This week Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that he would be making an apology on behalf of the nation to all those affected by the Komagata Maru incident.
With this in mind, many Sikhs have questioned whether it is about time the UK government apologised for the infamous Jallianwalla Bagh incident, also known as the Amritsar massacre. See how Sikhs feel by viewing our online poll here.
Here we share statements from prominent Sikh activists, organisations and educators in regards to Justin Trudeau’s proposed apology and whether there should be a similar statement made by David Cameron, especially considering he is due to meet Sikhs for a Vaisakhi meeting on April 13th.
Statements from UK Sikh Groups
Jagraj Singh, educator for Basics of Sikhi:
“It is a highly commendable gesture of Justin Trudeau to offer an apology for the Komagata Maru incident. Many are still hurt at the treatment of all those that were on the Komagata Maru. With Sikhs playing such a prominent role in Canadian society, it only makes sense to put that whole incident to rest with an apology from the government.
“British history doesn’t always recognise the fact that The Raj wasn’t as harmonious as is often made out. Following the lead of Justin Trudeau by apologising for what occurred at Jallianwalla Bagh in 1919 would be a wise move for David Cameron, if he wishes to show he values Britain’s Sikh community.”
Shamsher Singh, National Sikh Youth Federation:
“The apology of Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau for the Komagata Maru incident is both welcome and timely as Sikhs all over the world celebrate Vaisakhi. This apology, which has taken 102 years, is a small step in the right direction. The brutality and trauma European settlers inflicted upon the world, through genocides, both physical and cultural and oppressive colonial policies impacts our reality till this day.
The diaspora and Sikhs in Punjab are starkly reminded of this reality in the legacy of the crimes of British imperialism, for which Britain is not only unapologetic, it barely even acknowledges. We will never forget the partition of our homeland which displaced a whole nation and the horrific episodes of violence unleashed by the colonisers to maintain their control and further their exploitation. We remember Guru Ka Bagh, Jaito, Nankana Sahib and Jalianwala Bagh to name but a few incidences that scar our collective memory. No apology will ever right the wrongs of colonialism nor restore to life the countless massacred. We hope that Britain and the descendants of European settlers give us more than words of apology, we hope they join us in rebuilding and reclaiming what they destroyed.
As Sikhs all over the world look to Vaisakhi as a celebration of Sikh sovereignty, we’re inspired by those sovereign ideals to once again liberate the Khalsa Panth.”
Sarbjit Singh, Rajoana TV:
“The decision made by Justin Trudeau’s government to apologise is welcomed and it paves the way for other governments to follow suit. However, an apology for a historic tragedy does little for those who were affected by it. I believe Governments should take ownership of tragedies and genocides that have happened more recently so those affected by them can have some redress.”