June 5, 2020 | By Harnek Singh
Facebook and Instagram claim that the hashtag #SIKH was ‘mistakenly’ blocked on its global platforms.
This week there was a major outcry of censorship from the Sikh community as we mark the 1984 Sikh Genocide by the Indian authorities at our holiest shrine, the Sri Harmandir Sahib Complex in Amritsar in June 1984.
Instagram confirmed the blocking of the #SIKH on their own communications page and announced an investigation into why and how it had happened.
It has also emerged that some Black Lives Matter hashtags were also being blocked.
The #Sikh was unblocked and immediately started trending indicating the mass concern of censorship that was taking place.
Facebook, who owns and runs both platforms, has suggested that the block started in March at around the time of the Sikh New Year (14 March) and before one of the most significant events of the year – Vaisakhi in April.
They claim it was a mistake, but they have provided no explanation on how this could have happened or by who in the company is responsible.
This must be fully investigated and action taken against those in control. As far as Sikhs are concerned it remains highly suspicious with some speculating right-wing Hindu groups linked to the Indian government that wish to subsume the Sikh faith may be responsible.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
“For 36 years attempts have been made to silence the voice of the Sikh community though bloodshed, violence and censorship.”
“Indian propaganda has created a false narrative and ignored the pain and suffering of millions of Sikhs.”
“The age of the internet has allowed hope for the truth to be aired, so for social media giants like Instagram and Facebook, who claim to be and should be the bastions of freedom of speech, to block #Sikh and other Black Lives Matter hashtags is unacceptable and blatant censorship of the truth and feeling of oppressed minorities.”
“Whilst we welcome the unblocking and assurance it will not happen again; we demand a full and transparent investigation into how both of these popular movements had their hashtags blocked and who was behind it.”
“Truth must always prevail and the confidence of millions of users of Facebook and Instagram need to be restored.”
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