WORLDWIDE DAY OF PROTEST
17 JANUARY 2006
SIKHS TO CALL FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY AND THE RELEASE OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS IN INDIA
A Worldwide Day of Protest is being organised for 17 January 2006. Sikhs in cities around the world from London, to Paris, to Toronto and to New York are aiming on 17 January to show their opposition to the death penalty and call for the release of all Sikh political prisoners held in jails in India.
Candles will be lit in prominent places in cities throughout the world, including in India itself. Sikhs in more than 100 cities are expected to take part in the protest and will be joined by prominent non-Sikhs, such as politicians, human rights and trade union activists.
In the UK the candle light protests will be taking place simultaneously in around twenty towns and cities and are being organised by the Sikh Federation (UK), Khalsa Human Rights, Sikh Secretariat, Young Sikhs (UK), Sikh student groups, Gurdwaras and the Sadh Sangat. The protests are being supported by Amnesty International and other members of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.
The protest in London will be taking place outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster between 5-7pm. MPs, Lords and members of the public will join Sikhs to light candles celebrating life, freedom and opposition to the death penalty.
The worldwide protests are taking place on 17 January to coincide with the 11th anniversary of one of the most controversial and highest profile death penalty cases in recent Indian history. 11 years earlier on 17 January 1995 Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar, a Sikh political activist, was illegally deported from Germany. Davinderpal Singh was handed over to the Indian authorities on the basis that he had nothing to fear on his return to India.
For 11 years Davinderpal Singh has been forced to live with the mistake by the German authorities. He was arrested and put in prison as soon as he landed in Delhi, tortured to obtain a false confession, charged and sentenced to death by hanging for a crime he did not commit.
When Germany deported Davinderpal Singh to a death-penalty prone country it violated the European Convention on Human Rights. After his deportation, the court of appeal in Frankfurt allowed his appeal and said that he should not have been deported as he would face torture, harassment and death in India and were he to re-enter Germany he would be given asylum.
The verdict of the court of appeal in Germany came too late for Davinderpal Singh. However, it has left Germany and the EU with a moral obligation to ensure the threat of the death penalty by India is removed and Davinderpal Singh and other political prisoners that are unnecessarily being held, either without trial or under false charges and without evidence, are released immediately.
Protests in different towns and cities are in the process of being organised. Our aim is to organise candle light vigils in at least 20 towns/cities. We are already aware of vigils being organised in prominent locations in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Derby, Gravesend, Huddersfield, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham, Slough, Southampton, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
We are also hopeful that Sikhs in the UK will also organise candle light vigils in other locations such as Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Newcastle. There is no reason why the candle light vigils should not extend further to other towns and cities, especially where there are Gurdwaras or Sikh students at University.
National Press Secretary
SIKH FEDERATION (UK)
The first and only Sikh political party in the UK
Tanglewood House, Pine Walk, Chilworth, SO16 7HQ