This June, we join Sikhs worldwide in remembering the Indian Army’s assault on Darbar Sahib (also known as the Golden Temple) and dozens of other gurdwaras throughout Punjab in 1984. Code-named Operation Bluestar, the assault claimed the lives of thousands of Sikhs.
Please read this first-hand account
from Sawinder Singh, a survivor of the 1984 assault, whose home was right beside the Darbar Sahib complex, and view this video
mapping the carnage.
Additional resources: 1984 Living History Project
; A Witness Among the Bodies
(Ensaaf); Survivor Interviews
(Ensaaf); The Last Killing
(Ensaaf); Amnesty International Report
; Human Rights Watch/Physicians for Human Rights Report
; Twenty Years of Impunity
Employment Discrimination Case Settled
On May 28, 2019, after nearly a decade of enduring racial and religious harassment in the workplace, Sawinder Singh, a 45-year-old observant Sikh American bus supervisor, successfully resolved a multi-year dispute
against Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) with the help of attorneys from the Sikh Coalition and Public Justice.
“I am thankful that the Sikh Coalition and Public Justice were there for me,” said Sawinder Singh. “Without them, I would still be enduring discrimination in the workplace. Sikhs and other religious minorities will now be much better protected from discrimination throughout the Montgomery County Public School District.”
to learn more about Sawinder’s case. Additionally, the Sikh Coalition’s legal team handles over 200 legal requests per year. If you or someone you know is experiencing employment discrimination, please fill out our confidential legal intake form
or call (212) 655-3095 for a free consultation. The Sikh Coalition has a proven record of defending the civil rights of Sikh Americans, especially in cases of workplace discrimination
Oklahoma Board of Education Approves Sikhism
In May 2019, the Oklahoma Board of Education voted to approve new social studies standards, which, for the time ever, include Sikhism. As a result, nearly 700,000 students in Oklahoma will have the opportunity to now accurately learn about the Sikh faith, community and traditions.
Due to the Sikh Coalition’s multi-year national campaign to make classrooms safer and more inclusive, Oklahoma joins New York, New Jersey, Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, Idaho, California and Arizona as the latest state to include accurate information about Sikhism in state standards. This means up to 15.7 million students in these states have an opportunity to learn about Sikhs.
At present, we are working to make sure Michigan becomes the 10th state
. With the Michigan Board of Education scheduled to vote on new standards next week, we are tirelessly working to ensure the new standards passed are inclusive of Sikhism. Sign up for our email listserv
to stay up-to-date on all information related to Michigan’s social studies standards.
Sentencing After Attack on Sikh in Oregon
On May 24, 2019, an Oregon man was sentenced after pleading guilty to the January 14, 2019, assault of Harwinder Singh Dodd
. Mr. Dodd is a Sikh American husband and father who owns a convenience store in Salem. Since January, the Sikh Coalition provided free legal support during court proceedings and acted as a liaison with the Marion County District Attorney’s office on Mr. Dodd’s behalf. Click here
to learn more about this case.
The Sikh Coalition has been in direct talks with the Oregon Attorney General’s Office regarding its newly-created hate crime task force to identify ways to support new hate crime legislation and law enforcement training measures that would better protect Sikh community members across the state. The Sikh Coalition will continue working with Oregon law enforcement and officials to minimize the risk of future attacks.
Sikh Coalition Testifies on TSA Profiling Issues
On June 4, 2019, the Sikh Coalition testified in front of the House Homeland Security Committee regarding the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) ongoing policies and procedures that further enable insidious and discriminatory profiling of Sikh passengers at American airports.
Sikh Coalition Senior Law and Policy Manager Sim J. Singh detailed the challenges
that Sikh passengers continue to face, including religious rights violations and discriminatory secondary searches, while offering legislative, technological and oversight-related recommendations that would further prevent the profiling of Sikh passengers.
Click here to see photos from the hearing
Before you travel, the Sikh Coalition urges you to download our TSA: Know Your Rights Guide
and the FlyRights app
. This way, if you encounter any problems you can immediately report them through the app.
Nordstrom and Gucci Response
In response to Nordstrom selling a turban from Gucci, the Sikh Coalition sent both companies letters outlining our concerns that neither company had made any attempt to recognize the significance that the turban has for millions of people, including Sikhs, and that for some it would be viewed as inappropriate. Click here
to read our full response, which details our advocacy-related efforts and our decision to reach out to both retailers.
New Haven Mosque Attack Prompts Vigilance
In response to the horrific, intentionally-set fire on a mosque
in New Haven, Connecticut, the Sikh Coalition urged gurdwaras and community members to know their rights, remain vigilant and always report cases of bias, bigotry and backlash
The Diyanet Mosque of New Haven was intentionally set on fire, rendering the mosque uninhabitable only a week after the holy month of Ramadan began. While investigations are ongoing to look for the suspect and a motive, local Muslim advocates have asked for authorities to investigate for biased motives. Additionally, the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut held a vigil for members of all faith backgrounds, including local Sikhs
, to express their solidarity and take a stand against hate.
to learn how you can work with the Sikh Coalition to make your gurdwara safer, report hate incidents and know your rights. Additionally, the Sikh Coalition provides completely free and confidential legal assistance to Sikhs who have been discriminated against or subject to bias based upon their religious beliefs or identity. Click here
for a free and confidential consultation in either English or Punjabi.
Sikh Coalition Supports Washington Community Event
On May 4, 2019, thousands came together in Kent, Washington for the 27th annual Khalsa Day Celebration and Parade. Working with Kent City Councilmember Satwinder Kaur and other local Sikh community members, our team was honored to provide direct communications and advocacy support. This effort contributed to multimedia coverage across the Seattle-area media market including the Kent Reporter, iLoveKent.net
, KNKX public radio and local NBC and ABC affiliates.
Additionally, the Sikh Coalition engaged Sikh and non-Sikh political leaders to participate in the event, including U.S. Congressman Adam Smith, Washington Senator Mona Das, Seattle City Councilmembers Lorena González and Kshama Sawant, Kent City Council President Bill Boyce, and Kent City Councilmembers Brenda Fincher, Marli Larimer and Satwinder Kaur.
CBS Episode Creates Nationwide Impact
Since the CBS Religion & Culture documentary special aired in March
2019, it has helped Sikh youth and parents nationwide contextualize how to face bigotry with faith and resolve.
The Sikh Coalition has been screening the documentary alongside anti-bullying workshops in sangats across the country. In New Orleans, LA, a back to school presentation focused on religious-based bullying in schools and how to deal with school bullying incidents when they occur; in St. Louis, MO
, parents participated in discussions on bullying prevention; and in Glen Rock, NJ
, Khalsa school youth were engaged in discussions on bullying, identity and allyship.
If your gurdwara is interested in hosting an anti-bullying workshop and CBS screening, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
. To learn more about how this CBS episode fits into the Sikh Coalition’s multi-year campaign to raise Sikh awareness and enhance public understanding nationwide, click here
Do you have a passion for civil rights? Our powerhouse team is expanding! The Sikh Coalition is currently looking to fill one full-time position based in our New York City headquarters.
The Media and Communications Director
is responsible for guiding and implementing the long-term strategies that educate millions of Americans through large-scale media initiatives. They will report to the Sikh Coalition’s Senior Managing Director of Programs and will be responsible for managing projects and staff across all of the organizations’ various communication channels. To learn more about this position, qualifications and how to apply, click here
Southern California Celebrates 4th Bowl-a-thon
On May 19, 2019, the Sikh Coalition hosted our 4th annual SoCal Bowl-a-thon
, where over 200 enthusiastic bowlers and cheerleaders ‘bowled a strike for Sikh rights’ and raised over $31,000! The event provided a rewarding opportunity for the Southern California sangat to celebrate the Sikh identity and the hard work that is being done to fight for Sikh civil rights in California and across the United States.
to view photos from the event.
Junior Sikh Coalition Hosts Kaur’s Event
On May 11, 2019, the Junior Sikh Coalition (JSC) hosted “Sikh Women’s Appreciation Night”
in New York City. Attended by 50 community members, the event served to empower the community by centering the Kaur narrative and celebrating the accomplishments of Sikh women in their professional fields. This event was hosted by three JSC youths as the final culmination of their Jyot project. The year-long Jyot projects are an opportunity for JSC members to create and deliver positive community change in an issue area they are passionate about. Stay tuned as we continue to highlight other Jyot projects from the 2019 JSC class!
to view photos from the event.
In this Issue