Ottawa (March 21, 2023): The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly in support of the NDP call to boycott G20 events in Chandigarh and Kashmir and ban BJP officials that have made threats against minorities and elected officials from Canada.
Earlier today, in light of ongoing reports of human rights abuses in India towards minorities and threats made against elected officials in Canada, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh posted a message to his Instagram profile calling for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government to boycott G20 events in Chandigarh and Kashmir, ban BJP officials that have made threats against minorities and elected officials from Canada and ensure the safety of Canadians abroad.
WSO President Tejinder Singh Sidhu’s letter in support of these measures is below:
March 21, 2023
Hon. Melanie Joly
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Dear Minister Joly,
RE: Boycott of G20 Events in India and Banning of BJP Officials
We are writing to express our support for the NDP’s call for Canada to boycott G20 events in Chandigarh and Kashmir, to ban BJP officials that have made threats against minorities and elected officials from Canada and ensure the safety of Canadians abroad.
As you may know, since 2014, under the BJP government, India has seen a shocking rise in the number of attacks on minority communities, including Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Dalits and others. Journalists in India have faced increasing pressure to self-censor due to threat of legal action, smear campaigns and threats on social media, and even threats of physical attacks. Human rights groups have repeatedly drawn attention to the continually deteriorating human rights situation in India including groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which has been forced to halt its operations in India.
With respect to the Sikh community, over the past several days, Punjab has been pushed into a human rights crisis. Internet services and SMS messaging have been shut down, civil liberties have been suspended and mass censorship has taken place of journalists, organizations and citizens. Indian security forces and the Punjab Government have enacted these measures to crack down on Sikh activists across the state, particularly those involved with the Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab) organization led by Bhai Amritpal Singh. Amritpal Singh, recently came to prominence in Punjab with his successful campaign to inspire Punjabi youth to reject drugs and embrace the Sikh faith. Amritpal Singh had also been open and unapologetic in his support for Khalistan, a sovereign Sikh state, as well as highlighting discrimination against the Sikh community in India.
While hundreds of Sikh activists have been taken into custody, authorities claim Amritpal Singh has still evaded arrest. Family and those close to him however, claim he has been in police custody since March 18 and fear he may be murdered in a false encounter.
It is clear to us that with the widespread human rights violations taking place in India, the Government of India lacks the credibility and moral authority to hold the presidency of the G20 and to host G20 countries. It would send the wrong message for Canada to attend G20 meetings in India.
We are also gravely concerned by threats made by BJP officials against Canadian MPs.
Over the past several days, Canadian MPs from all across the political spectrum have expressed concerns about the Indian government’s crackdown in Punjab and expressed concerns for Canadians visiting the region. These MPs have universally been flooded with abusive messages from Indian accounts, including from individuals affiliated with the ruling BJP party.
Raman Malik, a BJP spokesperson from the Indian state of Haryana wrote in reply to Deputy Conservative leader Tim Uppal’s message, “we will not spare you. We will hunt you and make you understand the true sikhi [sic.]”
In response to NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s tweet, Tajinder pal Singh Bagga, a BJP spokesperson from Delhi and a past candidate of the party, tweeted “You should come to Punjab now and become next head of Virus Punjab De.”
This is a thinly veiled threat inferring that Mr. Singh would suffer the same fate as Amritpal Singh and his associates.
Liberal MPs such as Randeep Sarai, Sonia Sidhu and Iqwinder Gaheer have also been repeatedly threatened by Indian accounts.
Based on the above, we would like to also echo the NDP’s calls to ensure that BJP officials who have threatened minority communities or Canadian elected officials be banned from entering Canada.
Canada has had a reputation as a leader in the international community with respect to advocacy for human rights. We call on you to hold India accountable for the abuses currently taking place and to call on the Government of India to respect basic democratic freedoms and the principles of fundamental justice.
We look forward to your timely reply to this matter.
Tejinder Singh Sidhu
World Sikh Organization of Canada
c.c. Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada