UNITED SIKHS Rohingya Humanitarian Relief Mission in Cox Bazaar Bangladesh

Can I donate blood if I have diabetes….?

23rd Jan 2018, New York, NY: Donating blood is a selfless way to help others. UNITED SIKHS continues to live its objectives by contributing and doing selfless seva. To organize a blood drive in your region write to sikhaid@unitedsikhs.org. For more information on Blood Drives or other UNITED SIKHS Community Service initiatives, visit us at www.unitedsikhs.org/ceed. One of the common questions asked is, “Can I donate blood, if I have diabetes?”. A detailed study is provided below. As a  part of the Sikh Aid and awareness program we share the information below – Courtesy of  thediabetescouncil.org

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may have questions about donating blood.

Blood banks are always in need of donations. During disasters and other emergencies, people often require blood transfusions to survive.

It’s only natural that people with diabetes will want to help in situations when blood transfusions are needed, and people with both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes can and do donate blood. It’s important to note that just one pint of blood can help up to three people in need. Continue reading ‘Can I donate blood if I have diabetes….?’ »

This year, #GivingTuesday matters more than ever.

#givingTuesday
ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੁੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫਤਹਿ ।
The Pure Ones Belong to the Divine! Victory belongs to the One!

Every minute, twenty people are displaced from their homes all over the world. Over half a million of them are Rohingya refugees escaping into Bangladesh.
Continue reading ‘This year, #GivingTuesday matters more than ever.’ »

Hurricane Harvey 2017 – Items Needed as on 09/01/2017

Please donate online here

The items in list below can be shipped to:
Sikh National Center
7500 N. Sam Houston Parkway W. 
Houston, TX, 77064 

Essentials

Food

Cleaning Supplies

Medicines

Batteries
Portable chargers
Tissue
Tooth brushes
Toothpaste
Body soap
Diapers all sizes
Baby wipes
Shampoo
Towels
Baby lotion
Baby soap
Sandals
Flashlights
Socks
Rice
Rajma
Chick Peas
Oil
Onion
Tomato
Ginger
Garlic
Cilantro
Potatoes
Salt
Fresh Fruits
Fruit cups
Besan (gram flour)
Corn starch
Soy sauce
Spinach
Bell Pepper
Olives
Cherry tomatoes
Cabbage
Peas and carrot
Corn
Lettuce
Black pepper
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Zucchini
Disinfectant Wipes
Clorox Bleach
Dawn
Gloves
Sponges
Mops
Ajax
Windex
Buckets
Brooms
Paper Towels
Rags
Tylenol /acetaminophen (aduts)
Tylenol /acetaminophen (Children)
Benadryl
Zyrtec/Claritin
Ibuprofen
Bandages
Antibiotic ointments
Tums,Alka-seltzer
Peptobismol
Cough syrup
Milk of magnesia
Imodium
Pepcid
DayQuil
NyQuil

Hurricane Harvey -Support Efforts on the way…Worst hurricane to hit US mainland in 13 years

Hurricane Harvey – the worst to hit the US mainland in 13 years –
Call 1-888-243-1690 to provide support. List of current items needed: 1) Non perishable food items; 2) Diapers and wipes; 3) Toiletries ; 4) Flashlights; 5) Sandals; 6) batteries; 7) Children Clothing; 8) water; 9) portable chargers for cell phones & 10) Flashlights. Donate at: http://unitedsikhs.org/donate

 

I can now wear my Kirpan for my examination this Saturday

“My MP said he could not help me because it was not under his purview and a Sikh Govt Minister said that I should be prepared to take my CFA level 2 examination this Saturday without wearing my Kirpan”, Rattan Deep Singh of New Delhi.

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Rattan Deep Singh: “Within four days of taking up the matter, UNITED SIKHS delivered what they had assured me of. The CFA Institute have been kind enough to reconsider their decision and allow me to wear the kirpan during my exam on Saturday.”

Dear Friends
Waheguru ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru ji ki Fateh!

Today, first thing in the morning, I saw a message from Mejindarpal Kaur of UNITED SIKHS and I almost sprang out of my bed. It was a head over heels moment for me. It read, “CFA Institute has allowed you to wear the kirpan. Check your mail. Vaheguroo.”

Delighted, elated, overwhelmed, excited, thrilled, ecstatic were some of the few emotions that I went through at that time.

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute is a prestigious USA-based global association of more than 120,000 investment professionals, and I had been preparing to sit for their level 2 exams so I could be a charter holder in the near future. But last week I was informed by the CFA Institute that I would have to sit for my exams without wearing my kirpan, a mandatory Sikh kakaar (article of faith) that I have been wearing since I took amrit (became an initiated Sikh) in April. They said that under the ‘Institute’s exam security policy, knives of any type including box cutters, swords, or any other object that could be used as a weapon is not permitted.’

It all started on May 20th this year. I was preparing for my CFA Level 2 exams when I read a news article that a Sikh student in Haryana (India) was barred from entering the examination hall to do the engineering entrance exam. He took a brave step of taking a stand and was denied entry and lost out on 40 precious minutes of his exam time.

That incident incredulously involved an Indian examination authority. My exam however is conducted by a Virginia (USA) based institute, in over 150 countries, and was scheduled for June 4 in the India Expo Mart in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. To avoid any last moment complications, I wrote an email to the CFA Institute asking them to confirm that I would not face any problem wearing a kirpan during the examination. But to my shock, they said I could not wear my kirpan. According to their mail dated 25th May, the CFA Institute said that they respected my religious beliefs but that their exam security policy excluded the carrying of knives of any type including box cutters, swords, or any other object that could be used as a weapon.

Weapon! It just struck me. An article of faith that bore the qualities of mercy (kripa) and self-respect (aan) is today perceived by the world as just another knife or weapon? It didn’t go down well. I was given this kirpan by Guru Gobind Singh Ji (the 10th Sikh Guru) himself through the Punj Pyare (5 Beloved Ones) who initiated me on April 13 of this year. Guru Sahib made me wait for a good 26 years of my life before bestowing me with this kirpan; before giving me the ambrosial nectar (amrit); before making me a part of his army, his panth – the Khalsa (the sovereign). How can I remove my kirpan for the sake of an exam? My forefathers include martyrs Baba Deep Singh, Bhai Taru Singh, Bhai Mani Singh, my brothers – the Sahibzada’s, they all put their blood into the roots of this plant called Sikhi. I am blessed to be reborn in the family whose history comprise of valiant warriors fighting for the sake of righteousness, be it for others (kirpa) or themselves (aan).

I, therefore, decided not to be a part of a course or an institute that doesn’t respect my religion. I decided to quit! This is exactly when Guru Gobind Singh Ji called upon me to say, “Khalsa so, jo kare nitt Jung” (He is a Khalsa, who does battle every day).

Hence, it was decided. Quitting is not an option for a member of this family for whom “Rann tatta dekh soore chit ullaas”, who actually feel joyous in the midst of a raging war. To shriek away, to cower, to quit is never taught to us. We would rather prefer to die fighting than live as a quitter. “Jab aav ki oudh nidhaan bane, Att he rann me tab joojh maro”! Then so be it! I was determined that whatsoever happens in this case, no other person of Sikh brotherhood shall be subject to such discrimination, especially by premier educational institutions.

It was time that the world realized that this so called weapon was bestowed by the Gurus not just as a mark of power but with an obligation also, “Choo kar az huma heelate darguzasht, Halaal-ast burdan b-shamsheer dast” – in order to stop evil from running through, use all possible strategies and resources available; and when you are left with no other option, then to fight oppression it would be apt for you to pick up the sword!

On 26th May I sent the CFA Institute an email explaining my legal rights to wear the kirpan, under the Indian Constitution, and the stand taken by various governments worldwide in accommodating the kirpan, including the European Parliament, the Canadian Parliament, Australia, the UK, amongst others. Meanwhile, I sought help from various organizations who protect and uphold human rights around the world. After getting a cold reply from a couple of them and no reply from the majority, one Mejindarpal Kaur of UNITED SIKHS came forward to help.

Till that time, I didn’t know who the UNITED SIKHS people were or what they do as an organization. All I knew was that my Guru is on my side at all times, “Guru mere sang sada hai naale”.

Mejindarpal Kaur, International Legal Director of UNITED SIKHS, took up this matter herself. She herself called me up, heard my side of the story, discussed the case in depth and assured me her best efforts. I didn’t know what was in store for me as the exam was just a week away by then.

Initially, I wasn’t even sure if my case will be taken up seriously or not. What would an organization based in the UK, in the name of charity, do for a person they haven’t ever seen; didn’t know he even existed before that day; who they can never trace if he refused later on? I was skeptical. That’s what an analyst is supposed to be though. So I was trying other options as well. I went to my Member of Parliament who said my case did not fall under his purview even though it involved the violation of my fundamental constitutional right in India (article 25 of Indian Constitution accommodates right of Sikhs to wear a kirpan everywhere, all the time). He referred the case to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee ( DSGMC) as the matter related to the Sikh religion, who referred me further to a Sikh Govt Minister in Uttar Pradesh, where the examination center was located. Incredibly this Minister said that any kirpan or Kakaar doesn’t make one a Sikh. His comments were heart wrecking. Broken that I was to have heard such a thing from a Sikh.

On the other hand, Mejindarpal Kaur blew away all my doubts! She tapped all possible resources and avenues that I didn’t even know existed! All by herself, she reached to the highest level at the CFA Institute, Members of Parliament in India, High Court lawyers, authorities of the venue where the exam was held and many more. Almost single handedly, she shook all the authorities. I didn’t even have to step out of my house (as she said I should study for the examination). She took it upon herself, as if it was her own case; as if her personal right was at stake. And she did all this while her mother was ill in Malaysia! Dhan Guru, Dhan Guru ke Sikh! Maybe that’s why Guru Saab says, “Jo deese Gursikhda tis niv niv laagu paaye jiyo!”

Within four days of taking up the matter, UNITED SIKHS delivered what they had assured me of. The CFA Institute have been kind enough to reconsider their decision and allow me to wear the kirpan during my exam on Saturday. They have also decided to take up UNITED SIKHS offer to help them look at their policy the world over for the accommodation of the kirpan.

I thank Pritham Bhagauti, the Almighty, my Guru Sahib, UNITED SIKHS, Mr. Paul Smith – President and CEO of the CFA Institute for reconsidering their policy for the sake of religious freedom and human rights, Senior Advocate Amarjeet Singh Chandhiok who was ready to offer his pro bono services if needed and Dr. Dharamvira Gandhi MP of Patiala, who was kind enough to write a letter to my MP, the CFA Institute and the exam center authorities. I thank my family – for standing by my decision of not entering the examination hall by removing my kirpan. I thank Rhythm Kaur (my younger sister) who was instrumental in this fight, without whom I might not have been able to carry on due to a shortage of time and the necessity to prepare for the examination, she handled all my communications, etc.

I never thought that there will be someone in another corner of this world who would take up this battle even more seriously and sincerely than myself. I just can’t thank UNITED SIKHS enough! I am a Chartered Accountant by profession and I do hereby pledge my all possible services that UNITED SIKHS feel me worthy of performing.

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa! Waheguru ji ki Fateh! (The Khalsa is The Great Gurus, Victory is the Great Guru’s)

Rattan Deep Singh, New Delhi

*UNITED SIKHS (www.unitedsikhs.org) is a UN-affiliated civil and human rights advocacy organization that is a registered NGO in 10 countries including India, UK and the USA, which works tirelessly to engage, empower, and safeguard the rights of minority communities worldwide and protecting religious freedoms is a cornerstone of their mandate.

Please watch our videos at UNITEDSIKHSTV and follow us our social media Facebook | Twitter | Blog.and see how your contribution is making a difference. If you have any queries regarding Advocacy and Humanitarian Aid Academy call 1-646-688-3525 or email contact@unitedsikhs.org oracademy-usa@unitedsikhs.org

Fighting Power with Poetry: Sikh Rights Activist Sukhjit Kaur Wins Hearts Across Australia

Melbourne, Australia: Recently, Sukhjit Kaur who was UNITED SIKHS director, Australia made it big on media on “Australia’s Got Talent”. She won the hearts of audience and people across Australia after her smashing performance on national television. She used the power of spoken word poetry to emphasize her identity as a Sikh born and brought up in Australia.

I have a passion for performing arts and my degree is in Political Science and International Relations, so about 2 years ago I merged the two and started doing spoken word poetry. When I saw an opportunity to audition for Australia’s Got Talent (AGT), I thought it would be an awesome way to reach a wider audience. It’s not often you see Sikhs on commercial TV so I thought it would be worth giving it a shot!

My message: Face our fears. Standing up for what we believe in. Standing up for human rights. The right to live in a country and belong to a country. Practising Sikhi in our everyday lives with love and compassion.
Remembering that Guru Nanak Sahib ji was a rebel of his time. He shifted the paradigm. Even when society was against him, he was not afraid to share what he believed in.
In a post 9/11 era, I’ve grown up in a society that can be harmonious and accepting as well as intolerant and discriminatory.
We have the power to educate and sometimes people forget there are different avenues you can do that in. Before they shut down the arts, and the road less travelled – maybe it’s time to open up our minds to a new progressive way of thinking!
A lot of people in our community are proud to be Sikhs and are proud to share that message with society, but they are tested at a point where they get racist comments spat at them. What do they do with that anger? They turn it into hatred for ‘the other’ and shoot fire right back! I don’t think that is the Sikh way to deal with things. We need to spread awareness strategically with love, compassion, and creativity.
My message isn’t about igniting anger in those who have ever received discrimination in the past. My message is about igniting passion to make a positive change. Standing up as a Sikh with Sikh values and a Sikh upbringing and using those tools to help those who are voiceless.
Whether you are Indigenous, an asylum seeker, have a disability, are marginalised for the colour of your skin, religion, gender, sexuality or status in society – you have rights.
The right to live in your country.
The right to be respected by members of society.
The right to be free.
‪#‎Sikhingthetruth‬‬

Where else have you raised your voice for this issue?

Youth Parliament: From the 8th – 13th of July, 2012 I was lucky enough to be selected as the Member for Jandakot, my local electorate, in the annual YMCA Youth Parliament of Western Australia. Here, young people come together to share their views on community issues and develop a piece of youth legislation. On the last day in Parliament House, we were given the opportunity to speak on any issue of our choosing. I chose to give a testimony on courage, drawing on my personal experiences with accepting the hair on my body and my story of overcoming bullying. I felt that these issues were important to explore as it gave the audience a chance to enter my world, feel my emotional and impassioned story, and take that message of courage with them.

Watch the speech here.

What was the response of the audience?

I believe the most courageous act is to be yourself; to be true inside and out. Only when you stand up for who you are, can you stand up for what you believe in. When you speak the truth, the universe is behind you. I got an overwhelming response from the audience. Love and compassion all the way!

How are hate crimes a threat to social justice?

Sikhi teaches us that we are all equal, and should treat others with complete equality. Sadly, this is an uncommon practice today. Inequality begins in our communities, in the simplest of ways. It begins as a tiny seed. It takes root, and quickly flourishes. Why do we argue later about cutting down the tree of inequality, when we could have avoided planting the seed to begin with? Why do we have to wait until a human is killed due to a hate crime to start the conversation of injustice when we could work on strategies to preventing these hate crimes from occurring in the first place.

You can watch Sukhjit Kaur’s spoken word performance on Australia’s got talent here

How, at UNITED SIKHS, did you work against hate crime incidents?

Director of Projects
UNITED SIKHS Inc., Australian Chapter
September 2011 – March 2015
Key role: To increase social awareness and inclusion of the Australian Sikh population in the Australian community

Responsibilities:
· Leading training sessions on the Sikh faith and contemporary scenarios at the Western Australian Police Academy for police recruits;
· Assisting lawyers with discrimination cases and advising clients on religious protocols;
· Conducting Sikh awareness presentations at schools tailored specifically for staff, parents and students;
· Representing the Sikh community and delivering speeches at inaugural events, including, but not limited to, interfaith panels and national conferences;
· Organising community events that foster social inclusion, including an annual blood drive and Sikh commemorative events;
· Managing free turban tying events at schools and community fairs to break down barriers of difference.

Issued by:
Dr. Gurparkash Singh
CEED Director,UNITED SIKHS
E: contact@unitedsikhs.org

UNITED SIKHSMeetsFrenchAmbassador

UNITED SIKHS Meets Ambassador to Rebut France’s Denial of Turban Ban

New Delhi: UNITED SIKHS led a meeting with the French ambassador on Thursday to rebut France’s recent statement that the turban was not banned in France.

UNITED SIKHS director, Gurpreet Singh, submitted to the French ambassador, H.E. Francois Richier, that it was misleading to say that there is no Sikh turban ban in France as the 2004 ban in public schools and on ID photos continues to date.

“We reminded the ambassador that the turban ban continues even though UNITED SIKHS lawyers had won three cases against the ban before the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC),” said Gurpreet Singh.

The French embassy had issued a statement on 2nd February titled ‘No ban on Sikh turban in France’ following the call from Sikhs to the visiting French President, Francois Hollande, to lift the ban on the turban in France. Read the French embassy’s statement in full athttp://www.ambafrance-in.org/No-ban-on-turbans.

At the meeting with the ambassador, which was also attended by former ambassador KC Singh, S. Daljeet Singh of UNITED SIKHS and S. Partap Singh of the Sikh Forum, the ambassador was urged to take up the matter with the French Government immediately so that Sikhs in France do not continue to face harassment for wearing the turban.

The Sikh delegation members who met the French ambassador.
Left to right: KC Singh, UNITED SIKHS director, Gurpreet Singh, Daljeet Singh and Partap Singh.

“Mr. Richier assured us that he would take up with his government the need to consider using biometric ID documents without photos and to consider allowing the patka at schools,” said Gurpreet Singh.

“The meeting was very constructive and the matter was discussed at length. We shall continue to be in touch with him to follow up on the progress of his efforts”, added Gurpreet Singh.

UNITED SIKHS had submitted a letter to the President of France on his visit to Chandigarh on January 25, asking him to reverse the turban ban. You may read our previous press release on this issue at http://unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-25-01-16-01.html.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS events by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter | Blog

Issued By-
Mejindarpal Kaur
International Legal Director, UNITED SIKHS
E: Law@unitedsikhs.org

UNITED SIKHS works with Halfords to confirm that a Sikh may wear a Kirpan on their premises

UNITED SIKHS works with Halfords to confirm that a Sikh may wear a Kirpan on their premises

 

Halfords, the UK’s leading retailer of leisure and automotive products, and the UK’s leading operator in garage servicing and auto repair, has introduced new guidance to support Sikhs and confirm that Sikhs may wear their articles of faith, including the Kirpan, on all Halfords premises.

Birmingham, UK – UNITED SIKHS are pleased to announce that we have been working with Halfords Group PLC to introduce new guidance confirming that Sikhs may wear their articles of faith, including the Kirpan, for Amritdhari Sikhs (initiated Sikhs who have taken Amrit), on all Halfords premises.

Halfords is the UK’s leading retailer of leisure and automotive products, and the UK’s leading operator in garage servicing and auto repair, with offices, Distribution Centres, Autocentres and over 460 Retail Stores across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Halfords was named one of the Sunday Times “25 Best Big Companies to Work For 2015”.

This collaboration came about when Manjinder Singh, an Amritdhari Sikh from Coventry, contacted UNITED SIKHS because of a lack of clarity in Halfords’ policy in respect of wearing the Kirpan.


Manjinder Singh of Coventry, UK

Once alerted to this issue, Halfords:

  1. Apologised if Sikh sentiments were hurt due to any confusion in relation to the drafting of their original Health and Safety policy and prepared new guidance clarifying that there is no conflict between Health and Safety rules prohibiting the use of knives (other than safety knives) within their Distribution Centres and the right of Amritdhari Sikhs (initiated Sikhs who have taken Amrit) who want to wear the Kirpan, a Sikh article of faith which an initiated Sikh is mandated to wear at all times.
  2. Halfords will also be addressing this issue during Health and Safety training in their distribution centres.
  3. Halfords is actively promoting this to all its colleagues in furtherance of its commitment to equality and tolerance, values which are passionately shared by UNITED SIKHS.
  4. Halfords will also be briefing employees involved in conducting job interviews to ensure that any questions raised by Sikh applicants can be answered appropriately. As Halfords has explained, Sikhs are welcome to wear all five articles of faith on Halfords premises.

“We are delighted to have worked with Halfords on this important issue and hope Halfords’ actions send an encouraging signal to other employers. We are also grateful to Starck Uberoi, specialist Human Rights Solicitors, who assisted in drafting the clarification of the policy, and Manjinder Singh, who put us in touch with Halfords Group PLC,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, International Legal Director of UNITED SIKHS.”I welcome that Halfords has apologised if Sikh sentiments were hurt due to the lack of clarity. I would like to encourage Sikhs to practise their faith freely at their workplace and to contact UNITED SIKHS if they need any help regarding their rights,” said Manjinder Singh.

If you have any questions or concerns about your rights at work please contact UNITED SIKHS through our Know Your Religious Freedom Rights reporting site at http://unitedsikhs.org/KnowYourReligiousFreedomRights/

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS events by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter | Blog

Issued By-
Mejindarpal Kaur
International Legal Director, UNITED SIKHS
P: +447709830442
E: Law-uk@unitedsikhs.org

Five More Hours to Make your 2015 Tax Deductable Donation

US

Dear Supporter,

What better way to express gratitude for the blessings you received in 2015 then to pay them forward? There’s still time to make your year-end contribution! Every dollar has the power to change a life. Your support is crucial to help us continue and expand on our humanitarian aid, advocacy, and community empowerment efforts in the new year. Before the clock strikes midnight, join us in our efforts to give others something to be grateful for too.

Donate

Read more about our efforts this year here.

Keep up to date on other UNITED SIKHS events by following our social media accounts: Facebook | Twitter

Wishing you and your loved ones a Very Happy New Year!

Gurvinderji

 

 

Director, UNITED SIKHS

E: contact@unitedsikhs.org