THE World Sikh Organization of Canada has written to Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino, asking him to intervene to save the lives of 250 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus who remain in Afghanistan.
On Friday, the WSO also provided Mendicino with lists of the Sikhs and Hindus remaining in Afghanistan, including names, contact information and passport details.
The WSO noted that in light of Friday’s report of the Taliban having desecrated and removed the Nishan Sahib (Sikh religious flag) of Gurdwara Thala Sahib in Chamkani in Paktia province, it is clear that the situation for Afghan Sikhs and Hindus will continue to deteriorate.
Thousands of Sikhs from across Canada as well as Sikh organizations and gurdwaras have also called on the Government of Canada to include Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in the evacuation of interpreters and staff who assisted Canadian Forces. The Sikh community is willing to privately sponsor the evacuation and settlement of these refugees.
The full text of the letter to Mendicino by Tejinder Singh Sidhu, President, World Sikh Organization of Canada:
We are writing to request your urgent action in saving the lives of approximately 250 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus who remain in Afghanistan.
In light of the Government of Canada’s ongoing program to evacuate Afghan interpreters and staff who assisted the Canadian Armed Forces we urgently request that Afghan Sikh and Hindu families also be evacuated immediately.
In this regard, we are including with this correspondence, complete lists of the Sikhs and Hindus remaining in Afghanistan along with their locations, contact information and passport details.
As the situation on the ground in Afghanistan deteriorates at a frightening rate, the lives of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are now in severe peril. Just today, a report has been received that the advancing Taliban have desecrated and removed the Nishan Sahib (Sikh religious flag) of Gurdwara Thala Sahib in Chamkani in Paktia province. The caretaker of the Gurdwara has also reportedly been threatened by Taliban commanders. As you know, last year 24 Sikhs lost their lives in the terrorist attack on Gurdwara Sri Guru Har Rai in Kabul and subsequently, Sikhs have been targeted with several bombings and abductions.
The Afghan Sikh and Hindu community are desperate for assistance. There is no doubt that this vulnerable and very visible community will continue to be targeted with attacks and more lives will be lost. Sikhs from across Canada have written to you requesting your attention to this matter, as have major Sikh organizations and gurdwaras. In July 2020, 25 Canadian MPs from the Conservative Party of Canada, NDP and Green Party also wrote to you requesting a special program for Afghan Sikh and Hindu refugees.
The time to act is now. Any further delay in evacuating this vulnerable group will cost lives. The situation is one of life and death, and it is no longer a question of if but rather a question of when the next attack will occur.
The Sikh community is willing to privately sponsor these refugees and fully assist in their settlement here.
We ask that steps be taken, immediately, to evacuate Afghanistan’s Sikh and Hindu population.