September 18, 2014 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Slough, United Kingdom: On the eve of the historic Scottish referendum on independence, an array of organisations staged an event in support of the Scottish ‘Yes’ campaign, urging voters to take the opportunity which tens of millions across the world were so envious of.
Hosted by ‘Nations Without States’ (NwS), the event focussed on the need to hold referenda in conflict zones across the world where oppressive states have sought to crush, by force, legitimate self-determination struggles by nations in their own homeland. Graham Williamson, Chair of NwS stressed the democratic imperative of letting the people themselves decide on their destiny in places such as Kashmir, Indian-occupied Punjab, Kurdistan, Tamil Eelam, Palestine and elsewhere. International law gives the nations involved the unequivocal right to self-determination, he said,
Ranjit Singh Srai spoke about India’s official rejection of Article 1 of the 1966 Covenants on Human Rights (which established self-determination as the foremost human right); that has been opposed by the UN itself as well as by Germany, Holland, France, Pakistan and others. India, however, ignores that opposition and has spent decades engaged in the suppression, at massive human cost, of freedom struggles by military force.
Professor Nazir Shawl of the International Chamber for Peace and Conciliation urged the UN and the international community to address the plight of the people of Kashmir who had been denied a referendum despite UN resolutions prescribing a plebiscite as the means to resolve the claims to the disputed territory. Karnail Singh Peermohammed, President of the All Indian Sikh Students Federation, detailed the genocide of the Sikhs in India over the last 30 years and explained that the Sikh nation’s resolve to secure independence in its homeland is undiminished, despite the grotesque suppression. Calling for a referendum in Punjab, he emphasised that the Sikhs desired a peaceful and democratic process and were keen to work with all other nations in securing the same outcome for them.
Upkar Singh Rai of the National Liberal Party urged Scottish voters to create, along with the precedents set in Eastern Europe, East Timor, South Sudan in recent years, a fresh instance of freedom at the ballot box, which would give hope to others. Jagdeesh Singh demanded that political parties in the UK now address the concerns of Sikh, Tamil, and Kashmiri diaspora communities and take up their cases at international level. Doris Jones of the Sabah Sarawak Union (UK) gave an emotional account of how self-determination activists have been brutally targeted by states and why the Scottish referendum stands out as beacon of true democracy and enlightened statesmanship.
Sockalingham Yogalngham, a member of the Tamil Government in exile, called for solidarity between all struggling nations and the inevitability of ultimate victory over illegitimate states that could not sustain indefinite suppression over the natural human desire for freedom. Raza Kazim, Campaigns Director of the Islamic Human Rights Commission urged universal recognition of the rights of all nations, without distinction based on religion, race or other factors.
Other contributions came from local councillors and campaigners such as Amrik Singh Sahota (OBE), Nazir Lodhi and media representatives such as Sheraz Khan. Lord Nazir Ahmed, Chair of ‘Parliamentarians for National Self-Determination’, sent a message of support and pledged to maintain his work highlighting the fundamental role of self-determination in conflict resolution.
The conference ended with the unanimous adoption of the following Resolutions:
1. Congratulates the people of Scotland in securing a referendum on independence, so that they can exercise their right of self-determination and urges them to make full use of this historic opportunity.
2. Welcomes the decisions of both the UK Government and the Scottish Government to hold a referendum; it has become a shining example to the world by laying down a truly democratic roadmap to settle self-determination claims, by respecting the sovereignty of the nations involved.
3. Calls on the international community to deliver self-determination to those regions of the world where, in breach of international law, nations have been denied that right by force. Referenda in Kashmir, Punjab, Palestine, Kurdistan, Tamil Eelam and elsewhere are the only peaceful and democratic means of conflict resolution.
4. Calls on civil society throughout the world to exert political pressure to show ‘zero tolerance’ for the systematic and grotesque abuses of human rights, including genocide, which have been carried out to silence lawful and legitimate self-determination struggles. We need governments and international institutions to take effective action to bring the guilty to account before international criminal tribunals.
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Related Topics: Scotland Independence Referendum