Sikhs across the world have been left shocked and angered at a Twitter block of a prominent Sikh human rights website.
The website is a portal from Sikh advocacy group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) which allows constituents to send pre-drafted emails to their political representative (e.g. Congressmen and Senators in the US, MPs in the UK etc.). More than 25,000 emails have been sent via the website.
This is part of a campaign launched by SFJ on October 21st urging various governments to recognise November 1st as Sikh Genocide Remembrance Day. Through tests, the Sikh Press Association has confirmed the block is nothing to do with a word filter or a webpage security issue.
Twitter has also suspended the personal account (under his own name) of SFJ Legal Advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Gurpatwant Singh also has his work account which still exists. He said, “This is yet another example of trading human rights for business considerations wherein Twitter has blocked tweets about SFJ’s Sikh genocide commemoration campaign on the behest of Indian authorities”.
This action has sparked the anger of Sikhs across the world who have accused Twitter of suppressing legitimate human rights activism.
Pav Singh, author of 1984: India’s Guilty Secret, issued a warning to Twitter via a tweet saying: “Indian authorities having been blocking the truth about #1984SikhGenocide for 34 years. @Twitter @TwitterSupport don’t follow suit. Never compromise over Human Rights & Freedom of Speech despite govt pressure.”
Rahul Tripathi, a journalist at the Indian Express, tweeted on Thursday morning: “Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba met with reps from #Facebook, #Google, #Twitter, #Whatsapp, You Tube, Instagram to prevent misuse of social media sites by undesirable elements / miscreants to spread rumours, cause unrest, incite cyber crimes.” He added: “Gauba asked social media gaints [sic] to take steps & nominate India based grievance redressal officers, develop a monitoring mechanism for time bound preventive & to remove objectionable contents from public view & prompt sharing of information sought by agencies. #lynching.”
It seems likely that the blocking of such a high-profile Sikh genocide website is connected to the Home Secretary’s meeting, although this has not been confirmed.
Twitter have not yet responded to the online tweets about the block, leading to Sikhs being urged to contact Twitter via an online complaint form, which can be accessed here.