August 30, 2022 (New York, NY) -- As we observe the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan today, the Sikh Coalition continues our advocacy on behalf of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus who must be resettled to the United States in order to have security, opportunity, and full civil rights.
After more than a year of coordination between government officials and Sikh community advocates, the Sikh Coalition was pleased to assist with the safe arrival of one multigenerational Afghan Sikh family to New York via the United States Significant Public Benefit Parole Program last month. We then facilitated an exclusive story with the Associated Press
, one of the largest news wire services in the world, which not only documents this family’s harrowing experiences, but outlines the need for the U.S. government to help the remaining Afghan Sikhs and Hindus both in Afghanistan and temporarily relocated to India. You can also view the family’s arrival to the United States on our Instagram here
“On behalf of my entire family, I want to thank the Sikh Coalition for working with the Long Island sangat and partners around the globe to facilitate our evacuation, immigration, and resettlement,” said Kulwinder Singh Soni, a representative of the Afghan Sikh family. “We were also immensely grateful for the opportunity to tell our story--and to make it clear that there are still so many Afghans that the United States government can and should help.”
Following the launch of the AP story, the Sikh Coalition’s media and communications team is holding a press day today in our New York City office to facilitate further interviews with members of the family, leaders in the Long Island sangat, and relevant experts. These include conversations with JUS Punjabi, PTC USA, Punjabi Radio USA, and more.
Despite the successful evacuation of Kulwinder’s family, the fact remains that too many Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are still under urgent threat: both those who are still in Afghanistan and those who have been temporarily relocated to India and face legal limbo, economic uncertainty, and the possibility of religious discrimination. Accordingly, today, the Sikh Coalition sent a formal request
to President Biden once again urging him to use his executive authority to expedite the resettlement of Afghan Sikh and Hindu families--as the administration has recently done for Ukrainian refugees.
“Afghan refugees--including Sikhs and Hindus--continue to be marginalized and left in extreme danger,” said Sim J. Singh Attariwala, Sikh Coalition Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager. “The President must act now to fulfill his outstanding campaign promise
: The United States has a special obligation to help these families, given both the 20-year war effort and our nation's long-standing capacity to help refugees from around the world.”
The Sikh Coalition has conducted a wide range of advocacy work on behalf of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities for two years, which ramped up after the 2020 attack by ISIS-K on a Kabul gurdwara. Since then, we have rallied more than 1,000 community members to contact Congress about this issue, led 25 U.S.-based organizations
to advocate for resettlement, pushed 20 senators
and 26 members of the House of Representatives
to send letters to the U.S. Department of State calling for action, published a firsthand account
by an Afghan Sikh, sent our own letters to President Biden
and Secretary of State Antony Blinken
, and spent hundreds of hours in meetings with government officials and advocates across four different countries in search of solutions.
We would like to thank all of our partners in these efforts, including leading sevadaar Paramjit Singh Bedi, Chairman of the Afghanistan Committee of Global Sikh Council and founding member of My Family My Responsibility; critical sevadaars from Guru Nanak Darbar of Long Island; the Trustees and Committee members of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar Southall, London; Deepak Ahluwalia, Sikh Coalition Legal Advisory Committee member and immigration attorney; and allies in government agencies and organizations around the world. While we stand in solidarity with the tens of thousands of Afghans from all faith backgrounds who remain in harm’s way, we continue to advocate for Afghan Sikhs and Hindus so that they are not left behind or forgotten by U.S. authorities.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.