15th April 2012
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Community Alert 

Sikhs Gear Up for the 4th Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Conference in NY

  • UNITED SIKHS announces the 4th Annual Global Sikh Civil Rights Conference in New York City, New York, USA on April 24, 2012. Community leaders and members to engage in a dialogue with experts, advocates, authors and academics on the above theme and on topics of Sikh Civil and Human Rights. 
  • Topic : "Identity, Human Rights, and the United Nations"; discussions will be focused on the historic decision of the UNHRC on French resident Ranjit Singh's turban issue
  • The 4th Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights report will be released
  • Register for the conference HERE NOW!

New York, NY: On April 24th 2012, Sikhs, academics and civil rights advocates from across the world will gather in New York City for the 4th Annual Global Sikh Civil Rights Conference.The UNITED SIKHS staff and volunteers are gearing up for this very exciting, informative and inspiring event. Please save the date, April 24th and join us in New York!

Our Guest Speakers- New York State Senator, Kevin Parker, President of the ACLU, Susan Herman, Member of the Canadian Parliament, Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal; Elizabeth Cassidy (USCIRF); Julius Grey (Constitutional Lawyer), Dr. Bobbi Nassar (UN NGO Commitee on Human Rights); Matt Cherry (International Humanist and Ethical Union); Prof. Rahuldeep Singh Gill (Professor of Religion at California Lutheran University); Prof. Jack Glaser (Professor of Public Policy at Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley); Prof. Sonia Katyal (Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law); Dr. Ali Alyami (Executive Director, Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia); Bani Dugal (Principal Representative of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations).  

Our Co-sponsors- United Nations NGO Committee on Human Rights & the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion and Belief. More organizations are being added and if your organization wants to co-sponsor this event, please write to globalconf@unitedsikhs.org.

Topic- "Identity, Human Rights, and the United Nations", building upon the landmark decision of the UNHRC in 76 year old French resident Ranjit Singh's turban case.

UNITED SIKHS was able to secure a landmark victory at the UN Human Rights Court for Ranjit Singh, a victory for all minorities. In 2002, Ranjit Singh refused to remove his turban for the purpose of being photographed for his residence card ID. The French authorities demanded that he do so, on the basis of changes made to their photograph regulations since Mr. Singh was last issued a card.

Ranjit Singh finally had to approach the UNHRC after exhausting all his remedies in the French Courts. UNITED SIKHS supported him throughout. Our legal team ( ICHRA- International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy) collaborated with the best law firms in New York and London to put forward a very strong case on his behalf. The tireless efforts by all finally earned us the much deserved and awaited victory. 

UNHRC observed that "even if the obligation to remove the turban for the identity photograph might be described as a one-time requirement, it would potentially interfere with the author's (Ranjit Singh's) freedom of religion on a continuing basis because he would always appear without his religious head covering in the identity photograph and could therefore be compelled to remove his turban during identity checks."

Salutations to the 76 year Ranjit Singh, who sacrificed 10 years of his life at such a ripe age for the cause of the Panth; for the dignity of the dastaar. During his legal battle with the French government, he had no medical benefits, no social security, no ID, and no travel documents. He could have easily succumbed to the governmental pressure tactics, removed his dastaar, and carried on with his life. But he chose not to do so. At an age at which he should have been playing with his grandkids and enjoying retirement benefits, he was going from door to door, seeking justice for the Panth.

France was expected to reply by March 15 on its compliance with the decision. Our lawyers are waiting to hear from the UNHRC. We cannot afford to let the unending efforts that we put in to secure this victory, go in vain. After all, it’s a question of our identity, our dignity and our self-respect. We will continue on this journey until justice is done and our rights are secured.

Let's show our token of appreciation for Ranjit Singh's perseverance and the efforts of the UNITED SIKHS legal team by attending this conference and generously donating towards this very important cause. It is through the donations made by our Sikh brothers and sisters that we are able to carry on with these initiatives.

Sub-topics for discussion are-

- Are countries fulfilling their obligations towards international instruments to which they are a party?

- The impact of the UN decision on the religious minorities in France, and its global  ramifications.

- The next course of action if France does not abide by the UNHRC decision.

The dignitaries and prominent speakers attending the conference include State Senators, UN NGO committees, law institutes, multifaith organizations, and local human rights activists.

Why should you attend?

The global conference provides a unique opportunity for both community leaders and members to engage in a dialogue with experts, advocates, authors, and academics about the pressing civil and human rights issues that most affect the Sikh community. Not only does the conference provide a stimulating and thought provoking forum to learn about the current state of civil and human rights for Sikh communities around the world, it also galvanizes the community to act together in developing solutions and resolutions to combat discrimination in all forms. Do not miss the opportunity to be a part of this discussion!

What’s new about the conference this year?

First, it is scheduled to take place in the city of New York, an important center for international diplomacy; also described as the cultural capital of the world. This area is the home of a large and rapidly growing Sikh community in North America. Second, UNITED SIKHS will also be releasing the Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Report, 2011-2012, on this occasion.

Please click here to view a copy of the 2010 Global Civil and Human Rights Report

Please click here to view a copy of the 2009 Global Civil and Human Rights Report

Please click here to view a copy of the 2008 Global Civil and Human Rights Report

As always, UNITED SIKHS needs your support in continuing its efforts to advocate on behalf of the civil and human rights of the Sikh community. If you are interested in lending a hand and helping us with the conference, please do not hesitate to contact our Legal Fellow, Manmeet Singh or Global Conference Coordinator, Jasminder Kaur at globalconf@unitedsikhs.org

We believe we are doing our best to help make a difference globally. Do you? If yes, then please become a recurring donor or make your one time tax deductible donation today.

To reach a UNITED SIKHS representative near you, please visit, http://unitedsikhs.org/contact.php


UNITED SIKHS is a U.N. affiliated international non-profit, non-governmental, humanitarian relief, human development and advocacy organization.

The Global Sikh Civil Rights Conference is an annual global gathering of human rights lawyers, politicians, judges, activists, multifaith representatives, and leaders and members of the Sikh community. Organized by UNITED SIKHS, this global conference provides an open arena for discussion of ideas and concerns that most affect Sikhs as a community.

Click here to read about last year's Global Sikh Civil Rights Conference.

 Issued By: Mejindarpal Kaur, Legal Director
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy
Tel: 1-646-688-3525;1-888-243-1690 (US Only) 


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A look inside UNITED SIKHS- 



Our work is focused in 3 areas of :-

International Civil and HumanRights Advocacy (ICHRA): Protecting and enforcing the civil and human rights of minorities and marginalized groups in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Humanitarian Aid: Providing non-partisan global humanitarian relief services and rehabilitation help to the needy. 

Community Empowerment and Education Division (CEED): With one Educare center functional in New York, Empowering individuals and groups to help them attain their full potential and become active participants in society. Education, training and community development projects. Encouraging people to participate in the decision-making processes in their local community as well as taking their place in the international arena.


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.