Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Speaking of Ethnic Politics...

Sikh Communities across Canada Shrouded by Tension, Violence

As the Victoria Times Colonist described it, “every time Vancouver South MP Ujjal Dosanjh hears footsteps behind him, he looks over his shoulder.”

That’s because the then-NDP MLA, now Liberal MP, was viciously beaten with a lead pipe way back in 1985 for daring to call for peace among members of the South Asian community.

"When I was injured many of my dearest friends wouldn't want to be seen coming to my house to see me, to visit me, in the light of day," Dosanjh told reporters in last week's story. "They were silent because of the fear."

This past weekend in Toronto, a meeting at a Sikh temple turned into a raucous melee of some 100 people nearly rioting.

Last year in Surrey, one erstwhile member of the Alberta Report Editorial Collective worked as a returning officer for a Sihk Temple’s elections – under armed police guard – in hopes that a repeat of a violent clash at the same temple would not be forthcoming.

But most fascinating of all? This past week, BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell announced that he would personally boycott the annual Vaisakhi parade (an event celebrating the first harvest and since 1699, the creation of the Khalsa, the first order of Sikhs under the Guru Gobind Rai), unless organizers apologized for this:

'Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh and B.C. Liberal MLA Dave Hayer are not invited to attend the annual event — and if they do show up, they'll be responsible for their own safety.

No one else's security would be an issue at the parade, said organizer Inderjit Singh Bains.

"Just only two persons," said Bains. "Everybody else is no problem."'

At issue is the creation of a Sikh homeland, widely-known as Khalistan, as a “freeing” of Sikhs currently living under the domination of the majority Hindus in India.

Check out this web piece cataloguing past injustices:

- From the time of Gurus, Hindus have always been against Sikhs;

- During two holocausts in the 18th century and many wars against Mughals, Sikhs did not receive any help from Hindus, not even from Rajputs and Marathas;

- It was Hindus who betrayed Sikhs and helped British army to take over Punjab, Khalistan which included all of Pakistan and some of the Indian states like Kashmir, Haryana and Himachal Pardesh. For doing this Hindu Dogras got Kashmir and the rest of the country became part of the British empire;

- Sikhs had fought for helpless Hindus and freed their women from Muslim invaders for two hundred years and this is how Hindus returned the favor;

- Even Punjabi Muslims fought against British from the side of the Sikhs but not the Hindus.

At any rate, it was a rare show of bipartisan solidarity from Campbell, as well as a fascinating – and dangerous - example of how International politics sometimes leave home.


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