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Abstract

The Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights report, the only one of its kind, is published annually by UNITED SIKHS. It is a product of intense research, field observations, surveys and input on Sikh issues from local residents and lawyers in various countries around the world. Human rights reports released by organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also been cited in this publication. References to civil and human rights abuses perpetrated against Sikhs where they reside are also included. The 2012-2013 report is the fifth report; the first was tabled in 2008 at the First Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Conference in New York.


A majority of the work on the report has been done by lawyers, community advocates and law students. Articles from experts and advocates from countries such as Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, UK and USA have also been included.


This year’s Report highlights the continuing incidents of hate/bias against Sikhs in the United States. These incidents include the August 2012 massacre of Sikhs by a white supremacist at a Sikh House of Worship in Wisconsin; the vicious hate-motivated attack on an 80-year-old Sikh outside a Sikh House of Worship in California; and the senseless shooting of a Sikh in Port Orange, Florida, by unknown individuals while he was driving a car with his 13-year-old son. In addition, the report includes the vicious hate-motivated assault by a group of bike riding teenagers on a Sikh professor from Columbia while he was out for his evening walk in Harlem, New York. Attention is also drawn to the rejection of devout Sikhs in the US armed forces and the ROTC; the discriminatory treatment of Sikhs at the hands of their employers and prospective employers; discounting Sikhs as a separate category in the US census, and many more issues.


Observations on the state of Sikh rights in India are contained as well and include a discussion on Prof. Davinderpal Singh’s death penalty, which has now been commuted to life imprisonment; the hunger strike by Mr. Gurbakash Singh to secure the release of Sikh prisoners who had spent more than 15 years in prison but were denied early release; and the 30 year-old demand of Sikhs around the world to convict the perpetrators of the 1984 Sikh genocide.


The report further discusses the present situation in France with regard to the turban ban, whereby the French government has stubbornly refused to pay heed to the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s findings that France had violated the religious freedom of Sikhs by banning the turban in schools and on ID photographs. These findings were made by the UNHRC in 2011 and 2012 in three cases brought by UNITED SIKHS lawyers against France’s highly discriminatory legislation passed in 2004 that bans religious articles of faith in schools and on photo IDs.


Also discussed is the plight of Sikhs in Afghanistan and Pakistan who face severe restrictions in the practice of their faith. For example, the prohibition on carrying out cremations in Afghanistan, regular sanctions by labeling Sikh practices as non-confirming with Islam and the regular practice of kidnapping for ransom and beheading of Sikhs by the Taliban and other extremist forces in Pakistan.


In Canada, Parti Québécois, a party now voted out of power in Quebec, had tabled a highly discriminatory and controversial law in its National Assembly. The bill was termed as the "Quebec Charter of Values." It drew inspiration from the infamous French law banning religious symbols and purported to ban all conspicuous religious symbols, including the Sikh turban for all government workers.


Along with the abovementioned countries, this 166-page report also includes findings from: Australia, Belgium, Burma, China, Hong Kong, Denmark, Fiji, Georgia, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.