S.Surat Singh’s hunger strike to release Sikh prisoners of conscience – six months and counting

The American Sikh Council formerly known as World Sikh Council – America Region (WSC-AR) stands in solidarity with the S.Surat Singh and requests it’s 62 member Gurdwaras and their sangats to show solidarity to his valiant cause which he started on January 16th, 2015 to peacefully protest and request the release of all Sikh prisoners of conscience. Most of the political detainees have been incarcerated by the Indian regime under trumped up charges. Most if not all have served the mandatory life sentences of 14 years and while many have been in jail for over two decades languishing thousands of miles away from their home state of Punjab with little or no contact with loved ones.

S.Surat Singh, an eighty two year old US resident, retired Sikh farmer, a civil rights activist, is on a hunger strike unto death, in Punjab, India from January 16, 2015. S. Surat Singh has been conducting his nonviolent protest at his home but the police at the behest of the government have arrested a dying man more than a few times and forcibly removed him to a hospital and have force fed him, giving him an ivy drip. While other peaceful protesters have never been arrested or harassed by the police, including the much touted Hindu, anti-corruption peacenik – Anna Hazare; but the same rule is never applied to Sikhs. Instead, even the most benign passive protest by Sikhs is harshly put down by the authorities, completely muzzling civil liberties making the world’s largest democracy a total farce.

2015-2-17_bandi_singh[1]In India, life term convicts are generally granted release after serving 14 years in prison but these Sikh political prisoners have served 19 to 25 years in prison and are not being released due to political red tape in different State Governments, some despite recommendations from their Parole Boards for early release. The double standard meted out to major Faith groups whose numbers are smaller than India’s majority faith is shameful, unjust and flies in the face of common sense.

A review of the each of these cases reveals that they fall under “Category I” cases as identified by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention established by the United Nations Human Rights Commission. According to the Working Group’s mandate, “Category I” cases are those, where:

“It is clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty (as when a person is kept in detention after the completion of his sentence or despite an amnesty law applicable to him).”

The actions of the Government related to the continuous arbitrary detention of Sikh Prisoners of Conscience violate every norm of democracy, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International laws.

BapuSuratSinghS. Surat Singh’s unbelievably long hunger strike is currently on its 193rd day. His peaceful hunger protest has received worldwide attention with Sikh protests across Punjab and the world. His continued fast unto death has had a small change of heart and the federal government has transferred two prisoners to Punjab from other far off states. However, there has been little movement in addressing the overall issue of all the prisoners, therefore he remains steadfast in his clarion call to call attention to the rest of the incarcerated Sikh prisoners.

The American Sikh Council stands in solidarity with S.Surat Singh and all those noble Sikhs who cherish liberty and justice. Please contact your local Gurdawara management to spread this message and coordinate with other Sikhs in order to contact your local congressman/senator to apprise them of this grievously unjust treatment of S.Surat Singh and his cause.

Leave a Reply