A Story of Hate, Hope and Therapeutic

Yearly on August fifth, the Sikh American neighborhood remembers one in all our neighborhood’s most devastating tragedies in current reminiscence — the Oak Creek massacre. On at the present time in 2012, a white supremacist gunman entered the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, a gurdwara (Sikh home of worship) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin the place he shot and killed six worshippers and severely injured others. This violent assault was the deadliest mass taking pictures focusing on Sikh People in U.S. historical past, and on the time, was one of many worst assaults on a U.S. home of worship in a long time. Six worshippers — Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suveg Singh Khattra, and Satwant Singh Kaleka — have been killed on that horrific day. A further neighborhood member, Baba Punjab Singh, was severely paralyzed and in the end handed away from issues associated to his accidents in 2020. Others, together with Bhai Santokh Singh and responding police officer and hero, Lt. Brian Murphy, have been critically wounded through the taking pictures. 

[Read Related: Oak Creek Gurdwara Massacre’s 4th Anniversary: Young Sikhs Express Optimism for the Continued Struggle Against Hate and Ignorance]

In 2022, the neighborhood got here collectively to display that we’re undaunted. My group, the Sikh American Authorized Protection and Training Fund (SALDEF) joined in supporting the anniversary observance at Oak Creek: a remembrance occasion centered across the theme of “Heal, Unite, Act.” The Oak Creek Sikh neighborhood hosted a collection of in-person occasions, together with the tenth Annual Oak Creek Sikh Memorial Anniversary Candlelight Remembrance Vigil on Friday, August 5, 2022. This system included a consultant from the White Home, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Oak Creek Mayor Dan Bukiewicz, and representatives of the households who misplaced family members. Being there in Oak Creek 10 years after the tragedy was deeply significant — each to see the inspiring resilience of this neighborhood and to recollect how a lot stays to be performed.

In D.C., SALDEF continues to struggle for insurance policies that enhance the lives of Sikh People. I had the glory of chairing the newest iteration of the Religion-Based mostly Safety Advisory Council on the Division of Homeland Safety, offering suggestions on the request of Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. Consequently, the three subcommittees published a report that emphasised the significance of higher accessibility, higher fairness, and higher transparency in counterterrorism efforts that for too lengthy revolved round surveilling populations just like the one which was senselessly attacked on the Oak Creek gurdwara in 2012. Main the FBSAC as a Sikh girl, and representing a neighborhood that was extremely focused alongside Muslims by each white supremacists and in post-9/11 counterterrorism profiling, was a chance to push the Council to advocate extra fiercely for additional information-sharing between communities and legislation enforcement, extending grant alternatives for safety for Gurdwaras and different homes of worship, and constructing belief between the federal government and Sikh communities. As well as, I advocated for accountability for the injury needlessly brought on to Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Hindu (MASSAH) communities by federal companies traditionally pursuing “counterterrorism” goals which has resulted in eroded belief quite than the event of robust partnerships. 

Though we have now made nice strides on this nation, there’s nonetheless extra to do. By our work we have now partnered with many throughout the nation to come back collectively and discover options by tenets central to Sikhism and America — unity, love, and equality. SALDEF continues to strongly endorse the coverage framework articulated throughout the Home Terrorism Prevention Act (H.R. 350 / S. 963); Justice for Victims of Hate Crimes Act; and the Nonprofit Safety Grant Program (NSGP) Enchancment Act (H.R. 6825). We imagine strongly in mandating federal companies to create devoted workplaces to analyze home terrorism; permitting prosecutors to feasibly indict perpetrators of hate crimes; and permitting non secular nonprofits to entry federal funding to reinforce their very own safety.

[Read Related: Anti-Sikh Hate is on the Rise: Here’s What we can Do]

Whereas 11 years have handed, the results of the Oak Creek taking pictures are by no means removed from the minds of Sikh American advocates and the neighborhood we serve. SALDEF won’t cease taking a stand towards mindless violence and hate crimes. We proceed to work in unity with our neighborhood and motion companions, and struggle for higher insurance policies that may actively maintain all of our communities protected. By tragedy, we discover hope. We all know there could be a world the place individuals from all backgrounds and cultures can observe their religion freely and, despite the fact that it has eluded the Sikh American neighborhood up to now, we nonetheless imagine this world is feasible.

Picture Courtesy of Amrita Kular

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Kiran Kaur Gill is an completed skilled with exemplary government expertise. In her position as Government Director, she is accountable … Learn extra ›

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit

The next open letter is written by Hindus for Human Rights, a company advocating for pluralism, civil and human rights in South Asia and North America, rooted within the values of Hindu religion: shanti (peace), nyaya (justice) and satya (reality). They supply a Hindu voice of resistance to caste, Hindutva (Hindu nationalism), racism, and all types of bigotry and oppression.

Pricey President Biden,

As Indian-People, human rights organizations, and anxious allies, we’re writing to induce you to interact publicly and meaningfully to push again towards the Indian authorities’s escalating assaults on human rights and democracy, particularly forward of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state go to to the USA.

Regardless of goal proof that India’s democracy is below crucial assault, you haven’t spoken out about this disaster. In early 2023, Indian authorities carried out retaliatory raids on the BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai workplaces for releasing a documentary about Prime Minister Modi. The week earlier than the Summit for Democracy, the Indian authorities made three successive assaults on Indian democracy. First, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Celebration expelled Rahul Gandhi from Parliament. Second, the Indian authorities shut the internet down in Punjab, severely impacting the rights for Sikhs to peacefully manage and protest. And third, the Indian Supreme Courtroom ruled that Indians could be discovered responsible by affiliation for terrorism. And but, not one consultant from the Biden Administration stated something about even one in all these developments. As a substitute, whereas Islamophobic violence gripped India in late March, you invited Prime Minister Modi to speak on the Summit for Democracy. Mr. Modi visits DC at a time when the state of Manipur has experienced heavy communal and anti-Christian violence after Modi’s ruling get together pushed an initiative to undermine Indigenous rights within the state.

Even when confronted with questions by Indian reporters about human rights in India, your administration has solely had personal two-way conversations about how each of our governments can at all times enhance. Fairly frankly, we discover it unacceptable to see such equivocation on Indian democracy from an administration that has been strident in its protection of American democracy and the rule of legislation. 

India is among the quickest autocratizing nations on the planet, largely because of the present authorities. Freedom House has rated India as a “partly-free” nation for the previous three years, and has blamed Prime Minister Modi’s authorities for an increase in discriminatory insurance policies, together with persecution towards Muslims and caste-based violence towards Dalit and Adivasi communities; harassment of civil society, protestors, academia and the media, and the focusing on of political opponents. It has additionally rated Indian-administered Kashmir as “not free,” citing violations of human, civil, and political rights after the Modi authorities revoked the territory’s autonomous standing. In Reporters Without Borders press freedom rating, India has dropped to 161 out of 180 nations in 2023. India has appeared within the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Impunity Indexwhich examines accountability for unsolved journalists’ murders — yearly for the previous 15 years and at the moment ranks in eleventh place worldwide. In line with PEN America’s Freedom to Write Index, in 2022, India was one of many high 10 nations that jailed writers globally. The Varieties of Democracy Institute characterizes India as an “electoral autocracy” and blames India’s descent into autocracy on Prime Minister Modi. And the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has stated India has been one of many high 15 nations in danger for a mass atrocity occasion yearly since 2017, which displays the toxicity of Indian politics below Modi. 

Given the magnitude of this disaster, we ask you to interact immediately with Indian-American and human rights civil society leaders to discover options to handle India’s human rights disaster. We additionally ask you to make use of the instruments at your disposal to make sure that the Indian authorities can not assault Indians’ human rights with impunity. Because the 2022 Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor report details, a number of authorities people have dedicated human rights violations that, below U.S. legislation, would qualify them to be sanctioned below the World Magnitsky Act. Indian safety forces which have engaged in human rights violations ought to have safety help rescinded, below the Overseas Help Act of 1961. 

Lastly, we urge you to publicly name on the Indian authorities to honor its commitments to human rights, together with calling on Prime Minister Modi and his cupboard to halt the usage of anti-terror legal guidelines to arbitrarily detain political critics. You’ll be able to publicly denounce the rising numbers of political prisoners and the weaponization of the rule of legislation in India to close down criticism. Even in case you are not prepared to personally criticize the Prime Minister, you’ve ample alternative to criticize the Indian authorities’s misuse of public belief and public establishments to consolidate energy and undermine the need of the Indian individuals.

As President of the USA of America, you maintain a novel place to steer the struggle towards authoritarianism. Prime Minister Modi will hearken to you while you communicate. However he and his allies will solely change in the event you take a stand publicly. We urge you to hearken to these of us who care about India and be certain that one man can not steal the futures and the rights of our family members in India.

— Signed by numerous organizations and people main the cost (linked here).

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