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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-26-11-2008-00.htm

Press Release: 26th Nov 2008, Wednesday      13th Maghar (Samvat 540 Nanakshahi )

Press Release

US Airways Pilot Refuses to Fly Plane Unless Three Sikhs Get Off

Renowned Sikh Classical Religious Musicians
Face Public Harassment and Discrimination

Sacramento, California, USA: In a disturbing incident reminiscent of widespread discrimination in 2001, three eminent Sikh classical religious musicians, Gulbag Singh, Davinder Singh, and Iqbal Singh were 'kicked off' a US Airways flight, and were told that the US Airways pilot for the plane was refusing to fly with them on board. UNITED SIKHS has written to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and US Airways, warning legal recourse against US Airways unless prompt action is taken to redress the incident.

B. Gulbag Singh, B. Davinder Singh & B. Iqbal Singh
UNITED SIKHS urges you to report any and all incidents of discrimination.

• During the Thanksgiving Holidays, you may face improper or discriminatory conduct while traveling.

• Familiarize yourself with your rights: Download the Guide & Bill of Rights for Sikh Air Travelers in the USA

[English version]
[Panjabi version]

•Contact UNITED SIKHS immediately to report your incident, by clicking here or by telephone at 1-888-243-1690

The incident occurred on November 15th, after Gulbag, Davinder, and Iqbal Singh cleared Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security at Sacramento International Airport in Sacramento, California, and boarded US Airways flight no. 0493 to Phoenix, Arizona, where they were scheduled to transfer on a connecting flight to Salt Lake City, Utah.The three were sitting together in the rear of the plane, in their assigned seats. After having been on the plane for approximately ten minutes, they were approached by one of the ticket-reception desk workers and asked to exit the plane. While none of the three adequately comprehend or speak English, the group complied and exited the aircraft. When it became apparent that the group was unable to converse with US Airways representatives, a Panjabi interpreter was called to assist.

The Panjabi interpreter informed Iqbal Singh, on behalf of the US Airways representatives, that the US Airways pilot for the plane was refusing to fly if they were onboard the aircraft. When Iqbal Singh asked why, the US Airways representatives were unable to give a clear answer, and the interpreter went on to persuade the three not to raise any objection because it could lead to more problems. The group, having become concerned, fearful, and worried about what had happened, took the only option they were given, which was to stay the night in a hotel and depart on a Delta Airlines flight the following morning to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Commenting on the discriminatory and publicly humiliating treatment, Gulbag Singh commented, "I would like to ask the average American to think about how they would feel if they were cleared by security, were sitting on their plane, and then were asked to leave for no good reason. It is ridiculous that a person should be submitted to such second class treatment." (Translated from Panjabi)

In the formal complaint letter to US Airways, UNITED SIKHS stressed the severity of the racial profiling and discriminatory treatment, asked for an apology and compensation for the three Sikhs, and offered training for US Airways staff. "Sikhs will not stand to be discriminated against. There is no satisfactory justification for US Airways to treat people in this way. This is a clear violation of civil rights and they must take immediate actions to address this issue," stated Harpreet Singh, Legal Director, UNITED SIKHS.

In a separate incident on November 17, 2008 at Logan International airport in Boston Massachusetts, a Sikh man, Jaspal Singh, was sent to secondary screening where he was subjected to humiliating treatment when a Transportation Security Officer ( TSO) roughly searched his turban, almost untying it, after threatening him with arrest. UNITED SIKHS has written to and spoken with the TSA which is currently reviewing video footage of the incident.

Due to the high volume of passengers during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, you may face improper or discriminatory treatment while traveling. Contact UNITED SIKHS immediately to report your incident so that we can advocate the incident to the TSA and rectify improper screenings at airports.

You may read a previous press release on a discrimination case assisted by UNITED SIKHS at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-28-10-2008-00.htm

Issued By:
Jaspreet Singh
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy


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