed out the new Regulation had now been finalised and would be published in February 2013. He suggested Sikhs living in different EU countries in mainland Europe, in particular countries like Italy, where there have been difficulties, immediately engage with their respective government departments responsible for airport security and target airports from where large numbers of Sikhs travel to ensure these airports have in place suitable equipment to allow the UK method of searching turbans to be available as soon as possible and security staff are given appropriate training. Sikh representatives also discussed with European Commission staff what they should do if airport staff were deliberately offensive and discriminatory towards Sikhs with turbans. The meeting took place in the main European Commission Berlaymont Building in Brussels. The 12-member delegation of Sikhs included Sikhs from the UK, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands and comprised: Dabinderjit Singh, Daljit Singh, Harjinder Singh, Harwant Singh Daduwal, Jaspal Singh, Javinder Singh, Malkiat Singh, Sadhu Singh, Satnam Singh, Satwinder Singh, Talvinder Singh and Tarlochan Singh.
  24. SIKH FEDERATION (UK) ACTIVE ON RAISING CONCERNS ON EVE OF FRENCH PRESIDENTS FIRST VISIT TO DELHI French President urged to raise opposition to death penalty with India when in Delhi this week Sikhs urge Indian Prime Minister to raise religious discrimination against the minority Sikh community in France 11 Febru1ry 2013 President Francois Hollande will be visiting New Delhi on February 14-15 on his first trip to India since being elected in May 2012. The Sikh Federation (UK) has been in contact with Sikhs in France to urge them to raise French opposition to India carrying out the death penalty. Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: India has now challenged the civilised world and in particular the 27 EU countries by carrying out two hangings in last three months. The Indian media and politicians have now said Balwant Singh Rajoana and Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar should be next. We have requested Sikh representatives in France to contact President Francois Hollande as a matter of urgency so he takes up this issue on their behalf. Similarly, the Sikh Federation (UK) is urging Sikhs in Punjab and those in Delhi to raise the issue of religious discrimination against the minority Sikh community in France when President Francois Hollande in there later this week. Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: The United Nations has in the last 12 months taken two decisions in support of the Sikhs right to freely wear their turbans. Since President Francois Hollande is making his first visit to India since being elected in May 2012 this is an opportunity for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to directly raise the issue with the French President. The French have always given the signal that the French law introduced in 2004 has had unintended consequences for Sikh children in schools. But given the UN rulings the French have an opportunity to find a way of allowing Sikh children to freely wear their turbans and also not having to force Sikhs to remove their turbans for the purposes of ID photographs. Where there is a will, there is way.
  25. Watch Quami Masle - Tonight (Sun 10 Feb) 7-8pm - Sangat TV Sky 847 This programme was on live Saturday 9 February 7-8pm, but will be shown again tonight as many have requested a repeat showning.
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