The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) supports the efforts of Human Rights Watch in asking United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) to impress upon India to improve its 'abysmal' human rights record. On Monday, April 7th, 2007, The New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the UNHRC to demand that India accept the recommendation of various government-appointed experts and repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, "which has allowed widespread human rights violations by security forces with impunity" as well as immunity clauses in Indian law.
India's human rights record comes under the first-ever Universal Periodic Review (UPR) when the HRC meets in Geneva on April 10. UPR is a new mechanism to scrutinize the human rights record of every UN member state. Over the next two weeks, the Human Rights record of sixteen countries' including India will be reviewed.
HRW wants the UN rights body to press the "Indian government to take strong steps to hold accountable members of its security forces responsible for torture, arbitrary detentions, killings, and disappearances". While welcoming the government's efforts to "properly train its security forces and other officials", HRW said: "Security forces in India continue to be responsible for grave human rights abuses during counter-insurgency operations, such as in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Manipur."
Gurpreet Singh Bal, President of WSO Canada pointed to the foreword written by Barbara Crossette, a world renowned author and reporter from New York Times for a report titled Twenty Years of Impunity: The November 1984 Pogroms of Sikhs in India. “Ms. Crossette, who witnessed the killings of Sikhs in India in November 1984, said "This is an age when countries as diverse as Mexico, Peru, Cambodia and Ethiopia, among others, are digging into violent eras of their histories to set records straight and name those in power who allowed human rights abuses to occur or, worse, ordered them. In two decades, there has been no similar movement for a day of reckoning in India…"”
Commenting on the upcoming review of India's human rights record, Gurpreet Singh Bal, President of WSO Canada stated "Canadian Sikhs are hoping that our parliamentarians in Ottawa will step up to the plate and take note of the human rights violation in India and exert their diplomatic pressure to end the state of tyranny in India. For too long, Canada has ignored India’s atrocious human rights record in the interests of strengthening further economic ties with India. However, Canadians do not want to sacrifice humanitarian principles for the sake of economic growth. It is time we use our economic influence to exert long-lasting change in India. ”
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Gian Singh Sandhu, Tel. 250-305-2440, Email: Gian@JackpineGroup.com