Ottawa (July 1, 2018): The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply disturbed by the suicide bomb attack on a Sikh and Hindu delegation today in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, which killed at least 19. The delegation of Sikhs and Hindus was going to meet Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani. According to reports and sources reporting to the WSO on the ground, the delegation included many high-profile Sikh leaders and community elders from Jalalabad and Kabul.
Among the dead is Avtar Singh Khalsa who was to have represented the Sikh and Hindu minority in the next Afghan parliament.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the bombing, however Taliban insurgents and Islamic State militants are active in the region.
Sikh and Hindu Afghans currently face a difficult, if not unliveable, situation in many parts of Afghanistan. The Sikh and Hindu communities that have lived in Afghanistan for hundreds of years now number approximately 1,000-2,000. Prior to 1992, their population numbered over 200,000, however due to persecution and discrimination, most have been forced to flee to other countries. The Afghan Sikh and Hindus remaining in Afghanistan are the most vulnerable who do not have the resources or ability to relocate.
The WSO deputed before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in June, 2016, on the plight of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan in the Committees study on vulnerable groups in inaccessible regions. The WSO has called on Canada to help the Sikh and Hindu minority, as Afghan authorities have been unable to offer meaningful protection of their basic human rights. Without internal flight options, or prospects of meaningful integration in neighbouring countries, international resettlement has become the only viable solution for Afghan Sikh and Hindu asylum seekers.
The WSO continues to assist the efforts to resettle some of these Afghan Sikh and Hindu families to Canada, which were began by Alberta MLA Manmeet Singh Bhullar before his tragic death in 2015. Currently, many Afghan Hindu and Sikh families await the processing of their files to be resettled in Canada.
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said, “today’s suicide bomb attack against the Sikh and Hindu delegation in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, is an unspeakable act of terror that has resulted in the death of many senior Afghan Sikh leaders and elders. The community in Afghanistan is terrified and has been inflicted a major blow by this senseless act. Canada has the responsibility to help in the resettlement of Afghan Hindu and Sikh refugees. We hope that those vulnerable Sikh and Afghan families awaiting the processing of their refugee applications will have their applications expedited so that they can be quickly brought to safety.”
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.