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Conference in European Parliament exposes continued Human rights abuses in India; Demand release of Prof. Bhullar

June 27, 2013 | By

Sikhs from across Europe pass resolutions in the European Parliament conference calling for the:

  • 1984 killing of Sikhs to be recognized as Genocide.
  • Abolition of the Death Penalty in India.
  • Immediate release of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar.
  • An end to negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and India due to continued human rights abuses in India.
  • Right of Sikhs to self-determination and to have their own independent Sikh homeland.
Sajjid Karim MEP with Sikhs

Sajjid Karim (MEP) with Sikhs

Brussels (June 26, 2013): It is learnt that the first ever Sikh conference at the European Parliament was held on 25 June, 2013. The conference was organized at the initiative of the Sikh Federation UK. The Sikh Federation (UK) having previously organised numerous such lobbies and meetings. The subject chosen was Human Rights Abuses and the Death Penalty in India.

It is learnt that Bill Newton Dunn a Liberal Democrat UK Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the East Midlands and a member of the India Delegation hosted the 3-hour conference and welcomed Sikhs from a number of countries across Europe – UK, Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.The conference was chaired throughout by Gurmel Singh of the Sikh Federation (UK).

A view of the conference

The conference was divided into four plenary sessions, but even before proceedings started MEPs such as Nigel Farage the leader of the UK Independence Party came to meet UK Sikhs and listen to their concerns. Others that met UK Sikhs in advance were Sajjad Karim a Conservative MEP from the North West who also joined Sikhs later in the conference and Glenis Willmott a Labour MEP from the East Midlands. Glenis was crucial in helping secure the right for Amritdhari Sikhs to wear the Kirpan in the European Parliament. This right was first fully exercised on mass in January 2013 and repeated yesterday with even larger numbers of Amritdhari Sikhs.

Nigel Farage with Sikh representatives

Nigel Farage with Sikh representatives

The first session was about the June 1984 Sikh genocide and mass human rights abuses in Punjab by the Indian authorities and the November 1984 massacre of innocent Sikhs. The speakers for the first session were Jaspal Singh and Jaswinder Singh from the UK. A number of video clips were used throughout the conference to visually highlight different issues covered. Marina Yannakoudakis a Conservative MEP from London expressed a specific interest in learning more about the plight of Sikhs.

The main speaker for the second session was Sukhvinder Singh from the UK. This session was about the death penalty in India, including the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and the reasons for Balwant Singh Rajoana’s actions. Several MEPs later spoke about their opposition to the death penalty.

Sajjad Karim a Conservative MEP from the North West spoke about his opposition to the death penalty despite surviving the Taj Hotel attack in Mumbai in November 2008. He also said he was heavily involved in negotiations on behalf of the EU with India being the rapporteur on the free trade agreement between the EU and India and specifically requested evidence against Kamal Nath as continues to have direct dealings with him.

The third session was about on-going human rights abuses of the Sikhs with reference to the illegal arrest and torture of political opponents Kulbir Singh Barapind and Daljit Singh Bittu; the unprovoked police murder of 18-year old Jaspal Singh in March 2012; the torture and police murder of 24-year old Shaminder Singh Shera and 17-year old Veer Singh in January 2011 and January 2012 respectively; and the death in police custody of Sohanjit Singh and Kulwant Singh and in March 2011 and February 2012 respectively. Jaspal Singh from the UK spoke about each of these cases and Dabinderjit Singh reiterated their present significance alongside the death penalty cases. The session was concluded by Maninder Singh from the UK who spoke about the True face of Indian democracy: Indian politicians facing criminal charges and failures in India’s judicial system.

Numerous other MEPs contributed during the conference, including Edward McMillan-Scott the Vice President of the European Parliament for Democracy and Human Rights and Liberal Democrat MEP from Yorkshire and the Humber who later tweeted ‘Interesting Sikh Federation (UK) meeting in EU Parliament today to discuss rights of Sikhs in India and abolition of the death penalty’.

Other MEPs that spoke included Jean Lambert a Green Party MEP from London and the Chair of the South Asia Delegation; Michael Cashman, a Labour MEP from the West Midlands; David Martin, a Labour MEP from Scotland; and Anthea McIntyre, a Conservative MEP from the West Midlands. Two MEPs from Italy also took part, Francesco

De Angelis and Patrizia Toia. Around 15-20 assistants of MEPs attended the conference and Sikhs from the UK also met separately with MEPs such as Richard Howitt a Labour MEP from the Eastern region who was unable to attend the conference.

Dabinderjit Singh from the UK presented the fourth and final session about justice delayed is justice denied and the right to self-determination as Sikhs have entered the 30th year since the June 1984 Indian army attack on the Golden Temple Complex. The session was concluded by Harjinder Singh speaking about identity discrimination in Belgium and the denial of Sikh human rights and difficulties in different European countries, such as France, Austria and Italy. This was also linked to the issue of Sikh self-determination and how a Sikh homeland would be of benefit to Sikhs throughout the Diaspora.

The conference concluded with the reading of the five conference resolutions produced below. Sikhs present then passed these resolutions in the Sikh traditional manner of five loud Jakaaray of ‘Jo Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akal’ – ‘Who so declares, Truth is Eternal, is blessed!’ Meaning – a declaration of allegiance to the Guru, and ultimately aligning oneself with the public struggle for truth and justice. These resolutions will now be translated into a number of different languages and taken forward at a national level by Sikhs with their MEPs.

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