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1984 Petition on Sikh 'genocide' to be read by Liberal MPs

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by spnadmin, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. spnadmin

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    Jun 17, 2004
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    Petition on Sikh 'genocide' to be read by Liberal MPs

    Read more: Petition on Sikh 'genocide' to be read by Liberal MPs
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    Megan O'Toole, National Post · Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2010

    Two Liberal MPs are to read a petition to the House of Commons today asking Ottawa to formally recognize as "genocide" the 1984 wave of killings in India spurred by former prime minister Indira Gandhi's assassination, but the move is dividing both Canadian Sikhs and the Liberal party.

    The petition, to be read by MPs Andrew Kania and Sukh Dhaliwal, urges Ottawa to call upon the Indian government to "take all reasonable measures to bring all persons responsible for this organized campaign of violence to justice."

    Petitioners are also staging a memorial near Parliament Hill to honour thousands of Sikhs who died in the November 1984 violence, along with militants killed in the infamous Golden Temple attack months earlier.
    The timing of the petition, more closely aligned to the June Golden Temple assault and coming weeks before the 25th anniversary of the Air-India bombing, has some observers calling foul.

    "They want to commemorate [Operation] Blue Star, the attack on the Golden Temple where a lot of terrorists were killed -- so basically the memorial is of the terrorists, not of the victims of November '84," said Balraj Deol, a Punjabi journalist who sent a letter to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff last month decrying the move. "This is a memorial through the back door."

    In his letter, a copy of which was obtained by the National Post, Mr. Deol suggests elements in the Sikh separatist movement have exerted undue pressure on politicians to move their agenda forward.

    Jagdish Grewal, editor of the Canadian Punjabi Post, says the genocide petition, which garnered more than 10,000 signatures, does not reflect the opinion of a majority of Sikhs: "Many of the people who have signed on this petition don't even know what has been written."

    In addition to Mr. Kania and Mr. Dhaliwal, four other MPs are scheduled to deliver statements of support, including Navdeep Bains, Bonnie Crombie, Kirsty Duncan and Gurbax Malhi. None responded to the Post's requests for comment. A few directed queries to Mr. Ignatieff's office, but staff there did not return calls.

    A week ago, in announcing his plans to introduce the petition -- organized by an advocacy group called Sikhs for Justice-- Mr. Kania said the intent was to achieve closure for "the tragic events that have left such deep wounds within communities."

    The same day, Mr. Ignatieff publicly denounced the petition, questioning whether the term "genocide" was appropriate in light of contemporary instances, such as Rwanda.

    "It is used here to provoke a charged, visceral response which will not bring Canadians closer to mutual understanding and closure in regard to these tragic events," Mr. Ignatieff said in a statement, adding his party would "never stand with those who seek to polarize communities, or aggravate the tensions around long-standing conflicts that divided us in other lands."

    The Liberal leader's statement prompted a backlash from petitioners within the Sikh Activist Network, who suggested his comments displayed an "ignorance" of the 1984 killings.

    "The actions of the Liberal leader have left Sikh Canadians shocked and feeling puzzled," the group wrote on its website, encouraging readers to embark on a letter-writing campaign.

    "Our goal is to raise an international awareness on this particular tragedy," Gurpatwant Pannun, legal advisor for Sikhs for Justice, said yesterday. "[J]ustice has not only been delayed, it has been totally denied."

    Read more: Petition on Sikh 'genocide' to be read by Liberal MPs
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  3. Archived_Member16

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    Sikh MP's motion on 1984 riots divides Indo-Canadians

    <!-- END HEADLINE --><!-- BEGIN STORY BODY -->Gurmukh Singh - Thu, Jun 10 - 02:02 PM

    Toronto, June 10 (IANS) Two Canadian MPs, including Punjab-born Sukh Dhaliwal, gave a notice to table a petition in the nation's parliament Wednesday asking the Canadian government to recognize the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in India as an act of genocide.

    But because of urgent government matters, the petition could be not tabled Wednesday.

    Andrew Kania, who represents the Punjabi-dominant Brampton West constituency on the outskirts of Toronto, has joined Dhaliwal in moving the petition in the House. Dhaliwal, who moved to Canada in 1984, represents another Sikh-dominant constituency of Newton-North Delta on the outskirts of Vancouver.

    Both the MPs, who belong to the opposition Liberal Party, say the petition has been signed by 10,000 people even as their party boss Michael Ignatieff has condemned the move.

    Four other MPs, including Indo-Canadian Navdeep Bains and Gurbax Malhi, are also reportedly supporting the petition.

    'The failure of successive Indian governments to bring to justice those responsible for mass revenge attacks on Sikhs after the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi 25 years ago is a severe blot on India's legal system and democracy,'' the Globe and Mail newspaper quoted Bains as saying.

    The petition drew angry reaction from many quarters.

    'What happened to innocent Sikhs in 1984 was tragic event for which no guilty should be spared and we have been told that the Indian government is taking steps. But the petition is a mischievous and divisive step by these individuals who want to harm the Indo-Canadian community. The petition is only to promote their own agenda,'' said Indo-Canadian leader and parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai.

    'The Indian prime minister, who is the most respected Sikh in the world has made statements on this and the Indian government is addressing the issue. But these guys want to use Canada to divide India,'' he said.

    The Canada India Foundation (CIF), which is an advocacy group for better India-Canada relations, also condemned the petition as 'calculated to inflame anti-India sentiments among the Sikh community.''

    Calling it 'yet another measure by an extremist fringe element to foment division with and within the Sikh community in Canada,'' CIF spokesperson Manoj Pundit said, 'The presentation of the petition in Parliament is ill-advised and ill-intentioned since there is no justification for Canada to take the position that the petition demands.

    'We would surmise that the petition is deliberately timed to coincide with the upcoming arrival of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Canada for the G8/ G20 summit.''

    (Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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