April 1, 2020 (Washington, DC) -- Today, in partnership with civil rights, human rights, and interfaith organizations, the Sikh Coalition delivered a letter
to key U.S. congressional offices that oversee U.S. refugee programs and foreign aid to Afghanistan. The letter demands steps that the U.S. government must take to better protect Afghanistan’s religious minorities--specifically, its Sikh and Hindu populations.
This action follows a recent series of deadly attacks against the Sikh community in Kabul, Afghanistan. Last Wednesday, March 25, ISIS gunmen attacked a gurdwara
in Afghanistan’s capital city, killing 25 Sikhs. ISIS then attempted to bomb a Sikh funeral service
being held the next day. These Sikh families have been given ultimatums to leave their homes and Afghanistan or face more deadly violence. These attacks fit an undeniable pattern of targeted violence
against Afghanistan's minority populations, including Sikhs, over the last few years.
“The United States government can and must do more to protect all religious minorities in Afghanistan,” said Satjeet Kaur, Sikh Coalition Executive Director. “Sikhs in Afghanistan are bearing the unimaginable pain of losing their families and being forced out of the only place they have known as home. The international community, including the United States, must join Canada's efforts to protect these families from extinction.”
To spur appropriate action from the U.S. government, the letter
requests that the chairs of the House and Senate foreign affairs and judiciary committees take several immediate, concrete steps, including:
- Coordinating with U.S. federal agencies to grant refugee protections to these groups;
- Removing U.S. obstacles to resettlement of these refugees;
- Conditioning all future aid to Afghanistan on further human rights protections, including for religious minorities;
- Scheduling congressional hearings on the issue; and
- Conditioning all future aid to Afghanistan on the removal of all bigoted material on religious minorities from the Afghan state curricula.
The letter also recognizes that many other Afghans, including Muslim religious minorities, have suffered enormously under the ongoing war and violence in Afghanistan. In addition to the relevant congressional committees, it was also sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
If you have more questions about the current situation for Sikhs in Afghanistan, the World Sikh Organization
has compiled background information (along with advocacy asks specific to Canadian citizens). They, along with the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation, have worked
with the Canadian government to help resettle several Sikh Afghan families to Canada since 2019.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly--and to stand with those who do so in the face of hate and violence.