Ottawa (July 23, 2021): The resettlement program announced today by the Government of Canada for Afghan interpreters and staff who assisted Canadian Armed Forces is a critical opportunity to assist the less than 200 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus who remain in the country and face a growing risk to their lives with the advance of the Taliban.
The World Sikh Organization of Canada welcomes today’s announcement by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino regarding the resettlement of thousands of Afghan interpreters and other workers who assisted the Canadian Armed Forces.
The WSO and other Canadian Sikh organizations have called for a special program to evacuate Afghan Sikhs and Hindus who have been increasingly targeted by extremist groups. The resettlement plan announced today would provide the logistical ability to make this special program a reality.
In July 2020, 25 Canadian MPs from the Conservative Party of Canada, NDP and Green Party wrote to the Minister of Immigration also calling for a special program to assist Afghan Sikh and Hindu refugees.
The situation for Afghan Sikhs and Hindus has deteriorated significantly over the past several years.
On July 1, 2018, the entire leadership of the Sikh and Hindu communities was killed in a suicide bombing. 15 Sikhs and 4 Hindus who were on way to a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani- lost their lives. Daesh took responsibility for the attack.
On March 25, 2020, in another Daesh suicide attack on Guru Har Sahib Gurdwara in Kabul, 25 Sikhs were killed, including 4-year-old Tania Kaur.
Since then, the Sikh and Hindu communities have been targeted with several abductions and bomb attacks. The most recent attack took place on June 30, 2021 in a Sikh area of Jalalabad in which two Sikh shopkeepers were injured.
WSO President Tejinder Singh Sidhu said today,
“It is crucial that the Government of Canada include the remaining 200 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in the evacuation and resettlement plan announced today. Without immediate assistance, Afghan Sikhs and Hindus will continue to be attacked and killed.
In previous discussions, the logistical challenge of directly evacuating individuals from Afghanistan was cited as the main obstacle in creating a special program for Sikhs and Hindus but that appears to be resolved with today’s announcement. Canadian Sikhs are willing to bear the costs of the evacuation and resettlement, but the time to act is now.
Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are desperately looking to Canada for assistance and we cannot let them down.”
The 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.