World Muslim Sikh Federation
World Muslim Sikh Federation or WMSF is a UK based organisation comprised of both Muslims and Sikhs members committed to highlight and fight for the rights of both Muslims and Sikh around the world especially in South Asia. The group is particularly active in working of better Muslim-Sikh relations in Pakistan. Many members have ancestral links with Pakistan as they or their ancestors were born in villages or towns now in Pakistan.
The organisation has in recent months proposed the following projects in Pakistan:
- The construction of a world-class premier education insitution Baba Nanak University
- The passing of a Sikh Anand Karaj Act in Pakistan called Anand Marriage Act - See this News item
For more details contact:
- Contact: Sardar Manmohan Singh, chairman or A Singh (tel UK: 07706 704 248 or by email: [email protected]aol.com)
World Muslim-Sikh Federation Convention on Human Rights in South Asia
London, UK (KP) - The Indian subcontinent, now perhaps more commonly referred to as 'South Asia', is a region of the World that is plagued with poverty, illiteracy, corruption and strife. Political conflict however is not limited to the bitter animosity between neighbouring nuclear powers Pakistan and India, in fact, the most severe and brutal conflicts, in the case of India, exist between the government and its civilian populations. More specifically, the brutal conflict exists between those peoples who wish to exercise their internationally recognized human and legal right of self-determination and the Indian government's refusal to recognize the legitimacy of such demands.
India's utter disregard for human rights and human dignity in its consistant efforts to crush such movements and pummel into submission those who talk of freedom from India and justice for the crimes the Indian state and security forces have committed has resulted in a deadlock for which there seemingly is no end to the atmosphere of fear, violence, bitterness and suffering for the oppressed peoples.
Self-determination as a human right and its applicability to the Sikhs was the theme of the speech given by Ranjit Singh Srai, a lawyer and co-ordinator of the Human Rights Advisory Group of the Panjabis in the Britain All Party Parliamentary Group, at the World Muslim-Sikh Federation convention on Human Rights in South Asia held on July 24 in London. There were many speakers at this event including two special guests, Justice Ajit Singh Bains (Punjab Human Right Organization) and Inderjit Singh Jaijee (Movement Against State Repression) who had flown in from Punjab especially to attend. Both Justice Ajit Singh Bains and Inderjit Singh Jaijee have outstanding reputations as defenders of human rights in Punjab making their presence at this convention highly appreciated by all who attended.
A broad range of human rights issues affecting the subcontinent were covered by the speakers, who were all in agreement that the subcontinent is a region that has a poor track record and lack of respect for individual human rights. Women were said to be among the most at risk from this apathy towards human dignity and suffering prevailing in that part of the World. However, what was later brought into the limelight was the underlying causes of conflicts and the denial of the collective human right that is self-determination. It was this issue that was first raised by Ranjit Singh Srai, who touched upon this crucial yet grossly overlooked issue in human rights.
What Ranjit Singh Sarai argued, based on an analysis of relevant international law, was that self-determination was not just a basic human and legal right but that it is actually the most important human right under the UN Charter and foundation, the one which all other human rights depend upon. Self-determination as a concept therefore is not simply a case of politics, but is a fundamental aspect of International Law and human rights. Self-determination as a human right is given prime importance in the UN Charter and features prominently in both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).
India is a signatory to these Covenants but it has formally entered a 'reservation' to the effect that it does not accept that self-determination applies to 'peoples or nations' within its borders. The UN treaty monitoring body responsible for policing compliance with the 1966 Covenants has requested India to remove this 'reservation' on the basis that it is not consistent with international law and is not acceptable. But India has ignored this request and continues to refuse to recognise any nations such as the Sikhs, Kashmiris and Nagas who are seeking their internationally recognized legal and human right of self-determination. India refuses to engage in any dialogue that raises the demand of self-determination and when such demands are raised they are suppressed by force.
It is extremely important to understand this legal and human rights dimension to demands of self-determination in Punjab and elsewhere. For it would be a huge blunder to ignore these and see the movement for Khalistan or Nagalim in purely a political context when in reality, this is far from the truth. These are movements founded on rights enshrined in international law and the freely expressed wishes of the people themselves. Genuine peace and justice in South Asia depends on the free exercise of those rights. The Sikhs as a nation freely determined, at the Sarbat Khalsa held at the Akal Takht Sahib in Amritsar on 26 January 1986, to exercise their right of self-determination and establish a sovereign Sikh state of Khalistan in the Sikh majority Punjab. This remains the legitimate and lawful goal of the nation despite the terrible oppression India has carried out to silence the voice of Sikh freedom.
The human rights aspect to calls for self-determination in the north-west and north-eastern regions in India was confirmed by three other speakers, Justice Ajit Singh Bains and Inderjit Singh Jaijee who spoke largely on the human rights violations against the Sikhs of Punjab and Dr Mukul Hazarika of Assam Watch who spoke about the dismal human rights situation in the "seven sister" states of the extreme north-east, most notably Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.
Dr Hazarika spoke very passionately about the plight of the entire north-east, a region that is colourfully diverse in ethnic, linguistic and tribal identities, yet suppressed ruthlessly by the Indian state. The people of the entire region live in the grip of fear from the Indian security forces who have been given tremendous powers under a number of clandestine laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that virtually enables the Indian army to detain, shoot dead and raid peoples' homes with impunity and immunity from the law. Such unwarranted detention of civilians, extra-judicial killings and molestation of women (including gang rapes) by the Indian forces are a frequent occurrence in the "seven sister" states of the north-east protested Dr Hazarika.
Justice Ajit Singh Bains and Inderjit Singh Jaijee presented speeches on the human rights violations against the Sikhs. Abuses that have remarkable similarities to the traumatic experiences of civilian populations in Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. However, what both speakers from Punjab were able to touch upon that Dr Hazarika was not able to, do due to time constraints, was the fact that not only are individual human rights frequently abused in India but the political freedoms of the people are also subject to violations that are contrary to the spirit of democracy and where no one is ever held accountable. This was backed up by Dr Jasdev Singh Rai who spoke of how closely the current Indian Constitution resembles the British legislation imposed on the region in colonial times where the emphasis was not on ruling on behalf of the people but on imposing illegitimate control over the people.
The example of the Indian constitution (which it was noted has been amended over 100 times) being used as a weapon by the central government against the states was high-lighted by Justice Ajit Singh Bains. Justice Bains lamented about how the elected governments of the states have no real power or autonomy from the central government. Centre-state relations in fact are completely one sided and on numerous occasions the central government has dissolved elected state governments and imposed President's Rule when there happened to have been a conflict of interests between New Delhi and the state in question. Under such circumstances, political freedoms and the legitimacy of Indian democracy is seriously questionable.
Much of this was confirmed by Inderjit Singh Jaijee who in addition pointed out that over 200,000 Sikhs have been killed in India since the 1980's. Inderjit Singh Jaijee went on to regret that the Indian government has treated the people worse than the British colonialists did in terms of abuses and that the Punjab is a police state which has the highest number of police men per capita and where human rights abuses are a part of a system for which there is no redress. It was further commented by Inderjit Singh Jaijee that the Sikh struggle is one of self-determination and he agreed that self-determination was a basic human right, something that had been expressed earlier by Ranjit Singh Srai and supported by Dr Mukul Hazarika, who had voiced support for an independent, sovereign Assam based on the same provisions granted in international law.
As part of his speech, Ranjit Singh Srai included a message sent by Lord Nazir Ahmed, a member of the British Parliament, who was unable to attend the convention. Lord Ahmed in his note had called for the need of the Sikhs and Muslims of the subcontinent to work together in upholding the human rights of the people and expressed his hope that the conference would develop a stronger understanding between those who were peacefully engaged in struggles for self-determination, what he called, "the most crucial human right of all". Lord Ahmed reaffirmed his support for the establishment of Khalistan at a time when Sikh leaders in India are being targeted for calling for independence.
He criticised India's militarization and forceful suppression of self-determination movements in Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab and the state terror unleashed on the people of these two regions. Lord Ahmed's message was well received. It carried an appeal for those concerned with the region to unite in a common cause: "Durable peace, justice and the rule of law in South Asia is vital to the greater security of the world; we must work together to defeat those that threaten these ideals.... until India reverses grotesque challenges to civilised standards, we will work together to help ensure there is no UN Security Council seat for India." wrote Lord Ahmed.
The Convention on Human Rights concluded with the passing of a number of resolutions calling for peace and condemning all forms of terrorism, including state terrorism. One of the Resolutions condemned the recent arrests of Sikh political activists and politicians in Punjab such as Dal Khalsa leaders Kanwarpal Singh and Sarbjit Singh Ghuman along with Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) President, Sardar Simranjit Singh Mann, all of whom had done nothing but call for the right of self-determination in a peaceful and democratic manor which was in accordance with International Law. A further Resolution appealed to all those who are oppressed by India and that are peacefully struggling to exercise their right of self-determination to forge an alliance and to co-ordinate their efforts on a political front.
Manmohan Singh Khalsa and Nazar Lodhi, officers of the World-Muslim Sikh Federation, thanked the speakers and guests alike and pledged to carry forward their work to promote human rights in South Asia.
- Above with thanks to panthic.org Sunday 31st July 2005