WSO Supports Ontario 1984 Sikh Genocide Motion

The World Sikh Organization of Canada has written to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne in support of MPP Harinder Malhi's motion acknowledging the 1984 Sikh Genocide in India.  The text of WSO President Mukhbir Singh's letter is below:

 

April 6, 2017

Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Premier 
Legislative Building 
Queen's Park 
Toronto ON M7A 1A1

 

Via e-mail : premier@ontario.ca

Dear Premier Wynne,

We are writing with respect to the motion being brought forward by Liberal MPP Harinder Malhi (Brampton-Springdale), which reads,  “That, in the opinion of this House, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, should reaffirm our commitment to the values we cherish – justice, human rights and fairness – and condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world, including the 1984 Genocide perpetrated against the Sikhs throughout India, and call on all sides to embrace truth and reconciliation. ”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada supports this motion and requests that you and your party stand in its support as well.

The 1984 Sikh Genocide, in which thousands of innocent Sikh men, women and children were brutally attacked and murdered across India, was one of the darkest chapters in modern Indian history.  The attacks were not spontaneous but had in fact been systematically orchestrated and carried out under the guidance of members of the ruling Congress Party of India.  State actors like the police either turned a blind eye to the killings or actively assisted in their execution. 

Indian Express reporter Sanjay Suri who covered the 1984 Sikh Genocide notes that the killings were “controlled action rather than uncontrolled anger”. Suri writes that the killings “focused on identifiable targets, the killers relied on common or unusual weapons”.  He further concludes that the attacks were "not an instance of spontaneous public anger...In a city like Delhi, that kind of anger or grief could have brought hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. As it turned out, not a single crowd amounted even to [a] thousand.[1]” 

The Government of India's Nanavati Commission Report also acknowledges "but for the backing and help of influential and resourceful persons, killing of Sikhs so swiftly and in large numbers could not have happened.”

Although official reports record the killings of nearly 3,000 Sikhs, unofficial estimates are much higher.  Barbara Crossette, a former New York Times bureau chief in New Delhi noted that  “Almost as many Sikhs died in a few days in India in 1984 than all the deaths and disappearances in Chile during the 17-year military rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990,” 

The ongoing use of the term "1984 anti-Sikh riots" to describe the events of November 1984 is a distortion and remains a sore point for the Sikh community. The term "riot" implies unorganized violence between two communities.  It wrongly implies that the attacks were a result of communal tension between Sikhs and Hindus whereas many Hindus in fact helped save the lives of their Sikh neighbours. 

It is heartening however that current Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has recognized the 1984 attacks on Sikhs as a "genocide" and noted that several persons who had a role in the carnage are yet to be punished[2].

This issue is close to the hearts of the over 500,000 Sikhs that call Canada home and the Ontario Legislature has the opportunity to stand with victims of human rights abuses and genocide by supporting this motion. Once again, we would encourage you to support MPP Harinder Malhi’s Private Members Motion.  Recognition of the events of November 1984 as an orchestrated genocide would be deeply appreciated by the Sikh community and would be an important step towards reconciliation and achieving accountability and justice. 

With best wishes and regards,

 

Mukhbir Singh
President
World Sikh Organization of Canada



[1] http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/RnG7DbIjE5U23LPxsqdtYI/Book-Review--1984-The-AntiSikh-Violence-And-After.html

[2] http://www.firstpost.com/india/anti-sikh-riots-1984-genocide-several-persons-yet-punished-rajnath-2017149.html