Subject: RE: Secretary General's Upcoming Visit to Golden Temple Amritsar, Punjab.
His Excellency Mr António Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General
New York, New York,
RE: Secretary General’s Upcoming Visit to Golden Temple Amritsar, Punjab.
Your Excellency, Secretary-General Guterres:
My name is _______________. I am a member of the Sikh community and I am writing to you regarding Secretary General’s upcoming visit to the Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab. I support the “Referendum 2020” campaign which is a democratic process for Sikhs to vote in a referendum, for or against an independent homeland within Punjab, India. Although Referendum 2020 is a lawful process, the Indian State authorities continue to commit grave human rights violations in their quest to stop it taking place. We respectfully request that you urge the Indian Government (i) to respect the Sikh’s right to hold Referendum 2020 and (ii) to stop violating Sikh’s basic human rights.
A ‘peoples’ right to self-determination is a fundamental principle of international law, guaranteed under the UN Charter and the Bill of Rights. According to the International Court of Justice, a sub-group (the Sikhs) may lawfully conduct an independence referendum - and even declare independence - without the agreement of the parent state (in this case, India). 1 According to international law, peoples who have been denied self-determination within their parent state may, in exceptional circumstances, lawfully pursue external self-determination (via secession and independence). The purpose of Referendum 2020 is simply to allow the Sikh people to voice their democratic opinion on the question of independence. I attach a legal opinion herewith for your information.
• The majority of Sikhs are dissatisfied with their treatment at the hands of the Indian State for very good reasons. These include (but are not limited to):
• The labeling of Sikhs as “Hindus” in the Indian Constitution, thus denying their religions status;
• The June 1984 massacre of thousands of Sikh civilians and the desecration of the Sikh’s Golden Temple by the Indian Army during operation “Blue Star”, an the failure to prosecuted anyone for the killings;
• The November 1984 massacres of Sikhs across India, during which tens of thousands were brutally killed or raped, and hundreds of Gurudwaras destroyed, in what is known as the Sikh Genocide. Although Indian politicians and police helped organise the genocide, none were prosecuted;
• From 1984 until 1998 the Indian authorities committed thousands of extra- judicial killing of Sikhs in Punjab in the name of counter insurgency. As Human Rights Watch stated:
[F]rom 1984 to 1995 the Indian government ordered counterinsurgency operations that led to the arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial execution, and enforced disappearance of thousands of Sikhs. Police abducted young Sikh men on suspicion that they were involved in the militancy, often in the presence of witnesses, yet later denied having them in custody. Most of the victims of such enforced disappearances are believed to have been killed. To hide the evidence of their crimes, security forces secretly disposed of the bodies, usually by cremating them. When the government was questioned about “disappeared” youth in Punjab, it often claimed that they had gone abroad to Western countries.
• Since 1947, the India government has taken land from the Sikhs and diverted waterways, leaving the majority of Punjabi speaking people in poverty, leading to more than 80,000 suicides amongst Punjab’s farmers.
Intent on concealing its human rights record, India has denied UN bodies and international human rights NGOs access to the Punjab.
In response to the Referendum 2020 process, the Indian Government has misused the legal system to bring false charges against supporters, including the charge of terrorism. Since 2015, the Punjab government has illegally detained and tortured scores of Sikh Referendum 2020 campaigners, sometimes for merely wearing Referendum 2020 T-shirts.
Your Excellency, due to the relentless persecution and oppressive by India, Sikhs face an existential threat within their ancestral homeland. It is essential that the Sikh People are given an opportunity to voice their opinion on the question of external self-determination through Referendum 2020. We welcome your intervention during your upcoming trip to India and the Punjab.