Save Afghan Sikhs

Since 2016 WSO has been advocating for Afghan Sikhs and Hindus and asking the Government of Canada to create a special resettlement program. They have been long standing targets of extremist groups. Attacks on Gurdwaras and places of work have led to the killing of innocent and helpless children and adults. 

TIMELINE OF RECENT EVENTS  

  • February 22, 2010: 2 Sikhs are beheaded by Taliban near Afghanistan-Pakistan border 
  • August 17, 2014: 30 Afghan Sikhs fleeing in desperation, are discovered in the UK
  • December 31, 2016: Nirmohan Singh Bindra was murdered  while at his place of business in Kunduz
  • January 29, 2017: Moor Singh is shot and killed by unknown gunmen in Kandahar
  • July 1, 2018: 19 killed in suicide bomb attack claimed by ISIS in Jalalabad, including political candidate, Awtar Singh Khalsa 
  • March 15, 2019: Arjit Singh, a resident of Kabul, is brutally murdered 
  • March 25, 2020: 24 Afghan Sikhs are massacred by ISIS terrorists at Gurdwara Guru Har Rai Sahib, Kabul, including 4 year old Tania Kaur; over 150 injured 
  • March 26, 2020: Bombs are set off during the funeral process for the murdered Sikhs
  • March 28, 2020: ISIS issues threats against Sikh and Hindu communities, giving ultimatum to leave country within 10 days or face more terrorist appraisals 
  • In June 2020, Nidan Singh was abducted from a Gurdwara and held captive for over a month
  • February 2, 2021, a series of bomb attacks killed one Sikh and injured two others in Kabul an area with several Sikh shops.  The victim, Sunny Singh,  never got to see his newborn son in India and his wife watched his funeral on video call. 
  • July 17, 2020:  13 year old Salmeet Kaur is abducted from a Kabul Gurdwara.  Her father was killed in the March 2020 Kabul attack.  
  • June 30, 2021: A targeted bomb explosion in the Dharamsal (Sikh) district of Jalalabad, Afghanistan injuring 2 Sikhs
  • August 16, 2021: The capital city of Kabul has been taken over by the Taliban. President Ghani flees the country. 

Government Advocacy

  • August 13, 2021 - Government of Canada finally announces special program for Afghan refugees, including Sikh and Hindu minorities that are currently outside of Afghanistan
  • July 28, 2021 - WSO launches email campaign urging Canadians to write there MP to include Afghan Sikh and Hindus along with Afghan interpreters in there evacuation efforts
  • June 22, 2021 - WSO Legal Counsel, Balpreet Singh testified before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights regarding the continued persecution of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.
  • On July 29, 2020 - 26 Canadian MPs wrote a joint letter to Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino, calling for a special program to bring Afghan Sikh and Hindu refugees to Canada as soon as possible. You can read the letter here
  • In 2016 the WSO presented to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on the plight of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, you can read our brief submitted to parliamentarians here
  • A brief clip of WSO's legal counsel, Balpreet Singh, presenting can be watched here

 

Background

As you may know, Gurdwara Guru Har Rai in Shor Bazaar, Kabul, Afghanistan, was attacked on March 25, 2020. Several attackers raided the gurdwara premises, killing 25 and injuring 8, after holding a 150+ community hostage inside the complex which included men, women and children. Of the deceased, one is a 3 year old child. And later, the community was further traumatized as a bomb was detonated beside the cremation site of the deceased Sikhs. The Daesh (Islamic State) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Without internal flight options or prospects of meaningful integration in neighboring countries, international resettlement is the only viable solution for Afghan Sikh and Hindu asylum seekers. India is not a settlement option for these refugees as India is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention on Refugees and offers no supports or resources.  Afghan Sikh and Hindu refugees who have settled in India continue to lack access to basic services such as medical care, education, etc.  While India has passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, it does not apply to Sikhs currently residing in Afghanistan or refugees after December 31, 2014. Since 2016, the WSO has been requesting a direct sponsorship program from Afghanistan for members of these vulnerable communities who face constant threat and fear for their lives. The Government of Canada announced this program in July 2021.

Approximately 19 privately sponsored Afghan Sikh and Hindu families have arrived in Canada with approximately 40 families awaiting the processing of their files in India.  Another 250 people are currently still stuck in Afghanistan looking for a way out.

 

Donations

If you wish to support the WSO #SaveAfghanSikhs advocacy campaign, please donate here*

*Please note: It is not possible to send money directly to Afghanistan at this time due to the conditions on the ground. Any money donated will be used for advocacy efforts here in Canada. We are not officially affiliated with any GoFundMe pages or any other fundraising efforts. We ask that you please ask questions to any individuals or organizations fundraising claiming that the money will go directly to the Sikhs in Afghanistan.  

 

Do You Want To Be A Sponsor?

Has Covid 19 restrictions start to lift, we will work with the Canadian Government and partner organizations like the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation to bring Afghan Sikh and Hindu refugees to Canada. 

Each family that comes to Canada must be sponsored through the Government of Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. Sponsors are required to pledge a minimum of $7,600 per person (subject to change based on Governments mandate) and deposit funds in trust. Sponsors are responsible for supporting and helping settle refugee families for at least one year after their arrival.

Due to the overwhelming response from the community, WSO is looking to create a list of individuals who would like to sponsor a family or support the cause. Please note that multiple people can sponsor one family together.

If you wish to be put on a list of potential sponsors, please click here to fill out a Google Form. 

Your information will be kept private and confidential. 

Individuals will only be contacted should we be required to go the private sponsorship route.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Why is it not possible to donate directly to Afghan families who have lost loved ones?

There is currently no channel or system to directly donate to families in Afghanistan.  Sending money to Afghanistan directly is risky and can raise concerns around terror financing, etc.  We understand Afghan Sikhs are working on a system to send funds to the affected families and we encourage the sangat to wait for more details on that.

2. Where do funds donated to WSO go to?

Funds donated to WSO go towards our advocacy work including things like our social media campaigns, creating media and promotional material to drive awareness, working with mainstream media, lobbying Government officials and many other related expenses.  Please donate http://www.worldsikh.org/donate

 3. What is the process of sponsoring a family?

Each family that has arrived in Canada was sponsored through the Government of Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. Sponsors are required to pledge approximately $7,600 per person and deposit funds in trust.  Sponsors are responsible for supporting and settling refugee families for at least one year after arrival.

4. Can I adopt an orphan? 

There is no mechanism or procedure to adopt Sikh orphans from Afghanistan.

5. How does direct sponsorship work? Why is it the best option at this time? 

A direct sponsorship program is similar to an evacuation -  displaced or vulnerable persons can be brought directly from their country of origin to Canada without having to first go to a third-country. Such programs have been instituted by Canada in special cases in the past, including in Syria.  Forcing Afghan Sikhs and Hindus to first go to a third country to be sponsored would be a major hardship and delay their resettlement by at least five years.

6. Why is emailing MPs so important? 

The most powerful method we have as citizens is writing, emailing, or calling our Member of Parliament. MPs need to know that this issue matters to Canadian Sikhs.  Most don’t even know that Sikhs in Afghanistan are facing such imminent danger. It’s up to us to let them know and to ask for a direct sponsorship program.

7. What is currently the situation of Afghan families who are being processed?

While about 60 individuals who were first contacted in 2014 had arrived in Canada, 150 more still await the processing of their files.  The process has taken much longer than anticipated.

8. How many Sikhs/Hindus are left in Afghanistan? 

Approximately 250 Sikhs remain in Afghanistan. We are working on compiling lists to get exact numbers

9. How many Afghan Sikhs are in India still waiting to come to Canada? 

There are approximately 150 people waiting. The numbers of Afghan Sikh refugees in India who lack status and need help is much larger- in the thousands. 

10. I don’t live in Canada and I want to help sponsor families to Canada. Can I help?

If you are not a citizen of Canada, you cannot sponsor a family. However, you can help financially. More details will be available should we have to go that route.





 

 

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