Surrey/Brampton : The British Columbia Gurdwaras Council (BCGC) and Ontario Gurdwaras Committee (OGC) are very concerned over the recent attack and mass incident of violence that occurred at Gurdwara Guru Har Rai Sahib in Kabul, Afghanistan. This attack has resulted in the murder of dozens of Sikhs from an already very vulnerable and marginalized minority community in Afghanistan and again shows the need for Canada and the world to step in and protect minority communities in Afghanistan that have been continuous targets of oppression, intimidation, and murder for almost 3 decades.
Reports have been coming in regarding a gunman firing on Sikh worshippers inside the Gurdwara. About 150-200 Sikhs were trapped inside the Gurdwara Sahib at the time of the attack which later the Islamic State claimed responsibility for. The Islamic State has targeted Sikhs and other religious minorities before in Afghanistan. In June of 2018 the Islamic State carried out a bombing targeting the Sikh community where 19 Sikhs were killed and dozens injured. After this recent attack and the ongoing persecution of Sikhs within India, the question of religious freedom and the safety/security of the Sikh community internationally is in the minds of Sikhs across the world.
“The threat Afghan Sikhs face is all too real and we need to work with the Government of Canada to have the marginalized minority community of Afghan Sikhs resettled in Canada before more are killed. The Canadian Sikh community is prepared to cover the costs related to resettlement and to ensure a successful integration into Canada through resources, education, and a sense of community” said Amarjit Singh Mann, Spokesperson of the OGC.
For many years now, Gurdwaras across Canada along with other organizations including the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation have been actively lobbying the Government of Canada to quickly process the refugee claims of Afghan Sikhs so that they may come to Canada and live their lives in peace. Although a dozen or so families have been resettled, more needs to be done as the Sikh community of Canada has repeatedly made this request but the process is proving to be slow and inefficient especially when the preservation of lives is concerned.
Moninder Singh, Spokesperson for the BCGC, stated “Sikhs have long been targeted with violence, oppression, and intimidation in India and we are seeing the plight of our community in countries like Afghanistan deteriorating steadily over several decades. The number of Sikhs in Afghanistan continues to dwindle due to these types of attacks and daily harassment and intimidation forcing Sikh families who have lived in Afghanistan for hundreds of years to rethink their future and flee as refugees. As a proclaimed leader in furthering the cause of human rights in the world, we again call upon the Government of Canada to expedite the refugee claims process of Afghan Sikhs so horrendous acts of violence like this can be avoided.”
The BCGC and OGC ask that the Government of Canada strongly condemn this attack on the Sikh community in Afghanistan and ask the same from their international partners as the ongoing murder, oppression, and forced migration of Afghan Sikhs over the last several decades is a crisis that must be dealt with urgently. We urge all federal political parties to see this as a joint humanitarian issue and all jointly move it to the immediate resettlement of Afghan Sikhs to Canada and the Sikh community is prepared to work with you every step of the way.