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Sikhs to lobby MPs over community concerns

Sikhs from across the country are planning to converge on Westminster for a mass lobby of MPs.

The mass lobby has been organised by The Sikh Federation UK on Wednesday 14th November from 12pm in Parliament.

After meeting in the central lobby, attendees will then proceed to Committee Room 6 to hear an update on the raiding of the homes of Sikh activists in Britain in September.

In the run up to the lobby, over 150 MPs have been contacted by Sikhs about five issues of community concern:

  • The need for a Sikh ethnic tick box in the Census 2021
  • Amending the Offensive Weapons Bill to ensure there are no restrictions on the Sikh community on the sale, possession and use of the large Sikh Kirpan
  • The absence of a suitable response to the Sacrificing Sikhs report supporting an independent public inquiry on UK involvement in the 1984 Sikh Genocide and anti-Sikh measures taken against Sikhs in the UK
  • The first anniversary of the torture and imprisonment of Jagtar Singh Johal, the 31-year old from Dumbarton
  • The police raids on the homes of five British Sikh activists in Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester and London

Following a legal case in 1983, Sikhs have been recognised as a separate ethnicity in the UK. There is currently a campaign to have this reflected in the next census so that information on Sikhs is available when it comes to the provision of public services.

Regarding the Offensive Weapons Bill, many Sikhs have expressed concern that the community has not been adequately consulted with regard to the Kirpan – a sword worn by Amritdhari (Initiated) Sikhs. the Home Office failed to consult representative Sikh organisations in formulating its policy equality statement released in June 2018 alongside the bill.

There has also been a lack of response to ‘Sacrificing Sikhs’ – the report commissioned by the Sikh Federation UK into British government involvement in the attack on Sri Darbar Sahib in 1984. The report contained a number of damning findings include the fact that Parliament was misled. Many in the Sikh community are demanding an independent public inquiry into UK involvement in the 1984 Sikh Genocide, a position which the Labour party has formally endorsed in its manifesto.

Sunday 4th November will mark the one year anniversary of the abduction and detention of British citizen Jagtar Singh Johal in India. He has been tortured and denied both an independent medical examination and private consular access. He has faced trial by media and has had over 60 court hearings, none of which featured any evidence against him. Three UN rapporteurs have formally raised his case with the Indian authorities and at the UN Human Rights Council.

Following the raids on the homes of British Sikh activists in September, many questions have been left unanswered. All of those targeted were campaigning for the release of Jagtar Singh Johal in India. During the raids, family members including young children and elderly relatives were harassed. The personal details of the activists – none of whom were arrested – were printed in the Indian media, along with quotes from an Indian security official saying that the raids were as a result of Indian diplomatic pressure on British authorities.

The Sikh Federation UK have provided a template letter which Sikhs can use to write to their local MP, asking them to take action on the above points.

 

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