To show solidarity with Sikh activists Daljit Singh Bittu and Kulbir Singh Barapind after their arrest and their alleged torture, Canadian Sikhs have started a signature campaign led by Canadian Sikh Coalition.
Thousands of Sikhs across Canada stood in solidarity with Bittu and Barapind in Punjab. A petition writing campaign to “Free the Singh” was launched across the country in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal, and will continue on till next week.
Canadian politicians will be receiving petitions from their constituents who are concerned of the well-being of these political prisoners in Punjab.
Canadian Sikh Coalition spokesperson Moninder Singh stated, “It was amazing to see our community come together and advocate for the protection of these men who are being subjected to cruel torture by the Indian police. Today was just the beginning and we as a community know that in dealing with such an oppressive regime, it can be a long drawn out struggle. As we voice our discontent against systematic oppression within Punjab we will encounter many challenges, but these challenges are nothing we have not faced before and will not hold us back from campaigning for a free Punjab where the freedoms of all communities is guaranteed and not just scribbled on a piece of paper with no accountability. We have initiated dialogue with organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and we will continue to contact human rights organizations, and other international bodies that are related to this case. The Sikh Diaspora will use all legal means to place pressure on the Indian government to ensure those who have committed these human rights violations are held to account.”
Many citizens signed petitions hoping their governments would intervene on the human rights violations taking place in Punjab, India.
The online petition has already surpassed 1000 signatures and the numbers continue to escalate as the campaign grows.
The Sikh community activists in Canada are finding it hard to swallow the case against Bittu and Barapind under explosives act , though no explosives were found from them. In case of Daljit Singh Bittu, not even an arm was recovered but he was booked under Arms Act as well.
The Sikh activists also said that legally published and openly available books and magazines are being termed as “anti-national literature” and for constructive possession of these books etc. both the leaders are booked for “waging war against the State” besides various sections of “UAPA”, at behest of ruling party leaders.
Bual stated, “It is important to educate the world on the injustices taking place in the Indian state. The United States government signed an extradition treaty with India on the condition that Kulbir Singh would not be subjected to torture however, this was never upheld. Despite being urged by many countries to pass an anti-torture bill at the last United Nations review, the Indian government has chosen not to do so and continues to fail in not only upholding its responsibilities to its citizens, but also to the world. The Free the Singh campaign is necessary to make the international community aware of what political activists like Kulbir Singh Barapind and Daljit Singh Bittu are subjected to in India. The Canadian Sikh Coalition and all of its allies will continue to monitor and advocate on behalf of these cases to ensure that justice is served.”
“There is a consistent pattern in the tactics used against Bittu and Barapind where the Badal regime is using its political arm of the police to arrest, detain and torture those individuals whose political ideologies contradict with the current government,” stated CSC press release.
The release also said that Bittu and Barapind are current examples of how the Badal regime is using violence as a means of suppressing any form of political dissent and forcefully silencing individuals by incarcerating them on baseless accusations that do not result in convictions.
Considering both men have already attested to being subjected to torture, the Canadian Sikh Coalition is requesting human rights organisations to monitor these cases as torture may be used as a method to extract false testimonies.
The organisation, plans to send a memorandum after the signature campaign to the President of India.
The Free the Singh campaign will continue for the weeks to come and the Canadian Sikh Coalition will persistently contact politicians, human rights organizations and all international bodies affiliated with this case.