December 14, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Ontario, Canada: Sikh diaspora in Canada has expressed grave concerns over inclusion of so-called “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism” in a recently released report. Canadian MP Rajdeep Singh Sarai has issued following statement demanding the removal of mention of Sikhs and so-called Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism from the said report:
This week Public Safety Canada released “2018 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada- Building A Safe and Resilient Canada.” I reviewed the 31-page report from beginning to end and take strong issue with the threat entitled “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism.”
As a Member of Parliament for Surrey Centre, I represent a riding that is home to thousands of Sikh Canadians. As a member of the Sikh Community myself, I have concerns when a report of this nature is issued. Other than in passing under the introduction of Part 1, the only time the words Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism appears is on page 8, in a small paragraph that recounts acts that occurred over 33 years ago. In this paragraph, there is no mention of any escalation, incidents of concerns, or types of perceived threats. There is no justification to have these three words mentioned in such a report.
On page 7, the report even tables a timeline commencing from June 2006 and covers a span of over 12 years of all plots or attacks conducted in Canada, and there is absolutely none that mention the word “Sikh.” Similarly, on page 12, the report shows “Examples of Canadians Involved in Violent Incidents Abroad” and again there is zero mention of any Sikh Extremists from Canada involved abroad. Even when the report goes continent-by-continent, there are zero incidents mentioned involving Canadian Sikhs.
Again, I carefully reviewed Part 2 of the Report, “Threat Methods and Capabilities Observed Globally in 2018” and there is no mention of any concern or involvement by anyone from the Sikh Community. In fact, in Part 3, “Canada’s Approach to Countering Terrorism” states that since 2013 a total of 12 individuals have been charged in Canada with specific terrorism travel offences, none of which appear to be Sikh.
In the entirety of the report, there is no cause to show that there is any such risk, rise, or threat of Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism in Canada or abroad. It is not mentioned in either of the prior reports done in 2016 and 2017. Therefore, to add such a group as a concern without showing a cause or factual evidence, incorrectly identifies them as a threat.
Over six hundred thousand Sikhs call Canada home. They work hard in this country and have a love for this nation. They are proud law abiding Canadians. They are diverse in their opinions, political views, and choices but the Charter guarantees them the, “right to protest, as well as the rights of freedom of conscience and religion, expression, association and peaceful assembly.” If that does not spill over to hate or violence, people have every right to believe in different ideologies or movements.
Since 1985, when I was 10 years old, I have seen how Sikhs in Canada have had to wear the stigma of “Sikh Extremist.” Students were taunted, people were refused employment, and in some cases people lobbied to have employers dismiss employees who looked like me. Finally, after 30 years, these words stopped being headlines on our newspapers, and Sikh Canadians were seen as simply “Canadians,” regardless of what was on their heads.
Today, I along with many of my colleagues from the House of Commons expressed our deep concern with this issue and reiterated it to the Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale. I am confident that he will take the appropriate steps to resolve this.
Therefore, I ask that the Department of Public Safety to immediately remove the heading “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism” from its report, as no such risk is stated in the report and there is no evidence provided to substantiate it. Secondly, the Department of Public Safety must make appropriate changes so that no group, Sikh or other, is mentioned by their faith or ethnicity, when being called a threat or in such a sensitive report as this.