Saturday 25, March 2017

2012 Sikh Summit Voices Issues that affect the Sikhs in United States

 

Washington, DC: The Sikh community strongly voiced their concerns in Washington DC by meeting with over 20 members of Congress, the members of the Executive branch to advocate for Sikh civil and human rights at the 4th Annual Sikh Summit from Oct 1st – Oct 3rd. In wake of the killings of six Sikhs in Wisconsin, Sikh members expressed their concerns and fears of the growing rate at which hate crimes against Sikhs and other people of color have increased alarmingly. In particular, the Sikh community faces a double tragedy; not only are their lives in danger because of the hate/bias but the hate crime itself goes unreported.

The major issues addressed were: hate crimes-focused primarily seeking an "Anti Sikh Category" in the forms, security at Gurdwaras, employment discrimination, inclusion of Sikhism in educational curriculum, TSA policies and Sikhs being able to serve the armed forces of the United States wearing their article of faith. The gathered Sikhs voiced their concerns singularly asking for recognition of who Sikhs are.

Congresswoman Judy Chiu, with the proclamation and UNITED SIKHS Regional Director of polic Harpreet SIngh, National Coordinator Harbhakshish Singh, Volunteer Dr Baltej Singh UNITED SIKHS Volunteers and community members with USCIRF members Elizabeth Cassidy, Deputy Director of Policy and Research (3rd from left)and Sahar Chaudhry, Policy Analyst(2nd from left)

Harpreet Singh, Regional Policy Director-Ca said, "the Sikhs served in both world wars and are serving in the armed forces of UK, Canada and other countries. Why can't they serve in US armed forces? The Sikhs look forward to working with the new government on this issue. The facts and circumstances of egregious violations of religious freedom internationally provided by the the United States Commission on International Religious (USCIRF) shouldn't be side stepped by US foreign policy. The UNITED SIKHS Global Sikh Civil Rights Report highlights such violations by countries."

Congresswoman Judy Chu (Ca-32), said "The Sikhs are a wonderful people and are a proud nation. I am glad to issue this proclamation on the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Stockton Gurdwara".

US Senator Patty Murray's Legislative Aide, Adam. S. Goodwin, with Sikh SUmmit participants UNITED SIKHS representa tives and community members with Kaylan Koszela,Co ngressman Albio Sires Senior Policy Advisor

During each meeting, UNITED SIKHS staff and Sikh community members laid out these issues and discussed possible solutions. In the upcoming weeks, the UNITED SIKHS legal team will implement the next steps and actions items that were outlined at these meetings, in the hopes of working with government officials to further promote the rights of Sikhs across the nation.

"I look forward in assisting my fellow Americans. Wisconsin was a terrible tragedy. I have known the Sikh community for years and look forward to working with your team-members", said Congressman Rush Holt, 12th district NJ.

At the Summit came stories of empowerment, activism and of various organizations. Members and policy experts shared personal stories and policy recommendations about the continuing impact of the post-9/11 backlash which was an opportunity and call to action for Sikh leaders across the nation. "Now its time to bring a positive change . We have lost enough lives, the Sikhs will support and vote for those that will protect the minorities and will adopt policies that bring in more jobs and stop the spreading of hate. " said, Bhakshish Singh, former chair Guru Nanak Foundation and the Washington DC Gurdwara.

Sikh Summit participants after meeting with Senator Durbin's staff Darron Paul Monteiro, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement; Max Finberg, Senior Policy Advisor and Sikh Summit participants

Sikhs narrated their personal stories to policy and law-makers. One of the Sikhs from Seattle said, "Every time I travel, I am asked to take off my turban, especially at the Los Angeles airport. I am pulled aside for hours and have to wait with no reason at all airports in the United States. The information with various airlines is disparate, for eg Alaska airlines says I am on the no-fly-zone list and Virgin Air allows me to board the flight after making me wait for 4 hours and making me lose my connecting flight. Hopefully authorities at TSA will listen to my plea ".

Birmohan Singh, regional Director of UNITED SIKHS, said "The President must make it a national priority to respond to violent domestic extremism, in ways consistent with our commitment to civil liberties. The US Congress owes to Harpreet Saini and those that were killed in the Wisconsin tragedy, the dignity of being an accountable statistic. Even if the agency recommends in October for an Anti Sikh Category, it will take a few years before it gets implemented, till then the Sikhs will be unaccounted for any hatecrimes against them."

UNITED SIKHS is committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of faith and for contributions to the advancement and protection of civil liberties. UNITED SIKHS thanks all members of Congress and government officials who took the time to meet with our delegations during the Sikh Summit.