THE World Sikh Organization of Canada on Tuesday said it is deeply disappointed by the lack of commemoration of the 1984 Sikh ‘Genocide’ by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
The WSO pointed out that in the ‘Genocide’, which is marked by Sikhs across the world during the first week of November, thousands of innocent Sikh men, women and children were brutally attacked and murdered across India. It was one of the darkest chapters in modern Indian history.
The attacks were not spontaneous but systematically orchestrated and carried out under the guidance of members of the ruling Congress Party of India. State actors like the police either turned a blind eye to the killings or actively assisted in their execution. The Government of India’s Nanavati Commission Report acknowledges “but for the backing and help of influential and resourceful persons, killing of Sikhs so swiftly and in large numbers could not have happened.”
Unofficial estimates of deaths during the Sikh Genocide range up to 30,000 over four days, across India.
As leader of the Liberal Party in 2014, Trudeau issued a statement in which he said: “As I said in Parliament this week, we must continue to call on the Indian government to pursue the truth, pursue justice for those who carry the scars of 1984, and pursue accountability for all people of India.
“It is imperative that the burning questions surrounding 1984 be answered. Truth and reconciliation have strengthened Canada; they can be of great benefit to India too.
“We must remain steadfast in our commitment to openness, justice, human rights, and fairness – both at home and abroad. We can and will walk forward, together.”
Since becoming Prime Minister in 2015, no subsequent statement has been issued, the WSO noted.
In Ontario, the 1984 Sikh Genocide was recognized by the passing of a motion in the Ontario Legislature in April 2017. Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party supported the motion at the time. This year, however, neither Ford nor any member of his caucus marked the anniversary of the genocide, the WSO pointed out.
While Indian diplomats in Canada have objected to the use of the term “Sikh Genocide”, the term has continued to gain popularity in India. Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has acknowledged that the November 1984 massacres of Sikhs across India were “not [a] riot, it was genocide instead.”
In November 2017, Indian Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, also referred to the events of November 1984 as a “genocide”.
Most recently, on July 20, 2018, Rajnath Singh again, in the Indian Parliament or Lok Sabha, referred to the massacre of Sikhs as a “genocide”.
On June 30, 2015, The Delhi Legislative Assembly unanimously passed the following motion:
“This House strongly condemns the Sikh genocide happened 30 years back in November 1984 and pays homage to the people killed.”
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said on Tuesday: “We are deeply disappointed that both Prime Minister Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s did not commemorate the 1984 Sikh Genocide. The 1984 Sikh Genocide is an issue that continues to matter to Sikh Canadians. Thousands of Sikhs were killed across India in politically orchestrated massacres. Those responsible for planning and organizing the killings have never been brought to justice.
“Canada can play an important role in achieving truth and reconciliation for the victims of the 1984 Sikh genocide by encouraging India to prosecute those responsible. We fail to understand why Prime Minister Trudeau was able to issue a statement in 2014 but has not done so since becoming Prime Minister. Similarly, the Ontario Legislature recognized the 1984 Sikh Genocide through a motion that was supported by the PC Party just last year. It is disappointing that neither Premier Ford nor any member of his caucus issued a statement to mark this tragic event. The silence from our leaders on the Sikh Genocide is deafening.”