Twenty years ago, the Sikh Coalition did not exist, many of our supporters were not yet born, and an even larger portion is too young to remember that part of our history. Yet it was the most formative set of events for an entire generation of Sikhs. During that dark period, our community’s history was marked by extra-judicial executions, faked police encounters, disappearances, and torture.
— Excerpt from the Sikh Coalition’s Lessons of History and a Responsibility to Never Forget – Part I
During the demonstrations by Sikhs that were taking place around the world last week, there was some lamentation among Sikhs in the United States about the apparent silence of Sikh American organizations in regard to the (currently stayed) execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana in India. While Sikhs were raising awareness of the issues of denied and double standards of justice, the organizations that many Sikhs look to in this country to take up our causes – such as the Sikh Coalition – were noticeable by their lack of voice.
Today, the Sikh Coalition broke its silence.
The Sikh Coalition has released a statement that outlines the recent historical context about the relationship between the Indian government and the Sikhs, and how justice for the victims of violence perpetrated by the state has still not been delivered. This is at the heart of Sikh grievances towards the Indian government.
The historical context provided by the Sikh Coalition is important work, particularly because many journalists are not taking the time to become fully cognizant of the issues behind the recent protests, and worse, are misinterpreting the perspective of the larger Sikh community. It has been shocking to see several high profile writers (such as in Canada, for example) not even bother to incorporate views from all sides of the issue before ranting on prejudicial positions that misleads their readership.
The national standing and mandate of the Sikh Coalition gives them some authority to speak on this issue on behalf of Sikhs in the United States. Their first in a series of these essays that provides historical context was released today and is certainly worth a read and a share.