Sunday 8 June 2014
Sikhs call on you to:
- recognize the systematic killing of Sikhs 30 years ago as Genocide
- announce a full independent public inquiry into the UK Government’s complicity in the 1984 attack and what has followed as too many questions remain unanswered
- enter into a constructive dialogue with British Sikh representatives and meet victims of 1984 and their families
- avoid legal action on behalf of those who travelled to Punjab and risked their lives as the UK Government 30 years ago did not warn Sikhs on the dangers they faced – despite prior knowledge of Indian Government plans
- recognise the Sikhs right to self determination and the call for outright independence given the historical context, including the Anglo-Sikh treaties following the annexation of the Sikh Kingdom and the experience and betrayal of the Sikhs since 1947
Tens of thousands of Sikhs from across the UK have today gathered in central London to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the June 1984 attack on the Sri Harmander Sahib Complex.
The deliberate killing and the physical destruction of Sikhs in June 1984, in the months that followed and in November 1984 individually and collectively meet the 1948 United Nations legal definition of Genocide.
The military operation on the Sikhs’ holiest shrine was pre-planned with initial military exercises on a model of the Complex in 1982. We learnt earlier this year the UK Government 30 years ago was also directly involved in planning and advising on the military assault.
The Cabinet Secretary’s report presented to Parliament on 4 February 2014 confirmed an SAS officer was sent and advised the Indian authorities in February 1984 on the attack. The report produced by the SAS officer needs to be made public as the UK Government should have nothing to hide. Until the report is made available questions will remain unanswered on the extent to which the advice provided by the UK was acted upon, how it influenced the final plan that resulted in thousands of innocent casualties. British-built tanks were used and helicopter gunships were used as advised by the SAS officer.
To crush the Sikh voice of protest Operation Woodrose resulted in over 100,000 young Sikh men (mainly aged between 15-35) in villages and towns across Punjab were taken into custody in four to six weeks of the attack and many of them were not heard of again. The events of June 1984 and what followed was a planned Genocide of the Sikhs behind closed doors.
However, in November 1984 following the killing of Indira Gandhi by two of her own Sikh bodyguards tens of thousands of innocent Sikhs were identified using voting lists and taken from their homes, businesses and places of worship beaten and many burnt alive. World leaders attending Indira Gandhi’s funeral in November 1984 watched, witnessed and smelt the burning bodies of the minority Sikh community, but remained silent. The November 1984 Genocide was not confined to Delhi, where the worst attacks took place, but occurred in over 130 towns and cities across India.
We were disappointed one of your first reactions in January was admitting the documents were released by mistake suggesting the information was never to be made public. We want the full truth to emerge and want an independent public inquiry into the UK Government’s complicity in the 1984 attack, why the UK Government stayed silent about Operation Woodrose that it would have known about and how the Indian government exerted pressure in November 1984 to interfere in our religious affairs in this country and prevent the British, Canadian and German governments sympathising with the Sikhs while thousands of Sikhs were being burnt alive across India.
The Cabinet Secretary’s report published on 4 February was hugely disappointing and has been viewed as a white-wash. The review was too narrow in scope, rushed and deliberately ignored crucial evidence in the run up to December 1983 and the latter half of 1984. It did not even criticise the Indian authorities for what the Cabinet Secretary in his own words described as a massacre exactly one week earlier on 29 January when he met Sikh representatives.
The Cabinet Secretary’s report took only three weeks to produce. The scope of the report was inadequate and had glaring mistakes. It was therefore a surprise it took a senior Foreign Office Minister almost 8 weeks to respond to concerns. The response itself was disappointing – it was dismissive of the serious issues raised and provided very little new information, assurances or explanations.
At the start of April a meeting was requested with the senior Foreign Office Minister and it was suggested she meet with victims and their relatives to appreciate the concerns being raised. A response was received the same day to suggest a meeting would take place, but more than two months later we are still waiting.
You personally promised a dialogue but victims and their families have today been forced to share their stories with the public through the mainstream media as the Foreign Office has not been prepared to listen and reflect on how decisions made 30 years ago by the UK Government impacted on Sikhs.
Over 150 UK politicians from across the political spectrum representing some 10 million voters have backed a judge-led inquiry. We urge you to now personally enter into a constructive dialogue with British Sikh representatives, urgently meet victims and their families and agree to an independent and full inquiry as Foreign Office Ministers have failed to appreciate the seriousness of our concerns.
In our view an independent and full inquiry in the UK into the events of 1984 is a vital step towards an international UN –led inquiry that will put the real culprits – the Indian authorities – in the dock for the Genocide of the Sikhs. The current UK Government has a huge opportunity to help try and get justice for the Sikhs via pressure from the international community.
The Sikh community may be forced into legal action on behalf of those who travelled to Punjab and risked their lives as the UK Government 30 years ago did not warn the half million Sikhs in Britain on the dangers they faced – despite prior knowledge of Indian Government plans. We have a growing number of Sikhs who are coming forward that were put at risk and we also have some who lost loved ones.
Sikhs have had no justice in the last 30 years and our experience to date suggests Sikhs will never get justice in India. The Genocide of the Sikhs that began 30 years ago in June 1984 laid the foundation stone for an independent Sikh State, Khalistan.
We urge you to recognize the Sikhs right to self determination and the call for outright independence for the Sikhs given the historical context, including the Anglo-Sikh treaties following the annexation of the Sikh Kingdom and the experience and betrayal of the Sikhs since 1947.
Signed on behalf of the Sikh community
The Federation of Sikh Organisations (FSO) co-ordinates the annual Remembrance March and Freedom Rally in June each year. It comprises around a dozen Sikh organisations that are committed to the establishment of an independent Sikh homeland. The FSO is supported by over 200 other Sikh organisations and Gurdwaras across the UK.
Ajmer Singh Randhawa.