April 2, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
New York (April 2, 2013): In response to the Sikh Rights group’s Genocide Petition tabled before Obama Administration in December 2012, the White House condemned the 1984 systematic violence against Sikhs, a religious minority in India. Although the White House’s response states that “We continue to condemn — and more importantly, to work against — violence directed at people based on their religious affiliation”, however, the response ignores the recent discoveries of mass graves of Sikhs killed during 1984 and falls short of taking a position on the issue of Genocide.
The Sikh Genocide Petition urged the Obama Administration to recognize the organized violence perpetrated against Sikhs during November 1984 as “Genocide”. During November 1984 the Congress Party of India organized and perpetrated violence with intent to destroy the Sikh community, resulting in more than 30,000 killed; women raped; Gurudwaras burnt and more than 300,000 displaced. Based on the specific evidence and facts, the petition argued that “the intentional and deliberate nature of the attacks on Sikh lives, properties and places of worship during November 1984 makes them crime of GENOCIDE as defined in 18 USC 1091 and as per Article 2 of the U.N. Convention on Genocide”.
Standing in solidarity with the Sikhs community, White House’s response states that “During and after the 1984 violence, the United States monitored and publicly reported on the grave human rights violations that occurred and the atrocities committed against members of the Sikh community. The State Department’s Official Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, for example, covered the violence and its aftermath in detail, with sections on political killings, disappearances, denial of fair public trials, negative effects on freedom of religion, and the government’s response to civil society organizations investigating allegations of human rights violations.”
Legal Advisor to SFJ, attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun who practices human rights law stated that evidence proves that violence against Sikhs during November 1984 was clearly a “genocide” but the Obama Administration has disregarded its obligations under Article 1 and 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide by failing to take a position on this issue.
Based on a member nation’s failure to fulfill its obligation under Article 1 of the UN Convention on Genocide, rights group will approach UN Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR) to recognize the November 1984 violence against Sikhs as Genocide. As per UN procedures, a 1503 petition will be filed with the United Nations in November 2013. Under 1503 Petition procedure, UNHRC can call witnesses, record testimony; receive documents and evidence related to human rights violations and killings. The UNHRC commission can also seek response from the country involved.
Rights group will launch an international signature campaign in support of 1503 Petition to the UNHCR.
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