March 12, 2015 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Proclamation: 1984 Sikh Genocide and Praising the Values of Religious Liberty
Whereas, The United States is home to over 500,000 Sikhs and San Joaquin County is the location of the oldest Sikh-American community, Stockton Gurdwara, which was founded in 1912 and, one year later, the Ghadar Party formed, the first organized and sustained campaign of resistance to the British Empire’s occupation of the Indian subcontinent; and
Whereas, The Sikh-American settlers were inspired by the democratic ideals of the American founding fathers and so pursued integration into their new home country, and Stockton Gurdwara produced the first Sikh-American U.S. Army soldier, Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind, and also the first Asian-American congressman, Dalip Singh Saund; and
Whereas, Sikhs suffered a genocide in June 1984, when the Indian government launched a full-scale military invasion of the Sikh Harmandir Sahib (also called the Golden Temple) while thousands of pilgrims thronged the area for an annual Sikh festival, Sikhs suffered another genocide in November 1984, when Sikh communities in the capital of India, New Delhi, and other areas, were systematically targeted for murder by roving bands headed by political party members and members of parliament, and thousands died in these attacks, including many innocent pilgrims and many men, women, and children who were solely targeted for belonging to the Sikh faith. Today, the Sikh community remembers those events as the “1984 Sikh Genocide”; and
Whereas, A genocide was conducted against Muslims in the State of Gujarat in 2002, the state’s top executive, Narendra Modi, was reported by whistleblowers to have commanded police not to interfere with homicidal mobs formed by his political party. Modi was banned from entering the United States in 2005 on the grounds of egregious religious freedom violations under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the first and only time such denial has been issued. A pogrom was conducted against Christians in the State of Odisha in 2008, in which several dozen were murdered in especially brutal manners; and
Whereas, The USCIRF has annually, since 2009, placed India on its “Watch List” of countries it believes require “close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the Government.” The ruling political party of India has repeatedly declared its interest and intention to pass a national law criminalizing religious conversion without governmental permission. Religious liberty does not exist when a person must declare their religious affiliation to the government or obtain permission to believe or not believe in the religion of their choosing; and
Whereas, We uphold religious liberty as a paramount social need and a fundamental principle for a peaceful civilization. We praise the contributions of Sikhs in California, the United States, and around the world, especially to the struggles for religious liberty and the preservation of civil rights. We remember with sorrow the deaths of innocent Muslims killed in 2002 in the Gujarat Genocide and of innocent Christians killed in 2008 in the Odisha Pogrom. We commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Sikh Genocide, remember the thousands of innocent Sikhs whose lives were tragically cut short in that event, recognize the ongoing impact of the genocide for Sikhs around the globe, and call for justice.
Now, therefore, I, Anthony Silva, in recognition of the intentional, deliberate, and systematic killing of Sikhs in India during November 1984 genocide, do hereby proclaim March, 2015
30th Anniversary of the “1984 Sikh Genocide”
In witness whereof, I hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the City of Stockton to be affixed this tenth day of the month of March, two-thousand-fifteen
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