The World Sikh Organization of Canada joins the Sikh community across the world in remembering the Indian army’s June 1984 assault on the Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, Punjab. The attack took place as Sikhs gathered to commemorate the martyrdom day of the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan. In addition to the Sri Darbar Sahib complex, 38 other gurdwaras across Punjab were also attacked and thousands of innocent Sikh men women and children lost their lives.
The tragic events of 1984 triggered a series of events which impacted Sikhs not just in India but across the world.
To this day there has been no accountability for the brutal killings of civilians and pilgrims by the Indian army or for the wanton looting and destruction of the Sikh Reference Library which contained many priceless documents and manuscripts. Furthermore, no explanation has been provided as to why a Sikh holiday was chosen to launch military operations, when Sikh gurdwaras including Darbar Sahib would have been thronged by Sikh worshippers.
The tragic events of 1984 galvanized the Canadian Sikh community to, in the spirit of the teachings of the Sikh faith, form the WSO to defend the human rights of all persons.
Twenty nine years later, as WSO remembers the innocent lives lost, we also reflect on the state of human rights in India and across the world today. India continues to by haunted by the legacy of 1984 and the cycle of impunity for its security forces has resulted in the violation of the rights of minorities across the country. Liberal democracies like Canada have a duty to encourage developing states to honour their human rights commitments.
It is through remembrance and constant vigilance that we ensure that tragedies like the events of 1984 are never allowed to happen again.
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (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.