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Sikh Message on International Human Rights Day (10 December 2023)

December 11, 2023 | By

London 9 December 2023 — Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh faith was a revolutionary who taught Sikhs to be activists and serve all of humanity.

He was well ahead of his time and challenged all forms of inequality more than 550 years ago. He rejected religious hatred and promoted social responsibility by encouraging the sharing of one’s earnings with others and to help those less fortunate.

He encouraged engagement and activism and taught that a spiritual person cannot remain silent in the face of injustice and Sikhs must challenge abuse and tyranny.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji through his actions and universal principles encouraged and inspired people to think and reflect on what they do and why they do it.

The Sikh Gurus called for universal freedom and the establishment of the benevolent rule of justice for all and the fundamental message in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sikh holy scriptures is the welfare and dignity of all human beings.

Sacrifices made by the Sikh Gurus to protect religious freedoms, Sikh teachings and the Sikh way of life compel Sikhs to be human rights champions.

Sikhs worldwide have been urged to observe #BlackTurbanDay on 10 December 2023 to mark the 75th anniversary of one of the world’s most ground breaking global pledges: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The United Nations theme on the 75th anniversary for 2023 is “Freedom, Equality and Justice for All” that Sikhs have been promoting for more than 550 years.

The United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948 in the hope of creating a better world after the horrors of World War II. It was the first time that countries had agreed to protect fundamental rights and freedoms on a universal scale, for all people.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stresses the supremacy of individual rights over those of states. The declaration inspired all post-war treaties and is regarded as the foundation of international human rights law.

Hitler argued human rights were exclusively an internal affair to prevent foreign interference. The declaration 75 years ago was universal and encouraged the “right to intervene” in another country on humanitarian grounds.

However, the declaration and interventions have not been able to prevent violations of the rights it espouses, including genocide although the UN Convention on Genocide was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 9 December 1948. It signified the international community’s commitment to ‘never again’ after the atrocities committed during the Second World War.

Sikhs have rightly stood up to those running India since its creation in August 1947 and refused to sign the first Indian Constitution in 1950 that promoted assimilation of Sikhs. We then had continuous discrimination against Sikhs and their homeland culminating in the 1984 Sikh Genocide that has been recognised by the highest courts in India and accepted by the ruling BJP Indian government.

India continues to indefinitely detain Sikh political prisoners and in recent months has been caught red-handed in cases of transnational repression, including assassination of Sikh activists in the Diaspora.

India is the world’s most populous country, but India has worryingly shifted from a democracy to an autocracy with escalating violence against Dalits, women and religious minorities with evidence of regime complicity.

The independence of key institutions like the judiciary, media and progressive civil society associations – BBC, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Greenpeace etc. have been totally undermined and India has slipped precipitously on every index of democracy and freedoms.

The current Indian government is using the exactly the same logic and tactics as Hitler, does not respect universal human rights and regards criticism as interference in internal matters. Governments need to wake up and realise the Hindutva ideology represents a massive challenge to the world.

On the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we encourage governments across the globe to raise their voices against injustices and human rights abuses no matter where they may occur, especially in India where Sikhs continue to be persecuted across the globe.

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