Sikh Organizations Gather At UN, Agree On Global Civil Rights Agenda

December 19, 2008

Author: Jaspreet Singh

Source: The Panthic Weekly

Sikhs from all over the world met last weekend at the First Global Sikh Civil Rights Conference in New York and adopted recommendations and declarations on crucial civil rights issues facing the Sikh community. Attendees included Avtar Singh, the president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Sikh parliament representing 16 million Sikhs. The president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Paramjit Singh, was represented by Daljeet Singh, chairman of its Dharam Parchar Committee.

Avtar Singh and Daljeet Singh launched United Sikhs' First Global Sikh Civil Rights Report and were presented the 65-page report. Avtar Singh commented that the SGPC will always stand in support of civil rights for the Sikh community, and praised United Sikhs for its advocacy efforts. Daljeet Singh also expressed his concerns regarding civil rights issues, highlighting that the turban is an inseparable part of the Sikh identity, and pledging assistance for the French turban cases. Excerpts of the report were read out by Sikh youths from New Jersey, and were elaborated on by country representatives.

The Conference participants, comprising youths and community elders from United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, USA, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Australia and Afghanistan were first treated to an inspirational film "Fighting for My Crown" which was followed by a video message especially made for the conference by singer-activist, Rabbi Shergill, whose sufi-rock song Pagri' was played afterwards.

The Conference deliberated on the following five issues: dastaar (Sikh turban) and kakaar (Sikh articles of faith); Sikh awareness within and outside the community; Sikh parchar (teaching) within and outside the community; Sikh identity; and civil rights awareness. Delegates submitted recommendations and declarations on these five issues which were compiled by the Rapporteurs.