VANCOUVER: The federal government should grant a general amnesty to all refugees from countries where human rights are violated, the International Sikh Youth Federation said March 26.

“There is a tremendous backlog ‘of refugee claims, and the only way to deal with the problem is a general amnesty,” spokesman Jagdeep Sanghera said at the close of the federation’s annual convention.

‘Sanghera said the request only covers legitimate refugees from countries with known human rights violations.

“Amnesty International would be able to help sort out those with a legitimate claim and those who don’t” he said. “And that includes Sikhs wanting to stay in Canada.”

Sangheta citizen External Affairs Minister Joe Clark for writing to several premiers last year urging them not to associate with the federation the World Sikh Organization and Babbar Khalas, a militant Sikh separatist group.

Clark said the three organizations support terrorism in their quest for an independent Sikh nation in the Punjab.

Sanghera told reporters: “We, as Canadians have as much a right as Joe Clark to raise our concems.

“Besides he doesn’t speak for all of the federal government. Joe Clark is not more Canadian that I am or any of the members.”

B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon WiIson who spoke to the convention also Citizen Clark for closing the door on legitimate concerns raised by the federation.

“I think it’s irresponsible for politicians to simply close the door on a large segment of our population rather than address what I believe are some legitimate concerns in terms of their need for refugee status, said Wilson.

He told the 200 convention delegates Canadians need to gain a better understanding of the problems facing Sikhs in their homeland and in Canada.

The three-day convention passed resolutions urging Canadians to condemn the killing of innocent Sikhs by the Indian government in the Punjab.

Using pictures of what he described as “slaughtered and tortured freedom fighters” Sanghera said it proved beyond a doubt India was guilty of human rights violations.

“Amnesty International has placed India in the top ten for violations which backs up our claims,” he said.

While delegates unanimously endorsed the continued struggle for an independent state called Khalistan, Sanghera reiterated the federation’s position that violence would hinder not help their fight.

“The Indian government wants to create violence so Canadians will turn against us,” he said. “It doesn’t serve any good for our cause and any individual who starts any sort of violence doesn’t serve the Sikhs cause but that of the Indian government.”

Sikhs fighting to establish their own country are no different than Palestinians, militant Sikh leader Satinderpal Singh Gill said earlier on March 24.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 31, 1989