WASHINGTON D.C: Congressmen Hon. Miksulski and Hon Ben Blaz in separate statements in the House of Representatives called upon the Indian government to end Sikh persecution and restore their human and religious rights. Says Ms Mikulski “the campaign against the Sikhs continues According to an Amnesty International report of August 10, 1988, Sikhs have been killed after fake encounters with government troops, police torture continues and there are still approximately 200 Sikhs detained from 1984.

“India has long established Institutions to protect human rights and I encourage the government to invoke those safeguards on behalf ‘of the Sikhs, I also believe the government should redouble its efforts to return home rule, full religious freedom and human rights to the Punjab Sikh leaders also have a responsibility to restrain violent acts on their side.

“Government officials and Sikh leaders should work together to end the violence which has destroyed innocent Sikh families and threatened the lives of all Sikhs. As we have seen in the past, sectarian disputes can lead to a long and bloody struggle.”

On October 12.1988, Hon Ben Blaz said in the House, “it has come to my attention over the past several weeks that the human rights situation in the Punjab of India continues to deteriorate at an alarming pace. Most members of the House are already aware of the Indian repression of the Sikhs, which has been addressed in the record and by House Concurrent Resolution 343, as well as in numerous articles that have appeared in the news media.

However, I particularly want to emphasize my personal concern. India is the world’s most populous democracy and a friend of the United States. Its foreign policies have not always been as the United States might wish, but then again, they probably shouldn’t be. Nevertheless, India shares with us democratic ideals and we have more in common than not.

Therefore, I’m sadded by India’s escalation of suppression over the past 4 years inflicted upon the Sikhs. In particular, the dismissal of the elected state government in the Punjab and the increase of large numbers of police and paramilitary units which, according to reports, have caused more violence and deaths than they have prevented. It has recently been reported outside India that the bodies of 60 Sikh students at Guru Nanak Engineering College in the city of Bidar (Western India) have been uncovered. One hundred and twenty more are still missing in a continued spiral of genocide estimated in the high thousands of Sikhs killed since the attack on the Golden Temple in 1984.

Perhaps more important, these actions may constitute the gravest threat to India’s democratic institutions. Government condoned, if not government perpetrated violence and terrorism tactics upon one segment of the society risks the same solution on all segments. Democracies are best known for their internal differences that for their sameness. Already India’s longstanding freedom of the press has just barely escaped a defamation bill that would have effectively stopped all investigative reporting and media exposes of official wrongdoing. As a friend of India then, I add my voice for India to take new initiatives to solve democratically a decades old problem between the Sikhs and the Central Government and to preserve for all of India the fundamental rights guaranteed under its constitution.

Article extracted from this publication >> October 28, 1988