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California Assembly Recognizes 1984 Sikh Massacre

April 24, 2015
Source: Khalsa Press

California Assembly Recognizes 1984 Sikh Massacre

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - 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.”

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.

Assembly member 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 assembly member 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.”

FULL TEXT OF RESOLUTION:

INTRODUCED BY Assembly Members Cooper and Cooley
FEBRUARY 25, 2015

Relative to the November 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

ACR 34, as introduced, Cooper. November 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms:remembrance. This measure would remember those who lost their lives during the November 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms and massacre.

WHEREAS, November 2014 marked the 30th anniversary of the horrific anti-Sikh pogroms, which claimed the lives of thousands of Sikhs throughout India in the first week of November 1984; and

WHEREAS, 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; and

WHEREAS, Sikhs were beaten with iron rods; forcibly shorn of their hair, which Sikhs are religiously required to maintain uncut; doused with kerosene; and set on fire; and

WHEREAS, Sikh women, many of whom lost their husbands, sons, and fathers during the pogroms, were gang raped and sexually assaulted by the attackers; and

WHEREAS, Sikh homes, businesses, and houses of worship (gurdwaras) were looted, damaged, and destroyed during the pogroms; and

WHEREAS, The pogroms resulted in the intentional destruction of many Sikh families, communities, homes, and businesses; and

WHEREAS, Eyewitnesses, journalists, and human rights activists have compiled evidence showing that government and law enforcement officials organized, participated in, and failed to intervene to prevent the killings through direct and indirect means; and

WHEREAS, Individuals and organizations throughout the world, recognizing the need for justice, continue to demand prosecution of those responsible for the November 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That the Legislature remember those who lost their lives during the November 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms and massacre; and be it further

Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.

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.”


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