World Sikh Organization supports compensation for families of Air India victims

Ottawa:  The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) supports the Major Commission’s recommendations that the government of Canada provide compensation for the families of the victims of the bombing of Air India Flight 182. It also applauds the measures for improved airport security and cooperation between CSIS and the RCMP.

“We believe the families should be compensated.  Ultimately, the best way to honour the victims is to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again,” said WSO President Prem Singh Vinning.

Despite serious concerns over the limited involvement of the Sikh community in the Inquiry, WSO welcomes many of the Major Commission’s key recommendations.

In light of the disturbing findings of the Commission that this tragedy could have been prevented, WSO believes it is incumbent upon the Canadian Government apologize to the families for its failure to prevent the tragedy due to a “turf war” between the RCMP and CSIS.

“An apology is needed and long overdue.  There were critical and unnecessary failures in the investigation of this tragedy which have resulted in delayed justice for much too long,” said Palbinder Kaur Shergill, WSO General Counsel.

The WSO also applauds the recommendation that a National Security Advisor be appointed to oversee both agencies and ensure that information crucial to public safety is not withheld. The report highlights RCMP failures particularly, noting that they lost and destroyed evidence, investigated a terrorist conspiracy as if it were a pretty crime ring, and failed to share the intelligence it did gather with CSIS.

“We have long said that, as a society, Canada needs to be more vigilant when it comes to preventing this kind of violence and we were particularly pleased to see the Report recommending better, more sophisticated policing,” said Gian Singh Sandhu, WSO Senior Policy Advisor. “Canadian Sikhs have lived under a cloud of suspicion ever since the bombing of Air India, and routinely faced harassment and intimidation by authorities. We believe a better trained federal police force and improved cooperation between intelligence agencies could prevent that from happening again.”

“Most Canadians associate this horrible tragedy with our community, and Sikhs will always bear the sorrow of that,” Sandhu said. “But at least this report helps us understand some of what went wrong, and what we can do to prevent it from happening again.”

As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Air India tragedy, WSO joins the Sikh community and all Canadians in remembering the innocent lives lost.  Such a tragedy must never be allowed to happen again.

The World Sikh Organization (WSO) is a non-profit international organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, 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.

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