Canadas House Sikhs on the front lines defending colonization and promoting ethnic cleansing.

Malcom X once designated the term house negro to describe the African American slaves that were unwilling to leave their marginally comfortable lives subjugated by their white slave owners and very likely to support the oppressive system of slavery. These house negros continued to exist throughout history helping perpetuate atrocities against their fellow African Americans, conspiring to no end to keep oppressive systems in place. Nowadays, we have a house Negro as a president, and in Canada, we have house Sikhs.

The last few years have been vital for the right wing in Canada. Canada has taken an unprecedented role in the international stage in upholding oppressive regimes and systems and continuing its role in the war on terror and the war in Afghanistan. Two wars which have produced over a million dead bodies, tens of millions more displaced and dispossessed, and countless lives traumatized. But we all know this; we all have been witness to the horrors of these wars and theres no need to continue on exploring their horrors, but what is important is to see where our own Sikh leaders have been while millions of innocent lives were destroyed. What we find, surprisingly, is a lack of concern or at the extreme, complicity and support.

Being a Canadian and being sensitive to our communities suffering and that of other communities, I find myself pitted against a majority that is suffering from apathy. I see a Panjabi, Sikh community consistently disenfranchised from Canadian polity yet being consistently utilized as a major voting bank by exploitative politicians who invest in our communities apathetic and introverted nature. They see a community willing to throw support to any tom, dick and harry that greets them with a sat-sri-akal and a half assed smile and we all too willingly welcome them in our homes and institutions. This is a narrative we find almost universally everywhere and though it does not necessarily imply a problem relative to only our community, it is a systemic problem that has to be recognized and corrected. But even with these corrective measures, we, in Canada, have begun to see these house Sikhs prop up and this is going to be a struggle onto itself.

The first case of this house syndrome is Tim Uppal, a conservative Member of Parliament from Sherwood Park, Alberta. Heavily supported by the World Sikh Organization (A self-proclaimed Human Rights Organization) local Gurdwaras, and the community, he has gone on to spear-head vital bills in Parliament and sat on key parliamentary committees. One such committee, the Inter-Parliamentary Committee to Combat anti-Semitism, is a half-million dollar endeavour created to fight the new anti-Semitism in Canada, or as Micheal Keefer, professor at the University of Guelph refers to it as an attempt to curtail freedom of speech and academic freedom across Canada, and to stigmatize, even to criminalize, certain kinds of human rights discourse. No stronger of an example of this than Tim Uppal’s disgusting motion introduced in parliament categorically denying pro-Palestinian rights students the right to facilitate discourse on Israels oppressive polices and apartheid regime within universities.

This, coming from a Sikh, should have sent warning signs to all Sikhs legitimately concerned with Human Rights and the right to free opinion in society, but it didnt at all with Canadas lofty World Sikh Organization who continually facilitate events with Tim Uppal as one of many speakers, and ironically, on issues of Human Rights. Though of course the World Sikh Organization by no measure can and should be taken as a serious human rights organization when it parades itself as the only Sikh organization to have helped defend the right of a young, high-school student who was not allowed to wear his kilt to his prom. Apparently this was a great way to show Canadian society that Sikhs are fervent defenders of human rights.

While its poster boy was engaging in stopping any constructive, academic and reasoned criticism of Israel (as it engages in systemic ethnic cleansing and illegal settlement building/colonization) the World Sikh Organization has continued to facilitate and promote him.

While Tim has become one of many tools used by Israel and the Canadian government to hammer away free speech in Canada, he has also been proactive in promoting a strictly pro-Israeli agenda in Canada by suggesting that Ottawa construct a Holocaust Memorial in order to honour all of the men and women who went to war against Hitler, it highlights Canada’s commitment to human rights, justice and equality for all.” Except Palestinians suffering continued atrocities, who need no memorial or remembrance, nor are they even allowed expressing their pain and suffering, even that is criminal.

Guru Teg Bahadar gave his life so that Kashmiri Pandits could have the right to practice their religious beliefs even though Sikhism was against the Brahminical system of oppression. Yet, here we have one Sikh politician refusing to allow an oppressed people a voice and one Sikh human rights organization, the World Sikh Organization allowing him to carry this one with absolutely no criticism and instead unconditional support.

What is happening here?


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10 Responses to “Canadas House Sikhs on the front lines defending colonization and promoting ethnic cleansing.”

  1. brooklynwala says:

    this phenomenon definitely rings true in a lot of ways in the US too, even if sikhs don't have the political power they have in canada — meaning no sikhs as federal elected officials and few in municipal and state offices. but you definitely see it in the community "leaders" who run the gurdwaras and such and generally seem more interested in the photo op with any politician (no matter what their policies and views are) than really advocating for community concerns. i think it has a lot to do with the reality that sikh immigrants are disenfranchised in north america in so many different ways and face so many barriers to "fitting in" and "success", especially because of our saroop, but also because of language. so rather than fight for a more progressive agenda and organize the community to demand justice, i think many who seek out leadership positions are dying for some sort of respect and power because they get so little otherwise.

    this doesn't justify it AT ALL, but i do think this is the context we're dealing with. we need to build a new political culture among sikhs in the diaspora that is not rooted in power-hungriness and is instead rooted in Ik Ongkar — the Oneness of all. a politics that our gurus would be proud of. what we're seeing among some of the work of sikh civil rights organizations in the US is a step in the right direction, but i still worry that the agenda is too narrow and too much about simply fitting into this oppressive society, rather than transforming the oppressive structures themselves.

  2. Sarbjit Singh says:

    I find this article distasteful, There is Many Reasons i have to be disagree on the whole thing, First of all as A Sikh , or as whole Sikh Community We should Never tolerate or associate with or defend folks who do not believe in religion intolerance , Human rights , freedom of speech, Second i find offensive to call Mr President House negro and Sikhs to called House Sikhs, We have every rights in North America, We are better Treated here then Indian or any other nation in the world, Now lets look at war in Afghanistan or Iraq, Who start this war? is it west who gone to IRAQ or Afghanistan and start bombing, NO, They came here first, They wanna have the Sharia Law all over the world, i bet as A SIKH you may not like that, AS A Sikh i will stand by the west, Defend what west Believe in, Human rights, Freedom of speech, There is A REASON WHY WE CAME HERE, Most people in the world if you ask them where u wanna live Give them two Options in North America or Muslim world? Answer is clear, Sikh community in Canada or US have done Very well, I Totally disagree on the notion that Sikhs have been disenfranchised in West, I truly Believe Sikh Community should not worry about or associate with any of Middle east AGENDA, We need to Focus on our own problems we Face in West or in INDIA .

  3. Sarbjit Singh says:

    [DELETED BY ADMIN KAUR] We encourage constructive dialogue on this site so please read our commenting policy – we don’t condone personal attacks.

  4. B Kaur says:

    This article is foolish (spelling and grammar issues aside). When exactly has the WSO ever come out in support of Tim Uppal or 'facilitated' him? Any examples would be appreciated.

    It might be noted that WSO was in the news for standing up for Muslim rights in Quebec when their members were turned away from the legislature there.

    Mud slinging for no apparent reason is how this article comes off.

  5. Luxifero says:

    B Kaur,

    Firstly, spelling and grammar issues didn't need to be raised but now that you have, can you please edit my post and send it back to me.

    WSO has on numerous occasions hosted events where Tim Uppal has spoken. I've been to a few of these myself. On numerous occasions Tim Came out and spoke about the massacres of SIkhs in 1984 and how justice was needed to be served. He also then refused to support a petition in Parliament calling the events of November 1984 a 'genocide'.

    Tim Uppal has been widely supported by WSO leadership in Edmonton Alberta and has been at much of their events. He is the poster boy for the Sikh Community in that city, and the WSO is the main organization that supported him along side the Gurdwaras. I'm sorry if all this isn't written out on paper for you. I wish someone in Edmonton could take pictures or have videos or have more substantial proof, but this is the politics being played out there.

    As for this debacle in Quebec: wonderful. That doesn't take away from the fact that they have allowed someone such as Tim Uppal to speak at their events knowing very well he has fully supported outrageous violations of human rights. What principled human rights organization would even entertain the notion of allowing an official who supports atrocities to come speak on the issue of human rights?

  6. Karunesh says:

    Just a comment to your refrence to Afghanistan and the war on Terror. I dont know if you were saying you were for or against, it seemed like you were against.
    I wanted to point out that the taliban ruling Afghan's before the invasion weren't exactly nice people either. They encouraged and promoted the attacks that led to 9-11.
    Afghanistan used to have a lot more Sikhs before Taliban Rule. But after they came iin they actually destroyed close to 80 Gurudwaras. 80! A staggering number. And lets not forget how they knocked down the statues of Buddha. This wasnt a group that was exactly open or accepting to other people or religons.
    I see our war in Afghanistan, us basically standing up for those oppressed against the Taliban and those who cant fight for themselves.

  7. Sarbjit Singh says:

    This not our war, Sikh Nation have no dog in this fight, IN 1984 and even before that , No body came to defend Sikh Rights, Our young men and women and kids paid the price, Still waiting for justice,why we are worried about others people's problems when we have loads of problems of our own,We need to focus on our own problems.

  8. Sarbjit Singh says:

    No ill-will towards anybody period, No need to help someone who does not need it, i would rather have my house in order first before i start telling people how to do things.