Says Congressman Dwyer
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Speaking in the House of Representatives on February 17, 1988, the Congressman from New Jersey, Hon. Bernard J. Dwyer stated that when the “perpetrators” of violence have the sympathies of the people, repression simply cannot normalize the situation. Suggesting referendum to settle the issue whether those fighting in Punjab were “separatists” or “extremists”, he said that “perhaps it is time to test that theory with a test of the popular will”. The full text of his speech is reproduced below:
DWYER of New Jersey: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity and a few moments of my colleague’s time to discuss an issue which has been raised frequently before on the floor of the House. That issue is the sad state of affairs in the Punjab region of India.
For the last four years, we have been hearing a constant stream of stories of violence against the Sikhs and by the Sikhs. History teaches us that when the perpetrators of violence have the sympathies of the people, repression simply cannot normalize the situation.
The tragic results of Operation Blue Star suggest that the Sikhs may not be able to live peaceably under a regime which tramples upon the sanctity of its holiest temple. Clearly, the state of events in Punjab is no “internal affair”.
The turmoil in the Punjab is increasingly causing tensions between India and its neighbors. American interests for peace in south Asia are vital. We cannot allow for clashes there to become an excuse for further Soviet intervention in the region.
For these reasons, beyond the very basic human ones, I would urge the administration to convey to the Indian government the need to renounce violence and find an early, democratic solution. We have heard for a long time that the separatists are extremists. Perhaps it is time to test that theory with a test of the popular will.
As an alternative, serious consideration could be given to permitting the Amritsar area to become a “state within a state”, along the lines of the relationship between our ally, Italy, and the Vatican.
The present situation in this distant part of the world remains extremely volatile, possessing the potential to explode at any time, with almost any spark. Yet, as active participants in the » greatest democracy the world has ever known, we must remain optimistic that reasonable men and women can reach a solution which ends the bloodshed, respects human dignity and religious freedom and allows the people of the region to resume a normal and prosperous existence.
Article extracted from this publication >> February 26, 1988