- California Assembly Recognizes Indian Government Responsibility for 1984 Genocide
- Challenging Congressman Bera, Welcoming Governor Brown and the 2014 Election
- California Democratic Party Delegate Elections
California State Assembly Recognizes
Responsibility of the Government
of India in the 1984 Genocide of Sikhs
California State Capitol, Sacramento, CA (4/16/15) – In an historic and unprecedented move, the California State Assembly has recognized the responsibility of the Indian government in the rape, torture and murder of thousands of Sikhs across India in November 1984. Assembly Concurrent Resolution 34 (ACR 34), co-authored by Sacramento area assemblymembers Jim Cooper (pictured to the lef), Kevin McCarty, Jim Gallagher and Ken Cooley, states “government and law enforcement officials organized, participated in, and failed to intervene to prevent the killings.” Further, remarks on the floor of the assembly declared that the atrocities were a "genocide" since it "resulted in the intentional destruction of many Sikh families, communities, homes, and businesses." (video highlights)
American Sikh Political Action Committee (PAC) wrote and sponsored the resolution as a means to memorialize the atrocities committed by the Indian government and to honor the victims. The PAC has been increasingly active in California politics through fundraising, education and legislative campaigns. "This resolution is the first time that any nation or government has officially declared that the government of India was responsible for the slaughter of its own Sikh citizens across the country in November 1984," explained Amar Shergill, attorney and American Sikh PAC board member. "Indian officials and police officers led the way in the rape, torture and murder of thousands of Sikhs just a few miles from the prime minister’s residence. Even today, Christians, Muslims, Dalits and Sikhs are at risk. The time has come for the Indian government to admit its culpability and make a commitment to protect all of India’s minority communities.”
Representing the official position of the citizens of California, the resolution remembers the victims of the genocide and those that fought against it, “Many Sikh lives were saved from the massacre by compassionate Indians of all religious backgrounds who put their own lives at risk by providing shelter to their Sikh friends and neighbors.” The Assembly welcomed Sikhs from across Northern California, including representation from Sikh Temples in Stockton, Yuba City, Roseville, Sacramento, Tracy, Fremont and many others.
Assemblymember Jim Cooper spoke from the heart regarding his work on behalf of this issue, “Although we cannot change the horror of the events of 1984, as an assemblymember representing families of genocide victims, I felt it was important that we tell the truth about those events and honor the thousands of victims. Sikhs around the world should know that, here in California, we will always stand against intolerance and will not forget the tragedy of 1984.”
Dr. Gurpreet Singh Chahal, of Elk Grove, California, survived the genocide and was instrumental in lobbying local leaders, ""I was a young student living with family in New Delhi during the genocide. I was on my way home from my aunt's house when the mob saw me. They pursued me and shouted that they would kill me. God granted me an escape from that madness and protected my family in the days to come, but others were not so fortunate. The government, police and army did not protect us and were often leading the genocide. I am so thankful to God and this country for giving me safety, security and freedom of religion. Perhaps, one day, the government of India will admit that they are responsible for so much pain, torture and death." Also attending the assembly session and officially recognized in the transcript was 1984 Genocide survivor Saran Singh Chawla of Sacramento.
Assemblymember Kristin Olsen supported the resolution, stating "I decry the violence of 1984 that occurred against the Sikh community, remember those that lost their lives and honor the survivors." Assemblymember James Gallagher addressed the Assembly, "We remember and recognize the pogrom which claimed the lives of thousands of Sikhs in 1984. The best way to combat evil is to confront it and shine a light upon it. We do this by speaking truth; the light of truth extinguishes the darkness."
Assemblymember McCarty stated, "During my time as a city councilmember and assemblymember, it has been my honor to represent and work with many of the hardworking Sikhs of Northern California. We must remember the victims and their families of the anti-Sikh pogroms of 1984. This resolution sends a clear message that Californians appreciate the contributions of the Sikh community and understand its difficult history. I am proud to stand with my Sikh brothers and
sisters in support of this resolution."
Darshan Singh Mundy, American Sikh PAC board member and Sacramento Sikh Temple public relations officer, stated, “I am blessed to live in a country which honors freedom of religion and speaks out against human right violations around the world. Now that the California State Assembly has clearly described the role of the Indian government in leading the anti-Sikh pogroms, we hope that our nation’s congressional representatives will have the courage to do the same.”
California Republican Party Vice Chairman Harmeet Kaur Dhillon worked diligently with Republican legislators and built a consensus to support the resolution. She spoke about the resolution, “I feel proud as a Sikh American and a resident of California today that legislators from across the political spectrum marked the tragic days of horror for Sikhs worldwide in 1984 with this resolution; this remembrance will help ensure that such horrific crimes against the Sikhs are never repeated, anywhere.”
Mikey Singh Hothi, District Director for Assemblymember Cooper, was instrumental in ensuring that all legislative obstacles were quickly overcome and that ACR 34 received a full and open hearing in the assembly. The American Punjabi Chamber of Commerce, led by Bhajan Bhinder and Mike Boparai, assisted in lobbying assemblymembers, as did Ruby Singh Dhaliwal, Mayor of San Joaquin, and Aman Singh Gahoonia of Rocklin.
The video of the entire legislative session is available at this link: California Assembly website
The full text of the resolution, along with relevant links, is provided on the American Sikh PAC website
. For further information contact Amar Shergill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Sikh PAC is a state-registered political action committee. The organization encourages Sikhs to take an active role in the public and civic affairs of California. www.facebook.com/AmericanSikhPAC
Special thanks to Jagdev Singh Bhandal of Global Punjab TV
for broadcasting the event and providing pictures.
Challenging Congressman Bera,
Welcoming Governor Brown
and the 2014 Election
When American Sikh PAC was established in 2012, we committed ourselves to building a groundbreaking political organization that would increase civic activism in our community by building relationships with elected leaders and advocating for Sikh policy issues. Our success in this regard has exceeded our own expectations, however, such success is meaningless if we abandon the fundamental principles we hold dear.
In keeping with our moral values, we led a campaign against Congressman Bera that was a necessary step in the evolution of our community and the PAC. Never before had so many Sikhs been involved in grassroots election activities. The campaign included direct mail, newspaper advertisements, radio interviews, tv news stories and door-to-door polling. These efforts were recognized by news organizations across the country and around the world.
Although Bera obstinately refuses to acknowledge the truth regarding Indian government culpability in the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide, our campaign has made it clear that he stands alone. A long list of congressional representatives, state legislators and community leaders in our area are now on record supporting the PAC's position. Just as important, the local political community has come to recognize that Sikhs will not be ignored and we will campaign+vote for our issues. The most visible sign of this strong political profile was the visit of Governor Brown to the Sacramento Sikh Temple immediately after the election. His public support sent a clear message that our political positions and moral stands were bearing fruit and without any long-term negative fallout.
American Sikh PAC will remain committed to advocating for important local issues affecting the Sikh community while keeping our commitment to Sikh human rights abroad. We encourage you all to let Sikh leaders know that we must never compromise our values as a favor to our political friends or in the pursuit of community goals.
California Democratic Party
On January 10, the Democratic Party of California held elections to select delegates from each assembly district to participate in statewide conventions for the next two years. For the first time, California Assembly District 9 (South Sacramento - Elk Grove - Lodi) elected four Sikhs to represent the region. Re-elected was Mikey Singh Hothi, staff member for Assemblymember Jim Cooper, as the leading vote getter. Along with him, three new delegates were elected; Amar Singh Shergill, Bindy Kaur Grewal and Deepkamal Singh Bajwa. They will travel to Anaheim in May to participate in party decision making and will also vote to endorse a candidate to be the next United States Senator for California.
The voting turnout broke records for the district and left a powerful impression on party activists. Thank you to everyone that worked on the campaign and especially to those that ensured we had our voters at the polling station. Dr. Gurpreet Singh Chahal, Narinder Singh Aujla, Darshan Singh Mundy and Sam Singh Chahal were key organizers in the campaign.