Sukhdeep Kaur Receives Zeff Fellowship

0501_Suhkeep.jpgRice University senior, Sukhdeep Kaur, has received the Roy and Hazel Zeff Memorial Fellowship – a $25,000 grant, which will allow her to study issues of human rights and access to justice in areas around the world. The news release states:

A political science and policy studies major with a focus on law and justice, Kaur has a longstanding interest in human rights and justice issues that stems from the violent history between the Indian government and Sikhs in Punjab.

For her fellowship, Kaur will travel to four countries — Chile, Rwanda, Israel and France — to work with minority populations on the issues of access to human rights and justice.

I recently interviewed Sukhdeep and we discussed how she first got involved with human rights. “I knew I wanted to work with law and justice but wasn’t really sure whether to focus on civil rights or human rights,” Kaur said. However, after taking a human rights course her sophomore year and her personal study of the violence toward Sikhs in India in 1984 and subsequent human rights violations, she decided to make this the focus of her field work.

Last summer, Sukhdeep traveled to India where she interned with Ensaaf – concentrating on documentation, consolidating data, and training local staff. She also volunteered at Aman Biradri, working with the Nirvair initiative – focusing on rights for widows of 1984. Finally, she collected data for her senior thesis, interviewing families across Punjab. In her thesis she argued that the Indian courts have been insufficient in distributing justice and how a grassroots movement is necessary. One thing that struck me about her experience in India was the apathy towards human rights from Punjabis themselves. “I was surprised that so few people living in Punjab knew about Jaswant S. Khalra, the issue of mass cremations, or the on-going court cases,” Kaur said.

In Sukhdeep’s three years at Rice University, she not only excelled in her academics, but also in several extra-curricular activities – participating in club volleyball, bike team, equestrian team, and the bhangra team. She is also well-known for her active participation as an instructor and counselor at Gurmat camps throughout the United States. After her fellowship next year, she hopes to begin law school with the ultimate goal of pursuing a career in public policy on human rights and justice issues. Furthermore, she hopes this fellowship will give her better insight to how other countries deal with human rights issues and what can be learned for the case of Sikhs in Punjab.

There are many things that inspire me about Sukhdeep Kaur, but more so than anything else, is her spirit. When asked about the obstacles and challenges she and others faced in India while doing research- lack of support by the government, interference by the police, and the tiring legal process, she said,

“The process is meant to deter us. It is meant to deteriorate our hope and strength. But as Sikhs, we cannot give up. We cannot stop fighting.”

Congratulations Sukhdeep Kaur! Guru Ang Sang!


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17 Responses to “Sukhdeep Kaur Receives Zeff Fellowship”

  1. British Sikh says:

    Congratulations to Bhenji…we need more educated Sikhs like her to bring out the real truth about the genocide that was committed against the Sikh Nation by India in the 1980's & 90's

  2. British Sikh says:

    Congratulations to Bhenji…we need more educated Sikhs like her to bring out the real truth about the genocide that was committed against the Sikh Nation by India in the 1980’s & 90’s

  3. an Indian sikh says:

    Congratulations to her and may God bless her with success.

    "One thing that struck me about her experience in India was the apathy towards human rights from Punjabis themselves."

    Yes, you guys (Sikhs living outside of India) want to apparently help Sikhs in India who don't care for any help because they have moved on and are living their lives peacefully. To be honest, thanks, but no thanks. We are doing just fine. You should go wage your battle someplace else.

  4. an Indian sikh says:

    Congratulations to her and may God bless her with success.

    “One thing that struck me about her experience in India was the apathy towards human rights from Punjabis themselves.”

    Yes, you guys (Sikhs living outside of India) want to apparently help Sikhs in India who don’t care for any help because they have moved on and are living their lives peacefully. To be honest, thanks, but no thanks. We are doing just fine. You should go wage your battle someplace else.

  5. Jeet Singh Khalsa says:

    WJKKWJKF

    GURU PYARI SAADH SANGAT JI

    congratulations to sukhdeep kaur on this brilliant achievement…..just a bit of information i would like to give her if she really want to do justice to her scholarship.

    please visit Guantanamo bay and just have a look that how worse human right abuse could get and it is perpetrated by the same country which gave her scholarship for human right…..things america and americans do just make me laugh some time.

    please visit certain parts of iraq

    please don't miss haiti and congo

    and do visit sri lanka

    and when it comes to india please visit urban areas of orissa where farmers are commiting suicide in 100's(15 times more the punjab)

    please visit victims of tsunami in tamil nadu who were promised the world after the disaster but are still living in shacks under extremely poor conditions.

    please visit the flooded areas of kosi river in bihar where eating and the feeding your family in the evening is the major question on every person's lips…..but most of the families sleep empty stomach.

    then please don't miss visiting Indian Punjab….where after suffering for years from at the hands of terrorist and state police(legal terrorists)people are living in harmony and peace and please i request my sikh brothers and sisters please let punjab live the way its living now…and please don't attempt to through my beloved punjab back in2 darkness……

    god bless you all

  6. Jeet Singh Khalsa says:

    WJKKWJKF
    GURU PYARI SAADH SANGAT JI

    congratulations to sukhdeep kaur on this brilliant achievement…..just a bit of information i would like to give her if she really want to do justice to her scholarship.

    please visit Guantanamo bay and just have a look that how worse human right abuse could get and it is perpetrated by the same country which gave her scholarship for human right…..things america and americans do just make me laugh some time.

    please visit certain parts of iraq

    please don’t miss haiti and congo

    and do visit sri lanka

    and when it comes to india please visit urban areas of orissa where farmers are commiting suicide in 100’s(15 times more the punjab)

    please visit victims of tsunami in tamil nadu who were promised the world after the disaster but are still living in shacks under extremely poor conditions.

    please visit the flooded areas of kosi river in bihar where eating and the feeding your family in the evening is the major question on every person’s lips…..but most of the families sleep empty stomach.

    then please don’t miss visiting Indian Punjab….where after suffering for years from at the hands of terrorist and state police(legal terrorists)people are living in harmony and peace and please i request my sikh brothers and sisters please let punjab live the way its living now…and please don’t attempt to through my beloved punjab back in2 darkness……

    god bless you all

  7. Daljit Singh says:

    Congratulations dear sister !

    I fully endorse the views expressed by S. Jeet Singh Khalsa.

    God bless you.

  8. Ravinder Singh says:

    Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa,

    Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

    Sukhdeep Kaur Bhenji,

    What you're doing is amazing, you're an inspiration to me. Continue on your path to stand up against Human Rights abuses against Sikh's in Punjab & India.

    It's easy to listen to the pessimists that want you to look the other way, but who will stand up for those who have experienced grave injustice, rape, murders, etc? For those asking you to look the other way, what if it was your father / mother / son / daughter that was murdered / raped?

    Sukhdeep Kaur, what you're doing is placing the value of every single human being on the same pedestal which is what needs to occur. The guilty need to be brought to justice, it's fundamental human rights. For those that say it's an issue of bringing Punjab back into the days of State / Country Terrorism, well i would challenge you to ask yourself what's to stop this from happening tomorrow? It's obvious that for some Human Rights is not a priority, but we must understand that every human being should be allowed to live in grace & dignity whether Sikh or not, hence this battle is not just about Sikh's it's broader, it's an issue of Human Rights…

  9. Daljit Singh says:

    Congratulations dear sister !
    I fully endorse the views expressed by S. Jeet Singh Khalsa.
    God bless you.

  10. Making blanket statements about how Sikhs in India have "moved on" and are "living in peace" demonstrates an irresponsible and reckless disregard for justice and truth. Somehow, I don't quite see how the following Indian families are "living in peace and harmony":

    http://www.sikhchic.com/article-detail.php?cat=21

    http://www.sikhchic.com/article-detail.php?cat=21

    The reality is that today's Indian Punjab is rife with drugs, apostacy, anti-panthic deras, disease, and grass-roots political corruption. These are facts. Just because Tata, Birla and Badal are building condos and hotels in Ludhiana, doesn't negate the fact that Punjab, and India, are void of the Rule of Law. Every citizen of every free country has an inherent right to justice and equality. To all those keen on "forgetting the past" and "moving on" lest I remind you that fighting against persecution, bigotry, and injustice are principles enshrined in our Guru's teachings, and imbedded into the conscience of every true Sikh.

    Government sponsored rape, murder, destruction, and torture are not Sikh/Christian/Muslim issues – they are issues that impact the integrity of all humanity. The Zeff Fellowship will allow Sukhdeep to document the plight of individuals/communities whose fundamental human rights have been violated through political agenda, bigotry, hate, intolerance, murder, rape, and torture. Hopefully, the fruit of her work will provide greater access to justice for victims of such human atrocities.

    A final message to all the "Indian Sikh" trolls, (in the words of a fellow TLH'er):

    "The best “patriotism” is one that is focused on Truth — not in justifying inhuman acts like pogroms of 1984 and 2002…"

  11. Ravinder Singh says:

    Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa,
    Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

    Sukhdeep Kaur Bhenji,

    What you’re doing is amazing, you’re an inspiration to me. Continue on your path to stand up against Human Rights abuses against Sikh’s in Punjab & India.

    It’s easy to listen to the pessimists that want you to look the other way, but who will stand up for those who have experienced grave injustice, rape, murders, etc? For those asking you to look the other way, what if it was your father / mother / son / daughter that was murdered / raped?

    Sukhdeep Kaur, what you’re doing is placing the value of every single human being on the same pedestal which is what needs to occur. The guilty need to be brought to justice, it’s fundamental human rights. For those that say it’s an issue of bringing Punjab back into the days of State / Country Terrorism, well i would challenge you to ask yourself what’s to stop this from happening tomorrow? It’s obvious that for some Human Rights is not a priority, but we must understand that every human being should be allowed to live in grace & dignity whether Sikh or not, hence this battle is not just about Sikh’s it’s broader, it’s an issue of Human Rights…

  12. Making blanket statements about how Sikhs in India have “moved on” and are “living in peace” demonstrates an irresponsible and reckless disregard for justice and truth. Somehow, I don’t quite see how the following Indian families are “living in peace and harmony”:

    http://www.sikhchic.com/article-detail.php?cat=21&id=832

    http://www.sikhchic.com/article-detail.php?cat=21&id=827

    The reality is that today’s Indian Punjab is rife with drugs, apostacy, anti-panthic deras, disease, and grass-roots political corruption. These are facts. Just because Tata, Birla and Badal are building condos and hotels in Ludhiana, doesn’t negate the fact that Punjab, and India, are void of the Rule of Law. Every citizen of every free country has an inherent right to justice and equality. To all those keen on “forgetting the past” and “moving on” lest I remind you that fighting against persecution, bigotry, and injustice are principles enshrined in our Guru’s teachings, and imbedded into the conscience of every true Sikh.

    Government sponsored rape, murder, destruction, and torture are not Sikh/Christian/Muslim issues – they are issues that impact the integrity of all humanity. The Zeff Fellowship will allow Sukhdeep to document the plight of individuals/communities whose fundamental human rights have been violated through political agenda, bigotry, hate, intolerance, murder, rape, and torture. Hopefully, the fruit of her work will provide greater access to justice for victims of such human atrocities.

    A final message to all the “Indian Sikh” trolls, (in the words of a fellow TLH’er):

    “The best patriotism is one that is focused on Truth not in justifying inhuman acts like pogroms of 1984 and 2002…”

  13. SG Kaur says:

    Congrats to Sukhdeep didi on her accomplishments! The plight for justice is not just central to Punjab…but a pressing issue for the entire world. Perhaps naive, but concerning 1984…is it not best to let bygones be bygones?? Why keep an old wound festering??

  14. SG Kaur says:

    Congrats to Sukhdeep didi on her accomplishments! The plight for justice is not just central to Punjab…but a pressing issue for the entire world. Perhaps naive, but concerning 1984…is it not best to let bygones be bygones?? Why keep an old wound festering??

  15. Jodha says:

    SG Kaur,

    is it not best to let bygones be bygones?? Why keep an old wound festering??

    Don't Nazi criminals some 65 years later say the same thing? Should world not have cared last year to punish Serbian war criminals?

    One of the pursuits of justice is exactly that – the pursuit for accountability and an end to impunity. Letting "bygones be bygones" is impunity and injustice. It is not human rights activists that keep 'an old wound festering', it is a state that absolves its duty to protect its citizens and becomes barbarous by allowing its servants to kill at will and then protects them.

    The fact that there is no justice and the Indian Government's continued attempts to whitewash the issue and force Sikhs to forget – these are the reasons it is 'old festering wound'.

  16. Jodha says:

    SG Kaur,

    is it not best to let bygones be bygones?? Why keep an old wound festering??

    Don’t Nazi criminals some 65 years later say the same thing? Should world not have cared last year to punish Serbian war criminals?

    One of the pursuits of justice is exactly that – the pursuit for accountability and an end to impunity. Letting “bygones be bygones” is impunity and injustice. It is not human rights activists that keep ‘an old wound festering’, it is a state that absolves its duty to protect its citizens and becomes barbarous by allowing its servants to kill at will and then protects them.

    The fact that there is no justice and the Indian Government’s continued attempts to whitewash the issue and force Sikhs to forget – these are the reasons it is ‘old festering wound’.

  17. Mandeep says:

    I'm Sikh. Why are we allowing women into society? This is whitemen nonsense and needs to stop!

    I advise all TRUE Sikhs to continue to attack the feminism of the west. There is NO SUCH THING AS WOMEN'S RIGHTS in the Guru Granth Sahib. Women are meant to be home schooled, not play sports, not work, etc. This is the NATURAL order prescribed in the bani.

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