March 30, 2016 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London: The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected in Brussels in two days time for the European Union-India Summit to discuss bi-lateral trade despite the terrorist attacks of 22 March 2016.
The Sikh Federation (UK) that leads on political engagement in the UK and Europe has written to the European Commission and all 751 MEPs on behalf of the Federation of Sikh Organisations (Europe) to raise key concerns of the 1-million strong Sikh community across the EU.
A number of issues have been raised with Frederica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission. A meeting has been requested with the European External Action Service (EEAS) who deal with India.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “Since Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 there has been a disturbing rise in the level of intolerance. Gross human rights violations in India aimed at religious and ethnic minorities, women and people of lower caste are a daily occurrence. Surveys now regard India as one of the most intolerant places in the world.”
“Last year President Barack Obama in a speech in Delhi made a plea for religious freedom or warned India could break up. Fifteen months later the break up of India into a number of independent sovereign states is a distinct possibility given the direction in which it is being taken.”
The visit of Narendra Modi provides an opportunity to raise legitimate concerns about the treatment of Sikhs and other minorities in India. EU Member States and politicians across the globe are increasingly becoming aware of the worrying developments taking place in India. The actions of the right wing Indian regime pose a genuine threat to international stability and world peace that can not be ignored by the EU when negotiating trade deals.
All MEPs have been sent a briefing produced by the Sikh Federation (UK) on key matters of concern first produced for UK politicians when Modi visited the UK in November last year. It highlights a number of important issues including:
· a UN-led inquiry into the 1984 Sikh Genocide and justice for the victims by punishing the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity;
· prosecution of Indian police officers responsible for torture, disappearances and false encounters in Punjab; and
· the legitimate demand for Sikh self determination, including the re-establishment of an independent Sikh homeland, Khalistan.
The press release issued by the Sikh Federation (UK) relating to the debate on religious freedom in India that took place in the House Lords on 17 March 2016 has also been sent to all MEPs.
In November 2015 Narendra Modi visited the UK after a de-facto international ban that lasted more than 10 years.
The letter to Frederica Mogherini states:
“The EU sees human rights as universal and indivisible. It actively promotes and defends them both within its borders and when engaging in relations with non-EU countries like India. This was most recently illustrated in the last few months when India failed in its attempt to extradite a political refugee from the UK, Parmajeet Singh Pamma. India misused an Interpol Rad Notice by having him illegally arrested and imprisoned in Portugal when he travelled there on holiday with his family.”
“The EU is founded on a strong engagement to promote and protect human rights, democracy and rule of law worldwide. It holds a strong and principled position against the death penalty; its abolition is a key objective for the Union’s human rights policy. Unfortunately India has gone backwards in this respect and returned to the barbaric act of death by hanging.”
“Sustainable peace, development and prosperity cannot exist in India without respect for human rights, such as self-determination where EU Member States are leading the way. France, Germany and the Netherlands continue to challenge India at the UN Human Rights Council to withdraw its ‘reservation’ that self determination does not apply to the people of India. All EU Member States working with UN Security Council members, who we are also in contact with, should collectively take up this matter at the United Nations given the deteriorating human rights situation in India.”
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