"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

BC government’s reluctance to recognize Sikh Genocide has not gone unnoticed Featured


Gurpreet Singh

The recent statement by BC’s Health Minister Adrian Dix commending the members of a group of Sikhs who have been donating blood for years in memory of those who were murdered at the behest of Indian state has missed a point.

While it has been widely welcomed by the Sikh community and rightfully so, the provincial government will be at pains to explain what prevented them from recognizing the cause that prompted the annual drive that began its journey in 1999.

Sikh Nation has heeded the call for more blood donations by Canadian Blood Services, which is grappling with a shortage of blood at the time of COVID-19. 

On Monday April 6, Dix said that he and many others across the country are “honoured and excited” by a new blood drive launched by the group.

Dix was speaking to the media during his daily press briefing in the presence of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. He welcomed the example set by these members of the Sikh community at a critical time. Although he acknowledged that the group launches one of the biggest blood drives in Canada every year, he neither identified Sikh Nation, nor mentioned the history of  the 1984 Sikh Genocide which is the motivating force behind the campaign.

Thousands of Sikhs were murdered all across India in the first week of November, 1984 by the state sponsored mobs.

The massacre was engineered by leaders of the ruling Congress party following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Years have passed, but Sikhs continue to wait for justice and closure. Barring one senior Congress leader, Sajjan Kumar, who was convicted and given a life sentence 34 years later, senior politicians and officials who were complicit in the crime remain unpunished.

Sikh Nation started its annual blood drive to raise awareness about the carnage in 1999. Since then, Sikhs come out in large numbers to donate blood in the month of November both in BC and other parts of North America.

Notably, their efforts have been slammed by the Indian officials several times. It is pertinent to mention that any reference to the 1984 Sikh massacre as Genocide has irked the Indian state, and pro India lobby groups continue to oppose Sikh Genocide motions being brought in Canadian parliament and legislative assemblies.

So much so, the New Democratic leader Jagmeet Singh was denied visa by the Indian government for supporting a similar motion in the Ontario legislature.   

While Dix’s statement takes into account the importance of such a blood drive at this time of health emergency, it glosses over these harsh realities. His silence over this inconvenient truth is not helpful. It raises too many questions, and the only possible explanation is that the BC government does not want to make powerful people in New Delhi and their agents in Canada unhappy. If the BC NDP government really cares for human rights and social justice, it should stand up against repression anywhere in the world; and if it truly believes that the Sikh community is an important part of our social fabric it must call spade a spade and send a strong message to the Indian establishment rather than getting into such meek balancing acts. 

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