New York, June 30, 2020: For over four decades, Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities have endured targeted assaults. After the March 25, 2020 terrorist attack on the Kabul Gurdwara, UNITED SIKHS was quick to set up its relief operations on ground in Afghanistan, providing relief assistance and legal aid to the families impacted by the attacks from the Islamic State Terrorists.
Our advocacy efforts on the hill have included request the U.S government to dismantle the terror networks and hateful ideology, bring all perpetrators in Afghanistan to justice under International Law or by Military Tribunal. This requires better coordination between the U.S State Department and the U.S. Department of Defense at a higher official level with decision makers.
UNITED SIKHS Chief Legal Counsel, Wanda Day Sanchez said, “We urge Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to make a bold move now by granting emergency refugee protections to Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities. Time is the one asset one can never regain”.
In addition to the 26 U.S. members of Congress, on June 25, 2020 another 20 U.S. Senate members raised concerns to Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, bringing his attention to the rising existential threats on Aghan minority communities.
UNITED SIKHS International Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Services Director, Gurvinder Singh said, “Afghanistan has everything to gain by expelling draconian ideology and entering a new age of change in 2020. These targeted atrocities on the religious minorities at the time of COVID-19 has further amplified their difficulties and has brought life of an entire community at a standstill.”
United States of America is morally obligated in protecting the withering Afghan Sikh and Hindu minority communities from more strife, grief and further loss of life. The resettlement request by both branches of government: 25 Congress members and 20 Senators; directs the State Department to protect the civil and religious liberties of those persecuted. Jasmit Singh, Advocacy Director said “Ambassador Brownback, we call upon you to stand up to these evil plagues of ideological opportunists from within Afghanistan, hold regional stakeholders to a high level of accountability if interference may be linked and to prevent any more bloodshed against Afghan Sikh and Hindu minorities.”
Singh, added, “The disbursement of monetary aid recently released should reach down to the struggling minorities greatly affected by the COVID pandemic. Poverty has been exasperated due to lockdowns and it has increased the levels in the misery index of the Afghan Sikh minorities.”
Similar to the letter dated May 04, the committee letter dated June 25, 2020 has also emphasized the State Department to provide emergency refugee protection to Afghan Sikhs and Hindus by referring them to the FY20 U.S. Refugee Admissions Program through Priority 1 (P1) embassy referrals, further requesting the Department to consider designating this group for Priority 2 (P2) referrals as well, to widen the scope of opportunity for resettlement on account of persecution or fear of religious persecution.
The UNITED SIKHS National Director for Security, Jason Keller said, “The Sikh and Hindu minorities have never taken up arms during the long civil war, under two decades of American or allied occupation. The US government should before leaving provide additional security and even consider training the unarmed minorities to protect themselves and their family members.”
UNITED SIKHS extends its gratitude and appreciation towards the United States Senate for urging the U.S. State Department Administration to grant emergency refugee protections to Afghan Sikh and Hindu communities. We sincerely hope for a swift and methodical relocation with due support of the State Department.
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