UNITED SIKHSWinner of the Sikhs and Charities Award
June 14, 2011
31st Jeth (Samvat 543 Nanakshahi)
Press Release
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UNITED SIKHS Formally Launches the
2010 Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report at the UN Church Center

Highlights:

  • 2010 Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report was formally launched in March at a press conference and panel discussion at the UN Church Center in New York City.
  • Panelists spoke about  the importance of human & civil rights reports of this kind and about their advocacy work.
  • Reports were available at the event, and a question and answer session followed the panel discussion.
  • Panelists and Moderators included: Pabitra Benjamin, Dan Mach, Dr. Bobbi Nassar, Ilana Ofgang, Thane Rosenbaum, Dr. I.J. Singh, and Hansdeep Singh.
  • View videos of some of the panelists by clicking their names here: Pabitra Benjamin, Dan Mach, Dr. Bobbi Nassar

New York, NY: UNITED SIKHS held a press conference and panel discussion to mark the launch of the 2010 Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report (which had previously been released electronically but not in hard copy form) on Monday March 28th 2011. The event took place at the UN Church Center in a lovely space that overlooked the myriad flags that wave proudly before the United Nations. It was an ideal spot to engage in a meaningful discussion about human and civil rights.

 
Dr. Bobbi Nassar, speaking about her work on the UN NGO Committee on Human Rights   Hansdeep Singh, Senior Staff Attorney for UNITED SIKHS, offers an introduction to start the program

Sikh community members, media, non-profit organizations, and the general public were invited to attend. Light refreshments were served as Hansdeep Singh, UNITED SIKHS Senior Staff Attorney, opened up the panel discussion emphasizing the importance of Reports such as this and highlighted key findings.

The guest speakers discussed the findings of the Report that were of interest to them, and talked about their work in the context of those findings. The broader discussion was framed around the importance of civil & human rights reports of this kind and their relation to grassroots efforts to achieve social justice.

Panelists & Moderators:

  • Dr. I.J. Singh, Eminent Sikh Author and Professor of Anatomical Sciences at NYU [NY]
  • Dan Mach, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)/ Freedom of Religion and Belief [DC]
  • Pabitra Benjamin, Field Director, Rights Working Group (RWG) [DC]
  • Dr. Bobbi Nassar, Vice Chair for the NGO Committee on Human Rights [NY]
  • Thane Rosenbaum, Fordham Law Professor/ John Whelan Distinguished Lecturer in Law and Director of the Forum on Law, Culture & Society [NY]
  • Hansdeep Singh (Senior Staff Attorney)/ Ilana Ofgang (Legal Fellow), UNITED SIKHS, [NY]
IJ Singh
Dr. I.J. Singh offering opening statements

Dan Mach, during his presentation, said, "Reports like these advance the cause of human rights, civil liberties and religious freedom immensely. One of the creeds of the ACLU is, 'eternal vigilance is the price of liberty' -and a crucial component of that vigilance is public education of which this report, I think, is a  prime example."

Dan Mach
Dan Mach, ACLU, discussing civil rights advocacy
Tejinder Singh, a family practice doctor entering his residency, heard about this event and decided it was important to be there, "I came to this event because I feel that it is important for our people to attend events like these in which the Sikh community can discuss issues like discrimination and racial profiling. We had so many panel members speaking here that are all working on global civil rights. I feel that getting cooperation with these people allows us to promote our issues, utilize this report, and hopefully to let them understand what is going on with Sikhs globally."  Dr. Singh's reaction to the event was exuberent, "It was very impressive, I was quite pleased that many people came out and expressed interest in these issues."
Pabitra
Pabitra Benjamin, RWG, discussed community organizing to combat all forms of racial profiling
Some questions that were posed to the panelists were: What can we do to effectively bring issues to the attention of the United Nations? Ten years after 9/11, what are the next steps to prevent hate crimes being perpetrated against community members? How do you increase community involvement on a grassroots level to combat racial & religious profiling?  How can the Sikh community gain the assistance of the federal government when faced with instances of violations of religious freedoms in jails and prisons? How can  we get communities to partner together to face the common challenge of racial profiling across the country?
Ilana   Audience
lana Ofgang, Legal Fellow UNITED SIKHS, moderates the question & answer session
Jaspreet Singh, UNITED SIKHS legal advisor, partner at Bench, Cooper, Singh law firm, and former Staff Attorney at UNITED SIKHS, emphasized the importance of this report saying,"It is the only one of its kind covering human & civil rights violations perpetrated against the Sikh community; it has exposed serious civil and human rights issues that were previously not being reported. Each year, it is referenced by legal professionals  and governmental agencies, and it serves as a surveying and reporting mechanism that easily can feed into the Universal Periodic Review process of the United Nations."

The first of its kind, this report focuses on Sikhs because such information was sorely needed to gauge the problems faced by a community that has too often seen its members fall victim to human & civil rights violations around the world. The intent of this report is to inform civil rights NGOs, governmental agencies, law-makers, and activists of the problems faced by the Sikh community, and of the impact post  9/11 restrictions have had on Sikhs, not only in the United States but throughout the world. Thank you to all those who participated in this press conference and to all those who contributed to the writing of this report.

"By defending and advancing human rights, civil rights and democratic principles, we keep faith with the world’s most cherished values and lay the foundation for lasting peace. While working to uphold the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and working to build vibrant communities worldwide, we understand that it may take generations to achieve peace, but it is work of the utmost urgency that cannot be delayed." -Mejindarpal Kaur, foreward of the 1st Annual Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report 2008

The 2010 Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Report is available online. Feel free to forward the report to family and friends who may be interested. Reports from previous years are also available on our website at www.unitedsikhs.org.

We cannot do the work we do without the support of generous community members like you. Please donate to UNITED SIKHS International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA) projects or volunteer your time so this important work continues.

To contribute to the report, or order a hard copy for a suggested donation, please contact us at law-usa@unitedsikhs.org.

Issued by:
Ilana Ofgang
Legal Fellow
law-usa@unitedsikhs.org

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"[ The Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Report ] is the only one of its kind covering human & civil rights violations perpetrated against the Sikh community; it has exposed serious civil and human rights issues that were previously not being reported. Each year, it is referenced by legal professionals  and governmental agencies, and it serves as a surveying and reporting mechanism that easily can feed into the Universal Periodic Review process of the United Nations."
--Jaspreet Singh, ESQ

The first of its kind, this report focuses on Sikhs because such information was sorely needed to gauge the problems faced by a community that has too often seen its members fall victim to human & civil rights violations around the world. The intent of this report is to inform civil rights NGOs, governmental agencies, law-makers, and activists of the problems faced by the Sikh community, and of the impact post  9/11 restrictions have had on Sikhs, not only in the United States but throughout the world.


UNITED SIKHS is currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers who are willing to spread the message of the campaign within their own communities. To join or contribute to the campaign, volunteer or donate to UNITED SIKHS.

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OUR MISSION

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.

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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.