OTTAWA, Ontario, can; External Affairs Minister Joe Clark is going to be asked to explain his requested boycott of three Canadian Sikh organizations before a House of Commons committee inquiry.

The standing committee on multiculturalism voted unanimously for a probe into a letter sent by Mr. Clark to seven provincial premiers last December, which urged the politicians to avoid appearances at any events held by the World Sikh Organization, the International Sikh Youth Federation or the Babar Khalsa.

According to the letter, first publicized in a Globe and Mail story more than a month ago, Mr. Clark was worried about the premiers giving legitimacy to the groups’ goal of establishing a separate Sikh state in India. Appearing at the groups’ functions, he told the premiers, could harm Canada’s relations with India.

Canadian Sikhs and representatives of other ethnic minority groups in Canada have expressed outrage over the letter, saying that Mr. Clark has portrayed all Sikhs as violent terrorists”.

Mr. Clark has refused to apologize for his letter, and has argued that the small group of Sikh freedom fighters represents “the greatest internal security threat” in Canada.

The multiculturalism committee will also be asking Mr. Clark and representatives of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to. Justify this assertion, Sergio Marchi, a Liberal member of the committee said in an interview after yesterday’s vote.

As well, representatives of the three Sikh organignizations will be asked to appear as witnesses “so that they are given the proper opportunity to defend themselves against this very hurtful slap,” Mr. Marchi said.

It was also decided that other ethnic groups should also have a chance to speak out on the matter, he added, because of the “rare Opportunity” to talk about issues of this sort before a Commons committee.

Article extracted from this publication >> April 1, 1988