Queen’s Park- Today in the Legislature, Deputy Leader for Ontario’s NDP Jagmeet Singh’s motion calling on the Ontario Government to formally recognize the November 1984 state organized violence perpetrated against Sikhs throughout India as genocide was debated and voted down by the Liberal Government.
“Today, the liberals turned their back on human rights, social justice, reconciliation and healing. They turned their back not only on Sikhs but every Hindu and Muslim family that risk their lives to shelter their Sikh neighbours,” the MPP from Bramalea-Gore-Malton said following today’s devastating vote.
Despite receiving support from both the NDP and Progressive Conservative caucuses, Ontario’s Liberal Government defeated the motion 40 to 22.
The state organized anti Sikh violence has commonly been referred to as riots. However the term riots suggest the violence was spontaneous and communal.
“It is important to clarify the misconception that the violence against Sikhs was communal in nature. This could not be further from the truth,” Singh said to kick off the debate.
Under McGuinty the Liberals welcomed Kamal Nath an alleged perpetrator of Genocide, Kathleen Wynne was a part of these meetings.
“Ontario is a place where people see democracy as a way to heal from the wounds of the past, today Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals denied this opportunity to Sikhs,” Singh explained. “It’s unfortunate that the Liberal Government does not understand the importance of accurately describing the violence as a genocide which works to remove the blame from innocent members of the community and instead places the blame squarely on those who organized this atrocity.”
The current Indian Government’s own Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, described the atrocious anti-Sikh violence in 1984 as Genocide, citing that several people who took part in and had a role in the carnage were yet to be punished. Other cities in North America that have also recognize the events of November 1984 as a genocide include the City of Stockton, California, Kerman City, California, Bakersfield, California and Harvey, Cook county Illinois. The California State Assembly passed a resolution denouncing the November 1984 violence as a pogrom and the Delhi State Assembly passed a resolution denouncing it as a massacre.
Former Justice of the Indian Supreme Court, author of the Nanavati Commission Report stated that the killing of Sikhs was planned and organized. Human rights organizations have also reported that the voter lists were used to identify and target Sikh businesses and homes.
“While, we cannot change the horrific events of 1984, as Members of this Legislature, we had an opportunity to clear misconceptions which divide the community” Singh explained.
“The first step to healing and reconciliation is to recognize the harm that was committed and that’s what this motion, if passed would have done.”
The Ontario Government would have been the first legislative assembly to formally call the events of November 1984 a genocide in the world.
Note: Vic Dhillon, Amrit Mangat and Harinder Takhar all spoke against the motion however when the bells rang calling members to vote they left the chambers.
Harinder Malhi did not speak on the motion nor was she present for the vote.
See full transcript of the 3 MPPs speaking against the motion
3 MPPs of the Ontario Provincial Parliament which call themselves to be part of the Sikh religion spoke against the Sikh Genocide Motion.
Here are the transcripts:
Mrs. Amrit Mangat: “I rise to express my extreme sadness about the loss of thousands of innocent Sikh lives and their properties in India in 1984.
That grim tragedy in 1984 shall always be remembered as a black chapter in the history of India and a blot on the humanity of those who could, but did not, stop the tragedy from happening.
The killing and maiming of innocent Sikhs and the looting and burning of their properties was in the aftermath of the assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, India’s then Prime Minister. The history of nations bears evidence that violence is not a solution for resolving political and social conflicts. My heart goes out to those innocent Sikhs and their survivors who lost their lives and properties in that 1984 tragedy.
Madam Speaker, despite what I said and how deeply sad I feel, in my opinion, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario is not the proper forum to bring this motion and debate it; the House of Commons may be. The issues of state complicity and genocide are legal concepts that beg for an evidentiary basis. The proper forum to debate these issues is a court of law, not the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.”
Mr. Vic Dhillon: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to speak on this very, very important issue.
Needless to say, we should never, ever forget the atrocities that occurred in India, in New Delhi, in Punjab, in November 1984.
This issue hits extremely close to home for me. My family was held hostage, at gunpoint. The captors were trying to kidnap my sister, and if it hadn’t been for my mom pleading on her knees and showing her fresh stitches that she had because of an operation on her abdomen, I don’t think my sister would have been left without any harm. There would have been, I believe, and my family believes, some serious consequences from that.
I wasn’t in India at that time. I remember my father telling me stories of gasoline being poured down the mouths of innocent people and then they were lit on fire.
These are extremely serious events that happened, and we should never, ever forget them.
As the member from Mississauga–Erindale stated, had all the other Sikh members and other members been involved in bringing this motion forward, I certainly believe it could have been a lot stronger and a lot more beneficial—
Mr. Harinder S. Takhar: This is a great opportunity for me to speak on this important subject matter. But before I do, I want to recognize the members of the Sikh community who are in the Legislature to watch this debate.
The strength of our province is rooted in the diversity of our people. Ontario is proud to be home to a vibrant Sikh community that has contributed immensely to the life of our province. The principles of Sikhism—honesty, hard work and service to others—resonate with all Ontarians and represent vital building blocks of a strong society. The Sikh community is integral to the stability and success of our country. From working in the logging and forestry industry, to building the railway, to fighting on behalf of Canada in World War I, the Sikh community has played an important role in Ontario and in Canada.
We are debating a motion pertaining to the events of November 1984 in India. This week, we mark the 32nd anniversary of the invasion of the Golden Temple. Earlier this year, as part of Premier Wynne’s trade mission to India and Punjab, I had the honour to visit the Golden Temple again. The tragic events leading up to and following the invasion of the Golden Temple and the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi resulted in the unnecessary loss of thousands of innocent lives. We have all heard—and the member from Bramalea–Gore–Malton talked about—some of the heart-wrenching stories from the families of the victims, seen through print media, through TV interviews and some personal contacts. We can all share some personal stories as well.
Madam Speaker, those stories are true. Innocent people, for no fault of their own, were killed. Mothers witnessed their young sons at their prime age being killed. Wives saw their husbands, fathers, fathers-in-law and brothers dragged out of their homes and murdered in front of their own eyes. Young children saw their parents being killed in front of their own eyes. Parents saw their daughters being raped, and they watched helplessly. Their homes and shops were ransacked and set on fire.
I salute the human beings who provided shelter to, and saved the lives of, some of the people who were targeted. Several countries have recognized the grave atrocities that took place in 1984. In responding to an online petition campaign that had generated over 30,000 signatures in 2013, President Obama, even though he refused to declare the 1984 anti-Sikh violence as genocide, noted that grave human rights violations had occurred and continued to say that, “We continue to condemn—and more importantly, to work against—violence directed at people based on their religious affiliation.”
In offering his government’s apology in 2005, then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the following: “I have no hesitation in apologizing to the Sikh community. I apologize not only to the Sikh community but to the whole Indian nation, because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood enshrined in our constitution.
“On behalf of our government, on behalf of the entire people of this country I bow my head in shame that such a thing took place.”
Then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went on to say the following: “We cannot rewrite the past. But as human beings, we have the willpower, and we have the ability to write a better future for all of us.”
For some victims and their families, the 1984 event’s wounds may have healed. For others, this tragedy still carries on as an open wound to this day.
For 32 years, families of the victims have been asking that those responsible be brought to justice. Mothers have been raising their children by doing manual labour without any relief or support. In addition, some bad elements in society have further committed crimes and taken advantage of the situation by demanding money, extorting money and exploiting young women. This is shameful. My words in this House today are really empty words, and they are no relief to those families.
Moreover, this is not a partisan issue. It is so unfortunate that the member who brought up this motion failed to discuss it with the other four members of the Legislature who are also Sikh members. If he had done that, we could have introduced this motion together, which could have made this motion more effective and meaningful.
I want to watch this important debate. I have an open mind on this issue. My objective as a legislator is to ensure that justice is served, those who committed crimes are punished, relief is provided to mothers who have been struggling to raise their children, steps are taken so that these kinds of unfortunate acts do not happen again, and bad elements of society do not exploit situations again.
I look forward to the debate. via Sikh Daily Update