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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
November 15, 2014
  • Remembering 1984: Our History, Our Responsibility

    Thirty years ago, Indian government and police officials attempted genocide against the Sikh minority in India. The 1984 massacres occurred within our lifetimes, but with each passing year, the likelihood of securing justice grows dimmer, and the world remains largely ignorant about what happened. In this context, the Sikh Coalition urges its supporters to continue raising this issue in every possible forum – in the classroom, in the media, in the halls of the U.S. Congress and with the U.S. President – so that we ensure that these crimes are never repeated, forgotten, or left unpunished.

    Here are four actions that you can take:
    1. Support the Widows and Orphans who Lost Loved Ones in 1984
    2. Tell Your Members of Congress to Support Justice for 1984
    3. Record Your Story on the 1984 Living History Website
    4. Apply for a “Connecting with 1984” Small Grant (U.S. only)
  • New York City Performance of Kultar's Mime

    On October 13, 2014, the play "Kultar's Mime" was performed for an audience of 200 in New York City and was funded by the Sikh Coalition's "Connecting with 1984" Small Grants Pool. The play, based on a young Sikh's poem, draws upon eyewitness accounts of the Delhi anti-Sikh pogroms. It vividly describes the atrocities committed against Sikhs in New Delhi, through the eyes of four young survivors. Following the performance, there was a Q&A session with the actors and director and was facilitated by Sikh Coalition Executive Director Sapreet Kaur.

    Kultar's Mime has also performed in New Jersey, Boston, Canada, India and England. Click here to see where they will be performing next.
  • "Connecting with 1984" Small Grants Pool

    In July 2014, the Sikh Coalition launched the “Connecting with 1984” Small Grants Pool to support and encourage community activism and raise broader Sikh public awareness about the tragic anti-Sikh violence that occurred 30 years ago. Over the past three months, we have invested nearly $75,000 in dynamic initiatives that continue to highlight and preserve the importance of remembering 1984. These initiatives have brought awareness to new audiences across the country.

    We want to continue to identify opportunities to deliver small grants to keep this conversation going in the months ahead. We have $25,000 remaining in the Small Grants Pool and we encourage submissions between now and the end of the year. To learn more about how to apply for the Small Grants Pool, click here.
  • Seattle-Area School District Accommodates Kirpan

    According to news reports in October, the Auburn School District near Seattle, Washington has recognized the right of a Sikh student to wear a kirpan, an article of faith, in accordance with his constitutional rights. Notably, the school district requires students in its elementary schools to bring scissors to class. The accommodation represents the latest recognition of kirpan rights by government officials in the United States. Last year, the Federal Protective Service—a component of the Department of Homeland Security—created a framework for accommodating kirpans in federal buildings. The Sikh Coalition is grateful to the Auburn School District, especially Assistant Superintendent Ryan Foster, for protecting the right of Sikh students to practice their religion in accordance with the law.
  • California State Legislature Designates November as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month

    California state legislature has passed Resolution 147 declaring this November as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation month. This is the fourth year that California passed a resolution commemorating the Sikh community. We are grateful to Dr. Onkar Bindra and the Sikh Council of Central California for their leadership and support of this resolution.

    The Sikh Coalition, in collaboration with the California Sikh community, has worked to create a list of projects that you can lead in your city to celebrate Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month. For more information, please visit the Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month page.
  • Sikh Coalition Welcomes New Senior Director of Communications and Media

    We are excited to welcome Mark Reading-Smith as our Senior Director of Communications and Media. In this role, Mark is responsible for managing the Sikh Coalition’s daily media work and devising and implementing plans aimed at raising the profile of the Sikh Coalition’s issues. He also supports all program areas in communicating this work directly back to the Sikh community and broader public that the organization serves.

    Prior to joining the Sikh Coalition, Mark spent six years as a Managing Director at Rethink Media, driving the media work and strategic planning on an array of national security and human rights issues across a sector of over fifty organizations and was in charge of providing rapid response support to the Sikh Coalition in the weeks that followed the Oak Creek tragedy in 2012.

    Previously, Mark investigated and reported for the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism, co-writing Iraq: The War Card - the most widely viewed investigation in CPI's twenty-five year history. Mark holds degrees in political philosophy and international relations from Michigan State University.
  • White House Honors the Life and Teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji

    On November 13, 2014, the White House organized a special community event to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, founder of the Sikh religion. Simran Jeet Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s Senior Religion Fellow, delivered the keynote speech to nearly 100 community members and government representatives.

    Click here to read more.
  • White House Honors Family of Balbir Singh Sodhi

    On November 6, 2014, the White House organized a special event to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Shepard-Byrd Act, the nation’s first federal hate crime prevention law. The event featured remarks by Rana Singh Sodhi, brother of the late Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh American who lost his life in a hate crime in Arizona on September 15, 2001. The Sodhi family was honored alongside the families of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. – two hate crime victims in whose memory the law was named.

    The White House used this solemn occasion to announce a new Interagency Initiative on Hate Crimes to improve federal coordination on hate crime prevention strategies. In addition, federal officials confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will begin tracking hate crimes against targeted minority groups, including Sikhs, in 2015—a policy change long sought by the Sikh Coalition that will improve diagnostic and prevention efforts in our nation’s fight against hate crimes.
  • Impact of California Workplace Religious Freedom Act

    Two years ago, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1964, or the California Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA), into law. AB1964 prohibits religion-based segregation in the workplace and strengthens the legal standard for religious accommodations in favor of employees and job applicants. AB1964, which went into effect in January 2013, provides workers in California the nation’s strongest protections against religious discrimination. The passage of this bill was a historic win for the civil rights community, and represents one of the most far-reaching victories in the Sikh Coalition’s history.

    To celebrate AB1964, the Sikh Coalition is proud to bring you four stories of community members who benefited from the new law:

    Deputy Sheriff Harinder K. Khalsa
    Police Cadet Amandeep Singh
    Correctional Officer Sukhvinder Singh Hundal
    Police Officer Jaskirat Singh
  • Senior Staff Attorney Trains New Jersey Agencies on Religious Discrimination

    On November 6, 2014, Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney Gurjot Kaur trained members of the New Jersey Affirmative Action Officers’ Council (NJAAOC) on Religious Discrimination and Religious Accommodation in the Law. The two hour training was attended by Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action designees from the State of New Jersey Departments, Divisions, Offices, Courts, Agencies, Bureaus, Colleges and Universities. This includes representatives from New Jersey Transit, NJ Superior Courts, NJ Office of the Attorney General, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, NJ Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Judiciary. The interactive training covered accommodating religious practices under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

    The Sikh Coalition would like to thank NJAAOC Chairperson Melanie Armstrong, Jeana Abuan from the Office of EEOC/AA for the City of Jersey City, and NJAAOC Member and Attorney Ronald Brown for inviting us to lead this program.

    To request a Sikh Coalition speaker for your religious discrimination trainings, please contact us at legal@sikhcoalition.org.
  • Fresno Unified School District Introduces Anti-Bullying Resolution

    On October 15, 2014, Fresno Unified School District - the 4th largest school district in California - introduced an anti-bullying resolution and presented it to the Sikh Coalition and local Sikh community. The anti-bullying resolution specifically cited statistics from the Sikh Coalition's national report, "Go Home Terrorist: A report on the Bullying of Sikh American Children" which was released in Congress earlier this year. Fresno County was one of four regions surveyed in the report.
  • Department of Justice Releases Punjabi Bullying Fact Sheet

    The U.S. Department of Justice recently released a new Punjabi-language fact sheet to help Sikh American parents protect their children against school bullying.

    Click here to download the fact sheet in Punjabi.
    Click here to download the fact sheet in English.

    The Sikh Coalition is proud to confirm that the request for this document came directly from the Sikh community at our last White House policy briefing this past summer.

    Click here for the Punjabi version of the advisory.
  • Senior Religion Fellow Delivers Lecture During Annual Peace Week

    On October 27, 2014, Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh gave a lecture to approximately 40 students at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. The lecture was a part of the city's Annual Peace Week programming and therefore aimed to create awareness about Sikhism and explore issues of violence targeting Sikhs in the United States and in South Asia. Students had specific questions about the rise of religious nationalism in India and how religious minorities have been targeted by the state. The attendees also had a number of questions about hate crimes in the U.S. and what the Sikh Coalition has been doing to address these challenges.
  • 'Waking in Oak Creek' Documentary Screened at California State University, Fresno

    On October 29, 2014, the Sikh Coalition co-hosted a screening of the new documentary 'Waking in Oak Creek' with the Ethics Department at California State University, Fresno. Over 100 community members attended the screening which was followed by a panel and discussion. Speakers from the Sikh Council of Central California and the Interfaith Alliance of Central California shared perspectives on the importance of building alliances within communities. More information about the film can be found on the Not In Our Town website.
  • JSC Volunteers at NYC Marathon

    On November 2, 2014, the Junior Sikh Coalition volunteered for the second year at the TCS-NYC Marathon 2014. They worked tirelessly along other generous volunteers to give runners water for over six hours. They showed their support for not only our accomplished Sikh runners from the Surat Fauj Running Club, including staff member Simran Jeet Singh, but for all of the New Yorkers running across all five boroughs. We continue to recognize these remarkable youth who continue to make their mark as committed and jovial sevadaars in non-Sikh settings, in addition to their consistent involvement with other Sikh youth.
  • Sikh Coalition Army Campaign Film To Be Screened at SikhLens

    The Sikh Coalition's campaign calling for equal opportunity for all Sikhs who wish to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces will be highlighted in a new film which will be screened at this year's Sikh Art and Film Festival in Orange County, CA. The Struggle to Serve will showcase the stories of three Sikhs currently serving in the U.S. Army with their articles of faith intact. The Sikh Coalition will be attending the 3-day film festival and will also be providing resources for community members to recognize California Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month in their local communities. For more information and tickets, go to: www.sikhlens.com.
  • Bay Area 5K for the 5Ks and NYC Bowl-a-thon Raise Over $116,000 to Support Sikh Rights

    In September 2014, the Sikh Coalition hosted two large-scale community events in support of our work - the Bay Area 5K for the 5Ks and the New York City Bowl-a-thon. Each event provided an opportunity for the community to come together to celebrate the progress of Sikhs in America and commit ourselves to a brighter future for generations to come. Both these events were immensely successful with the Bay Area 5K for the 5Ks raising over $51,000 and the NYC Bowl-a-thon raising over $65,000.

    Click here for Bay Area 5K for the 5Ks Photos.
    Click here for NYC Bowl-a-thon Photos.
  • Donate with Confidence

    The year 2014, marking more than a decade of impact by the Sikh Coalition, has proved to be a groundbreaking year for the community. In October, we launched our end of year fundraising drive. We need YOU to help us fight for civil rights in 2015 and beyond. Our goal is to raise $1,000,000 before the end of 2014. If you believe in a no-nonsense Sikh civil rights institution, please support our end of year campaign today!

    Please give generously: www.sikhdonate.org.

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