OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- 06/23/09 -- The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) pays tribute to all victims of the Air India airplane tragedy that claimed 329 innocent lives and caused pain and hardship to many more. This year marks the 24th anniversary of the downing of Flight 182, off the coast of Ireland.
"The loss of 329 lives is a loss for all of society, and not just a loss for the victims' families," said Ram Raghbir Singh Chahal, President of the World Sikh Organization. "Amongst the victims were accomplished humanitarians, scientists, artists and community activists, from many different faiths: Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. The incomprehensible criminal act that resulted in the loss of their lives is an affront to all right thinking Canadians."
Speaking about the political aftermath of the Air India tragedy, Gian Singh Sandhu, Senior Policy Advisor for the World Sikh Organization, stated, "Tragically, the Sikh community has been doubly victimized from this tragedy. Not only were there significant numbers of Sikhs amongst the victims, but the Sikh community of Canada has lived under a cloud of suspicion ever since. Sikhs routinely faced interrogation, harassment and intimidation, by Canadian authorities in the first decade following the Air India tragedy. While the harassment has dissipated over time, the wounds left in its wake have not. Sikhs continue to face widespread public hostility, and are still largely misunderstood due to the very successful anti-Sikh media campaign launched against them throughout the 1980's and 1990's."
"For well over two decades, the WSO had been calling for an Inquiry into the botched RCMP and CSIS investigation, which left the victims, their families, and the Sikh community, with no closure or redress. Twenty-four years later, we continue to wait with the Air India Inquiry Report still pending; but with no real hope that the Inquiry will be able to ever redress the wrong that has been done to so many innocent victims, and the Canadian Sikh community," said Sandhu. "A tragedy like this cannot be easily forgotten, and nor should it be. We need to continue to be vigilant as a society in order to prevent such acts of violence, and the demonization of an entire community, from occurring again."
The World Sikh Organization (WSO) is a non-profit international organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status. WSO was granted intervenor status in the Air India Commission of Inquiry.
The World Sikh Organization of Canada
Maj (retd.) Jasbeer Singh