Sikhs in Scotland welcome Scottish Government’s commitment to international human rights & democratic freedoms
On 17th March 2021, representatives from Sikhs in Scotland met with the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs, Mike Russell MSP to raise the community’s concerns on the ongoing Farmers Protest in India, regarded as the largest protest in history, and the widespread human rights abuses against peaceful protesters, journalists and activists.
At the meeting, Sikhs in Scotland representatives raised a range of issues including:
- Human rights concerns such as the detention of activists, protesters and journalists in India.
- 109 Instances of Internet shutdowns in India in 2020, with India topping the global list for the third consecutive year.
- The ongoing case of Scottish-Sikh, Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been held in an Indian jail for over 1,230 days without conviction.
Commenting after the meeting, Charandeep Singh, Director, Sikhs in Scotland, said:
“This is a time of great distress for the Scottish Sikh community as we witness the eroding of Farmers and Workers Rights in India. We are concerned of the long-term impact the new laws will have on farmers and workers and urge the Government of India to listen to the Farmers Unions and repeal these laws. We are gravely concerned at the increasing use of state violence against peaceful protesters, forced imprisonment of journalists and internet shutdowns. These are not the hallmarks of a democracy and urge the Government of India to respect democratic freedoms and human rights for all.”
In a letter to Sikhs in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, MSP, said:
“The many reports of violence used by security forces against protesters is particularly concerning and we will use our influence to urge the Indian Government to respect its international responsibilities and ensure that protests can take place without fear of violence or repression.
“I understand this is a deeply distressing issue for many Sikhs in Scotland and we will write to the government of India outlining the Scottish Government’s concerns and our belief that the right to peaceful protest must be respected throughout the world.”
Commenting after the meeting, Mike Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary of External Affairs, said:
“I welcomed the chance to hear first-hand the account about the concerns regarding protests, human rights, media freedom and the situation of women in agriculture. I look forward to hearing from Sikhs in Scotland again and to raising these issues with others.”
In a letter to Sikhs in Scotland, Mike Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary of External Affairs, added:
“I am happy to reiterate the Scottish Government’s position that the right to gather lawfully and demonstrate a point of view is fundamental to all democracies. The many reports of violence used by security forces against protesters is particularly concerning and we will use our influence to urge the Indian government to respect its international responsibilities and ensure that protests can take place without fear of violence or repression.”
Notes to Editors:
- Click here to access the full Letters from the First Minister & the Cabinet Secretary.
- Sikhs in Scotland is an award-winning national advocacy body for the Scottish Sikh community.