April 25, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Washington D.C. (April 24, 2013): It is learnt that the first American Sikh Congressional Caucus that would provide a formidable platform to the community to address its issues has been launched in the US.
The caucus is being considered as a giant step forward to address issues and problems confronting the community.
In a community alert issued by the United Sikhs, the US based NGO has shared the news of the launch of the First Sikh Congressional Caucus at Capitol Hill on April 24, 2013.
“United Sikhs is among other Sikh advocacy groups that are proud supporters of this caucus which is a bipartisan group of over 26 Members of the House of Representatives”, the United Sikhs has informed.
United Sikhs has expressed gratefulness to Harpreet Singh Sandhu, a California-based political activist, and Dr. Pritpal Singh, American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) Coordinator, for their role in spearheading the formation of the Caucus.
“There are Sikh identity issues, issues relating to security of the community members and Sikh shrines in US along with human rights’ issues,” American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) Dr Pritpal Singh reportedly told Times of India (TOI).
President of AGPC J. S. Hothi called the caucus as a major step ahead for the US based Sikh community. Director of United Sikhs – one of the Sikh advocacy organizations, Hardyal Singh said they look forward to being in direct contact and communication with lawmakers concerning issues that directly or indirectly affect the Sikh community.
“History has been made today, some 130 years after our forefathers first arrived on American shores. From today, we are hopeful that the American Sikh Caucus will ensure that Sikh voices will be heard loud and clear in Congress, so that Sikhs enjoy all the rights and freedoms promised in the American constitution, in particular, pertaining to the Sikh identity,” he said.
Pritpal said Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congressman David Valadao had been whole heartedly supporting the caucus ever since they initiated the move. Chu and Valadao would co-chair the new caucus, which will primarily educate members of Congress and the general public about Sikh issues and support the American Sikh community.
He said the caucus would be the voice for American Sikhs in the House of Representatives working across the aisles to address the uniqe challenges which the community faces.
“Our dream of a direct voice to Congress about Sikh related issues has come true. The Caucus’ purpose is to educate and allow Members to strategize on how to support the American Sikh community and attack the many issues we face today including bullying, Armed Forces, and homeland security. I am so happy to have United Sikhs as a supporter and this Caucus can only get bigger and bigger as days to come,” said Mr. Sandhu.
United Sikhs looks forward to being in direct contact and communication with lawmakers concerning issues that directly or indirectly affect the Sikh community. “History has been made today some 130 years after our forefathers first arrived on American shores. From today, we are hopeful that the American Sikh Caucus will ensure that Sikh voices will be heard loud and clear in Congress, so that Sikhs enjoy all the rights and freedoms promised in the American constitution, in particular, pertaining to the Sikh identity,” said Hardayal Singh, Director of United Sikhs, one of the Sikh advocacy organizations invited to play a formative role in the launch of the Caucus.
United Sikhs’ civil and human rights awareness projects aim to promote an equal and just society through proactive advocacy. We believe that society can avoid or mitigate conflict through awareness that encourages the public and authorities to grant, observe and practise civil and human rights. Current projects working on these matters include a workshop series titled “Know Your Rights” and our annual Global Sikh Civil Rights Conference.
Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) and Representative Valadao (R-CA), co-chairs of the American Sikh Caucus, announced the launch of the first-ever Congressional American Sikh Caucus this morning at a press conference.
“There are 500,000 Sikhs living in the U.S. today, and Sikhism ranks fifth among the world’s religions. Sikh Americans have had notable achievements as soldiers, farmers, entrepreneurs, scientists, scholars, and actors, among countless other professions. The largest federal court security contractor for the US Marshals Service is a Sikh American owned company. The inventor of fiber optics is a Sikh American. One of America’s largest peach growers is a Sikh American. And last but not least, one of the first doctors to arrive on the scene to treat victims at ground zero, and indeed a true hero of 9/11, is a Sikh American,” said Representative Chu.
Sikhs have contributed greatly to our America’s prosperity, yet they do face challenges to the enjoyment of their rights. For example, Sikhs are not presumptively permitted to join the U.S. Armed Forces because of restrictive appearance regulations. After September 11th, 2001, Sikh Americans have experienced a steep rise in incidents of bias-motivated attacks and bullying. Sikh Americans and Sikh organizations are hopeful that the Caucus will serve as a platform for better engagement with the United States Congress.
Representative Valadao, added “Surveys have also found that up to three out of every four Sikh boys in the United States are bullied due to their appearance. The shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin last year is a tragic example of why Congress must focus on American Sikh issues.”
United Sikhs continues to uphold its promise to protect and support the community nationally and globally when facing hardships in all matters. With the formation of the Caucus is, the boundaries have been lifted and we are encouraged and determined to empower, educate and protect all.
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Related Topics: ASGPC, First American Sikh Congressional Caucus, Sikh Diaspora, Sikhs in Untied States, United Sikhs, United States of America