January 12, 2019 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London, England: The UK Minister of State for Immigration has agreed to obtain input from the Afghan Sikh community to update the Country Guidance that they rely on to process asylum applications.
“I will ask our policy officers to contact the Afghan Sikh community for the latest information on the plight of Sikhs in Afghanistan. The Country Guidance on Afghanistan is due to be updated in the first quarter of this year,” said the UK Minister of State for Immigration, Caroline Nokes MP, at a meeting on Wednesday with MPs and representatives of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar and United Sikhs.
“It is important that our policy officers also have access to the experts,” she added on receiving a dossier of submissions from the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar UK and United Sikhs, which included statements from experts.
The meeting was arranged by Emma Hardy MP who had highlighted the plight of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in the UK Parliament on 3rd December 2017, when she said that the Home Office asylum guidance for Afghan Sikhs is in desperate need of updating. She addressed Parliament after becoming aware of the plight of Afghan Sikhs from her constituent who is facing deportation.
Mejindarpal Kaur, International Legal Director of United Sikhs, also briefed the Minister of State for Immigration on ongoing efforts to ensure the UN reports also reflect the real and immediate risk of religious persecution of Sikhs and Hindus, following the recent escalation of violence. She informed the Minister that there have been 102 terror attacks in Afghanistan since the 1 July 2018 terror attack that killed 12 Sikh leaders and one Hindu.
“At the UN Human Rights Council 39th Session, United Sikhs and the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar UK, highlighted the recent escalation of violence to ensure the plight of Sikhs and Hindus is also addressed during the Universal Periodic Review of Afghanistan at the UN on 21st Jan 2018,” said Mejindarpal Kaur.
Premi Singh, the spokesman for the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar (GGND) UK, told the meeting, “Sikh and Hindu applicants are being refused asylum by the UK Home Office that relies on a Country Guidance that is outdated. These applicants, on appeal, are found by judges of the Immigration Tribunal to be in need of protection, based on the current situation in Afghanistan. This anomaly needs to be rectified to ensure that justice is done to the applicants and UK tax payers,” The GGND serves the largest Afghan Sikh congregation with 20,000 members in the UK and 100,000 worldwide.
“We are very touched by Emma Hardy MP’s initiative to arrange this meeting so our voice could be heard,” added Premi Singh.
Preet Kaur Gill MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Sikhs, and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP also attended the meeting and expressed their support for Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan and those seeking asylum in the UK.