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The Wonder of the Shaheed Shaheed da Gazab – Bhai Sahib Balwant Singh Rajoana

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Kaum shaheed Guru dey buhey
Kar suthee Ardasaan

Nation at the Gurus door
I was asleep after Ardas

These lines penned by the Panths last poet Harinder Singh Mehboob. These lines ring true today, as they did nearly three decades ago.

It is the blood of the martyr that stirs a slumbering nation; it is the blood of the martyr that scares those in their palaces of power.

Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana has shaken the Sikhs. From London to Ludhiana, from Surrey to San Francisco, Sikhs are showing that the spirit of the community is not dead. We are not so focused on elections, careers, wealth, and family to forget the soul of the nation.

Although well-intentioned, I have seen some Sikhs circulating various petitions asking for clemency or a stay on the execution. They may not have read Bhai Sahibs own words he is calling to become a Shaheed. I humbly request people to stop circulating these petitions.

Punjabis and Sikhs in music and in conversations often lament for another Bhagat Singh or another Jarnail of the Panth. The wonder of the Shaheed stands before us. He asks not for leniency, but he asks to be embraced in the arms of the Guru as he marches to his wedding day on March 31, 2012. He has proudly admitted his actions and seeks judgment not from the courts of tyrants, but only from the Court of the Timeless. We are to celebrate that one Sikh stands tall with dignity, his dastar, his smile, and his Guru.

Others online have called for Ardas, akhand paaths, simran, and kirtan. All this is wonderful and should be done.

However, Bhai Sahib Balwant Singh Rajoana has called for something else.

He has called ALL SIKHS to fly Kesri flags on March 31, 2012. Please tell your friends and family to fly the flag from their dorm rooms, homes, apartments, businesses, and offices. Share your pictures on the internet and social media so that we take strength from one another. As our last Panthic Jarnail repeatedly reminded us – We are NOT a minority; we are nation.

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21st Century Lynching with Impunity

17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s life was taken away from him a few weeks ago in a gated community in Florida simply because of the color of his skin. On his way back from picking up a pack of Skittles and an iced tea at the local 7-11, he was shot dead by 26-year-old George Zimmerman, who was a part of the neighborhood watch group and found Trayvon “suspicious.” Trayvon was wearing a hoodie and carrying a pack of Skittles, unarmed.

To date, Zimmerman has not been arrested nor charged with any crime.

A petition has been circulating on Change.org for the last week or so, calling on Florida prosecutors to charge Zimmerman with the murder of Trayvon Martin. In the last few days, the mainstream media has picked up on the story.

In a message sent through Change.org today, Trayvon’s parents said:

Our son didn’t deserve to die. Trayvon Martin was just 17 years old when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Trayvon wasn’t doing anything besides walking home with a bag of Skittles and some iced tea in his hands.

What makes Trayvons death so much harder is knowing that the man who confessed to killing Trayvon, George Zimmerman, still hasn’t been charged for Trayvons killing.

Despite all this, we have hope. Since we started to lead a campaign on Change.org, more than 500,000 people…have signed our petition calling for Florida authorities to prosecute our sons killer.

Our campaign is already starting to work. Just last night, the FBI and Department of Justice announced they were investigating our sons killing. Newspapers around the globe are reporting that its because of our petition.

But our sons killer is still free, and we need more people to speak out if we want justice for Trayvon.

We aren’t looking for revenge, we’re looking for justice — the same justice anyone would expect if their son were shot and killed for no reason.

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Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana

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See UPDATED post from TLH here at The Wonder of the Shaheed.

On March 31st, Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana is set to be executed in Punjab for his involvement in the assassination of former chief minister of Punjab, Beant Singh. It will be the first execution in Punjab’s history in 24 years.

Chief minister Beant Singh was involved with carrying out brutal and mass killings of Sikhs in Punjab. He is widely held responsible by many Sikhs for ordering the kidnap, torture and death of many young Sikh men. A report by Amnesty International can be found here.

Balwant Singh Rajoana has confessed his involvement in theassassination. He’s accepted the sentence without protest, identifying a lack of faith in the Indian judiciary system and accusing Indian courts for applying dual standards of law. The Indian judiciary system is one that has continued to protect the culprits of the mass killings of Sikhs. In his will Balwant Singhannounced his wish to donate his eyes and other body parts after his death, in particular, he expressed his desire that his eyes should be transplanted to Hazoori Ragi of Darbar Sahib, visually impaired Bhai Lakhwinder Singh. An English translation of his living will can be found here.

Sikh groups in the diaspora are organizing demonstrations to bring awareness to Balwant Singh’s case. You can find out more about these events on this facebook page. In addition, apetition has been created to stop the execution of Balwant Singh Rajoana.

Let us not forget those men and women who have stood up against injustice.

What Do You Want To Do With Your Life?

Author Richard Florida identifies three questions that each of us struggle with over the course of our lives.

1) What do I do with my life?
2) Who do I spend my life with?
3) Where do I want to live?

Obviously, all three are interrelated in many ways but for most of us growing up in North America the first question is the one the one that actually sets up the other two. How I want to spend my life is also a very different question than what kind of job do I want to have. A job or career must be examined in the greater context of one’s purpose in this world. This is even more relevant for practicing Sikhs as our destiny is one of greater purpose. We have been blessed with the awareness that the Creator of this universe resides within each of us and we are here to reconnect with this divinity. To do that, we must live a life of effort, remembrance and service. Yes as Sikhs we are to live in the world as householders, but there something more to life than just going to school, getting a job and raising a family. We are saints and activists, connecting with the Divine and fighting to the death for the rights of all.

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Raising Kaurs
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Source: Miss Representation (click to enlarge)

Today is International Women’s Day and while our attention often (and rightfully) focuses on ways to improve the lives of women and children living across the globe, it should also be a time to reflect on ways we can positively influence the lives of young girls growing up all around us.

As the Masito an amazing seven-year-old girl, it’s been on my mind how important these formative years are for ensuring that my niece feels confident in who she is. I recently watched a documentary called Miss Representation (click here to see the trailer) which discusses the role the media plays in being both the message and messenger in the portrayal of young girls and women – one that is often negative. Quite honestly, the documentary scared me – how can we control what messages young men and women receive? American teenagers get approximately 10 hours of media consumption a day – that’s an awful lot of messages that they need to digest and make sense of. As one expert notes in the film, “little boys and little girls, when they’re seven years old, in equal number want to be President of the United States when they grow up. But then you ask the same question when they’re fifteen and you see this massive gap emerging.” The film includesfootage from a focus group of teenagers discussing media and the consequences. They speak of their low self-esteem, their anxieties, their sheer anger and frustration. I’m not even a mother and yet i worry.

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Homeless Punjabis in Southall

In late 2009, we wrote a post about the growing number of homeless Punjabis and Sikhs living in Southall. Almost three years later, the situation in Southall continues to concern us. A recent article from the BBC discusses the plight of these young men who seek voluntarily deportation back to India but who, without documents, are unable to navigate an unforgivingbureaucratic situation.

Jagdeesh pulls away a piece of cardboard revealing a tiny hole in a concrete wall. He invites me to climb through, declaring: “This is my home, come in.”

“I was told that life was good here. It’s not just me, other boys came for work,” he says. “You can see what state we’re in, there’s no work, no government help.”Jagdeesh has cut himself off from his family, saying he is ashamed of his failure to find work and would rather they thought he was dead than knew he was living in filth.”They sold land and took out loans to get me out of India. What can I say to my family back home? The money we’ve invested is lost,” he says. [link]

According tofigures from the UK Home Office, voluntary departures have risen steadily over the past few years, from 335 in 2005 to 15,537 in 2010. While many of these cases have been logged with the UK Border Agency, it seems that the Indian High Commission is dragging its feet on processing the cases. According to the article, the UK Border Agency admits that establishing the identity of illegal immigrants in order to issue them with emergency travel documentation is a “complex” process and that the time it takes to process these individuals varies by case. One individual, a man in his 30s, has been waiting for three years.

Many of theseindividualsabuse drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the situation. Their thoughts often turn to suicide. Their only support system is each other and the majority of them haven’t even told their families, back in Punjab, about their broken dreams. It’s a difficult situation for these men – their lack of options in Punjab drives them to seek opportunities abroad but this promise of prosperity is not always what it seems to be.

As our UK co-blogger, Naujawani Sardar, states, “There are many questions being asked about the problems facing masses of illegal Punjabi immigrants in West London, but the most important questions that will prevent this situation from reoccurring in the long-term are not being asked:Why do so many youth risk everything to leave The Punjab?What is being done to curtail the agents that are facilitating their travel? And, what repercussions do UK citizens face for exploiting illegal immigrants?”

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Another Sikholarly Success in 2012

This past weekend, CSU East Bays Ethnic Studies Department and Sikh Studies Chair along with the Jakara Movement held its third annual Sikholars Conference. Along with the 11 graduate students from all over North America, nearly 100 community members came together to share and engage in their research projects.

Opening on Saturday, Dr. Jaideep Singh welcomed the participants and discussed the burgeoning field of Sikh Diasporic studies that is finally beginning to bear fruit. The first panel showcased the projects of Bandana Kaur, a Yale graduate, on issues of ecofeminism, biodiversity, and social effects of the Green Revolution and Guneeta Kaur Bhalla on the challenges, development, and prospects of the 1947 Partition Archive. Both projects bring together social histories and the voices of non-elite subalterns to the fore.

The second panel, titled the Identities of Law, explored Sikh-Americans in a legal context. Jasmine Singh discussed the racialization of Sikhs in the United States, while Kiran Preet Dhillon reflected on the ways that Title VII, instead of promoting accommodation to religion in the workplace, have served to limit and demean. She called for a rigorous opening of the conversation with groups that fight for freedom from discrimination in the workplace, including SALDEF and the Sikh Coalition. The panel discussant was conference host, Dr. Jaideep Singh.

The last panel of the day involved explorations in musicology. Neelamjit Dhillon, a student at California Institute of the Arts, showcased his music talents and the convergence of technology and music, adding visual imagery to the auditory experience. Harpreet Neelam, from the University of Toronto, mesmorized the audience with her vocal talents and her explanations of the partaal through the shabad Mohan Neend na Aavaey Haaveh. View her amazing rendition (along with Neelamjit Singh on the thabla; pagh salute: RimmyKay) below and continue reading beneath the fold.

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The first day concluded with a viewing of Harjant Gill (Sikholars, Class of 2010)s documentary Roots of Love.

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J.Korps 2011 – SUJH and Border Angels

Untitled.jpgFirst off, my sincere apologies to all in delaying the posting of this entry for far too long. Over winter break, nearly 20 students participated in the Jakara j.Korps initiative that seeks to explore the issue of immigration. Here is a photo-essay composed by Josh Singh.

During winter break 2011 members of the Jakara Movement were brought together for the first annual SUJH Alternative Winter Break to examine the issue of immigration first-hand by visiting the so-called ground zero, the Mexi-Cali border. The issue of illegal immigration continues to be brought to the forefront as witnessed in the divisiveness this issue caused among 2012 Republican primary candidates and the recent rise of nativist sentiment that has been fueled by deteriorating economic conditions. In 2006, huge protests calling for a more open and humane immigration policy were lead mostly by our Chicano/a and Latino/a brothers and sisters. The Sikh-American response to this issue however has been largely indifferent and silent. Through this trip, our goal was to break down commonly held conceptions about undocumented migrants and their journey into the U.S. (sujh=becoming aware). One of the most common misperceptions among people is that illegal immigration is a Latino-centric issue and therefore primarily deserves attention from that community. However, as seen in the LA times article earlier this year highlighting the increasing number of undocumented Punjabi workers in the U.S. (1600 were caught and detained in 2010 alone), this is hardly the case. It is imperative for us to stand in solidarity with other communities, especially on issues we have a personal stake in. Otherwise, how can we expect them to support issues that are deeply important to us?

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Sikholars 2012 Abstracts Announced

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Since the inception of Sikholars: Graduate Sikh Conference, we have featured it here on The Langar Hall. The past two years have been huge successes and the third year will prove no different. A terrific agenda of evidence and research-based topics, as well as current thinking and new ideas will be presented by graduate students and professionals in various fields to challenge you and get you thinking.

As always, this year, Sikholars will offer a balance of well-known experts along with new faces and a stronger international representation. Students and professionals will come together from all across the globe and have the opportunity to learn from each other, to interact and form personal and professional relationships and to focus on learning and spreading knowledge.

Everyone is invited to come to CSU East Bay on February 18th & 19th, 2012. For more information: www.sikholars.org

Below the fold, I’ll post the abstracts of this year’s presenters.

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CENSORED: Take Action to Protect Internet Freedom

As you may have noticed, today is a national day of action to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act, two bills being decided on in US Congress right now. Tons of sites, including Wikipedia, are on a 24-hour blackout to protest the bills and urge action.

Needless to say, we at The Langar Hall are deeply concerned about this threat to online freedom and encourage our readers to take action and spread the word.

Dasvandh and End of Year Giving

bxp67488.jpgThis season, Americans are spending $465 billion, according to the National Retail Federation and a substantial portion of that is on gifts. Luckily, the final days of the year are a chance to give in a different kind of way and by doing so, gain a benefit – namely, contributions made to a charitable organization by December 31st count as a deduction on your 2011 tax return.

In Sikhi, there is the tradition ofdasvandh – or giving a tenth of your seva, time or profits.The concept of dasvandh was implicit in Guru Nanaks own Gurbani in the line: One who works for what he eats, and gives some of what he has – O Nanak, he knows the Path (SGGS p 1245).

While it’s not clear how much the Sikh community actually participates in this tradition (perhaps we just don’t discuss itpublicly), it’s nevertheless clear that giving is an integral element of our faith. According to the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the fact that 35 percent of all American giving went to religious organizations in 2010 reflects how closely bound many of us are with our place of worship. In 2011, the United States now ranks the highest in terms of charity in a massive global survey that put the nation in fifth place just last year. According to those surveyed, two out of three Americans said they donated money to charity (65 percent), more than two out of five volunteered their time (43 percent) and roughly three out of four helped a stranger (73 percent).Finally,according to a new study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University in nearly 90 percent of certain households, women are either the sole decision maker or an equal partner in decisions about charitable giving.

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Sikhi Is Part of the Solution: Ending Gendercide

Gendercide is a well-known problem in India. The BBC and ABC 20/20 have highlighted this issue. The low sex-ratio in Punjab, India shows how the soil, which gave birth to Sikhi is not devoid of this problem. The land on which our Gurus proclaimed the equality of women when others considered her impure has now become the dumping ground for unwanted baby girls. Their pure bodies are thrown onto piles of garbage for dogs to nibble away. Dead fetuses are stuffed into water wells.

A seminal research study conducted by Monica Das Gupta on selective discrimination against female children in Punjab states that Punjabi Sikh women are highly educated and well-treated in Punjab compared to other states. The harsh reality is that a rise in status has not changed the value of women. Women can be loved and cared for, but still under valued. They can be highly educated and treated well, but families want one of these daughters not two. But two sons would be okay. The value of daughters and sons is displayed when couples develop family-building strategies. How many children to have? If we have one daughter or two, will we be content with another daughter? Should we have only one son? Studies show that common answers to these questions are strongly rooted in a distorted value system, which reinforces the secondary status of women and allows for structures to be created to perpetuate this inequity. Thus, value systems and structures produce a circular cycle of mutually reinforcing each other.

The Sikh Gurus gifted us a value system that does not permit this secondary status of women. However, many have chosen not to implement it in their lives. It has even seeped its way into how Sikhi is practiced. Women are not allowed to do all kinds of seva at the Harmandar Sahib and our granthis/ragis kathaa most often highlight how a Sikh woman went to the Guru to request only a son.

If Sikhi is a key element to any solution for gendercide within the Punjabi Sikh community, wouldnt kathaa/sikhyaa in the Gurdwara be the most logical place to start? We do enter the house of our Guru to understand and reinforce our Sikh value system.

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Sikhs doing Seva

ssc.jpgFor many of us school is out and the holidays are upon us. Throughout the season, many Sikhs throughout the world engage in seva to support members of the community in which they live. We expect this year to be no different.

We hope that commenters will use this section to highlight events or drives that may be occurring in their local communities. Here is one such effort by the youth of the Fresno Jakara Movement group.

Part of something larger and hoping to set an example for other communities, the Sikh youth of Fresno are coming together to organize their annual Sikhi, Seva, Cinema event. More information can be found on their facebook page. They are hosting fundraisers for items that will be distributed to those that are currently houseless in the city. The event is completely youth driven and they are calling for other Sikhs to be generous with their time on December 17 or generous with their money to assist others. The national press has highlighted the preponderance of poor in rural central California. We hope other Sikhs become active in their communities, just as these youth are doing.

Surat-Lalkaar 2012 – A New Collaboration

slider4.pngGuest blogged by Mewa Singh.

Earlier this year, I wrote an in-depth post, summarizing the workshops and questions raised at the Jakara Movement’s annual Lalkaar conference. I was hardly alone. Our sisters at Kaurista shared their thoughts, as did a number of individual participants.

So now is something big and exciting. For years a criticism of the Jakara Movement was that it was California-centric. Recently an exciting collaboration opportunity availed itself. Sevadars of the annual Surat Sikh Conference were seeking fresh blood and ideas. The Jakara Movement was seeking an opportunity to begin unveiling its numerous local projects in more venues. Synergies were found and Surat-Lalkaar 2012 was born.

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A taste of Lahir via music and poetry (part 2)

As promised, here is my follow-up to Monday’s post about the Inquilab hip hop workshop in New York.

This past Saturday night brought together hundreds of Sikhs (and others) for the fourth annual Lahir: Move the Movement. I always seemed to have a conflict the last several years, but finally made it out to New Brunswick, New Jersey this year for my first Lahir. I am grateful for it.

Again, I’ll keep my words short as the video below speaks for itself. But a couple of things that were especially noteworthy to me about the experience.

The audience was really multi-generational. It was much more like a typical gurdwara sangat than I had expected, crying babies, hyper adolescents, and plenty of elders included. The energy was positive and empowering, and the high school and college-aged youth, in particular, were fired up.

The performances were extremely diverse and full of raw talent and passion. As you’ll see below, the performances (only a few of which I captured) went far beyond the spoken word and hip hop that I was expecting.

A friend of mine leaned towards me while a pre-pubescent high school student with a patka was rapping passionately about post-9/11 racism and said, “I am so excited about this new generation.” Indeed, I share her sentiment. These young people are indeed moving the movement, and in doing so, in the words of the event’s organizers, perhaps they are also “bringing Sikhi back.”

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Remembering Partition, One Story at a Time

Guest blogged byRanjanpreet Nagra andJaskiran K. Mann

Outreach__Yuba_City_Nagar_Kirtan__Nov_2011.JPGIn February 2011, six months after finishing my Masters in South Asian Studies from University of Michigan, I moved to Berkeley and was still looking for a job and a place to live when I met the founding members of The 1947 Partition Archive, an entirely volunteer-based effort aimed at collecting and preserving the stories of the 1947 Partition of British India. I expressed my interest in conducting interviews as well as helping out however I could, since I was fluent in both Punjabi and Urdu. I also had experience conducting interviews in college and for my Masters thesis. Since that first meeting, I have loved every aspect of my volunteer work with the Archive.

Ive had the good fortune to interview people in English, Urdu and Punjabi, and to travel to places throughout California, as well as Toronto, Canada. Presently, I am traveling through East Punjab, conducting interviews. Ive heard some amazing stories of adversity, fear, violence, and strength.

My first outreach work was that following March, tabling at Hayward Gurdwara on a cold and cloudy day. I enjoyed talking to people and telling them about the project. That was the first time I had to explain – in Punjabi – what we do and its purpose. I had some difficulty translating at first, but since then I have had many opportunities to explain, and become more comfortable doing so as a result.

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A taste of Inquilab via hip hop and poetry (part 1)

As Sundari blogged about a few days ago, we just had an exciting weekend of Sikh youth art and activism in the NY/NJ area. I was lucky enough to sit in on the Sikh Coalition’s “Inquilab: Raising Our Voices” hip hop workshop for a few hours on Saturday and then ride the bus to New Jersey with the youth to attend Lahir 2011: Move the Movement.

I managed to get some video footage of both events, so I will keep my own words to a minimum. Today I am posting a brief montage from the Inquilab workshop, and on Wednesday I’ll post some highlights from Lahir.

I walked into the workshop on Saturday in the basement of South Asian Youth Action in Elmhurst, Queens while the group was in the midst of a writing activity. Many of the young people of diverse backgrounds (mostly South Asian and many Sikh) ended up putting their newly honed writing skills to the stage — a pretty large stage — at Lahir that night. Their pieces were honest, real, accessible and courageous. I was truly inspired. And found myself wondering what my teenage years would have been like had something like this (both the workshop at Lahir) had existed.

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Sikh Youth and Expression: Inquilab and Lahir

322108_10150372143327003_8401147002_8832647_1745978292_o.jpgOn December 2nd and 3rd, Sikh youth will have the opportunity to participate in a special workshop that willallow them to learn the power of expression and how it can be used to create change in their life and communities. Inquilab: Raising our Voices, organized by The Sikh Coalition and Slumgods, will bring together hip-hop artists, Mandeep Sethi and Selena Dhillon, to work with South Asian youth as a way of encouraging their engagement with expression. Through this participation, youth can learn how to effectively use art to inspire positive change within their own communities.

317870_303077699717238_158143770877299_1143375_633730981_n.jpgFollowing the workshop this weekend isLahir – an event thataims to inspire, educate andawakenthe community torebuild the panth andencourage youthto becomeactivists. The concert will provide a much-needed platform for powerful Sikh artists to express themselves throughmusic, art, film, and poetry. Some more information from the organizers:

In past years, Lahir’s central theme focused on 1984 and Punjab. This year, Lahir 2011 will be “Bringing Sikhi Back”. Ten years post 9/11, it’s time to stand up as individuals and as a community to begin to shape the next ten years. Join us for an evening of spoken work, music, poetry and the arts to reflect and reenergize to ensure a future of chardi kala! This year, all proceeds will go to the Saanjh Sikh Youth Scholarship.We need strong voices in our community and we need diverse voices to help us educate others and ourselves about the historical, political, social, and economic issues that affect our community. Therefore, this event is not just for us, but for our future.

Inquilab will take place on December 2nd and 3rd 2011 at South Asian Youth Action Inc | 5405 Seabury St,Elmhurst, NY.

Lahir will take place on December 3rd 2011 atRutgers University| Douglass Campus | Trayes Hall, 100 George Street,New Brunswick,NJ.

We encourage you to learn more about these events, and if you are in the area – please attend and let us know how it goes!

Khalra Center for Human Rights Defenders

This week, The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) and the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) announced the inauguration of the “Khalra Centre for Human Rights Defenders” in New Delhi, in honor of Jaswant Singh Khalra. The announcement was made during The National Consultation on Human Rights Defenders conference,which brought together human rights activists from across the country. The Center has been established to serve as a legal resource for human rights defenders who find themselves in danger or who are attacked. The center will also undertake research into human rights issues.

The inaugural address of the conference was delivered by Paramjeet Kaur Khalra, widow of S. Khalra. Mrs. Khalra spoke about her husbands work and the way in which the human rights abuses that took place in Punjab have not been addressed by successive state and federal governments. WSOs legal counsel Balpreet Singh addressed the gathering and expressed solidarity with Indian human rights defenders. He said that because the abuses which took place in Punjab such as torture and disappearances were not addressed, the same pattern has perpetuated itself in other areas such as Kashmir and Nagaland and impunity has become systemic there. [link]

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Sikhs Occupying Wall Street

In October I wrote a piece about Sikhs and the Occupy Wall Street movement, stating, “I havent seen one other person who was easily identifiable as a Sikh. Im sure other Sikhs have come through at different times, but to be sure, this is no significant Sikh presence.” I am glad to report that this has most definitely changed. I see Singhs and Kaurs at Zuccotti Park aka Liberty Square almost every time I am down there (which is quite often!). In fact, one day last week, there were six turbans in Liberty Square at one time. Needless to say, I was pretty excited, and proud.

"Occupy Yoga" at Liberty Square

In my last post, I made an argument for why Sikhs should be supportive of the Occupy Together movements from a Sikh philosophical perspective, discussing the Khalsa revolution’s “plebian mission,” as Jagjit Singh calls it, and our Gurus’ calls to stand with the poor, the “lowest of the low.”

This time I want to focus less on the ideology and more on the process of Occupy Wall Street, on what is actually happening there.

The primary decision-making body at Occupy Wall Street (and most of the other Occupy movements) is the General Assembly, which is a large gathering run by consensus process (technically modified consensus where a 9/10 vote is needed to pass a proposal if consensus cannot be reached). In NYC’s Occupy Wall Street movement, we have just adopted an additional consensus-based model for decision-making called a spokes council, where each working group or caucus will have a “spoke” in the large wheel of the movement, and each group will have to rotate its spoke for each meeting to ensure collectivity and prevent hierarchies.

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