World Sikh Parliament Statement on World Human Rights Day 2023



When the US Department of Justice divulged the contents of a criminal indictment this past week, relating to Indian intelligence agency RAW’s plot to assassinate, in New York, a leading advocate of Sikh self-determination, India’s relentless global efforts to frame a false narrative against the Sikhs on terrorism were fatally undermined. The indictment has launched India’s ruling BJP extremist Hindutva regime into a foreign policy tailspin. On this occasion, it has literally been caught red handed – the FBI even included within its detailed indictment a photograph the actual handover of a 15,000 USD ‘advance payment’ to the intended shooter.

”This devastatingly telling photograph, released by the FBI, shows an Indian agent handing over cash for the killing of Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, lawyer and a prominent advocate for the Punjab independence referendum. The non-binding poll has demonstrated massive support for Khalistan and infuriated New Delhi. Hundreds of thousands of Sikhs across the diaspora have taken part in that entirely democratic ongoing process, yet it is criminalised by the Indian state in the Sikh homeland, with those that promote it being officially designated ‘terrorists’. This photograph however identifies the real terrorists; India’s propaganda machine has been spectacularly discredited”.

The ‘shooter’ was, in fact, an undercover US security officer who also meticulously recorded weeks of other incriminating interactions with Indian agents, operating both within the USA and in India – one of whom is now being held in the Czech Republic, awaiting extradition to the US. Top officials from the FBI and CIA have warned the Modi regime that such criminal behaviour will not be tolerated; several RAW operatives have been ordered out of a number of Western states in a blunt message to India that the rule of law, human rights and the basic rules of state sovereignty cannot be transgressed in this way. Another red line has been crossed. Just weeks ago, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, based on intelligence shared by the Five Eyes Alliance, publicly accused India of a separate recent killing of another leading Sikh freedom campaigner on Canadian soil, leading to the expulsion of an Indian diplomat in a massive diplomatic setback for the Modi government.

These dramatic security, legal and political moves have left the Modi regime humiliated and will surely destroy any chance that it can persuade the civilised world that it is a trustworthy, responsible partner. Sikhs across the world have applauded those moves. Mainstream media coverage in the West, by respected senior journalists, of these events have left Indian spokespersons running for cover; initial denials of “absurd” allegations have now been replaced with vague promises that India will somehow investigate itself to discover the truth!

The truth is of course already well known to observers of India’s appalling human rights record. For decades, the Sikhs have been falsely accused of being the aggressors in India’s undeclared war on their lawful and legitimate struggle to assert their rights under international law. The reality of Indian state terrorism – which reputable human rights bodies have incontrovertibly documented for decades – has involved the genocidal mass killings of Sikhs across India and the elimination or incarceration of the Sikh nation’s leadership in its Punjab homeland, driven by a ruthless military machine that has discarded even the most basic of human rights. Torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, mass killings by state and non-state actors have resulted in hundreds of thousands of Sikhs being killed, impoverished or forced to flee abroad. The political space has been completely overtaken by state terrorism on an industrial scale. Even now Sikh political prisoners are being held indefinitely, some incarcerated for more than 30 years despite having served double time above their original sentences. 

The ruthless suppression has now been extra-territorialised by Modi’s government to include transnational repression – brazenly flouting the sovereignty of other (even friendly) states in the process – in order to silence a vibrant Sikh diaspora. Sikhs across the globe have remained steadfast in asserting their national right of self-determination, in the form of a sovereign state of Khalistan in Indian-occupied Punjab, pursuant to the historic resolutions passed by the Sarbat Khalsa gatherings of the Sikh nation in 1986 and again in 2015. The Indian establishment has long interfered in Sikh affairs abroad to undermine legitimate, peaceful political activity, but now has resorted to simply killing off its political opponents. The Sikh nation’s commitment to its freedom cannot be ended by force – India must understand that an ‘idea’ cannot be killed. In the face of such aggression, we will only redouble our resolve to secure the freedom that the people of Punjab yearn for.  

Self-determination is not only a fundamental right enshrined in international humanitarian law, but the concept lies at the heart of Sikh theo-political ideology. We have fought off imperialist domination in the past and will do so again. Indian colonial rule through the barrel of a gun cannot be maintained in the land of our Gurus; they taught us to resist oppression and to struggle for a just, egalitarian order within which all people will live in dignity. Those who know their history will know that is the Sikh tradition and no amount of desperate criminality by the Indian state will ever change that. Hindutva’s fascist, caste-ridden ideology, is being aggressively asserted by the ruling BJP and its extremist right-wing affiliates; it is diametrically at odds with the Sikh worldview, which explains the lengths to which India has gone – and is going – to try and silence the Sikhs. In essence, it is a clash of civilisations which we assert Hindutva-inspired killers can never win, despite their dishonourable, illegal and cowardly tactics.

With World Human Rights Day fast approaching, the international community should pay particular attention to the rogue state that India has become; it has already been identified as a major threat to religious and national minorities by a raft of international bodies which monitor mass abuses. It is also now known to be an autocratic state where the ‘mainstream’ media has been co-opted as an organ of the state, with real journalists being sidelined and routinely intimidated. It is increasingly aligned with like-minded regimes and increasingly dismissive of international norms. Sikhs, and other freedom-loving nations held captive by Indian military force, have experienced mass atrocities for decades, but now the world powers must call out the outlaw Indian state for what it is, if only to protect their own citizens and sovereignty.

Modi was sanctioned previously – not being allowed to enter the US or the UK for some ten years due to his role during the massacres in Gujarat in 2002. It is time to sanction this villainous lawbreaker again, along with his apologists and henchmen, in the likes of Ajit Doval, Amit Shah, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and others. Those identified by the FBI in the New York plot should be named, shamed and brought to the US to face justice. 

Ultimately the international community would do well to ensure that concepts such as freedom of speech and democratic political activism are universally respected values. They must be upheld across the world and violators, especially those in power, must be held accountable if the rule of law is to stand for anything. Equally, the right of self-determination, enshrined in international law as Article 1 of the 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, must be respected if we are to avoid humanitarian catastrophes, such as those experienced by the Sikhs since the 1980s in India. India’s colonialist posture has led it to officially inform the UN that it does not accept Article 1 applies to the nations held captive by its military forces. That tells you all you need to know about this outlaw state. Our collective response to it must be defined by international law – we simply cannot afford another lawless actor on the world stage when global order is already so precariously teetering on the edge.  

Statement of the Self-Determination Council of the World Sikh Parliament

issued by the Parliament’s General Secretary Manpreet Singh 

on 8th December 2023

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