On this the 40th anniversary of the holocaust it is not only important to remember those tragic events it is also important to ensure that they will never be repeated. We can achieve that in two ways: we must first attempt to recognize events that bear any resemblance to those that led up to the holocaust and then we must speak out against them and their perpetrators.

In this context it is disappointing to observe the general lack of outrage and condemnation, especially amongst the western democracies, at the carnage that took place in India following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. It is not that violence is unheard of in the Indian subcontinent, but what is unusual is that it was directed specifically at the minority Sikhs, much as the Jews were singled out in Nazi Germany. Like the Jews in Nazi Germany the Sikhs in India are a tiny but visible and prosperous minority. Just as in Germany, the masses in the country were aroused by an anti-Sikh hate campaign and the violence often had the sanction of the government. The riots that killed several thousand innocent Sikh men, women and children were master-minded and organized by right wing elements of the major political party. Police and paramilitary forces looked on and in some cases joined in the looting, burning, raping and killing. Fortunately, there were a few

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Non-Sikhs who saw the injustice and had the courage to shelter some of the potential victims at great risk to their own lives. The media and press were used by the government to either misrepresent or suppress the extent of the violence towards the Sikhs. The killings were trivialized to the point that the government saw no need to hold an inquiry. And just as during the suppression of the Jews, the rest of the world stood by silently. Let us, in remembering the anniversary of the holocaust, resolve that we will never hesitate to speak out when we see something like this happening. That is the surest way to not let history repeat itself.

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Article extracted from this publication >>  June 14, 1985