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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-04-08-2006-00.htm
Press Release: Friday, 04 August 2006, 20th Saawan (Samvat 538 Nanakshahi)
New York, USA: UNITED SIKHS and thirty-six other NGOs (non-governmental organizations) attended a meeting at the United Nations on Tuesday to highlight the plight of the victims of violence during the current conflict in the Middle East. The organizations submitted official statements to the UN denouncing the violence.
The meeting was held at the Tillman Chapel in the Church Center for the U.N. Organizations from around the world met and protested against the war in the Middle East and submitted their official statements to the UN. The organizations specifically focused on children, because of the high number of child casualties during any conflict situation.
Rev. Kathleen Stone,
Chaplain, Church Center for the United Nations
“Children are not supposed to be victims of wars. Yet, it seems they have begun to be the major victims. (They are) innocently unable to move quickly enough or stay out of the wrong places. And we’ve known this, that’s why the Convention on the Rights of the Child was written,” stated Rev. Kathleen Stone, Chaplain, Church Center for the United Nations. She said, “We are gathering organizational statements, today. They are the prayer of our hearts”
UNITED SIKHS at the Church for the UN
“As a humanitarian relief organization our duty extends to using peaceful means to highlight the plight of victims of violence during man-made disasters,” said Jaskaran Singh, UNITED SIKHS’ operations manager, who attended the meeting.
Earlier, on Monday, July 31, 2006 at 2:15pm, a banner urging U.N. Member States to “End Violence Now-Pursue Peace” was unfurled. Situated directly across from the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the banner, which will face the U.N. will be the centerpiece of an End Violence Now project at the Church Center for the United Nations launched by a number of organizations. The Preamble to the Charter for the United Nations was read to remind all in attendance of the obligations of Member States and the UN.
In an overseas telephonic message from Kyoto, Japan, the UNITED SIKHS Director for Community and Multifaith Awareness, Jessiee Kaur, said, “At the World Conference of Religions for Peace, I will be raising the humanitarian concerns of the mid-east conflict and other conflicts in Asia. The United Nations needs to take action.” Jessiee Kaur is due to attend the WCRP world assembly, where women of the world’s major faiths are meeting to discuss “Confronting Violence and Advancing Shared Security.”
The thirty six organizations present submitted their official statements, to be given to the UN member states. The organization statements will be posted around the UN. These Organizations are: World Council of Churches, Women’s international League for Peace and Freedom, Universal Peace Federation, UNITED SIKHS, Unitarian Universalist United Nations office, UNANIMA International, United Methodist Church-General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Office for the United Nations, The sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, The National Council of Negro Women, Religions for Peace, Quaker United Nations office, Presbyterian United Nations office, Peace Boat, Palestinians NGO Network, Mennonite Central Committee, Lutheran World Federation, Leadership Conference of Women religious, Jane Adams Peace, IWC, International Women’s Tribune Center, International Presentation Association of the Sisters of the Presentation, International Peace Bureau, International Action Network on Small Arms, International Center for Law Development, Hague Appeal for Peace, Global Policy Forum, Global Action on Aging, Congregation of our lady of charity of the Good Shepard, Church Leaders in Jerusalem, Church World Services, Caritas Internationalis, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land, Anglican Communion office at the United Nations, The Vatican, Archbishop of the Anglican Communion.
The full text of the UNITED SIKHS statement is as follows:
UNITED SIKHS Message to “End Violence Now-Pursue Peace!" project
“The only firmly held belief which resounds and unites all faiths, believers and non-believers, is Peace. It is the embodiment of hope and faith and it is living courage. On behalf of the Sikh community, UNITED SIKHS, condemns the conflict in the Middle East and pleads to end all violence before more innocent blood is sacrificed in a war that is not their own but which is costing them their lives.
The recent escalation of the conflict in the Middle East is deeply saddening. Only peaceful cooperation and dialogue between all peoples and nations offers the chance of lasting peace in this region.
For those who act in the name of "religion", true religion is only recognizable through the practice of equality and impartiality in all relations with others. In the words of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru "Religion consists not only in words. One, who looks on all humans as equal, is religious."
The situation in Israel, Lebanon and the surrounding Middle East, is worsening by the day and it cannot be allowed to continue. We must take immediate, appropriate steps to end this conflict. There is no justification in the killing of innocent civilians and the atrocities that have unfolded before us are not only crimes of war, they are crimes against democracy, against tolerance, against humanity. We must not allow these decisions to be made for us, blithely allowing ourselves to be dictated to in our behavior as human beings. Unless action is taken by ourselves as a collective humanity, not only by politicians and those in positions of power, we will never be able to ease our consciences knowing that we allowed such carnage to continue. In the end, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
The great Martin Luther King Jr. said "One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means." These words resound clearer than ever today, and if we truly believe in the goodness of the human spirit, if we truly subscribe to being good people and people of God, then we must be held accountable for our actions and those of others.
We urge for an immediate cease-fire from all parties using violence as a means to justify this bloodshed. There is an urgent priority for all countries, for all faiths to lobby for a cease-fire. We must allow safe passage to all civilians, and innocent people to reach their destination without fear of their lives; we must allow all refugees to receive proper and adequate shelter and aid. The innocent civilians, the only real victims of these heinous crimes, should be our first priority and we must not allow the death toll to continue to rise.
We urge all men and women of good will; the leaders of the collective conduct of the life of society, we beseech all of you to begin once more to reflect with generous honesty on Peace in the world today and bring this destruction to an end.”
To transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic activity.
UNITED SIKHS is also an avenue for networking between like-minded organisations to establish and nurture meaningful projects and dialogues - whether social, cultural or political- to promote harmony, understanding and reciprocity in our villages, towns and cities.
UNITED SIKHS is a coalition of organisations and individuals, who share a common vision based on the belief that there is no greater endeavour than to serve, empower and uplift fellow beings. The core of our philosophy is an unwavering commitment to civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good.
Accordingly, UNITED SIKHS has sought to fulfil its mission not only by informing, educating and uplifting fellow beings but also by participating in cross-cultural and political exchanges to ensure that the promises and benefits of democracy are realized by all.
We at UNITED SIKHS believe that the development of enlightened and progressive societies can be made possible by socially conscious groups of people who make a commitment to develop and direct human potential. Our work, efforts and achievements stand as a testament to our faith in this vision.