UNITED SIKHSWinner of the Sikhs and Charities Award
May 25, 2011
11th Jeth (Samvat 543 Nanakshahi)
Press Release
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Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tom Perez
visits Charlotte Gurdwara Sahib on Baisakhi Day 4/14/2011

"In light of the recent shooting and killing of two Sikh gentlemen in California -tragedies which are being investigated as hate crimes -education, outreach, advocacy, and coalition building between government agencies, non-profit organizations and the Sikh community
is becoming increasingly important."
-Pushpinder Singh,
International Civil & Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA) Coordinator
for UNITED SIKHS in North Carolina

HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Sikh community members in Charlotte, North Carolina met with Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, U.S.Attorney Anne Tompkins, and staff members from the Department of Justice to discuss important issues that affect the Sikh American community.
  • UNITED SIKHS is forging stronger partnerships with Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office.These partnerships allow for direct communication with government agencies who can address civil rights issues impacting the Sikh community.
  • Members of the Sikh community must be vigilant and report incidents of Racial/ Religious Profiling at Airports, Bullying in Schools, and Hate Crimes. 
 
Charlotte, NC: UNITED SIKHS and the Sikh Gurdwara of Charlotte continue to collaborate with federal law enforcement agencies across North and South Carolina to highlight challenges faced by the Sikh community. On April 14, 2011, Sikh community members hosted Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez from the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (DOJ/ CRD), U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins of the Western District of North Carolina, and other staff members from the DOJ for a discussion about the civil rights concerns of both the local and national Sikh community.
 
As part of our Protect Our Identity Campaign, UNITED SIKHS has worked closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office, specifically with U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins, who is one of the 94 US Attorneys across the 50 states.  In addition to these local collaborations, UNITED SIKHS has been developing a relationship with Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, who leads the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, through quarterly inter-agency meetings in Washington, DC. 

Assistant Attorney General Perez indicated that his department was reviewing several hate crime incidents, land use, and discrimination cases and stated that, “Security concerns can be addressed while maintaining respect for liberties. We can and must do both.” He shared his own story of the importance of diversity in maintaining the fundamental values that make the U.S. an exemple for civil and human rights.

Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez with

Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez with
Sikh community members outside of the Gurdwara.

Sikh delegation with Department of Justice staff

Sikh delegation with Department of Justice staff

In his opening comments, Pushpinder Singh, UNITED SIKHS ICHRA Coordinator for North Carolina said, “Civil Rights are the cornerstone of all modern nations, and protection of civil rights is an integral part of UNITED SIKHS' mandate." Pushpinder went on to highlight several civil rights challenges faced by the community including: racial/ religious profiling at airports, school bullying, workplace discrimination, and hate crimes. He also highlighted the collaboration between UNITED SIKHS and the DOJ to address many of these issues.

With support from Anne Tompkins and Fred Hudson (District Program Manager for Western North Carolina), the UNITED SIKHS team in North Carolina has been able to reach out to the local police department, Sheriffs office, FBI field office, Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration to raise awareness about Sikh issues in a short period of time. The team has also recently attended 2 day long seminars on the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in Greenville, SC and Asheville, NC.
 
This visit to the Charlotte Gurdwara is testimony to the diligence with which the North Carolina sangat has reached out to lawmakers and government agencies in bringing attention to Sikh American civil rights concerns.

Pushpinder Singh Addressing the Sangat

Pushpinder Singh Addressing the Sangat

U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins

U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins

UNITED SIKHS would like to thank the DOJ, U.S. Attorney's Office, and the Sikh sangat for engaging in such a productive dialogue.  Such collaborations help to address and correct the current climate of animosity and hate that is all to pervasive. Dr. Surendrapal Singh, President of the Sikh Gurdwara of Charlotte said, “Although the Sikh faith was based on principals of equality and freedom more than 500 years ago, the very same Sikhs are facing issues related to civil rights in the 21st century."
 
As part of UNITED SIKHS' year-round civil and human rights advocacy, and the yearly national Sikh Summit in Washington DC, we engage in dialogue to foster & facilitate relationships between government agencies and local Sikh communities. UNITED SIKHS appreciates all the support received from the Charlotte Sikh Gurdwara Committee and hopes this continued collaboration will make a difference for Sikh community members across the Carolinas as well as across the nation.
 
Issued By:
Ilana Ofgang
Legal Fellow
1-888-243-1690

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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:

  • Right to Turban
  • Airport Security in European Union and United States
  • Anti-Bullying Initiatives
  • Rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Pakistan
  • Equality in Employment
  • Right to Kakaars
  • Recognition of Sikhs as a Religion and Ethnicity in UK and US Census, and Raising Awareness of Sikhs and Sikhism to reduce acts of violence and xenophobia against Sikhs.
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.

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.