Posts tagged ‘Right to Turban’

UNITED SIKHS, along with other NGOs meets with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to discuss on growing Human Rights concerns

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.

 

Wordsworth, the French Revolution, and Right To Turban

Today morning as I watched kids playfully careen through the State Park, memorized lines from younger days came gushing forth- “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very Heaven! I smiled to myself as I remembered those carefree days until the analytical grown up in me caught up with the thought. Which dawn is being referred to here?

So I went back to William Wordsworth, and guess what? The lines refer to the dawn of the French Revolution. Any reference to France stirs a different kind of emotion now, in the wake of the ban on wearing the Turban in public offices in France. I dug deeper. Though the French Revolution today invokes images of a reign of terror, it started as a truly romantic political act by people seeking an idealistic government of their choosing.

Back to Wordsworth:

“For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, us who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven! O times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!”

The world seems to remember neither the romance, nor the wars thereafter. The wars that saw many a Sikh auxiliar lay down their lives for lands foreign, for a better and safer world. They had not much protection and passed away with their Turban held high……the sameTurban that France and many other countries have turned away from today.

My thoughts run amok. I feel blessed to work with UNITED SIKHS, with these engaging Saint Soldiers who continue to NOT turn away from their responsibility as a good citizen of the world. My admiration for the iron lady “Mejinder Pal Kaur”, toiling away in the labyrinths of international judicial system for the “Right To Turban”. And the exciting projects for Youth, our hope for a better tomorrow.

Poetry and Wordsworth started this chain of thought, and I end on the same dreamy note. Pictures of turbaned fashionistas sashaying down the ramp in 2010 in France and elsewhere flash through, and I smile again, envisioning Sikh Turbans galore on the Champs-Élysées.

Victory for Sikhs in South Carolina

A few months ago, UNITED SIKHS was approached by one of our volunteers in South Carolina, Jagmeet Singh, about a problem he was facing at the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. He was requested to remove his turban to obtain his driver’s license, and they refused. You can read more about it here. UNITED SIKHS Legal Team wrote a letter to the South Carolina authorities, and we are happy to report that we’ve heard back from Jagmeet Singh. Earlier today, Jagmeet wrote to us, “I went to renew my SC Driver’s license today. I did not face any trouble. It was very smooth process. Last time DMV employees asked me to remove daastar to take picture and then UNITED SIKHS contacted SC authorities.”

United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Comments on RTT Cases

Thanks to the advocacy work of the RTT Legal Team, USCIRF has expressed serious concerns about the Sikhs right to wear the turban in France, and concern about the recent European Court of Human Rights Decision against the Right to Turban (http://www.uscirf.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2650&Itemid=126). As you may be aware, the ECtHR dismissed the case as inadmissible based on a previous ruling that the ban on turbans is a proportionate response to the aims of protection of the rights and freedoms of others and the protection of public order. You can read more about the cases at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/rtt and at http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-16024-Europe-Policy-Examiner~y2009m7d17-European-Court-rules-against-the-Sikh-turban-in-French-schools