WASHINGTON, DC, USA—The White House has responded to the petition signed by over 30,000 individuals asking the US Government to “Recognize the Sikh Genocide of 1984”. The petition was launched last year in November and gained popularity through social media channels. Sikh volunteers all over the country also put in efforts to get the petition signed at Gurdwaras. Although at this point, the US Government has not publically recognized the carnage as a genocide, it has however condemned the brutal killings of Sikh men and women post 1984 in India.
The announcement by the White House is a major blow to India, which boasts of being the largest democracy in the World. Human Rights violations in India have been condemned by various Human Rights Organizations in the World, including the Amnesty International and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The following response was provided by the White House –
Thank you for expressing your views. During and after the 1984 violence, the United States monitored and publicly reported on the grave human rights violations that occurred and the atrocities committed against members of the Sikh community. The State Department’s Official Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, for example, covered the violence and its aftermath in detail, with sections on political killings, disappearances, denial of fair public trials, negative effects on freedom of religion, and the government’s response to civil society organizations investigating allegations of human rights violations.
We continue to condemn — and more importantly, to work against — violence directed at people based on their religious affiliation. U.S. Government efforts to protect the rights and freedoms of all people have long been a feature of our foreign policy. Our diplomats regularly report on and speak out against violence against minorities around the world.
Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act (.pdf) in 1998, which affirms U.S. commitment to religious freedom, enshrined both in the United States Constitution and in numerous international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
In accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act, the President appoints an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom to head the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department and to advise the Secretary of State and the President on issues related to international religious freedom. The Ambassador is also responsible for providing information related to religious freedom to be included in the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (Human Rights Reports) and preparing a separate Annual Report on International Religious Freedom[International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR).] The IRFR describes the status of religious freedom in every country, highlights trends and violations, and details the actions that the United States government is taking to improve freedom of religion.