India’s Repression Deserves Action — Hon. Wally Herger Of California In The House Of Representatives (Friday, June 3, 1988)

  1. HERGER. Mr. Speaker, this Nation has long had a commitment to ensuring freedom and democracy for individuals] around the world. Indeed, an inscription here in the Capitol State that “Wherever liberty is in chains, and people are fighting for it, they are fighting for America”.

It is for this reason that I have been concerned with the well documented instances of human rights violations that have been taking place against innocent Sikh men, women, and children in the Punjab state in India.

The Sikh minority in India While representing only 2 percent of the total population of India, the Sikh agricultural community produces 73 percent of India’s wheat reserves, and 48 percent of her rice reserves. Unfortunately, the Indian government denies the Sikh people even the most basic freedoms. Innocent Sikhs continue to be arrested and held without charge for up to 3 years by the Indian secret police, often undergoing torture and even death at the hands of their interrogators. Elections are not allowed, entire rivers have been diverted out of the Punjab, and a strict state of emergency was imposed, one which resulted in the arrest of more than 23,000 citizens who participated in the peaceful general strike.

Additionally, India’s growing alignment with the Soviet bloc has been well documented. The Indian government has supported the Communist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, voted with Fidel Castro and Ethiopian President Mengistu at the United Nations — in fact, India votes against the United Nations more often than the Soviet Union, perhaps as much as 94 percent of the time — and recently purchased an attack submarine from the Soviets capable of carrying cruise missiles and torpedoes. There have also been charges that Indian advisers have actively participated in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Clearly, the current government of India is no ally of the United States.

The vast majority of Sikhs are hardworking and peaceful people who only seek the rights and privileges that are provided to other minority groups in India. It is time that our Nation speak out in support of this oppressed minority and send a strong signal to Prime Minister Gandhi that we cannot tolerate indiscriminate violations against human rights. The United States should not do business with those nations which ignore the issue.

We might make our stand on human rights clearer by suspending most favored nation status for the Indian Government. My colleague, Representative Bill McCollum, recently suggested that this would be an important first step forward pressuring the Indians to respect the basic rights and freedoms of the Sikh minority. Most favored nation status should be reserved for those countries which adhere to the same internationally recognized standards of human rights that we demand of our other allies, and those countries whose behavior and conduct toward the United States remains reasonable and supportive. India meets neither of these standards.

As I have emphasized in the past, India has it within their grasp to address the concerns expressed by a number of my colleagues. The Sikh people have repeatedly stressed that they are willing to negotiate with Mr. Gandhi for their God given rights and freedoms. I would hope that both sides would work toward this goal, peacefully, and quickly.

Situation In The Punjab Hon. Robert J. Lagomarsino Of California In The House Of Representatives (Thursday, June 2, 1988)

Mr. LAGOMARSINO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my continued concern about the tense situation in the Punjab and the human rights of India’s Sikh minority.

My colleagues may recall those 4 years ago, on June 4, 1984, we were alarmed by the increasing violence and the Indian Army’s _ seizure of the Sikh’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Many Sikhs were killed in the heated battle for the temple and this religious shrine was seriously damaged. The world was once again haunted by memories of this tragic event, which codenamed “Operation Bluestar” by the Indian Army, just recently when, once again, the Golden Temple was placed under siege and later seized by the Indian Army. Fortunately, casualties and damages were less this time, but the fact that a second “mini Bluestar” occurred is very disturbing and unwarranted.

I condemn violence and terror by both sides in the Punjab. Radical elements damage the Sikh cause by helping to spread violence and tension. I believe that the vast majority of Sikhs, though, are peaceful and are making great efforts to resolve the difficulties with the Delhi government through nonviolence, cooperative means. I cannot condone the Indian Government’s use of overwhelming military force in the Punjab. It has only added “fuel to the fire” and promoted greater animosity and misunderstandings. A mature, responsible nation uses force reluctantly, and only as a last resort. It seems as if military muscle and brute force have been the first and only measure India has used to try to resolve the situation in the Punjab. The recent heavy handed incidents at the Golden Temple and the removal of five Sikh High Priests seem to further validate this observation.

As I have stated before, I urge the Indian Government to show restraint and understanding in the Punjab. Peaceful negotiations, not violent confrontations — are the answer. The Indian government should fully respect the political; civil, and human rights of all its citizens, including the Sikhs. As a matter of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, my colleagues can be assured that I will continue to closely monitor this serious situation.

Marxist Gunmen Kill Two Policemen In South Sri Lanka

COLOMBO June 17, Reuter: Sinhalese Marxist gunmen ambushed a patrol in South Sri Lanka, killing two policemen and injuring two others, police said on Friday.

A spokesman said the government dam project at Lunugamvehera in Hambantota district when it was fired upon by members of the People’s Liberation Front (JVP).

The JVP, drawn mostly from the majority Sinhalese community, opposes an Indian Sri Lankan pact to end rebellion of minority Tamils in the north and east.

A powerful bomb exploded on Friday in a Colombo office where horse racing bets are made, slightly injuring one man and causing damage in the building, police said.

Police doubted the blast was linked with either Tamil rebels or the JVP but suspected it arose from business rivalry.

Human Rights In India Hon. Nicholas Mavroules Of Massachusetts In The House Of Representatives (Wednesday, May 25, 1988)

  1. MAVROULES, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to express my concern over the deteriorating situation in India.

As many of you know, at least 1,023 people have been killed in Punjab this year. These killings prompted the siege at the Golden Temple at Amritsar, which is Sikhdom’s holiest shrine.

There is good reason to believe that the human rights of the Sikhs in Punjab are being violated. It is my sincere hope that the Indian government will make every effort to formulate a peaceful, negotiated solution to the problems in Punjab.

Article extracted from this publication >> June 24, 1988