UNITED SIKHSWinner of the Sikhs and Charities Award
January 21, 2011
9th Maagh (Samvat 542 Nanakshahi)
Press Release
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Minority communities increasingly face policies that adversely burden external religious identities: Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report

Highlights:

  • UNITED SIKHS  Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report 2010 released today. Click here to view the report in PDF.

  • Sikhs and other minority communities across the world are finding protections steadily declining for freedom of religion, especially with respect to external identity.

  • Publication has been timed to release this week to honor the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the champion of civil rights in the United States

  • Look out shortly for news on various events surrounding the release of this report!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." UNITED SIKHS announces the 3rd Annual Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report, which has been timed for release this week to honor Dr. King  who was the champion of the civil rights movement and a hero whose words profoundly resonate amongst the Sikh community.  

The ability of the Sikh community to practice its faith freely is a good litmus test of freedom for those that manifest their religious identity. UNITED SIKHS finds in the Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report 2010 released today that Sikhs and other minority communities across the world are finding protections steadily declining for freedom of religion, especially with respect to external identity.

The work that UNITED SIKHS does in advocating for vulnerable populations follows our mandate of recognizing the human race as one, laid forth by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in the late 1600s. Centuries later, Dr. King raised his voice in defense of the rights of minority communities in this country, and with the release of this report, we hope to continue in the tradition of these noble defenders of civil and human rights.

This past year, there were several countries in which Sikh community members faced challenges to their civil and human rights with respect to their external religious identity. Some examples of issues addressed within the report are:

  • Belgium and other countries maintained policies that did not officially recognize the Sikh religion;
  • Sikhs and other religious minorities are still precluded from manifesting their external religious identity in schools in France;
  • Racial/ Religious profiling of Sikhs and other minority groups who wear religious head coverings became more extreme in the United States with the implementation of new airport security mechanisms (Advanced Imaging Technology) by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA);
  • India's continuing lack of recognition of the Sikh genocide/ crimes against humanity of 1984 and the non-recognition of Sikhism as a distinctive faith (and not a subcategory of Hinduism) remain a pervasive problem;
  • This year persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan worsened and directly impacted the Sikh population; Sikh families continue to face persecution and forced conversion. UNITED SIKHS helped one such family relocate to Canada earlier this year.
Please click here for a pdf of the 2010 Global Report

To publish the Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report 2010, UNITED SIKHS' International Civil & Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA) team has worked tirelessly throughout the year to break the silence against the civil and human rights abuses world-wide.

The Report is a unique publication that has a specific emphasis on the Sikh population combining data from primary and secondary sources from 26 countries around the world.

Contributing authors comprise UNITED SIKHS Staff and members of other NGOs and civil rights organizations, who highlight key issues such as identity, minority rights, government watchlists and profiling related to airport security.

Discussing the process of drafting the report, Legal Fellow Ilana Ofgang observed, "It was interesting to see the many common challenges faced by Sikh communities all over the world. Particularly with respect to challenges faced because of their external identity, Sikhs and other religious minorities worldwide too often share a common experience of inequality. Reports like this seek to correct such social and governmental injustices by educating and creating a resource tool for advocates."

In addition to the legal team, the report is a culmination of efforts of countless volunteers, interns, and community members who participated by filling out surveys, researching country conditions, and sharing stirring personal accounts of their civil and human rights struggles.

The Report is a vital tool for civil and human rights attorneys, asylum seekers, educators, advocates, and people of conscience throughout the world. Recently, the United Nations' General Assembly has cited the 2nd Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report in the 15th session of the Human Rights Council's Report of the Special Rapporteur. Additionally, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom used information from 2009 report in their 2010 Annual Religious Freedom Report

To get a pdf copy of the report, click here.  Be on the look out for forthcoming information about release events at which you can obtain a hard copy of the global report.

UNITED SIKHS would like to thank all of you who participated in making this publication possible and would urge you to read this report and share it with others.

Issued by:
Hansdeep Singh
Senior Staff Attorney
1-888-243-1690
law-usa@unitedsikhs.org

 
Protect Our Identity Campaign

Protect Our Identity (POI) is an ongoing international campaign launched by UNITED SIKHS in August 2010 . It focuses on the need to protect the Sikh community's right to express its religious identity.  Initiatives under the POI campaign include:
 

Help us reach the $1 million mark in 1 year! Donate to the Protect Our Identity Campaign!

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.

Contact Us

You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the UNITED SIKHS, which will provide immediate relief and support to those in need. You may donate online at www.unitedsikhs.org/donate  or send your donations to a UNITED SIKHS office nearest to you, whose details can be found at http://unitedsikhs.org/contact.php .

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.

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.