Author Archive

U.S. Army Accomodates First Active Duty Religious Beard in Decades

USA: Months after Iknoor Singh won his right to enroll in the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) , the first accommodation of a religious beard for an active-duty U.S. soldier in decades was granted to Captain Simratpal Singh, 27, last week.

Simratpal Singh (New York Times)

Captain Singh began his career as a West Point cadet at seventeen years old. In the last ten years, Singh has cleared roadside bombs in Afghanistan and earned a Bronze Star for his valiant services. But his passion to serve and protect others cost him his Sikh identity: from his time as a cadet until last week, Singh was forced to cut his hair and shave his beard–acts that are forbidden in the Sikh faith. As articulated by Singh in an interview where he discussed the requirement to shed his articles of faith, “Your self-image, what you believe in, is cut away.” While Singh’s honorable deeds as a soldier in the last decade exemplify Sikhism’s message to protect those in need and fight for justice, he was forced to routinely cut away the features that identified him as a Sikh to do so. Singh is not the first Sikh American whose ability to serve in the armed forces while maintaining his articles of faith has been challenged. However, Sikhs have been serving in international militias with their articles of faith throughout history, including during World Wars I and II.

Sikh personnel in Belgium in 1915. More than 169,000 Sikh soldiers laid down their lives fighting in the World Wars.

Just last month, Canada’s Harjit Singh Sajjan became the first baptized Sikh to serve as Minister of Defense in the Prime Minister’s cabinet. This comes after a career as an active-duty member of the military, during which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and served three deployments to Afghanistan. When his religious beard posed the obstacle of preventing the use of a gas mask, Sajjan patented a gas mask he designed himself that could be worn over his religious beard. During his first appearance as Minister in the House of Commons last Monday, Sajjan was met with a standing ovation.

Sajjan was sworn in last month. 

UNITED SIKHS is pleased to see this exemption granted to a truly deserving American. While the years that Singh was forced to renounce his Sikh identity cannot be given back to him, we are hopeful that the victories of Sikh Americans in the U.S. Army this year will continue to serve as a precedent for years to come.

“Iknoor Singh approached UNITED SIKHS when he seventeen years old–the same age that Simratpal Singh first cut his hair to begin his training ten years ago. After a two year battle, Iknoor was spared of the ten-year turmoil endured by his fellow Sikh American when justice was ruled in his favor this year. We hope to see times continue to change in favor of unity and acceptance in 2016 and beyond,” said UNITED SIKHS’ Staff Attorney Jaspreet Kaur.

Manmeet Singh, Counsel to UNITED SIKHS added, “The decision by the Federal Court of DC earlier this year in Iknoor Singh’s case has turned the tide towards acceptance of Sikhs in the U.S. armed forces, the most recent example of which is the accommodation given to Capt.Simratpal Singh. In Iknoor Singh’s case, it was the first time in decades that a court of law granted relief to a Sikh on the issue of religious accommodation in the armed forces. This case was a trendsetter, and we are elated that its aftereffects are being seen in the form of accommodations to well deserving soldiers such as Capt.Singh. The legal team at UNITED SIKHS is proud to have served attorneys of record in Iknoor Singh’s case along with attorneys at the ACLU.”

Please make your tax-deductible year end donation today to help us protect civil rights around the world.

 

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

Sikh Traveler Filmed, Mocked, Labeled “Bin Laden”

UNITED SIKHS received an email from 20-year-old Prabneet Kaur, daughter of elderly Sikh man and California resident Darshan Singh. She had just been made aware that a video of her father sleeping on a JetBlue recorded by the man sitting next to him was circulating on the internet. The video is titled Would You Feel Safe? and its description says flying with bin laden.

Mr. Singh recalls his Jetblue flight from New York to California in November as unremarkable. He didn’t exchange words with the man sitting next to him, and was surprised when he saw the video of himself online, which is currently sitting at over 62,000 views and gaining more every minute.

This act of ignorance is the latest in a series of anti-Sikh hostility in the days following the horrific shooting in San Bernardino, California on December 2nd. On December 6th, a Sikh Gurudwara (house of worship), was vandalized with anti-ISIS graffiti. On the same day, four Sikh men were stopped from entering a football game because of their turbans. Their car was searched for bombs.

Sikh Americans have long been the target of racially motivated violence and discrimination in the United States. Although the majority of anti-Sikh hostility and hate crimes occurred post 9/11, Sikhs continue to be the target of racially motivated violence. On March 5, 2013, a Sikh-American owned convenience store was set on fire in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This incident occurred less than a month after a Florida Sikh was shot while driving. On February 23, 2013, Mr. Kanwaljit Singh was traveling home with his 13-year-old son when individuals in a black truck fired six shots at his car. In 2014, UNITED SIKHS advocated on behalf of a Sikh man who was called a racial slur and spit on when the incident was not recognized as a hate crime. To learn more about anti-Sikh hate-crimes, read our Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Report.

“Incidents like this are shocking. No one, Sikh, Muslim, or otherwise should be afraid to travel. These types of incidents only weaken the fabric of our nation. It is everyone’s responsibility to be aware of acts of ignorance around them, and to report them when they see them. Only then can we unify ourselves against hate, ignorance, and discrimination.” said Jaspreet Kaur, staff Attorney, UNITED SIKHS.

At UNITED SIKHS, we are working to have the video removed, report the incident to the appropriate authorities, and raise awareness of such ignorance.

During these times, it is crucial that the Sikh and other communities often victim to this form of aggression remain vigilant. If you are victim to discrimination, please contact us at law-global@unitedsikhs.org . Please support our fight for global human and civil rights and donate.

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

Turn the Tables on Hunger: Donate to Feed Another 3 Million in 2016  

UNITED SIKHS volunteers feed the homeless of New York every Sunday. Click here to learn more about our humanitarian aid work.

Dear Supporter,

Among our many goals, we at UNITED SIKHS aim to alleviate hunger globally. While nutrition is our first priority, we also strive to maintain cost efficiency so that we make the most of your generosity. This year, your support helped us provide over 3 MILLION* meals to people in need, from the marshes of Myanmar to the streets of New York.

$10 = 25 Meals

Your $10 will bring us closer to feeding another 3 million people in 2016. To receive updates and to view pictures, please visit our facebook page. With your contribution today, we will prepare to help the needy of tomorrow.

How many are you willing to feed?

Sincerely and in Chardi Kala,

Jatinder Singh

UNITED SIKHS Director (Sikh Aid)

*This number is a summation of food distribution in Chennai, India; Myanmar; Nepal; Pakistan; New York, USA; Washington, USA; Canada; Malaysia and Panjab in 2015.

Chennai Needs Your Donation Today

Click here to view more pictures.

Chennai, India: UNITED SIKHS began its Chennai Relief Effort on December 2, 2015 in response to the devastating floods that hit the Coromandel Coast of India, with Chennai being one of the cities worst affected. Over 600 people have lost their lives in this calamity, while nearly 1.8 million people have been displaced.

So far, your support has allowed us to:

  • Arrange a ferry to transport groceries to a Gurdwara to prepare hot meals (langar) for flood victims
  • Serve langar to victims three times a day
  • Serve more than 15,000 victims daily
  • Deliver food, milk, water, and other relief materials to victims, regardless of caste, color, creed and religion
  • Assist in establishing medical camps and serving 800 patients

We plan to continue our relief efforts in the days to come by expanding our medical aid services. Our team on the ground headed by Arunjit Kaur and Harsaran Singh will continue to assess the needs of the victims, which we will aim to meet as soon as we have the data.

Our donors have allowed us to keep this effort going, and that support is vital. Donate now to help us continue our relief efforts.

Nature has hit Chennai and the surrounding region with force – Help us fight back!

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

How Can You Make a Difference this Human Rights Day?

15 year old Gurpreet Singh was a proud Sikh teenager in Panjab who had been wearing his patka to school since he was three and was soon to start wearing his Turban. That was before his family moved to Belgium. Today, he attends his Catholic school in Brugge, Belgium bareheaded, with his unshorn hair tied in a ponytail. This is despite a case won by UNITED SIKHS lawyers last year in the Belgian Supreme Court (Conseil d’etat), which ruled that two Sikh boys who attended another type of school should be allowed to wear their patke (head coverings) to school. UNITED SIKHS’ advocacy battle for turbans in Belgium continues as we move from the courtroom to the Church, so that civil society recognizes that a Sikh’s turban constitutes his identity.

Today, December 10th, 2015, we celebrate the 65th annual Human Rights Day–a day officiated by the United Nations (UN) in 1950 to commemorate the importance of global human and civil rights. While there is still work to be done to protect the fundamental freedoms and innate rights of all, UNITED SIKHS made great strides towards this ideal all over the world this year. As a UN-affiliated organization, we are dedicated to advocating on behalf of minority communities in every corner of the world.

It is only through your support that we were able to sustain these efforts this year, and prepare to protect Human Rights in 2016: Currently, our team is set to launch our European Refugee Relief Effort in the coming weeks, through which we aim to serve hot meals to thousands of Syrian refugees arriving in Macedonia, Europe everyday. If you are interested in volunteering with us for this effort, please email us atvolunteer@unitedsikhs.org. Our team is tirelessly working towards protecting everyone’s rights. Please support us in our efforts.

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

Please Continue Your Support by Donating Today

Dear Supporter,

This year, your support made history. As we take a look at some of our highlights of each of our directorates this year, we also ask that you make your year-end contribution now, so that we may continue our ongoing work next year.

International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)

Iknoor Singh in training.

Victory for Iknoor Singh: UNITED SIKHS and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the United States Army for student Iknoor Singh’s right to enroll in the Reserved Officers Training Corps while maintaining his articles of faith–specifically, his turban and unshorn hair. This June, justice was served in his favor.

The Advocacy and Humanitarian Aid Academy: Nine Sikh students were trained by speakers from the Department of Justice, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and UNITED SIKHS staff to become vibrant members of society, and the community advocates of tomorrow.

The Sikh Summit: 15 Congresspersons’ and Senators’ offices were briefed on the most pressing issues currently faced by the Sikh community.

Sikh Aid

Aid distribution in Nepal.

Nepal Earthquake Relief: Aid was provided to over 5,000 individuals affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated Nepal in April.

Myanmar Flood Relief: Our team distributed 10,000 tonnes of food, water, and other basic necessities to over 5,000 people affected by the flooding caused by Cyclone Komen in Myanmar in July.

Pak-Afghan Earthquake Relief Launched: 400 food packages have been distributed to approximately 2,400 individuals affected by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that rocked Pakistan and Afghanistan in October.

Community Empowerment and Education Directorate (CEED)

Anti-bullying workshop in Virginia, USA.

Anti-Bullying Workshops: UNITED SIKHS is dedicated to putting an end to bullying, and helping children and their parents deal with bullying when it occurs. This year, anti-bullying workshops were held across the United States.

Hypertension Awareness Programs Launched: To increase awareness of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in the Sikh American community, UNITED SIKHS organized awareness and prevention events in New York.

Health Insurance Marketplace Assistance: To assist community members get the health coverage they need, UNITED SIKHS provides free enrollment assistance in New York and New Jersey, USA. Along with local and national partners, UNITED SIKHS is advocating for better services for the Limited English Proficiency populations, protection of rights of mixed status families and ensuring that safety net protections or low-cost options which serve non-citizens who may not be eligible under the exchange remain in place.

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

Urgent Medical Aid Needed in Nepal

The Red Cross in Nepal and our contacts on the ground have asked UNITED SIKHS to help supply medicine and 25,000 urgently-needed blood collection bags (empty bags that will later be used to store blood for individuals in need of blood transfusions).
Medicines Needed:
Life saving medicines such as Injection Adrenaline, Injection Succinylcholine, Injection Nor-adrenaline , Atropine , Anesthesia, and Injection Dopamine are already out of stock in most of the major retailers. Nepal doesn’t manufacture injection (IV) products (mostly also used in surgery and emergencies), except one manufacturer with a limited band of the product. Hence, the majority of such emergency drugs are rapidly becoming out of stock. Hospitals are also running very low on labor-inducing drugs.
Anesthetics
S.N.

1.

Drug / Equipments

Inj. Adreraline

Quantity (In Stock)

100 amp

2. Inj. Atropine   0.6mg amps

20 ml Vial

100 amp

50 vial

3. Inj. Noradrenaline 200 amp
4. Inj. Dopamine 25 amp
5. Inj. Dobutamine 25 amp
6. Inj. Phenylephrine 50 amp
7. Inj. Amiodarone 50 amp
8. Inj. Propofol   1 % 10 ml 1000 vial
9. Inj. Propofol   1% 50 ml 50 vial
10. Inj. Midazolam 100 vial
11. Inj.Vecuronium 4 or 10 mg 100 vial
12. Inj. Succinyl Choline 25 vial
13. Inj. Rocuronium 25 vial
14. Inj. Atracurim 25 amp
15. Inj. Fentanyl 10 ml 200 vial
16. Inj. Morphine 100 amp
17. Inj. Neostigmine 2.5mg 200 amp
18. Inj. Phenylephrine 25 amp
19. Inj. 25% Dextrose 50 amp
20. Inj. 50 % Dextrose 50 amp
21. Inj. Calcium Gluconate 50 amp
22. Inj. Sodium Bicarbonate 50 amp
23. Inj. Potassium chloride 50 amp
24. Inj. Heparin 50 vial
25. Inj. Nitroglycerine 10 amp
26. Inj. Hydrocortisone 100 mg 100 vial
27. Inj. Vasopresin 50 amp
28. Inj. Metoprolol 5 amp
29. Inj. Esmolol 10 vial
30. Inj. Naloxone 10 ampoule
31. Inj. Adenosine   600mg 10 vial
32. MD Inhaler  
  1. Inj Lignocaine Hydrochloride (For Local Anaesthesia)

2%                                                                  50 vial

2% with Adrenaline                                       20 vial

4 % Topical                                                    20 vial

  1. Inj. Lignocaine Hydrochloride (For IV Use) 2 %  10 vial
  2. Inj. Bupivacaine hydrochloride

0.5%                                                               20 vial

0.5% Heavy (For Spinal)                               200 Amps

  1. IV Cannula  14 G, 16 G –               200 pcs each

18 G, 20 G –               100 pcs each

22 G, 24 G –               50 pcs each

  1. Endotracheal Tubes Cuffed 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0 – 50 pc each

Blood Collection Bag Specifications:

 Single Blood Bags (350 ml)

Blood collection bag made up of DEHP (Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate) plasticized PVC (Polyvinylchloride), collapsible non-vented sterile containers complete with collecting tube for completely closed system to avoid the chances of contamination

Capacity: Single blood bag – 350 ml

Design and shapes:

1.Flexible pre-sterilized 2. Pyrogen free 3. Non-toxic, non-haemolytic, biocompatible material 4. No risk of contamination and air embolism (closed system) with all leak proof seals (Disposable Bags) 5. Slit on the both sides of the bags should be enough to accommodate 5 – 10 ml volume test tubes(optional) 6. The capacity of the bag should be enough to prevent any ballooning/rupture of the bag from the seam when it is filled up with the requisite volume of blood

Tubing of bag:

1. Flexible non-kinking 2. Non-sticking 3. Transparent 4. Leak-proof 5. The tubing should have same ID/Segment number as that on the bag 6. The tubes should have multiple printed ID/Segment numbers.

Needle:

1. 16 gauge ultra thin walled and straight 2. Sharp regular margins and beveled tip 3. Rust proof 4. Tightly fixed with hub covered with sterile guard 5. Hermetically sealed

External Port:

1. Tamper proof and shouldn’t be re-capped 2. Easily accessible

Package:

1. Protective dual packaging (Individual & Aluminum) eliminating microbial contamination on surface maintaining the contents of the bag 2. Easy to handle

Anticoagulant and preservative solution:

1. CPDA-1 in appropriate ratio 2. Clear & colourless 3. No discolouration on storage at room temperature 4. Manufacturer to supply anticoagulant quality check certificate

Label:

1. Non-peal off 2. Heat sealed labels 3. Remain attached between room temperature to -800C with a transparent adhesive 4. Date of manufacturing, date of expiry and lot number must be mentioned on each bag 5. The expiry date should be at least 2 years from the date of supply of blood bags to the institute

Resistance to distortion:

Filled to normal capacity shall withstand an acceleration of 5000g for 30 min at temperature 40C to 240C without becoming permanently distorted and should withstand temperature up to -800C without breakage.

Certification:

ISO, CE, WHO and other relevant certificates.

Remembering Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Message of Giving

UNITED SIKHS wishes its supporters a blessed Gurpurab as we celebrate Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Prakash Diwas today, November 25th, 2015. On this day in 1469, the first Sikh Guru (teacher) was born. During the 70 years of his life, he spread messages of the unity of religions, equality of all people, and the importance of charity.

Among his writings in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji–the eternal Sikh guru–Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s words on charity are immortalized:

“One who works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has in charity, O Nanak, he knows the path to fulfillment.”

-Guru Granth Sahib Ji, page 1225.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji further emphasized giving when formalizing the three pillars of the Sikh faith: Naam Japo (reciting the name of God), Kirat Karo (living honestly), and Vand Chakko–giving in whatever way one is capable of giving. With your support, we at UNITED SIKHS make it our goal to carry out Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message of selfless giving, and to help others in need. Through our work as an advocacy, community empowerment, and humanitarian aid organization, we have seen the tremendous difference even just a handful of people can make when striving to work towards the common good of all.

UNITED SIKHS providing aid in Nepal on the heels of a historic earthquake that devastated the country in 2015.

UNITED SIKHS is inspired by the the spirit of giving demonstrated in its clients, community, and volunteers, and pledges to strive to fulfill our duty to those who are in need of humanitarian relief or have received unjust treatment because of their religious, ethnic, or racial identity in 2016 and onward.

 

We are humbled by your support, without which none of this would be possible. During Dasvandh Week earlier this month, we raised over $4,600 for our natural disaster relief efforts, and around $1,300 for the Gurkirpa Health Network. We call on you to keep the momentum going–donate to UNITED SIKHS on #GivingTuesday (December 1st) from 12:00 am to 11:59 pm Central Time, and your donation could be doubled. Visit http://unitedsikhs.org/giving-tuesday/ to learn more.

Today and everyday, we are thankful to be able to carry out Sikhism’s message of seva (selfless service) to help those who need it most. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we urge you spread the appreciation for your blessings in life, and share the attitude for gratitude with others.

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

Donate to the UNITED SIKHS Food Bank Today

This Thanksgiving, give others a reason to be thankful too.

Last month, we announced the initiation of the first UNITED SIKHS food bank on the east coast of the United States. We are excited to begin collecting donations and working with volunteers this week to provide warm meals to as many people as possible in time for Thanksgiving, a North American holiday that emphasizes gratitude and sharing one’s bounty.

Just in New York alone, 1.7 million individuals live in poverty. For these people, providing basic necessities for themselves and their families is a daily battle. While many of us take the availability of food for granted, for 1,700,000 of our neighbors, it’s not guaranteed. For this reason, UNITED SIKHS has begun addressing the vast need of emergency food, with your help.

Get Involved in the Giving This Week!

Sunday:

 Join UNITED SIKHS on Sunday, November 22, at Glen Cove Gurudwara Sahib as we prepare hot meals for the homeless, which will be delivered to Fort Washington Men’s Shelter.

Tuesday:

 On Tuesday, November 24th, UNITED SIKHS will kick off weekly donation and food-preparation days at Gurudwara Guru Nanak Darbar in Hicksville. Supporters can bring by vegetarian canned foods, monetary donations, or helping hands to assist in preparing warm meals, which will be transported to Bethany House shelter in Long Island, New York.

Food drop-off locations are listed below:

If you are unable to drop off food donations at any of these locations, please email us at foodbank@unitedsikhs.org or call us at 516.884.7976, and we can establish a convenient drop-off location.You may also email or call us if your gururdwara is interested in participating in our Food Bank initiative. Please click here to make monetary donations from our website.

Finally, you can sign up to become a UNITED SIKHS volunteer online by filling out this form.

Keep up to date on the food bank and other UNITED SIKHS initiatives by following our social media accounts: Facebook | Twitter

Pak-Afghan Earthquake Relief: UNITED SIKHS Provides Aid to 400 Families

Left: UNITED SIKHS distributing food package to affected families in Shangla, Pakistan. Right: Volunteers packing and preparing aid packages.

Peshawar, Pakistan:–On November 8th, 2015, UNITED SIKHS launched the Pak-Afghan Earthquake Relief Effort to provide aid and assistance to individuals affected by one of the strongest earthquakes the region has ever seen.

On October 26, 2015, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake rocked Afghanistan. Deadly tremors were felt in Pakistan, with the majority of victims from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province located in the northwestern region of the country. The death toll in Pakistan has reached 300, and more than 3,000 are injured. 74,885 houses and 497 schools have been damaged, and 29,162 houses completely destroyed.

 

 

Left: UNITED SIKHS volunteer Ravi Singh visiting the site of destroyed houses in Shangla. Right: Homeless children describing the quake that destroyed their home.

Click here for videos and photos of the Pak-Afghan Relief Effort.

Relief Effort Launched:

The relief effort began in the Shangla district of KPK, which is one of the districts most devastated by the earthquake. 50 individuals were killed in Shangla, and over 200 were injured. 22,000 houses and 143 schools were also either damaged or completely destroyed in this district. UNITED SIKHS has distributed 400 food packages to 400 families in this region.

By making a donation of $25.00, you can sponsor a aid package for a family. Each food package provides a family of six with two meals per individual for 10 days, with each meal costing $0.20. The packages contain the following items:

From the Ground:

“After traveling 12 hours by truck and 8 hours by flying coach van on Sunday, November 8, our team reached the Shangla district of KPK. During distribution, I met a family with two children whose home was completely destroyed and who were spending nights under the open sky and in cold weather. Upon receiving food aid from us, they were very pleased,” said Herdyal Singh, UNITED SIKHS Project Coordinator in Pakistan. He further added that relief work will expand to Afghanistan after security clearance.

UNITED SIKHS volunteers spoke to the Assistant Commissioner of Shangla, who stated, “First of all, I am thankful to UNITED SIKHS, who is providing relief aid to earthquake victims, where people are in dire need of emergency aid like food. I hope they continue to support our people. Shangla is a district of KPK which has been more affected than most in the KPK province. The people have taken shelter in camps, and some are living under the open sky and facing cold weather. We really need to come forward to help these people so that they can survive on their own in the future.”

UNITED SIKHS volunteers spoke to the Assistant Commissioner of Shangla, who stated, “First of all, I am thankful to UNITED SIKHS, who is providing relief aid to earthquake victims, where people are in dire need of emergency aid like food. I hope they continue to  support our people.  Shangla is a district of KPK which has been more affected than most in the KPK province. The people have taken shelter in camps, and some are living under the open sky and facing cold weather. We really need to come forward to help these people so that they can survive on their own in the future.”

UNITED SIKHS plans to distribute more relief packs to families in need in affected areas. Each pack will cost 2,000 Pakistani Rupees, or  USD 25.00, and will contain rice and other foodstuffs. Packages will be distributed in the Swat, Dir, and Bunner districts of  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan. Please donate today to help us provide aid to those in need.

Click here see UNITED SIKHS’ previous work in Pakistan.  Interviews of affected Pakistani families may be viewed here.

Keep up to date on UNITED SIKHS’ humanitarian work and our other initiatives by following our social media accounts: Facebook Twitter Blog