The Sikh Genocide of November 1984 - these are words that some shy away from, that many others remember in grief and that many more would like us to forget. It was a dark period for Sikhs across India, but those days in November were particularly horrifying. Today, we remember the lives lost and the survivors that have been forever changed due to the state-sponsored violence in Delhi and across India.
Known as a community of defenders with a duty to stand for those oppressed, we now have a Widow Colony in India’s state capital that serves as a reminder of the violence our community endured. We see the effects of the genocide in the form of intergenerational trauma, the rising addiction issues in Punjab and censorship of free speech and thought; along with the drastic changes in the socio-economic make up of the Sikh diaspora.
As young Sikhs in Canada, we see the world around us today and believe that Sikhs are more than resilient. We are flourishing across the globe and emerging as leaders of change everywhere. As we chart our path forward from the genocide, we must realize it is now time for us to own our history. We must reclaim the power the perpetrators of the genocide once had.
Thirty-six years ago, state officials directed mobs to locate Sikh homes and businesses using electoral voters’ lists and marked them to target us. Today, we ask you to mark your own homes with a symbol of hope and power because we are a community that fights the darkness of hate and fear. We ask the global community to join us and light a candle outside your home from November 1-3 in remembrance of the ones we lost and those affected by the Sikh Genocide.
Post a picture on your social media with the #TheyLiveHere to start a collective conversation on how we as Sikhs remember the Sikh Genocide.
The memories of loved ones lost in 1984 live here. The survivors of violence and sexual assault live here. The ones that were unafraid to challenge the state narrative and brought the truth forward live here. The ones lost to false police encounters live here. The generation of Sikhs that sought refuge in far away land and restarted their lives, live here. The generation of Sikhs today unafraid to speak truth to power live here. #TheyLiveHere
We hope that over the next few days you take some time to reflect on the Sikh Genocide and participate in our campaign. May our community continue to flourish.
“There is a fable that when the Sun was setting for the first time, … light was decreasing … and the signs of Darkness were appearing … Darkness set its foot on the Earth, but it is said — far away, in some hut, one little Lamp lifted his head. It proclaimed, ‘I challenge the Darkness. If nothing else, then at least around myself, I will not let it settle. Around myself I will establish Light.’”
— Jaswant Singh Khalra