Ottawa - As an intervener in the Air India Inquiry, the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) made an opening statement outlining today presented information regarding the Sikh community to the Air India Inquiry, and requested vigilance in the terminology employed to discuss the events surrounding Air India, flight 182. Stating that the tendency to use phrases such as 'Sikh terrorism' and 'Sikh extremists' is inaccurate - as the vast majority of the Sikh community is made up of peaceful, law abiding members of society who ought not to be branded as terrorists or as extremists." Said WSO legal counsel Alex Sabharwal. The WSO recommended that such language be avoided, not only because such notions are factually incorrect, but also because the use of these terms is offensive to the values of equality and multiculturalism on which Canadian society is built.
The WSO also submitted that it was crucially important to prevent such tragic events ever being repeated, by bringing closure to the surviving families and friends of all faiths, who still grieve the victims of June 15, 1985. To that end, the organization continued to press for a full examination of all the information in possession of the government, in order to accurately determine the full extent of the nation's successes and failures in terms of intelligence and evidence gathering.
According to the WSO, investigations by Canadian officials have often been based largely on fundamental assumptions about the habits, beliefs, occupations, or affiliations of fellow Canadians, instead of the evidence and facts interpreted in context.
"We simply cannot afford to excuse evidence tampering, paid testimony, the disappearance of witnesses, suspects, and evidence, the behind the scenes machinations of diplomats and politicians - if we hope to learn from our mistakes and preserve the peace and security of future generations of Canadians" said Director of Administration, Ajit Singh Sahota, who also attended the Inquiry today.
Shocked that the Canadian government seemed unwilling to trust the learned justices of its own court to consider, even discreetly, every shred of evidence relating to the Air India tragedy that killed 329 Canadians over two decades ago, Sahota insisted that such a thorough examination, even if it occurred 'in camera', was 'absolutely essential' to the goals and objectives of the Air India Inquiry.
"Preventing such tragedies from happening in the future depends largely on what we do today, and what value we place on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth," commented Executive Director, Anne Lowthian. "There is too little evidence that Canada's intelligence gathering methods are sensitive to racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, or religious differences that would normally be inherent to the contextual understanding of any crime and its perpetrator."
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