Advocacy – UNITED SIKHS Blog https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog Recognize The Human Race As One Tue, 28 Nov 2017 14:31:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bandi Chhor Diwas: A 396-Year-Old Civil Rights Victory https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2015/11/bandi-chhor-diwas-a-396-year-old-civil-rights-victory/ Wed, 11 Nov 2015 23:55:58 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=2263 UNITED SIKHS wishes its supporters a prosperous and blessed Bandi Chhor Diwas today, November 11. On this day in 1619, the sixth Sikh prophet Guru Hargobind Ji was released from prison. Upon his release, Guru Hargobind Ji requested that 52 Hindu princes who were political prisoners in the same fort be released along with him. The Emperor Jahangir decreed that as many princes that could hold on to the hem of Guru Hargobind Ji’s shirt could be freed. Thus Guru Hargobind Ji had a special shirt with multiple hems made, and every prisoner held on and attained liberation.

As we celebrate Bandi Chhor Diwas, we remember the duty one has to advocate for the rights of not only oneself, but for all individuals facing unjust treatment. We attain inspiration from the actions of Guru Hargobind Ji 396 years ago to stand unwavering for civil rights–whether it is in the United States, when we fought alongside Iknoor Singh for his right to serve in the U.S. Army, or in India yesterday, where we stood with hundreds of thousands of individuals during the Sarbat Khalsa of 2015 to condemn recent misgovernance and call for reform.

It is through your support that we are able to advocate for the civil rights of minorities all over the world. Donate today to help us continue our efforts.

 

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CA Elderly Sikh Man Attacked, Humiliated, Disrespected: Bias Crimes MUST be STOPPED! https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2013/05/ca-elderly-sikh-man-attacked-humiliated-disrespected-bias-crimes-must-be-stopped/ Fri, 10 May 2013 17:05:12 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1971 Written by Sharon Persaud and Anisha Singh

 

Fresno, California– BIAS ATTACK, HATE CRIME, BRUTALITY… no matter what it is called, IT MUST STOP NOW! This week, a California, elderly, Sikh man was violently attacked outside the gurdwara he faithfully attends to practice his religion. Eighty-two year-old Piara Singh, was beaten with a steel pipe outside a Fresno temple in what police believe is a hate crime. Singh spends his nights at Nanaksar Sikh Temple in Fresno, California, to watch over the grounds and prepare langaar, the free daily meals that Sikh temples traditionally serve. According to his nephew, Charanjit Sihota, on the morning of Sunday, May 5th, 2013, , Singh left the temple grounds for a morning walk dressed in his usual traditional clothing. Singh’s son, Kawal Singh, was driving to the temple to pick up his father when up ahead he saw a man jump off his bicycle and beat Singh with something metal. He honked the horn and called 911.[1] Singh is expected to make a full physical recovery after suffering a punctured lung, fractured jaw and staples in his head due to lacerations.

But what about Singh’s emotional recovery? Too often, members of the Sikh community become victims to hate crimes, bias-based bullying, and discrimination throughout the United States.While we live in a country created by many cultures, races, and religions, we still see these attacks frequently occurring even in the 21st century. Because Singh wears a turban on his head does not mean he is any different from the Caucasian man waiting for the bus, or the African American man entering the store, or the Hispanic woman playing with her child in the playground. Just like them, he is a husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend.  He is a human being regardless of the faith he follows.

Representative Judy Chu (D-CA), co-chair of the American Sikh Caucus, released a solemn statement to the public stating, “My heart broke when I heard about the suspected hate crime on Piara Singh, an elderly Sikh man dedicated to his faith and his community. He was doing what he did every day, volunteering at his gurdwara, when a man viciously attacked him.  In the wake of Oak Creek and Elk Grove, it is clear that hysteria and stereotyping are still far too common.  We must combat the growing wave of violence and intolerance that threatens the safety and civil liberties of all Americans, including the Sikh American community. That is why I have pushed the FBI to finally begin tracking hate crimes against the American Sikh community.  This will help law enforcement officers in every locality to do all they can to prevent violence against this – and all – communities.  We cannot wait any longer.”

Since September 11, the world has been gripped by fear and many minority communities, including the Sikh community, have suffered from the backlash of misinformation and ignorance. The first reprisal killing after Sept 11 was of a Turban wearing Sikh in Arizona, who was mistaken as belonging to the group which perpetrated the 9/11 incident. Sikhs, due to their unique appearance, have since been a target of hate and bias crime and discrimination. Every week, UNITED SIKHS receives reports from Sikh adults and children who are victims of race-based hate crimes and those being denied their right to practice their religion. A Sikh’s right to wear his articles of faith has been challenged in schools, the workplace, prisons and other public places. Sikhs also suffer increased harassment by TSA officials at airports because they wear the Turban.

While the fear of another attack is understood, nothing justifies channeling that fear through violence towards others based on stereotypes perpetuated by the media.  UNITED SIKHS continues to work to stop the cycle by creating awareness of these issues amongst authorities and the public through talks, seminars, and multifaith events. In addition, UNITED SIKHS offers advice, counsel and legal representation to those whose legal rights are being denied by errant and mis-informed authorities and the public.

Manvinder Singh, UNITED SIKHS Director, attended the town hall meeting at Nanaksar Sikh Temple in Fresno on the evening of Tuesday, May 7th to discuss this vicious attack on Piara Singh. There were 300 attendees including police officials and Fresno’s Police Chief that spoke out against hate crimes and the need to educate society on the Sikh religion and its worshippers.

 

1. Marcum, Diana. “Sikh Man, 82, Beaten with Pipe in Fresno in Suspected Hate Crime.” Los Angeles Times., 8 May 2013. Web. 9 May 2013.

 

Mr. Piara Singh

Mr. Piara Singh

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UNITED SIKHS cosponsor and speak at the “NYC 2013: Electing the Right(s) Mayor” Forum https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2013/05/united-sikhs-cosponsor-and-speak-at-the-nyc-2013-electing-the-rights-mayor/ Thu, 09 May 2013 17:25:16 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1956 On Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 2pm, the Arab American, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian community of New York gathered at New York University to hear where mayoral candidates stand on important issues affecting our community.  The packed room listened in as moderator Errol Louis, of NY1, asked candidates tough questions.  Mayoral candidates in attendance were: Sal Albanese, Bill de, Blasio, Adolfo Carrion, Jr., John C. Liu, Christine C. Quinn, Erick Salgado, and Bill Thompson.  UNITED SIKHS cosponsored this event and policy advocacy and representative, Anisha Singh, asked the candidates how they would address bias-based bullying.

Anisha asked the candidates about their bias-based bullying prevention initiatives. She stated, “Three out of four Sikh American boys are bullied in the United States due to their appearance.  They were called Bin Laden, terrorist, and told to go ‘back to their country’ even if they were born and raised in the United States. Too many of our children are victims of hate crimes. In 2008, a Sikh boy’s turban was lit on fire by a classmate in New Jersey.  That same year a New York City Sikh girl’s uncut, sacred, hair was forcibly cut by a classmate.  A year later, another New York City Sikh boy was punched and harassed daily for about a year and nothing was done for him until it escalated to disturbing degrees of violence.  Those are just three examples within a period of a year.  Our children are afraid to go to school and are constantly looking over their shoulder with this fear, all at such a young age.  As Mayor, what preventative measured are you going to take to ensure our children are not victims of bullying and hate crimes in their schools?” she asked.

In response to the question, candidates and audience members gasped and began tweeting their thoughts (for more see: #Right4NY). Sal Albanese spoke on his experience working in public school education and his belief that the message must go out to the public that bullying will not be tolerated.  Bill de Blasio gained applause from the audience when he addressed the issue by stating that “we as a nation have let go of civics at a time when it is most vital for civic education to become a priority.”  Adolfo Carrion said “it will be his mayoral directive to speak to parents of children who bully other children to make sure they are educated.”  He also said that this was an issue that was “swept under the rug” and thanked Anisha for highlighting the issue.  Christine Quinn responded by saying that, “just as students are victims of bullying and are afraid to walk into their school buildings, so are the teachers and staff who also get victimized.”  To address this she posed the implementation of staff trainings for teachers and, if elected, she would visit schools with bullying incidents the morning after the incident happened.  Erick Salgado said there should be “zero tolerance” for bullying and there needs to be a hotline for reporting these bullying incidents.

John Liu stole the spotlight by speaking at length about Sikh advocacy work. He started by thanking UNITED SIKHS for our work and pointing out that Sikh advocacy groups work hard to come up with free curriculum kits for school to use to educate their students on Sikhism yet these kits are ignored by the schools.  He also pointed out that complaints to the Department of Education are not taken seriously but that these complaints and incidents need to be addressed and even tracked.  Finally, he spoke on how the NYPD does not allow Sikhs to wear turbans while on the police force and this also needs to change.  Bill Thompson agreed with Liu about getting rid of the NYPD turban regulation in order to show Sikhs are a part of and accepted by the community.

Other memorable moments at the forum included opening statements and other important questions posed to the candidates. In her opening statement, Christine C. Quinn stated, “[We should be] bringing communities together, not ripping them apart.” Bill de Blasio spoke on the need for Muslim Holidays and John C. Liu recognized that our communities suffered the most.

Other questions posed to the candidates included topics of religious freedom, police accountability, free speech, and Muslim school holidays.  In light of the “Ground Zero Mosque” opposition, candidates asked what they would do as mayor to ensure that people of faith are able to build places of worship and that no neighborhood in our city is off limits to any community.  In addition, candidates were informed that zero leads have been produced from years of warrantless spying and profiling by the NYPD on Muslim and Sikh Americans.  When candidates were asked to raise their hands if they thought the current NYPD surveillance program is unconstitutional, only John C. Liu and Erick Salgado raised their hands.  John Liu added, “America is a place of religious freedom.  How can anyone here think it is okay to spy on people just because they look Muslim?” All other candidates present claimed that while they thought the NYPD surveillance is constitutional, they think it is wrong.  Nourah AbuShaban, an NYU student, also asked the candidates to speak on the protection of free speech.

To see the buzz from the event, search #Right4NY on twitter and read comments from candidates, participants, and the audience.

 

Anisha Singh, Policy Advocate for UNITED SIKHS, asks candidates about bias-based bullying

Anisha Singh, Policy Advocate for UNITED SIKHS, asks candidates about bias-based bullying

Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral Candidates

Mayoral Candidates

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UNITED SIKHS Joins Elected Officials to Commemorate Illinois House Resolution 1193, Denouncing Hate Crimes Against Sikh Americans and Other Minorities https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/12/united-sikhs-joins-elected-officials-to-commemorate-illinois-house-resolution-1193-denouncing-hate-crimes-against-sikh-americans-and-other-minorities/ Sat, 22 Dec 2012 03:46:40 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1784 Palatine, Illinois: On Sunday, December 16th, UNITED SIKHS joined the South Asian and Sikh community at Palatine Gurdwara to commemorate the passing of House Resolution 1193 (HR 1193). This Resolution denounces the deplorable attacks on Sikh Americans and denounces hate crimes and hateful political rhetoric.

UNITED SIKHS worked with South Asian Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI), Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago (CAIR-Chicago) and the Sikh Religious Society of Chicago (Palatine Gurdwara Management Committee) in drafting the language and advocating for this resolution. “We hope the resolution will provide an agenda for even more specific laws for the future,” said Ami Gandhi, Executive Director at SAAPRI.

Rep. Biss (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Rep. Biss speaking to Palatine Gurdwara Sangat (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ald. Pawar, Greg Bales, Rep. Biss and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ald. Pawar, Greg Bales, Rep. Biss and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Rep. Mussman (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Rep. Mussman  speaking to Palatine Gurdwara Sangat (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palatine Gurdwara President Sukhdev Kaur began the commemoration by observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown Connecticut shooting and making a request that the congregation pray for the families of the victims. Among the elected officials who made remarks at the commemoration and the press conference that followed were Senator Matt Murphy (27th District), Rep. Daniel Biss (17th District), Rep. Michelle Mussman (56th District), Alderman Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) and Greg Bales from US Senator Dick Durbin’s office.

Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Rep. Biss and Rep. Mussman (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Rep. Biss and Rep. Mussman (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar, Vikram Singh, Amrith Kaur, Rep. Biss, Sukhdev Kaur and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar, Vikram Singh, Amrith Kaur, Rep. Biss, Sukhdev Kaur and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Community at Press Conference (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Community at Press Conference (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We are excited to work with our state legislators, faith-based groups, and policy organizations to promote tolerance and counter bigotry,” said Rabya Khan, Staff Attorney at CAIR-Chicago. “This resolution is a first step in acknowledging that there is a greater need to educate the greater Illinois community on Sikh Americans and other minorities,” said Ekta Kaur, Regional Director of UNITED SIKHS. She added “Our community and the Illinois government must work together to create further programs to help prevent hate crimes and uphold our civil rights.”

Shiva Singh, Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Vikram Singh and Rep. Biss (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

Shiva Singh Khalsa, Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Vikram Singh and Rep. Biss (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar, Vikram Singh, Amrith Kaur, Rep. Biss, Sukhdev Kaur, Sen. Murphy, Rajinder Mago, Balwant Hansra, Ami Gandhi, Gurdwara Attendee, Ahmed Rehab (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

UNITED SIKHS, SAAPRI, CAIR-Chicago and Sikh Religious Society of Chicago with Elected Officials (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

Tejas Shah, Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar and Vikram Singh (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Tejas Shah, Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar and Vikram Singh (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEE ALSO: Recent article by local journalist Mariam Khan, “State lawmakers’ new anti-hate resolution could boost Chicago’s immigrant-friendly drive.”

To volunteer in the greater Chicago area, please contact Ekta Kaur at ekta.kaur@unitedsikhs.org.

Vikram Singh
Pro Bono Counsel
UNITED SIKHS (Illinois)
Tel: 888-243-1690
vikram.singh@unitedsikhs.org

UNITED SIKHS – Recognize the Human Race as One

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UNITED SIKHS, along with other NGOs meets with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to discuss on growing Human Rights concerns https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/11/united-sikhs-along-with-other-ngos-meets-with-un-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-to-discuss-on-growing-human-rights-concerns/ https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2012/11/united-sikhs-along-with-other-ngos-meets-with-un-high-commissioner-for-human-rights-to-discuss-on-growing-human-rights-concerns/#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2012 17:19:36 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=1768

October 24th, New York: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay met with over 20 NGOs on  October 24th at the UN Church Center in New York to address the growing human rights concerns  and also shared the updates on OHCHR’s activities. The meeting was moderated by Vice Chair for NGO Committee on Human Rights, Dr. Bobbi Nassar.

The Commissioner gave an overview of the OHCHR’s 2011-2012 activities. This included the workings of the Human Rights Council, the Universal Periodic Review, and, a great increase in the number of instances in which human rights (and the OHCHR) is gaining strength at the UN and in “post-2015 development” discussions. “The growing recognition of the centrality of human rights in the peace, security, development and humanitarian agendas, and trust in OHCHR is very rewarding,” Ms. Pillay noted. However, she warned that financial constraints are limiting the resources required to support her office’s mandated activities.

UNITED SIKHS questioned about the ban of conspicuous symbols such as turbans and headgears in schools and in general(in specific countries)which violate the very essence of human rights. The High Commissioner responded saying that “A faith group and minority have the right to practice and manifest their culture, religion and identity without discrimination and I oppose these principles and standards when I raise these matters with government. They have to find balance to accommodate diversity.”

US will continue advocating for equal rights as enshrined in the charter of UN.

IMG_0549 IMG_0506 IMG_0505 IMG_0493 IMG_0488 IMG_0488

 

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USCIS releases list of special benefits available to Chilean Nationals in the light of the natural disaster https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/03/uscis-releases-list-of-special-benefits-available-to-chilean-nationals-in-the-light-of-the-natural-disaster/ https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/03/uscis-releases-list-of-special-benefits-available-to-chilean-nationals-in-the-light-of-the-natural-disaster/#comments Sat, 13 Mar 2010 04:27:52 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=818 Washington DC, 14th March 2010: Following the massive earthquake that destroyed Chile and has affected millions, the USCIS released a list of benefits that are available to Chilean Nationals upon request.

Temporary relief measures available to nationals of Chile may include:

• The grant of an application for change or extension of nonimmigrant status on behalf of a Chilean national who is currently in the United States, even in cases where the request is submitted after the individual’s authorized period of admission has expired;
• Re-parole of individuals granted parole by USCIS;
• Extension of certain grants of advance parole, expedited processing of advance parole requests;
• Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization due to severe economic hardship for F-1 students;
• Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relative(s) of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
• Expedited issuance of employment authorization where appropriate; and
• Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without documents in coordination with the Department of State.

For more information, visit www.uscis.gov. You can also contact UNITED SIKHS by sending an email to law-usa@unitedsikhs.org in case you need assistance with a matter.

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Census 2010 Sikh American Census Campaign FAQ https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/03/census-2010-sikh-american-census-campaign-faq/ https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2010/03/census-2010-sikh-american-census-campaign-faq/#comments Wed, 10 Mar 2010 16:13:10 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=789

Census 2010 Sikh American Census Campaign FAQ
This FAQ has been drafted as a result of many questions and concerns that have been expressed by members of the Sikh community in relation 1to the Sikh American Census campaign. We hope that the questions and answers below will provide clarity to any confusion, and you are welcome to contact us at law-usa@unitedsikhs.org.

Q1: What happens if I mark “Other Race” and write in “Sikh” on the Census Form?
A1: Currently, the Census bureau automatically codes all Sikh writeins as “Asian-Indian.” This is a problem because it doesn’t allow Sikhs to counted by the Census Bureau, even though many other nationalities and ethnic groups are coded and counted correctly. In conversation with Karen Humes, Assistant Division Chief for Special populations for the Census Bureau, members of the Sikh community asked how to get a code, and she responded that we should petition the Census Bureau. UNITED SIKHS submitted a petition, with the support of SALDEF, the Sikh Coalition, World Sikh Council, and many other leading Sikh organizations and Gurdwaras to the Census Bureau and the Office of Management and Budget to ask for a separate code, and we will continue our effort to obtain a separate code. You can review the petition and supporting academic paper at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/petitions/census.php 

Q2: The Census form asks for race. Sikhs are a religion, not a race. Why should I write-in Sikh?
A2: The definition of “race” used by the Census is vague, and the Census form is not the best designed form. It only asks for “Race,”
and this is a problem for many people. It should rather ask for “Ethnicity.” The Census counts many categories of people that are not
“races” by any traditional definition. For example, if you write in “Bangladeshi,” you will be counted as Bangladeshi, even though
Bangladeshi is a nationality, not a race. Another example are the “Hmong” people who are of the same ethnicity, but not necessarily the
same “race.” Rather than only recognizing Sikhs as a religion, Sikhs are recognized as an ethnicity in many countries as we do have a very
distinct identity and idea of the “kaum.” We have a distinct language (Gurmukhi script), religion, marriage, festivals, appearance, and
other cultural variances; all of these additional factors qualify Sikhs as an ethnic group and a religion. We should be counted as Sikhs by the Census Bureau.
In the past, other ethnic groups have also been counted if they have many write-ins. The Census Bureau informed us that they will not assign Sikhs a code because of writeins, Sikhs will be coded as Asian Indian. However, the write-in forms are not thrown away and the Census Bureau does review the data. It is important to show that Sikhs want to be counted; also the forms become a part of national historical data and are made public after 72 years. This campaign is for now, and our future generations.

Q3: Why should we waste the Sikh Community’s time and money to be counted? Why now? Aren’t we too late? Are you being dishonest or misleading the community?
A3: UNITED SIKHS and other members of the Sikh community have been working on this issue for more than a year, and we understand that
this must be a sustained effort until we succeed in being coded correctly. Sikh Americans are tax-paying citizens just like everyone
else and have been excluded from being counted. It is a difficult task to change the government’s opinion on an issue, and it will
require the Sikh community in America to unite and take action by calling their Congressman and Senators and by having their voices
heard in public forums to be successful on this issue. If we do not succeed in getting a code in 2010, it is still important for the
Annual American Community Survey, which also codes Sikhs as Asian Indian, for the Census 2020, all other Censuses to come.

Q4: Why not simply mark the box for ‘Asian Indian’?
A4: If we want to be recognized as a group of people in the United States, and also if we (and the government) want to have accurate
numbers of how many Sikhs there are in the United States, we must ask to be counted as Sikhs. If we want the government to pay attention to
our community, they have to recognize how many Sikhs are in the United States. Also, not all Sikhs are of Asian Indian origin, and
many Sikhs who are not of Indian origin have expressed that they would like to be counted as Sikhs.

Q5: Why not fill in ‘Other Asian’ and then ‘Sikh’?
A5: Not all Sikhs are of Asian Indian origin, and many Sikhs who are not of Indian origin have expressed that they would like to be
counted as Sikhs. Also, it is important that for the purposes of showing our numbers, we all fill in the form the same way. Mark
“Other Race” and write-in “Sikh.”

Q6: What about Sikhs in other countries and Sikhs in India? Are you trying to separate Sikhs from India?
A6: The United States Census Bureau is only concerned with counting all people within the United States, whether they are legal or
illegal. This is an official count by the United States government and happens every ten years. This has nothing to do with Sikhs
outside of the United States, nor does it have any effect on Sikhs outside of the United States. It is important for Sikhs in the United
States to be counted by the Census Bureau because it is important to be properly recognized by the government for a variety of reasons; in
elections, for resources, and for advocacy.

Q7: What are some other minorities that have gotten themselves counted successfully in the past?
A7: Minorities always have to speak-up and advocate for their rights. In the past during the founding of the United States Constitution,
only three-fifths of the population of slaves were counted by the Census, changing the distribution of taxes and the amount of representatives into Congress by southern states. That means only three out of five slaves were counted as people. The Latino/Hispanic communities also had to advocate for their right to be counted separately, and some of them, such as people from the Dominican Republic are only being counted correctly for the first time, in Census 2010. Many communities are advocating around the Census because there are still many problems and solutions being proposed.

Q8: Are other religions counted by the Census?
A8: The Census Bureau is not allowed, by law, to ask a mandatory question on religion on the Census form. However, this does not stop the Census from accepting answers from those who self-identify, and the Census does count people of many different ethnicities. The only count the Census Bureau engages in where a question about religion is asked is in the American Community Survey, which is a much smaller annual survey that is done randomly around the country; Census 2010 aims to count every person in America.

Q9: How will this affect the count of Asian Indians? Does it affect the “Asian Indian” category at all with the current computer coding versus with the new coding, if we successfully obtain a new code?
A9: Currently, since writing in Sikh automatically codes a Sikh as “Asian Indian,” the number of Asian Indians increases, though Sikhs
are not specially recognized in that increase. If we successfully obtain a new code, the numbers that would have increased the Asian
Indian numbers will be counted as Sikhs, rather than as Asian Indian.

Q10: How will the Sikh community be affected if we are counted separately versus not?
A10: Census data is used by many many parts of government for a variety of things from allocating resources, to drawing districts for
political representation, to determining what areas require special assistance, to name a few uses. Even local governments often use
Census data in making decisions that affect the local people. If we are counted separately, we will be able to lobby more effectively as
a community when we approach our congressman and senators, and we will have recognition as a separate people. Many Sikhs express
frustration that people in government and in the public do not know who we are. This is another step in creating the awareness that we
need to be a successful community in the United States.

Q11: How do we benefit at the state level to register a Sikh Complete Count Committee?
A11: Forming a Sikh Complete Count Committee is another way to display to the Census Bureau that we want to be counted as Sikhs,
that we are taking the Census seriously, and that we are willing to work with the government to be counted. We need your help with this campaign so that the Sikh community can be counted correctly.

Please feel free to email law-usa@unitedsikhs.org with any further questions or concerns.

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UNITED SIKHS PARTICIPATES IN THE WORLD MARCH FOR PEACE & NONVIOLENCE: A HUMANIST PROPOSAL https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2009/09/united-sikhs-participates-in-the-world-march-for-peace-nonviolence-a-humanist-proposal/ https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2009/09/united-sikhs-participates-in-the-world-march-for-peace-nonviolence-a-humanist-proposal/#comments Mon, 28 Sep 2009 02:44:35 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=503

worldmarchforpeace OCTOBER 2nd KICK-OFF EVENTS IN NEW YORK CITY
In New York, the World March will celebrate 93 days of activities promoting peace and nonviolence in schools, nonprofit organizations, peace organizations, arts groups and faith communities.  UNITED SIKHS will participate in the 8 a.m Interfaith Blessing Ceremony representing the Sikh community of New York, on the waterfront, in Battery Park in front of the East Coast Memorial, opposite 17 State Street. The ceremony will be led by religious and community leaders who will offer their blessings to the marchers and march supporters worldwide.

The event is being coordinated by World Without Wars and co-sponsored by the Interfaith Center of New York. Participants include (partial list):Matt Weiner (Program Director Interfaith Center of New York)
Robert B. Coleman (Interim Chief Program Minister Riverside Church)
Martha Niggeman, CS (Christian Science Healing Practitioner)
Rev. Masafumi Nakanishi (Shinto International Foundation)
Imam Shamsi (Ali Imam/Islamic Cultural Center/ 96th Street Mosque)
Harjashan Veer Singh (UNITED SIKHS)
Chris Wells (Spokesperson, World Without Wars/World March)
Terry Greene (Families of 9/11 for Peaceful Tomorrows)
Mark Farrell (New York Community of Silo’s Message)A press conference will immediately follow at 9:15 a.m. featuring Chris Wells, spokesperson and Dennis Redmond, US Coordinator of the World March, along with some of the morning’s speakers.    

 

THE WORLD MARCH FOR PEACE & NONVIOLENCE: A HUMANIST PROPOSAL

The World March for Peace and Nonviolence 

 was launched during the Symposium of the World Center for Humanist Studies held at the Park of Study and Reflection in Punta de Vacas, Argentina, on November 15, 2008.

The World March aims to generate consciousness of the dangerous global situation in which we are living, a situation marked by the heightened probability of nuclear conflict, a renewed arms race, and the violent military occupation of foreign territories.

The World March is a proposal for an unprecedented social mobilization, advanced by the

Today we are experiencing a critical situation throughout the world, characterized by poverty across vast regions and confrontations between cultures. Violence and discrimination contaminate the daily life of broad sectors of the population. Armed conflicts plague many areas, and we now have a profound crisis in the international financial system.

Looming over all of these is the most pressing problem of all: the growing nuclear threat. We are in a moment of extreme complexity. Not only must we take into account the irresponsible interests of the nuclear powers and the madness of violent groups with their potential access to nuclear material, we must also consider the added risk of a nuclear accident that could unleash a devastating conflict.

This is not just the sum of a few isolated crises; rather, we are facing the global failure of a system whose methodology of action is violence and whose central value is money.

THE PROPOSALS OF THE WORLD MARCH

To avoid a future nuclear catastrophe we must surpass violence today, demanding:

 

 

 

  1. nuclear disarmament at a global level;
  2. the immediate withdrawal of invading troops from occupied territories;
  3. the progressive and proportional reduction of conventional weapons;
  4. the signing of non-aggression treaties between countries;
  5. the renunciation by governments of the use of war as a means to resolve conflicts.
  6. It’s urgent to create conciousness for peace and disarmament. But it is also necessary to awaken a consciousness of nonviolence that rejects not only physical violence, but all forms of violence: economic, racial, psychological, religious, sexual, etc. This new sensibility could take root and inspire the social structures, opening the way towards the future Universal Human Nation.

    We demand our right to live in peace and liberty. We do not live in liberty when we live under the threat of violence.

    The World March is a call to all people to unite efforts and take responsibility for changing the world, to overcome their personal violence, and to work in their immediate environments, and as far as their influence may reach.

    THE MARCH IN ACTION

    The World March for Peace and Nonviolence is already inspiring various initiatives and activities, and these will multiply in the coming months. One will be the symbolic march of an international and intercultural team whose journey will pass through six continents. It will start on October 2, 2009 — the International Day of Nonviolence — in Wellington, New Zealand, and will culminate on January 2, 2010 at the foot of Mount Aconcagua in Punta de Vacas, Argentina.

    During this time, in hundreds of cities around the world, there will be marches, festivals, forums, conferences, and other events to create consciousness of the urgent need for Peace and Nonviolence. And throughout the world, the campaigns to gather endorsements for the March will multiply this signal beyond what is now imaginable.

    For the first time in history an event of this magnitude is being set in motion through the initiative of the people.

    The true strength of the World March is born from the simple, conscious act of those who endorse this dignified cause and share it with others.

    FOR THE HUMANIST MOVEMENT

    Spokesperson for the World March: Rafael de la Rubia

    Spokesperson for Africa:

     

     

     

     

     

    Michel Ussene

    Spokesperson for the Asia-Pacific Region:

     

     

     

     

     

    Sudhir Gandotra

    Spokesperson for Europe:

     

     

     

     

     

    Giorgio Schultze

    Spokesperson for Latin America:

     

     

     

     

     

    Tomas Hirsch

    Spokesperson for North America:

     
     
    Chris Wells

     

 

Humanist Movement through one of its organizations, World Without Wars.

Since its initial proposal things have developed very quickly. In just a few months the World March has received the endorsement of thousands of people, pacifist and nonviolence groups, a variety of institutions, and renowned figures from the worlds of science, culture, and politics, who are sensitive to the urgency of the moment. It has also inspired an enormous diversity of initiatives in more than 100 countries, becoming a rapidly growing human phenomenon. (www.theworldmarch.org)

 

THE PRESENT SITUATION

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Sikhs of Peshwar Break their Silence. UNITED SIKHS steps up Advocacy https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2009/07/sikhs-of-peshwar-break-their-silence-united-sikhs-stems-up-advocacy/ https://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/2009/07/sikhs-of-peshwar-break-their-silence-united-sikhs-stems-up-advocacy/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2009 18:51:53 +0000 http://www.unitedsikhs.org/blog/?p=375 sikhsinpeshwargurd16th of July 2009, Pesahwar,  Pakistan:   In the third visit to meet the Sikhs in Peshawar the Sikhs broke out their silence of their situation and gave a detailed saga of the kidnapping of  Kalyan Singh.

Displacement of Sikhs from Orakzai and Kurram Agency:
See video: http://vimeo.com/5607143
Currently approximately 700  Sikh families live in Peshawar.  95% of the Sikh families are Amritdhari Sikhs.  After the war with Taliban 12 families from Orakzai Agency and one from district Bunair took shelter at Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara in Peshawar. These families were accommodated to the homes of the Sikhs in Peshawar with their relatives  and friends. The affected people came in just their dress’s that they were wearing.  The Sikhs from Orakzai Agency left because of the kidnapping of Kalyan Singh by the Taliban.

Kidnapping of Kalyan Singh:

Kalyan Singh is aged around 75 and has 4 children.  The Taliban asked them to pay Rs 5.20 crores (PKR). Going to the police is useless as they are not affective against the Taliban by any means. Even the local tribesmen of Orakzai who were to give protection to the minorities were no match to the Taliban. The Sikhs argued and settled for a minimal amount of Rs 60 lakhs. This money came collectively from the Orakzai Sikhs, the Sikhs from Peshawar, Gurdwara Saheb Bhai Joga Singh Peshawar, and the Muslim community (as an interest free loan) who knew the Sikh families from Orakzai.  All the local Sikh families were asked to collect together and their elder representative was asked to meet with the appointed Taliban commander-in-charge. Kalyan Singh was selected and asked to represent them.  Three  demands were placed to Kalyan Singh, to be placed to the Sikh community of Orakazai.

1) Convert to Islam, 2) Fight the Taliban, 3) Pay a yearly tax, also referred to as Jaziya for the minorities

Initially the Sikh families outrightly rejected all the three demands. In retaliation the Taliban kidnapped Kalyan Singh, right after the meeting, and he was held in their captivity for 16 days.  Being an Amritdhari Sikh, Kalyan Singh didn’t eat food for 3 days, after which he was allowed cooked food from his home.

Escape of Mr Kalyan Singh and the Sikhs from Orakzai
On not getting the 60 lakhs, the Taliban on the request of the local Muslims, allowed Kalyan Singh to go home and payback the remaining amount of 40 lakhs.  Kalyan Singh was informed that in case the Sikhs refused to pay this amount, their homes would be broken, the male Sikh members would be killed and their women would become their property. Kalyan Singh knew that they would not be able to pay the remaining amount and hence fled with the other Sikhs from Orakzai with the only belongings being the clothes that  they were wearing,  their immediate belongings that they could gather, their holy books (gutkas), and the Guru Granth Saheb Ji (Parkash at home) to Peshwar. The Sikh families reached Peshawar at 5 am in the morning, after an arduous 8 hour journey, travelling through off roads.

Problems currently faced by them and advocacy requirements met by UNITED SIKHS

The Sikhs fear of going back to the Orakzai Agency as they are afraid that the Taliban who will hide high in the mountains and escape from the war will come back and ask them for the remaining amount. Since they have never seen any state governance offering protection, today, their minds are not to go back to Orakazai. The feedback they have received is that their home goods have been auctioned and their homes broken.  The army has started its operations just a few days back in Orakzai Agency.  The Orakzai Sikhs and the Kurram Agency Sikhs were not even considered as Internally Displaced People (IDP) by the local government. In other words, these displaced, jobless Sikhs from Orakzai are caught in a state where they don’t know what their classification would be. UNITED SIKHS met with the Ministry of Population of Welfare, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and the CEO of NATPOW and have been promised that this would be looked into. UNITED SIKHS has also written to the Minister of Minority Affairs in Pakistan and will advocate for their cause to be recognized and will assist in speeding up their registration process with the government agency.

Sandeep Singh
Sikh Aid, Pakistan
UNITED SIKHS
http://unitedsikhs.org
Email: contact@unitedsikhs.org

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