Ottawa (February 23, 2018): Following up to and during Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit to India, a number of media sources reported allegations of “rising Sikh radicalism in Canada”. In response to these allegations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he “will not crack down on those advocating peacefully for an independent Sikh state because that is a freedom of speech issue.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) strongly rejects allegations of rising Sikh radicalism in Canada. Speaking out against human rights abuses and peacefully advocating for political causes cannot be confused or mistaken as radicalism.
Allegations of "Sikh radicalism" are not supported by facts and are used as a euphemism for speech that India finds disagreeable. Since 2007, every bilateral meeting between Canada and India has seen the issue of “rising Sikh radicalism” raised by the Indian side. There is nothing new or substantiated in the allegations currently being made. In contrast, four Indian diplomats were expelled from Canada in 1986 for espionage and interference within the Canadian Sikh community. Last year, bureaucrats from the Consulate General of India in Canada attempted to cancel a Punjab pavilion at a city wide cultural festival in Brampton, Ontario.
Just earlier today, CTV news reported on intelligence agents in India intentionally working on undermining Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit to India in order to instigate tension within the Canadian Sikh community - quoting from the story, “the suggestion has been made that Jaspal Atwal's presence was arranged by factions within the Indian government … [t]he factions wanted to undermine the Canadian tour to India…”
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said, “What should have a been a week to celebrate the history and success of Sikhs in Canada with the visit of Prime Minster Justin Trudeau to Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) has become a barrage of groundless accusations of radicalism, violence and extremism. As a result, many Canadian Sikhs have found themselves answering questions posed by co-workers and friends about extremism and radicalism. To be clear, the WSO and Canadian Sikhs abhor violence. Furthermore, allegations of extremism amongst today’s Canadian Sikh community are disingenuous and not founded on actual evidence.”
WSO Senior Vice President Bhavjinder Kaur added, "While many in the Canadian Sikh community are concerned about issues such as human rights in India and lack of justice for the victims of the 1984 Sikh Genocide, this cannot be confused with radicalism. Even the Sikhs who believe in and advocate for a separate Sikhs state do so in a peaceful manner. Unfounded allegations made against Canadian Sikhs are incredibly damaging and result in actual harm against the community. The Sikh community is thriving and proud of its accomplishments and contributions to every facet of Canadian life."
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, 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.