European Sikhs Organize to Fight Racism

June 1, 2006

Source: Sikh Sangat/Sikh Federation

On June 1, 2006 a Sikh Federation Press Release reported, "In a follow-up to our report on Sikhs being denied entry to the European Parliament, the Sikh Federation (UK) have released a press statement. The Sikh Federation (UK) in collaboration with Sikh organisations throughout Europe yesterday organised the first ever European Sikh Lobby Day. With around 150-200 Sikh delegates from across Europe the Sikh Freedom Lobby was expected to be a major step in pushing for greater freedoms for Sikhs. The Federation had pre-arranged around forty separate meetings with UK MEPs with delegates from each region. They were hoping to cover the following four freedom issues: - the freedom of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and other Sikh political prisoners languishing in Indian jails - the freedom of Sikhs in Europe to practice their faith - the freedom to expose the genocide of Sikhs in 1984 and the widespread abuse of human rights in India - the freedom for Sikhs to exercise their right to self determination On the eve of the lobby the Federation became increasingly concerned that practising Sikhs, some 95% of those attending, may be denied access to the European Parliament because of one of their five essential articles of faith the 'Kirpan'. Neena Gill the only MEP with a Sikh background took up the issue with the Secretary General. Initially the organisers were told by those responsible for security that as Sikhs had pre-arranged meetings with individual MEPs they would have no difficulties entering the EU Parliament provided names of those attending were provided in advance. Around 125 names of Sikhs who were known to be attending were provided the day before the lobby."