Afghan Sikhs seek safer shores – United Sikhs provide relief

New York, April 2, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)
For over 4 decades, the Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan have suffered war-like conditions. They have endured barbaric attacks resulting in the loss of loved ones and having their religious freedom stifled by terrorism.

As per information received from our chapter on the ground, both the Pakistan and the Indian governments are considering providing a safe refuge to those impacted. The local community is still in the midst of decision-making in terms of seeking a country in which to seek immediate shelter.

United Sikhs Afghanistan Coordinator, Charan Singh said, “the Sikhs of Afghanistan love Afghanistan, but right now our situation is critical and tense with imminent danger. There is a great possibility of another attack.

We are receiving death threats and are being asked to leave the country within 7 to 10 days. We will be making a plea to the UNHRC and the governments of Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and any of the Scandinavian countries to consider our plea of getting asylum.”

“Our first priority is to get the Afghan Sikh families out of immediate and imminent danger. We thank the authorities for offering refuge to these troubled families,” said United Sikhs International Humanitarian Aid Director, Gurvinder Singh.

“At the same time, we are working with the governments of the United States, Canada, Australia, UK, New Zealand and other countries to help relocate them permanently from the temporary shelter country that they seek to be moved to in the coming days.

United Sikhs has already released emergency funds through its Pakistan chapter to the Afghan Sikh community to tend to their emergency humanitarian and immigration needs.

This will be continued as we move towards their advocacy and humanitarian needs during their arduous and long journey leading to their resettlement and the preservation of Sikh historical shrines that they leave behind in Afghanistan.

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We realize it’s not an easy task, but it is doable with help from our supporters. We have setup a GoFundMe page along with a Facebook campaign so we can continue to provide support to the Afghan Sikhs impacted by this horrific act of violence,” he added.

The situation on ground zero is changing rapidly. Imposed by the Islamic State, on March 29, 2020, Sikhs living in Afghanistan were given a 10-day ultimatum to leave the country. Sikhs living in Kabul and other cities in Afghanistan are in immediate and imminent danger.

Families have taken shelter in Gurdwara Karte Parwan, the local gurdwara (house of religious learning). Fearing for their safety, they left their homes and personal belongings behind to seek sanctuary at the gurdwara.

Gurdwara committee member, Chabol Singh stated, “We are thankful to United Sikhs for directly assisting our community in this time of tremendous grief. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the atmosphere of fear, families are having difficulty in locating food and medicine and this assistance will provide some semblance of relief.

We call on the international community to offer safe passage as no community should have to live in fear and constant trepidation anywhere in the world.”

We have also written to the Vatican, thanking them for their solidarity and have requested them to amplify our ask by calling upon the international governments to bring this persecuted group to safety.

As an urgent matter, United Sikhs also offered additional security guards through a privately contracted security firm.

However, after consulting local community members it was agreed upon that the Afghanistan government has been responsive and has increased the number of guards for their safety and security. Also logistics at ground zero reported that any additional security from a private firm may attract unwanted attention.

Afghanistan has historically been home to hundreds of thousands of Sikhs for centuries. Today, due to the grotesque violence and relentless attacks, the population has dwindled to less than three hundred families. Many Sikhs endure this life of terror for fear of leaving their motherland and historical institutions, knowing well that their lives are in peril.

In Canada, Ambassador Soroosh condemned the violence against Sikhs stating that the attack was, “A barbaric and cowardly attack against humanity.

Soroosh went on to state that, “the Sikh community is a patriotic and peaceful community, making a huge contribution to the Afghan society and the government is committed to protecting the lives of all citizens in the country.”

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