The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is urging the Canadian authorities to provide immediate assistance to the troubled Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan.
WSO said it was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the suicide bomb attack on a Sikh and Hindu delegation ob 1 July 2018 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, which killed at least 19.
In a statement, WSO has urged Canadians to contact their local MPs and relevant ministries to let them know that the Government of Canada must recognise Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan as vulnerable minority groups that require immediate Canadian assistance.
It noted that the delegation of Sikhs and Hindus attacked was going to meet Afghan president Ashraf Ghani.
According to reports and sources reporting to the WSO on the ground, the delegation included many high-profile Sikh leaders and community elders from Jalalabad and Kabul.
Among the dead is Avtar Singh Khalsa who was to have represented the Sikh and Hindu minority in the next Afghan parliament. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the bombing, however Taliban insurgents and Islamic State militants are active in the region. Sikh and Hindu Afghans currently face a difficult, if not unliveable, situation in many parts of Afghanistan.
The Sikh and Hindu communities that have lived in Afghanistan for hundreds of years now number approximately 1,000-2,000. Prior to 1992, their population numbered over 200,000, however due to persecution and discrimination, most have been forced to flee to other countries. The Afghan Sikh and Hindus remaining in Afghanistan are the most vulnerable who do not have the resources or ability to relocate.
The WSO deputed before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in June, 2016, on the plight of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan in the Committees study on vulnerable groups in inaccessible regions.
The WSO has called on Canada to help the Sikh and Hindu minority, as Afghan authorities have been unable to offer meaningful protection of their basic human rights.
Without internal flight options, or prospects of meaningful integration in neighbouring countries, international resettlement has become the only viable solution for Afghan Sikh and Hindu asylum seekers.
“Today’s suicide bomb attack against the Sikh and Hindu delegation in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, is an unspeakable act of terror that has resulted in the death of many senior Afghan Sikh leaders and elders,” said WSO president Mukhbir Singh.
“The community in Afghanistan is terrified and has been inflicted a major blow by this senseless act. Canada has the responsibility to help in the resettlement of Afghan Hindu and Sikh refugees. We hope that those vulnerable Sikh and Afghan families awaiting the processing of their refugee applications will have their applications expedited so that they can be quickly brought to safety.”
Once a thriving population of well over 200,000, Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan now number less than 2,000. Daily persecution and discrimination have forced many of them to flee the country, while others face a reality that for some like those lost on July 1, 2018, ends only in death. In 2015, the late Manmeet Singh Bhullar began what he called ‘his life’s work’ to help Afghan Sikh and Hindu minorities flee the country.
Today, because of Manmeet’s work, over 200 Afghan Sikh refugees in India are awaiting approval of their private sponsorship applications to Canada, and will hopefully soon have the honour of calling this great country their home. We must protect his legacy, WSO said in the statement.
It has urged Canadians to contact their local MPs and relevant ministries to let them know that the Government of Canada must recognise Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan as vulnerable minority groups that require immediate Canadian assistance.
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