2011 Sikh Summit Highlights the Need for Ongoing Community Advocacy for Sikh Civil & Human Rights

Washington, DC: Nearly 50 community members met over 30 members of Congress and government agencies to advocate for Sikh civil and human rights at the 3rd Annual Sikh Summit from May 2nd - May 6th, 2011 in Washington DC.

The annual advocacy week consists of addressing ongoing civil rights issues that most affect the Sikh community nationally to reach meaningful solutions. The Summit is an opportunity for Sikh community members to advocate for policies that protect and honor Sikh civil rights by presenting their personal experiences to lawmakers to effect positive change on a national level. The meetings are the beginning of a dialogue with lawmakers and we seek to strengthen these partnerships going forward.

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Sikh Delegates meet with Senior Counsel Derrick L. Brent from Senator Boxer's office (CA)   TSikh Delegates giving a momento to Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32). Delegates include: Rajinder Singh & Gurvinder Singh from Texas, Bhai Ram Singh and Harpreet Singh from California, Gurdeep Singh and Hansdeep Singh from New York, Sahib Kaur from Virginia
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Sikh Delegates from CA, NY, NJ, VA, TX and other states with Senator Barbara Boxer (CA)   Sikh Summit delegates in front of Capitol Hill

The main issues that were addressed at this year’s Sikh Summit were: racial/ religious profiling –specifically at airports and through national security policies; the prevalence of bias based bullying and its impact on the Sikh community; religious accommodations for Sikhs seeking to serve their country (military) and for Sikhs wearing dastaars, kirpans, and karas in other contexts; employment discrimination; hate crimes and international issues of concern such as: the mass graves found in Haryana and Delhi, India; the kirpan ban in the Quebec Parliament; and the forcible turban removal that recently occurred in Mohali, India.

During each meeting, UNITED SIKHS staff and Sikh community members laid out these issues and discussed possible solutions. In the coming weeks, the UNITED SIKHS legal team will be implementing 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.

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Delegates Hansdeep Singh, Senior Staff Attorney at UNITED SIKHS with Satinder Singh -CA, Harpreet Singh -CA meeting with Congressman John Garamendi (CA-10)   Sikh Summit Delegates meeting with staff of Senator Patty Murray (Washington): Birmohan Singh-NJ, Rucha Kavathe-NJ, Gurdeep Singh -NY, Hansdeep Singh-NY, Gurvinder Singh-TX, Satinder Singh -CA, Harpreet Singh -CA, Rajinder Singh -TX, Abhijot Kaur-VA, Mansimran Singh -MD, Dr. Tejinder Singh -NJ, Saheb Kaur-VA
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Hope Goins, Counsel from the House Committee on Homeland Security (TSA) with Sikh Summit Delegates: S Bhakshish Singh -MD, Harpreet Singh -CA, Saheb Kaur -VA, Rucha Kavathe-NJ, Birmohan Singh-NJ, Hansdeep Singh-NY, Gurdeep Singh -NY, Abhijot Kaur-VA, Dr Tejinder Singh -NJ   Sikh Summit Delegates with the members of the US Department of Justice Community Relations Service: Becky L. Monroe, Acting Director, Community Relations Service, Ben Lieu, Associate Director and Harpreet Singh, Regional Director of Region III

"As Chairman Emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I see UNITED SIKHS' work in preserving cultural heritage, promoting civic engagement and providing humanitarian relief as vital to the broader mission of the Asian American community," said Congressman Mike Honda in a statement. "Our community and our nation need stronger engagement in the political process and better leadership to succeed. It is only through the strength of our diversity and the commitment of organizations such as the UNITED SIKHS that we will be able to meet our challenges head on."

The Sikh Summit dinner, held midweek, was another opportunity for community members from all over the country to bring up relevant issues. Attendees were able to hear comments from the White House Office of Public Engagements Associate Director Paul Monteiro, Congressman John Conyers, and Congresswoman Judy Chu. Renowned social justice rap artist GNE had a special surprise in store, and after dinner, the crowd was able to enjoy a program entitled, “Rapping for Human Rights.”

Sikh Summit 2011 Videos