Ottawa (April 15, 2013): The World Sikh Organization of Canada welcomes the passing of a resolution recognizing Jaswant Singh Khalra as an “important defender of human rights” at the NDP National Convention in Montreal yesterday.
On September 6, 1995, Jaswant Singh Khalra was abducted from his home by the Punjab Police after his research uncovered the illegal murder and cremation of thousands of young men by Indian security forces. Khalra had visited Canada in the summer of 1995 at the invitation of the WSO to make his findings public, and returned to India, knowing the danger he faced. Witnesses have testified that Khalra was held in illegal custody for 48 days and faced abuse and torture before being extra-judicially murdered.
Ontario NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh received a standing ovation as he spoke in support of the resolution, which was passed with an overwhelming majority.
The resolution read as follows:
4-03-13 Resolution on Recognizing Jaswant Singh Khalra as a Human Rights Defender
WHEREAS Jaswant Singh Khalra’s investigation of thousands of cases of missing, murdered and disappeared Sikhs in the Punjab earned him recognition from Amnesty International as a defender of human rights;
WHEREAS Jaswant Singh Khalra visited Canada and presented his findings to Canadians and Members of Parliament immediately before his forced disappearance in 1995;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT New Democrats recognize Jaswant Singh Khalra as an important defender of human rights and in his memory, recommit to the pursuit of justice and transparency characterized by our shared values of truth, justice and respect of human rights
WSO Senior Policy Advisor Gian Singh Sandhu said, “Jaswant Singh Khalra sacrificed his life to uncover the truth behind the human rights abuses and disappearances that took place in Punjab. Because his story has such a strong Canadian connection, the NDP’s resolution recognizing Khalra’s is all the more fitting and certainly a very welcome step.”
WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said, “I am hopeful that the NDP’s resolution will draw renewed interest to the Khalra story. Jaswant Singh Khalra is an iconic figure and represents everything a human rights defender should be. Sadly the work he began remains unfinished as the extent of the violations that took place in the 80s and 90s is still not fully known and the majority of police officials who were responsible for the abuses have still not been brought to justice.”
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.