SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA—Sikhs in California submitted a memorandum to U.S. Congressman Mike Honda, who represents California’s 17th district, including parts of Silicon Valley. The letter includes information on who Bhai Gurbakhash Singh Khalsa is and why he is on a hunger strike.
Full text of the letter –
Dear Congressman Mike Honda,
As concerned constituents of your congressional district and members of the Sikh community at large, we would like to inform you of human rights violations taking place in India, which affect the Sikh community directly. For many years, the Indian Government has been unjustly keeping Sikh political prisoners in jail long after said individuals have fulfilled their sentences. Among the political prisoners who are being kept past the proper incarceration times are: Mr. Gurmeet Singh, Mr.Lakhwinder Singh, Mr.Shamsher Singh, Mr.Lal Singh, Mr.Wariam Singh, Mr.Gurdeep Singh Khaira, and Mr. Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. At present, the issue has been brought to light by an ordinary farmer in India, Mr. Gurbaksh Singh of the Haryana province. Mr. Gurbaksh Singh has been on a hunger strike since November 14, 2014, to raise awareness about the Sikh political prisoners who are still incarcerated despite completing their sentences. The increased attention on India’s failed justice system is becoming widely known and we seek your help in increasing awareness of the situation.
By way of background, Section 433 of India’s Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973 provides: “the appropriate Government may commute a sentence of imprisonment for life, for imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.” Despite 14 years being the maximum incarceration for other prisoners under similar circumstances, the Government of India has failed to provide the Sikh prisoners with proper justice, which would have been to release them when they completed their 14 year sentences. Moreover, Article 5 of the United Nations’ International Bill of Human Rights states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” and by not allowing prisoners to go free after completing their sentences, the Indian Government is actively violating the International Bill of Rights. Additionally, the International Conference on Human Rights, which met at Teheran from April 22 to May 13, 1968, solemnly declared in the Proclamation of Teheran:
“It is imperative that the members of the international community fulfill their solemn obligations to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinctions of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions”
India has failed to fairly and impartially uphold Section 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and to support the International Bill of Human Rights. Therefore, we respectfully ask that you do the following:
- Raise awareness within Congress regarding the cause of Mr. Gurbaksh Singh’s hunger strike and the violations taking place;
- Do everything in your power to take action in order to release those individuals who are still incarcerated despite completing their sentences; and
- Inform the United Nations regarding the state of India’s violation of Article 5 of the United Nations’ International Bill of Human Rights and Section 433 of India’s Code of Criminal Procedure.
We appreciate you taking the time to review our concerns and implore you to assist in this matter.
Concerned constituents of California’s 17th Congressional District