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The Sikh Coalition News
August 19, 2021

  • Photo above: Members of the Afghan Sikh community after the March 2020 attack on a Kabul gurdwara.

    Update on Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan

    August 19, 2021 -- As the security situation in Afghanistan continues to rapidly deteriorate and facts on the ground are changing quickly, we are providing an update with our most recent understanding of the situation for the nearly 300 extremely vulnerable Afghan Sikhs and Hindus still in the country. Please note that the facts and details below are accurate as of 11:00 AM EST on August 19, 2021; we expect that some of this information will become outdated quickly as the situation changes.

    Organizations across the world are advocating for the evacuation and permanent resettlement of these individuals and many others. The Sikh Coalition remains in nearly daily contact with U.S. State Department officials from Kabul to Washington, DC, in an effort to get these families evacuated directly to the United States. These officials understand the desperate circumstances and know that the names of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus should be added to U.S. evacuation lists.

    On Monday, the Indian government offered to immediately take in the remaining Afghan Sikhs and Hindus. We are currently communicating with U.S. and international NGOs who specialize in emergency evacuations and conflict resolution to pursue this potential option, while also recognizing that permanent resettlement in India is not a viable solution for these people given the lack of long-term stability or opportunity. The Canadian government has also promised refuge for approximately 20,000 of the most vulnerable Afghans. In principle, this would include persecuted minorities like Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, but the offer is contingent on first getting them safely out of the country. We thank our Canadian partners at the World Sikh Organization, many individuals in and out of government, and especially sangat members who have long been working on this issue.

    For all those who have reached out looking to help, including with offers of financial donations for  these families in Afghanistan, our best current advice is that you hold on donating for now. The first and only order of business right now is getting these families out of the country; once there is clarity on a destination, there will be clarity on fundraising needs and where those funds should be directed. We will continue to provide updates on these efforts as they develop.

    As a reminder, the safety of Afghanistan’s Sikhs and Hindus was dire well before the collapse of the government. The community, which once numbered in the tens of thousands, has been devastated by years of emigration and death, driven by both systemic discrimination and a uptick in extremist violence exemplified by a brutal attack on a Kabul gurdwara in March of last year. When ISIS-affiliated fighters threatened the remaining Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan with genocide if they did not leave the country, the Sikh Coalition, our partners, and many sangat members began to increase our efforts on this issue: We mobilized organizational partners to send a letter to key congressional leaders, published a firsthand account from an Afghan Sikh, and worked with more than 1,000 sangat members to push 20 U.S. Senators and 26 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to contact the State Department about this issue.

    While our hearts break for the tens of thousands of Afghans from all faith backgrounds who are now in harm’s way, we continue to advocate for this small community so that they are not left behind or forgotten by the authorities and are able to make it to safety before it is too late. And finally, as we continue to work on this issue, we also urge vigilance for Sikh Americans here at home given the historic false conflation between the Taliban and minority communities in our country.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

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