May 12, 2015 | By Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI),
New York, NY, USA: A permanent resident of the United States, Surat Singh Khalsa has been on hunger-strike in Punjab, India since January 16, 2015 to demand the release of Indian political prisoners who have completed their sentences but remain imprisoned.
Khalsa’s children and grandchildren are all U.S. citizens, most of whom live in California. His family has faced political persecution in India for visiting their 82-year-old father, whose health is failing and who is knocking on death’s door as he wages his struggle for justice. His son, Ravinderjit Singh Gogi, was unjustly arrested, imprisoned, and tortured for two months in India before intervention by U.S. congressional representatives proved instrumental in achieving his release and the dropping of all charges.
Khalsa’s struggle continues, however, and although you may be thousands of miles away, you have an opportunity to stand in solidarity with him by taking a few moments out of your day to contact the United States Congress to insist they speak out in recognition of this courageous American resident.
Our goal at Organization for Minorities of India is to make it as simple as possible for you to take action. In order of time required to act, we recommend the following three action items:
1) Sign the “Speak for Khalsa” Petition to the U.S. Congress Human Rights Commission.
Signatures on the petition are sent directly to the office of Rep. Joe Pitts, the co-chair of the Human Rights Commission. The petition requests the folllowing:
“Therefore, so that Surat Singh Khalsa’s life is not given in vain, we petition you to speak out in one or more of the following ways:
“1) Deliver formal remarks as an elected official to your legislative body;
“2) Join a letter to the U.S. State Department asking Secretary John Kerry to publicly appeal on Surat Singh Khalsa’s behalf;
“3) Introduce a resolution in the United States Congress recognizing the 1984 Sikh Genocide that sparked Khalsa’s hunger-strike.”
2) Call key congressional representatives and ask them to speak in recognition of Khalsa’s struggle.
Joseph Pitts (PA) – (717) 393-0667 (co-chair, Human Rights Commission)
James McGovern (MA) – 978-466-3552 (co-chair, Human Rights Commission)
Tony Cardenas (CA) – (818) 781-7407 (Human Rights Commission)
Tom McClintock (CA) – 916-786-5560 (sympathetic to Indian human rights issues)
For a full list of Human Rights Commission members from California, Khalsa’s home state, see the attached flyer.
3) Visit your congressional representative’s district office to deliver an info packet and personally request they speak in honor of Khalsa.
Download and print the 20-page “Speak for Khalsa” info packet. Click here to download (PDF, 10 mb).
You do not need an appointment to visit your representative’s district office. We recommend you visit with a group of 2-5 people. Walk into the office, tell them you are constituents, and say: “Is there a senior staffer we can speak with for a few minutes about an urgent human rights issue?”
During the meeting, tell them in your own words who Surat Singh Khalsa is and why you want the congressman to speak about this issue. Refer them to the three requests given at the end of the introduction in the info packet.
MOST IMPORTANT — take a picture with whoever you meet with. Please share your picture with us at arvin.v (at) ofmi (dot) org. This is most important for spreading the word and encouraging other people to follow your good example.
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