31 January 2008

WE EXIST!

It seems that Sikhs willing to testify against Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar are coming forward. We have long suspected that the reason CBI never found anyone is that they were instructed not to find anyone. Here is an article from World Sikh News, telling of the most recent to come forward. We wish we had something we could testify to, but no one of note attacked us. Our prayers are with these latest to volunteer. It is, I think, a most dangerous seva.

Warning: Some of this is quite gruesome.



Sajjan Kumar incited mobs to kill Sikhs, says Gurcharan Singh


WSN Network

CHANDIGARH: "WE EXIST, You just don't see us" was the searing frontpage headline in a recent edition of the World Sikh News while bringing to the fore the continuous shame that haunted India as one of the other victim of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom came foreward to give a lie to the sham investigations by Delhi Police, CBI and others. That phenomena has caught on like bird flu for the Indian establishment. Yet another victim, a 42-year-old Sikh, has now said encouraged by other victims, he too is now willing to testify against Sajjan Kumar, the man accused by human rights activists and 1984 victims of leading the blood thirsty mobs but made a minister by Indian establishment. Gurcharan Singh, now confined to a bed and suffering, said Sajjan Kumar indeed incited the violence against Sikhs in Delhi and that he saw him actually doing that.

Not surprisingly, victim after victim has been claiming that, including those that the CBI found untraceable but the media found them within hours, only to see that they stayed steadfast to what they had initially claimed. The US based Jasvir Singh adamant on testifying and the India-based Surinder Singh being caught on camera by a leading Indian TV news channel CNN-IBN narrating in gory detail how Sikhs were burnt half-alive in Tytler's presence. Gurcharan Singh now says he saw Sajjan Kumar inciting a 1,500-strong crowd to kill Sikhs in the country's capital's Newada locality on November 1, a day after Indira Gandhi's assassination.

In a damning front page report on Wednesday (Jan 30), India's The Asian Age newspaper quoted Gurcharan Singh as narrating: "Sajjan Kumar told the rioters: ‘Is mohalle ka ek bhi sardar zinda nahin bachna chahiye. In kutton ko saza deni hai (Not even a single Sikh here must escape alive. These dogs must be punished).' He had come there specifically to direct the rioters, who were mostly from surrounding villages and bastis, but led by one of his henchmen, Kirpa Ram," Gurcharan Singh alleged. Then only 17 years old, the frightened young man claims he heard the Congressman's thunderous speech from the edge of the restive crowd that had collected near his home that morning.

"I wore a cap over my patka (under-turban) to disguise my identity," he said. According to him, baying for blood after Sajjan Kumar's venomous sermon, the mob began fanning out and targeting homes and shops owned by Sikhs. "They first set fire to the Singh Sabha Gurdwara at Mohan Garden and then stormed our home because my father Nath Singh was the president of the gurdwara," Gurcharan Singh said, recalling the worst morning of his life.

The killers did not spare any male Sikh. Gurcharan's uncle, who was visiting from Khurja, was hacked to death. His father was beaten mercilessly and left only because the attackers thought he was dead. "They thrashed my brother, Tejinder and me and flung our bodies onto a truck that they had just set on fire," he said. The two brothers were later dragged out from the smouldering vehicle by some young boys who had managed to hide from the killers.

The news report continues: "Gurcharan Singh escaped with his life, but only just. He has relived the horror and pain every single day for the past 24 years confined to his bed and completely dependent on the meagre care his poor family can afford. He was presented on Tuesday before the media by AISSF faction head Karnail Singh Peermohammed.

"He said he has decided to break his long silence after the recent appeal by the Jathedar (head priest) of the Akal Takht as well as positive interventions made by the Supreme Court. Gurcharan Singh believes "Sajjan Kumar was one of the masterminds of a state-sponsored genocide of Sikhs" and rightly deserves to be punished. But despite his own suffering, the bedridden Sikh nurses no grouse against anyone. "When they flung me into the burning truck I called out to Wahe Guru three times and I believed He (God) saved me for a purpose. Now it is up to Him to bring the guilty to book," he said.

It is wise of Gurcharan Singh to continue to have faith in Waheguru now, because the Indian state has failed him and the so-called leaders of the community who came into some political power have since found new agendas and secularized themselves, translating secularism as a move to shun all concerns of the community and their people.

Raaj Khalsa Da Khalistan

Half caste brahmin jatt who thinks she's a Sikh, indeed. People who don't like me, really don't like me. Well, I guess I showed him, lol!

In my wanderings around the Internet, I came across this Video. I like it a lot. I hope you like it, too. And I promise not to use it for one of my strange little song parodies.



VideoGully

29 January 2008

Mohan And Balbir


This is Suni. I haven't written here for a long time, but now I'm married and pregnant and happy and I'm ready to tell you about my first husband and our son.



I come from a wealthy khatri Sikh family. I mention that because it is important to my story. While I was at university studying psychology in Delhi, Papa Ji decided I needed a husband. Without consulting me, he looked and looked until he found me the perfect man. Then he told me. I agreed to meet him, but you'll find out later why I knew it would be a useless meeting.


The man was very nice. He was about 30, fair and handsome, educated, sophisticated, rich and seemed like a good man. He was a turbaned Gursikh, of course. Under normal circumstances I would have wanted to get to know him and maybe I would have married him. He could have provided me with a very prosperous life. My life would have been happy and uncomplicated.


Mohan was the problem. I had met him at university and he was just the opposite. He was my age, tall and handsome, but dark and he came from a very poor family. He was Sikh, but before he knew me he had never grown his kesh and took off his kara at night and when he showered. In short, he was what is called a 'dalit Sikh' and was at university only because of reservation. Although he was intelligent, there was no other way he could have gotten an education. When I met him, he was a bit scruffy and countrified, but when he spoke up, he always had something insightful and interesting to say. His background was completely different from anyone I had ever known because I had grown up in a cocoon of wealthy Sikh India. Of course, he fascinated me.





I made it a point to get to know him. I have never been the shy, demure Indian lady of the stereotype. If I really want something, I go after it. The long and the short of it is that I fell in love with him. I knew my family would never let us get married, but I was young and reckless. We secretly got married. This was before I was introduced to Papa Ji's gentleman.


I didn't know what to do, but I had to do something soon because Balbir had already been conceived. Terrified, I took a picture of Mohan and visited my parents. I told them all about him and about our marriage. It was worse than I had imagined. My father screamed and hollered and yelled. And then he struck me and knocked me to the floor. I didn't expect that. I had never known him to be violent. Then he turned and stomped away, leaving me with my mother. She picked me up and put her arms around me and cried. That was when I told her that I was going to have a baby. Then she really cried.



When my father returned, he was more calm, but no less angry. He apologised for hitting me and handed me a large cheque. 'I won't have my daughter living in poverty, but I can't condone this marriage. Now go and don't come back. You have joined this nobody's family. You're no longer my daughter.'



I left, but nothing is ever that simple. I knew if I destroyed that cheque, there could never be any hope he'd ever soften, but if I brought it home, it would be a terrible blow to Mohan's pride as a man. I deposited it in the bank and didn't tell anyone.


The break with my family was painful, but also a blessing. Now we could begin our real married life. We moved into a small flat, not very pleasant, but it was our first home and I loved it. The estrangement from my family wasn't total, either. My mother secretly stayed in touch with me, and my younger sister and my brothers sometimes visited. It wasn't comfortable, though. Mohan wasn't comfortable with them and they were, I'm sad to say, a little snobbish toward him. By this time, he had a respectable jura and was tying a dastaar, so he looked like a proper Sikh. I think that helped a little.


Now let me tell a little about him. He was from a village north of Delhi and came from a very large family. He had 13 siblings. They were poor but not destitute by Indian standards, they managed to eat and stay healthy. I think they must be from very strong stock. They were the opposite of my family in every way. They lacked money, but there was so much love there. They laughed and worked hard and I think in spite of their poverty were much happier than we were in my family. At first they were a little bit afraid of me and I admit I was apprehensive about them, but we got to know and love each other quickly. His mother first looked at me and said something like "I don't know how to be a mother-in-law to such a grand lady!" I laughed and told her to treat me just like any daughter-in-law who married her son without a dowry. We became friends at once. We lived in Delhi and built a little vegetable market business and made enough money to send some to them. We also made some investments that turned out very well. Mohan had a talent for investing.


Mohan was very even tempered most of the time. He was calm and able to take life as it came. He considered his background uncouth though and was ashamed of his family. This hurt me because they are good people and deserved better from him. He was big and strong physically, but unlike my Canadian cousins, he was no warrior. He was a great negotiator. He acquired the reputation of someone who could get people to settle disputes and he became a sort of neighbourhood small claims judge, sort of like The People's Court. He was kind and loving to me, an almost perfect husband. He felt guilty about my estrangement from my family, but I did my best to convince him that we both knew their reaction would be negative and we just needed to accept it and move on. When he was blessed with Amrit, he changed. It was as if all the lack of confidence and that lurking inferiority complex just vanished literally overnight.


Balbir was a different story. From the beginning, he was always in trouble. He was a finicky, colicky baby who grew into a cranky toddler. Please don't misunderstand me. He was our son and we both loved him so very much, but he was a problem. He lied. He stole. He hit the other children. We tried to teach him our values, but he was always in trouble. When he was of school age, we sent him to stay with Mohan's family in the country. We were hoping that he would get into less trouble away from the temptations of the city. We had been sending money regularly and the village school was good enough for the beginning of his education. It was a good move. His aunts and uncles simply wouldn't tolerate his misbehaviour the way we did. He had to do his chores and they were greatly increased with each incident of stealing or lying. He was intelligent enough to learn really fast that good behaviour made life more pleasant and bad behaviour made life quite unenjoyable. This was really hard for me. I missed him and it seemed too much like training a dog.


When he finished primary school, we brought him back to Delhi. At first, he was well-behaved, but I'm afraid I was too indulgent and before long, he was getting in trouble again. By this time, we had bought a nice house in a good area of Delhi and were quite respectable people. Mohan didn't want his son to throw jellybeans into the machinery of our lives. Luckily he took over the role of disciplinarian, but Balbir remained inwardly defiant.


It was in June, 1984, that Mani and Mai and Sandeep came to visit us. They had been in the hands of the Punjab police and had been let go when they realised they were Canadians, and then they had a hair raising escape from Punjab. When they showed up here, they were tired and dirty and Mai was pregnant like me but not so far along. The men were psychologically in bad shape, but Mai was in chardi kala. She has already explained about that. She was physically injured, but she didn't seem to care. I had known her from childhood when her family and Mani's would visit India in the summer. She always amazed me because she would do anything that came into her head that seemed interesting to her, no matter how outrageous it was. I'll leave it to her to tell about the time she flew off the roof. I think her biggest stunt was when she ran away and came home on the shoulders of a Nihung. That was Mai. She always had a sort of style.


You have heard that some people mix like oil and water? Well, Mohan and Mai mixed like sodium and water. BOOM!! He dislikes loud, brash, pushy, over confident, vulgar, uncouth women who think they're men. That was one of his more complimentary descriptions of her. Her description of him, under her breath was 'pussy wuss.' When he learned that her father was jatt, that did it. The only people hew hated more than brahmins, even our nice neighbours were jatts. She became 'that half caste jatt brahmin bitch who pretends she's a Sikh.' to him. Never mind that those terms are all contradictory, that was just his way of being insulting. He did admit she was beautiful, though. On the other hand, she sweetly shared with me that he was too damned weak to be a sant, much less a sipahi, but he was very handsome. I wonder if they could have gotten along if they would have both dropped their prejudices?


Sandeep had a wonderful effect on Balbir. He had a good effect on everyone, though. A few people are like that and Sandeep was one of them. Mohan was even willing to overlook that Mai was his mother and he loved Sandeep, too. Sandeep was a Gursikh like his parents and from the first had decided that he and Balbir had to arrange to take Amrit together. Amrit? Balbir? Our delinquent son started getting up at amrit vela to pray, can you imagine? He had always kept his kesh, but wore only a patka and really didn't take good care of his hair. That changed at once. Sandeep stuck out his chest and said, "What's wrong with you? I've been tying a dastaar since I was seven." So Balbir started tying a turban, and Sandeep insisted it be tied well. At this time also, Balbir wanted to be called Billy. Sandeep would have nothing to do with that. "They tried to call me Sandy. Sandy! What kind of a name is that for a Sikh? And Billy is even worse. Bilbar is much better. Isn't that the name the Guru Ji told the panj piyare to give you?" After a time, Sandeep relented a bit and they began calling each other Bilbo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. Sandeep also began teaching Balbir gatka. How I wish he had taught Mohan as well.


That leaves Mani. All he could see of Mohan was that he hated Mai. Mani was a very rational, logical person, except where Mai was concerned. She was perfect and that was that, so those two were metaphorically at each other's throat whenever they were together. Poor Mai. She wanted peace, I think. I think she also enjoyed the way he stood up for her though. As they say, he had her back.


We all went to stay for awhile with his family in the village. We were two pregnant ladies and the air of Delhi was thick and grey black and barely breathable. If only we had stayed there. We decided to have a big family reunion in Delhi. We invited their families from Punjab and Kashmir and Canada and Mohan's and mine. My parents refused to come, but my sister and brothers were there. In all we had 39 people, quite a big crowd.


That is how we were when SHE was executed. When it became clear that Sikhs were being murdered, we quickly divided into two groups, cut the hair and run and hide, and Sikhs. When the dust settled, we Sikhs were 11, including three unborn children. I cannot express how proud I was of my husband and son at that time. They both stayed. I think even Mai and Mani gained some respect for Mohan. Mohan, however, wasn't gracious. He went to the room where they were staying, brought her purse and passport and return ticket. He handed her those objects, then he tossed the car keys at her and told her to leave, this is a battle for Sikhs. I thought Mani would kill him, but Mai held him back. I have never seen anyone as cold as she was then. Her voice would have frozen hell. "It doesn't matter whether I'm a Sikh or not. This is my family and I stand with them. " She sat the purse and passport and ticket on the table, walked over to him and dropped the car keys at his feet. They glared at each other for a moment. I had no idea what would happen, but our sons stepped forward and separated them. They said that there were people who wanted to kill us, we should save our personal differences for later. Mani muttered, "This isn't over."




It was over though. They never had the chance to have it out with each other.


Those are my first husband and my son. We had a good life together and loved each other and made a nice family. In the end, when it counted, Mohan became a sipahi and they both died as shaheeds.


That cheque my father gave sat in the bank all those years building interest. I still had our investments and Mai's family in Canada have enough money, so I never needed it. It has been donated where I believe it has done some good.

25 January 2008

Row over Indian's deportation from Canada deepens

PLEASE GO TO THE DEMONSTRATION FOR LAIBAR SINGH IN TOTONTO TOMORROW!!! (see the previous blog entry for details.)

When an immovable object meets an irresistible force - and a helpless man is caught in between...
From Delhi, Khabrein. info

Row over Indian's deportation from Canada deepens
By Gurmukh Singh

Toronto, Jan 25 (IANS) The president of a gurdwara in Canada where a failed refugee claimant from India is being sheltered says the shrine's management has not violated any law, though the country's Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has said there is no law allowing sanctuary at religious places.

Laibar Singh, a 48-year-old widower from Punjab, had entered Canada on a fake passport in 2003.

After exhausting all legal avenues to stay on, he was ordered to be deported last July.

As he has been paralysed since 2006, his supporters say he should be allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds. Since December, they have foiled two attempts to take him out of the gurdwara and deport him.

Responding to the minister's remarks, Surrey Guru Nanak Sikh Temple president Balwant Gill told IANS: "The government has been saying many things. Our stand is that this man has been given sanctuary on humanitarian grounds. There is nothing illegal about it."

He admitted that since the deportation order stood, the police could come and pick up Singh any time.

"But we cannot say how people will react again. As long as this poor man is with us, we will take care of him,"
Gill added.

Reacting to government suggestions that arrangements have been made for best medical care for Singh in India, Gill said he didn't know anything about it.

"Ask the government if they have arranged anything for him in India. As per our knowledge, nothing has been arranged. It is mere talk," he said.

Asked why they don't send Singh back and pay for his medical care in India, Gill said: "Why do you want him to be removed? There are so many people out here enjoying disability benefits. What is wrong if this man is offered the same? His is a genuine case."

He feared that the police could pick up Singh when he is taken out for medical check-up.

"Yes, they will try. They are looking for this kind of opportunity."

Gill said they were willing to wait as long as the government wanted.

"We are ready to fight for his stay here on humanitarian grounds. They (the Canadian government) tell the world from rooftops that they are the champions of human rights. Why not respect the human rights of this man?" he asked.

Meanwhile, the government has pacified Canadian border agents - who were angry for being pulled back twice from picking up Singh - by telling them that the deportation order will be carried out at all costs.

The border agents wanted the authorities to clarify their stand on the case as their failure to remove Singh made them look 'impotent'.

With Singh's supporters not willing to give in, the issue may drag on.






All emphasis is mine. Mai

24 January 2008

Toronto Rally For Laibar Singh - Sat., 26 Jan. 2008





From Sikh Activist Network



As immigration enforcement increases its targeting of Laibar Singh and
Abdel-Kader Belaouni, people across Canada are demonstrating in the
thousands to demand justice for non-status people living in sanctuary, and
to demand status for all!

After being denied refugee status by Canada's extremely flawed refugee
determination system, Laibar Singh, a paralyzed Punjabi refugee claimant,
and Abdel-Kader Belaouni, a blind Algerian refugee claimant, were both
slapped with deportation orders. Both men made the courageous and
difficult decision to not comply with their deportations, instead seeking
sanctuary from supportive communities, Laibar in the Abbotsford Sahib
Kalgidhar Darbar Gurudwara, and Kader in Montreal's St. Gabriel's church.

Despite massive public support and pressure on the government to grant
both men Permanent Residency, both have been repeatedly denied. Instead,
Immigration Canada has gone as far as arresting Laibar while he was
receiving treatment in a hospital, and forcing Kader to stay in sanctuary
for over 2 years!

On Saturday, January 26th join us at a community rally and as we will be going to the offices of Immigration Canada to demand an end to the targeting of these men, to demand respect for sanctuary, and to call on Immigration Canada to grant Laibar and Kader permanent residency on Humanitarian & Compassionate grounds.
(Note: Somebody please, get this brother a kara.)
For more info:

email: nooneisillegal@riseup.net, sikhactivist@gmail.com

======================================
INFORMATION FOR DOWNTOWN TORONTO AND GTA RALLIES
======================================

===============================
GTA - BRAMPTON, MISSISSAUGA, REXDALE, ETC
===============================


What:
--------
Community Rally At Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre (GTEC)

When:
--------
Saturday, January 26 – Meet at 10am – The rally will start at 10:30am

Where:
---------
6900 Airport Road, GTEC (International Centre)


===============
DOWNTOWN TORONTO
===============

Date & time:
----------------
Sat, 01/26/2008 - 9:30am

Location:
------------

Meet at OISE - 252 Bloor St W - St. George subway station

Details:
----------

Part of the National Days of Action in Support of Laibar Singh

Rally and Demonstration at the Toronto Immigration Offices
Saturday, Jan. 26th Meet at OISE - 252 Bloor St W - St. George subway station) **9:30am** (Buses will take us to the offices)

Will join GTA Rally @ 10:30



--
Some see things as they are and ask, Why?
I dream things that never were and ask, Why not?
Bobby Kennedy

Rajvinder Kahlon - You Will Be Missed

My friend, simmal tree, posted this picture along with this story from the Surrey Leader on his flickr account


YOU WILL BE MISSED

An improvised memorial to toddler Rajvinder Kahlon is slowly growing, one bouquet of flowers at a time, on the front lawn of her family home in the 7800 block of 116 Street in North Delta.



Two ceramic fairies and three plush teddy bears, pink, green and red, stand guard over the candles, flowers and sympathy cards.

“You will be missed little one,” reads one.

“Peace be with you.”

Rajvinder died inside the house Friday morning while her mother was walking her two older sisters to a nearby elementary school.

Her father, 47-year-old Lakhvinder Kahlon, has been charged with first-degree murder.

On Monday, North Delta residents Heather Colpitts and Travis Tipton added some chrysanthemums and a card to the memorial.

Their son, Hunter, is 21 months old, close enough to Rajvinder’s age that his mother needed a moment to compose herself.

“It’s sick and sad,” she said, wiping a tear away. “I can’t get my mind around it.”

At age two and a half, Rajvinder Kahlon was tall for her age, standing almost three feet, a playful dark-haired girl with large expressive brown eyes who loved to sing traditional Punjabi-language tunes.

Most relatives believed Rajvinder would grow up taller than her two older sisters.

Her family lived in the upstairs of the recently renovated house in North Delta.

The windows of the 1970s-era two-storey wood frame stucco house have been replaced with modern glass and the gutters redone.

It’s a tidy home with cheerful light-blue and white walls.

The Kahlons shared it with a younger family of four, who lived downstairs.

On school days, Rajvinder would wait for her older sisters to come home so they could play songs on the computer and she would sing along.

Last Friday, as she normally did, Rajvinder’s mother Manjit took her two older daughters to school, walking them down the street to McCloskey Elementary.

She left her youngest with her husband.

When she returned, she discovered her daughter was dead.

Witness Sarbjeet Bath told CTV News she saw Manjit screaming on the front lawn of the house.

On Monday, Lakhvinder Kahlon made his first court appearance, just long enough for a Surrey Provincial Court judge to order a mental fitness test by a psychiatrist.

Kahlon will remain in custody until his next court appearance in February.

He is a short, stocky man with close-cropped hair and a neatly trimmed beard. His hair is almost completely white.

As he listened to a translator, Kahlon scanned the courtroom with haunted eyes.

It did not appear that any family members attended.

People who know the family say Kahlon became depressed after the birth of his youngest child. He had wanted a son, they say.

A relative has issued a plea on behalf of the family to the public and media to avoid speculation.

The family is devastated by the slaying, says the spokesman, who identified himself only as Jimmy.

“It’s unimaginable.”

Outside court, anti-violence activist Lali Pawa of the “We Can” campaign issued a similar caution against concluding the killing was somehow cultural.

“This is something that is horrific to everyone.”

dferguson@surreyleader





This was my response:








This is beyond sad.

Even beyond tragic.

How is Bhainji Manjit coping? And this story doesn't include the horrible, bloody details of what she found.

And if this murder wasn't about a cultural preference for boys over girls, what was it about? Can't we stop glossing over the evils in our midst? We need to confront them directly, eyes wide open, fearlessly, hearts and minds wide open, and

PUT AN END TO THESE ATROCITIES AGAINST GIRLS AND WOMEN!

If this is speculation, so be it!

This murder must wake up our community to put an end to this evil!

Gender preference has no place in our community. It should, it can and it must be stamped out!

Sorry for the tirade, but someone needs to say these things plainly and clearly, in a way that cannot be misconstrued.

I guess The Road To Khalistan needs to address this.


And so here we are addressing it. I have no more to say.

Except:

Just look into this child's eyes,
This LITTLE GIRL'S eyes.

They will never see anything,
ever again.

They cannot cry.
But you can,
I can.

Let our tears mean something.

Let us band together to end this atrocity.

It can be done.


It must be done.


And WE must do it!
NOW!

23 January 2008

And Yet Another Sleepless Night

Since the events of early November, 1984, I have had a terribly difficult time sleeping. To paraphrase, I suppose, 'Sleep no more! Rajiv doth murder sleep.'*

So many nights I lie awake thinking. For me to get up and do anything would wake up my husband and one of us should sleep so I just think and very quietly jap naam.

Last night I thought about those 20 years of my (self-imposed) exile. Until autumn of 1986, I was simply too disoriented to - anything. I played with little Hope and regained my physical strength after a fashion, but spiritually I was empty. Even Amrit turned sour. Eventually I chopped off my kesh and walked out of my family and my life.

















I spent the next years of my life trying to regain my head. 'Guru Ji, give it back! I need it!'

'No. You gave it to me. It's not yours any more.'

Time after time a hundred times, I begged for it back and always the answer was, 'No.'

How wise and merciful is our Guru Ji! Only that refusal made possible my homecoming.

I have learned that Amrit is, after all, sweet, and my head is better off in hands other than my own.




Just some thoughts on another sleepless night.










*From Macbeth by William Shakespeare:
Methought I heard a voice cry, "Sleep no more! Macbeth doth murder sleep! - the innocent sleep, Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleeve of care, The death of each day 's life, sore labor 's bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature 's second course, Chief nourisher in life 's feast."
Macbeth 2:2. {Macbeth').
Painting: The Blessed Encounter by Simmal Tree
Used with permission

--
Some see things as they are and ask, Why?
I dream things that never were and ask, Why not?
Bobby Kennedy

Laibar Singh Ji - In The Khaleej Times

As a slight change of pace, here is a view of Uncle/Brother Laibar Ji from The
Khaleej Times in Dubai, United Arab Enirates.

An unwelcome guest

BY GEORGE ABRAHAM

24 January 2008



A FEW months ago, Canadians were aghast to learn that their visa mission in India had been deliberately denying entry to certain people with the last name, Singh or Kaur. Now, they are furious that a certain Laibar Singh continues to be an unwelcome guest in Canada.


The 48-year-old refugee claimant arrived from Punjab in India in November, 2003. He claimed to be fearful of his life because the Indian police had accused him of being a Sikh extremist and would torture him if they found him alive. Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board, which has the onerous responsibility of verifying the stories of each asylum seeker, did not believe him. They ruled his claims "not credible" and ordered his deportation.

Up until this point, there was nothing extraordinary about Singh's story. Like thousands of refugees before him, he had landed in Canada using forged papers, and the board's refusal was part of a worldwide trend which has seen Western governments becoming more sceptical about asylum seekers.

Singh's case would have therefore joined the hundreds of unsung others who are deported every year. But fate intervened in 2006 when he suffered an aneurysm that has left him quadriplegic. He cannot take care of himself, and without family in Canada, it fell to his ethnic Sikh community to fill the gap. Not only have they been volunteering their medical services and housed him in their places of worship, the community has physically blocked his deportation — twice — over the last one month.

The National Post seemed to sum up the mood of much of the nation when it said in its opinion columns last week that, "The whole affair is a complete moral disaster — one that grows worse with every minute the unfortunate gentleman stays on our soil."

With 30,000 refugee claimants waiting in queue in Canada, in addition to asylum seekers in various UN camps in strife-torn zones all over the world, Singh's case has become a lightning rod. Some have speculated that the government is treading gingerly because of an impending spring election where the so-called ethnic vote can be critical in several ridings (constituencies), particularly in the urban centres of Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto.

At issue is whether or not Singh will receive good medical care in his native land of India. A member of the CBSA's advisory committee, Don DeVoretz, who is also an economics professor at Simon Fraser University in BC, weighed into the debate by suggesting a typically "Canadian way" to resolve the stand-off. He said it would be un-Canadian for government officers to forcibly enter a temple and force Singh into a plane. Instead, the government should guarantee that it will ensure that he has access to good medical care in India, the professor said.

However, other commentators saw the health issue as a bogey intended to keep Singh in Canada indefinitely and thereby defy the removal order. They also point out that Singh has four children in India who need their father's love and care. Canadians are also wary of being perceived as gullible — taken in by every tale of woe — and want to be seen as a society that upholds the rule of law, even in situations such as Singh's where compassion may dictate otherwise.

Even as the debate rages in the media, battle lines are being drawn. A small but dedicated band of supporters has made it plain that they will do virtually anything to stop the government from sending Singh back to India. On the other side are people who want to stop Canada from being a magnet for the world's tired and hungry masses.

A Nieman scholar from Harvard University, George Abraham writes from Ottawa. Reach him at diplomat01@rogers.com

21 January 2008

The 10 Commandments






This has been sitting in my in box since New Year's Day. I hadn't yet decided what to do with it. But I need to decide now. I'm cleaning out my overflowing in box. I already posted the turban video with all those charming Sikhs. OK, so

I'll post this from The Indian Express, even as I download 'The Dancing Singhs" on YouTube.



The 10 commandments

Posted online: Tuesday, January 01, 2008 at 0000 hrs IST
Chandigarh, December 31


The God gave Moses ten imperatives which mankind should have followed for noble living. People from the region interpreted these commandments quite literally. Read on...

1) Thou shall not have any other gods. I am your lord
Ask Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim. As if a name featuring three lords wasn’t sufficient to

remind people of his presence, he decided to quiet literally don the attire of a highly venerable Sikh Guru.

2) Do not make any idols
Again we took it literally. Instead of an Indian idol, we preferred Voice of India. Ishmeet Singh got not just awards and felicitations, but also job offers, marriage proposals, advertising contracts and much more. Meanwhile, the SGPC also decided that it is better to have portraits than idols even if it involved the absurdity of hanging the image of a secessionist leader in the museum near one of mankind’s holiest and purest shrines.

3) Do not misuse the name of God
Too many custodians of God wanted to make sure that his name wasn’t misused. So a little-known Shahi Imam issued a fatwa against Aroosa Alam. An even lesser known right-wing party called for a ban on the movie Jab We Met. Reason: They felt a Hindu boy marrying a Sikh girl was blasphemous.

4) Keep the Sabbath Holy
God said keep the Sundays holy and an over-eager Punjab government decided to give hallowed status to a major portion of the year. Apart from Saturdays and Sundays, there are 31 public holidays and restricted offs. Mathematically speaking, it constitutes more than one-third of the year.

5) Honour your father and mother
Nobody exemplifies it better than Sukhbir Badal. Concerned at the sheer magnitude of his father’s onerous duties, he has decided to share his responsibilities. Conducting meetings with bureaucrats, taking official decisions and deciding on government’s policy stands are some areas where he has alleviated the burdens of the Chief Minister.
6) Do not murder

This is a commandment that applies to each one of us in the region who balk at the thought of a girl child and have no qualms about taking every possible step to ensure that she doesn’t see the light of the day.

7) Do not commit adultery
Tch tch…People are so touchy about this that the mere presence of a female friend raises their hackles. Capt Amarinder Singh’s proximity with a friend from across the border is leading to him being hauled over the coals. Similarly, G.S. Bali’s alleged rendezvous with bar dancers led to his exit from the Himachal ministry. So, walk the straight and narrow. Sigh!

8) Do not steal
Finance Minister Manpreet Badal has been nobly exhorting his state’s denizens to pay the government its due. In his endeavour, he has made moving speeches, given glaring examples, shocking statistics and adapted novel methods of tax compliances. But despite that, tax collection remain abysmal in Punjab.

9) Do not lie
Yes, please, please don’t. Right to Information (RTI) has ensured that fibbing cannot go undetected for long.

10) Do not covet
Covetousness isn’t about neighbour’s wife or house only. So many persons coveted positions which didn’t belong to them and had disastrous results. Surinder Singla wanted to be an MP, Bhajan Lal wanted to be the CM, Vijai Singh Mankotia wanted more prominence than was warranted. Alas, they were all cut to size.



Now what is your reaction? I think I'll be annoying and put in a poll. I haven't done that for a while.

I'm trying to find a widget that will translate English into Gurmukhi. Does anyone know of such a thing?

And while I'm being annoying, I will officially make my endorsement for the US President: Dennis Kucinich. I have no endorsement for the Repulican nod. Put in a Mormon (Romney) or a Christian evangelical (Huckabee), and we'll find ourselves living under the Christian equivalent of sharia law. And McCain supports the war in Iraq. They're all a bunch of losers. No one worthy of my nod. Of course, since I'm Canadian, I can't vote.. Still I live here and do have opinions.

Dal Khalsa of America


I don't really have the energy to write tonight, but this from Dal Khalsa of America showed up in my inbox a couple days ago and I thought you would enjoy it. It is in both English and Punjabi.

19 January 2008

Meetings



From Nairobi


To Seattle



We have met the invaders...and they are very nice people.




It was like this.




Those who know me well know I rarely go out in public because of my health problems. But this was unavoidable. So I said a prayer and hoped for the best.




I was very nervous about their coming. What would they think of me? I am, after all, the outsider in the family. What if I said the wrong thing. What if I broke some obscure Kikuyu taboo? And what if they didn't like me? I had the good sense to start japping naam - that is not a racial slur, it is the meaningful repetition of God's name - and a bolt of lightening hit me! Me, me, me...It was all me! These people were just getting off 17 hours on airplanes. They were leaving everything they had known all their lives. They had left the tropics and were arriving in the middle of winter. Why, they even had to get used to people driving on the wrong side of the street. And I was a totally unknown quantity to them. You'd think at my age I would have matured to the point that thinking of others would come nasturally. No wonder EGO is one of the five big thieves.




My nerves immediately calmed down and I started thinking about how to make them feel welcome. All went well after that.




To begin, the flight from Amsterdam was half an hour EARLY. Who ever heard of an international flight being early? I had the foresight to check that out on the KLM Website. If I weren't a Sikh and were even slightly superstitious, I would have thought that a good omen.




Simon dropped me off at the arrival gate and went to park the car. I asked the guy at the KLM counter where I should wait and he gave me instructions, saying the flight had already arrived but it would take half an hour up to two hours for our passengers to clear customs. So I waited. And waited. And waited. How long could it take to park a car? And where was Simon's other son. And his ex, who also lives in this area?




People started coming up the escalator and still I was alone.




I started toying with the idea that I might be the only one there to greet them. I would be able to recognise them with no trouble at all. A family group of eight Kikuyus on a flight from Amsterdam would be pretty conspicuous. On the other hand, they would have no way to know who I was.




So what should I do? Go up to them waving my hands, calling, 'Daniel? Wayne? Jane? Mary?' And them thinking , 'Who is this crazy lady who seems to know all our names?'




Of course, like most projections that didn't happen..Simon showed up. Someone had directed him to the baggage carousel instead of the area they'd be arriving at from customs. So we waited a bit. Eventually his ex and her sister showed up, but the family still hadn't come up the escalator. We were getting concerned. Had we somehow missed them? Were they having problems with the government officials? Surely, they weren't the very last in line!




Surely they were! They said everyone else was in such a hurry pushing and shoving and they decided just to be civilised and hold back and wait. (They'll learn quickly enough that such courtesy is rare - and rarely appreciated - in America.)




They finally came and there were hugs and kisses - I'm Indian enough to feel a little uncomfortable with all this kissing in public, I admit, but I got through it - and lots of pictures. I can't wait to see them. No one will have trouble picking me out; I'm the one with the long - relatively speaking - hair. Oh, yeah, and the fair skin. Everybody was really nice and they felt like family to me. The only exception was the sole girl child in the group, Young Njeri. I guess she's about 9 or 10, and she kept giving me this 'and who the hell do you think you are!' look. She has enormous eyes, incredibly expressive. Oh, well, I'm sure she was tired and I hope she'll warm up to me in time.




Eventually, Simon's youngest son showed up and all were packed into cars and went off. Simon went to get our tiny car, leaving me again alone in the terminal. I looked up and saw a 'visible' Sikh happening by. Very visible. Punjabi pajama, kirpan at the side, beautifully tied turban (I notice such things). Rather handsome, too. (Yes, I notice that, too. I'm in my midfifties and married, but I haven't yet gone blind.) As he approached, I said, 'Sat sri akaal.'




He stopped and returned my greeting, looking at me curiously for a moment, then spotting my kara, said, 'You're Sikh?' in that unbelieving tone I've heard most of my life.




'Yeah.'




'Waheguru ji ka khalsa! Waheguru ji ki fateh!'




Testing me, I guess. This time I returned his greeting.




He grinned and extended his hand, 'Harinder.'




I grinned and extended my hand, 'Harinder.' I rarely use that name, but it was too good to pass up. 'But they usually call me Mai.'




He stopped and stared. And started singing, ' "There once was a Khalsa maid," that Mai?'




For my own reasons, I do not like people identifying me in the flesh with the author of this blog, but I didn't want to lie. I don't think it would have worked anyway.




'Yeah.' I was embarrassed.




'Well, why is your hair down and open and exposed like that. And I've never seen a kanga stuck in the hair quite like that.'




Who did he think he was, anyway!? 'I can do most things one handed, but I haven't figured that out yet.'




"I have a daughter.' Before I could react, my hair was in a neat bun. I wasn't sure whether to thank him or slap him. Instead I burst out laughing.




'Do you usually go around grabbing strange women's kesh like that?'




'I don't know what got into me. I've never done anything like that before. Shall I apologise?'




I shook my head, no, hardly able to keep from bursting out laughing.




'But you're no stranger to me. I feel like I know you better than I know my own mother or sisters.'




[Is this blog really that revealing?]




I saw Simon drive up outside. I left, wondering what he would say about my hair, wondering what I would say about my hair. But he was so wrapped up in himself and his sons arrival that he didn't even notice.




So that was the meeting. An altogether interesting day. And I made it almost home without any mishaps.

17 January 2008

RALLY IN TORONTO - SATURDAY 26 January


A Rally in support of Laibar Singh will be held as follows:


OUTRAGE AT SANCTUARY VIOLATION OF PARALYZED PUNJABI MAN SPREADS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
WHAT: Community Rally At Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre (GTEC)

WHEN: Saturday, January 26 – Meet at 10am – The rally will start at 10:30am

WHERE: 6900 Airport Road, GTEC (International Centre



TORONTO - Supporters of Mr. Laibar Singh, a paralyzed Punjabi man will be gathering at the Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre (GTEC) to voice their objection to the continuing attempts to deport Mr. Singh. The latest attempt to deport Mr. Singh took place the morning of Wednesday, January 9, at 4:30am, when enforcement officers from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) made an unprecedented effort to breach the sanctuary of the Surrey Guru Nanak Gurudwara (Sikh Spiritual Centre) to arrest Mr. Singh.

Alarmed by the actions of CBSA, approximately 300 supporters gathered at the Gurdwara to bear witness to this gross violation of their sacred place of worship. The deportation was unsuccessful and a stay was once again granted.


Communities across the Greater Toronto Area will be gathering at GTEC to demonstrate their solidarity with the BC community and their struggle to keep Laibar Singh in Canada. They will also express their indignation to the Government's violation of Sikh sanctuary.



For more information visit.http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/


email: sikhactivist@gmail.com


I got this information from the blog of Mississauga Gurdwara Gurmat School

The photograph is from the successful support of Laibar Singh Ji on 9 January 2008 when CBSA was prepared to violate Gurdwara Guru Nanak in Surrey, British Columbia to kidnap and deport him.

Laibar Singh - Vancouver Sun - Letters To The Editor

Let's start with two letters to the editor from the Vancouver Sun. There were several more, but these two will give you an idea of some of the thoughts expressed. And this link will take you to the rest of the letters.



Singh deportation case sparks a polarization of attitudes within the community


Published: Thursday, January 17, 2008


First letter:


If our politicians were not so concerned about the votes of the Sikh community, would Laibar Singh still be here? Of course not. And the Sikh mob knows it.

Singh makes a mockery of immigration and law, medical opinions about his condition differ, and he has no prospects of gainful employment. The only reason he is here is because he wants to live free off our system.

His supporters' rationale that he will not get the medical attention he needs in India is hogwash. India has a booming economy and among the best medical systems in the world. Patients from many countries travel to India for their medical treatments because of both the high quality and the low cost.

Canada has a history of appeasing groups and special interests in the name of humanity -- but it has little to do with humanity and everything to do with garnering votes. What a joke democracy has become in Canada! And Singh will have the last laugh.

Dorian Rayn

Vancouver


Second letter:

The media's failure to question Canada's unjust refugee system is what's the true "contempt for the law."

The Guru Nanek temple is only one of a number of religious communities across Canada to provide sanctuary to men and women whom Canada's refugee system has failed. Currently, there is no other way to hold refugee boards accountable for decisions they make.

Laibar Singh's supporters show the highest respect for the rule of law by resisting an unjust system. In their time, newspapers and others condemned Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi for their "contempt for the law." If we fail to resist unjust laws, we accept tyranny. I commend Singh's supporters for their commitment to a just society.


Justin Berger

Vancouver


© The Vancouver Sun 2008

In addition, there is a new blog, Support Laibar Singh. Please go there and vote your support for Laibar Ji. (Except, of course, Frank and Tariq. Hey, it's a free country, sort of, and you can vote however you want!) Also see how much happier he looks with the pretty green blanket.

The home page concludes:
It is unfortunate that some are declaring that he must leave because he does not “belong” any longer, despite the fact that his newly found family and community are here. Certainly his physical state of paralysis,
the hardship he will face if deported, and the widespread community support he has received are all crucial factors and realities for Mr. Singh and form the very basis of existing humanitarian and compassionate considerations in Canadian law. He, like anyone else, should be entitled to live a healthy and dignified life.

We must challenge the idea that some are more worthy than others to decide their right to mobility and their fate; instead we should accept these as universal values of humanity. Therefore the supporters of Laibar Singh are demanding that the Immigration Minister allow Laibar Singh to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Communities for Laibar Singh at 604 779 7430.

Another item of interest is the open letter of support for him at No One Is Illegal. Check it out.

Now a note from me, Mai. Tomorrow afternoon, we expect eight members of my husband's family will be immigrating from Nairobi. This will have a great impact on my life. I have no idea how much time I will have on line. I hope to be able to keep up as I have. I can't promise, though.

Another note. Suni is going to have a baby. Yes, I know she's 55 and hasn't had one since she was 19. But she is newly married and if Vaheguru sees fit to so bless her and Amrit, her new husband, who are we to dissent?

15 January 2008

The Khalsa Maid

The post from a few days ago got quite a bit of favourable comment in my e-mail and on facebook and orkut, so here's another, this time about the lady who graciously lets me use her name, or rather, nickname. The melody, assuming you are an affectionato of neither Woodie Guthrie (I love his music myself) nor Union Songs, the melody can be found in the credits link just before my lyrics.

My dear son, who is baffled and thinks he errs much more than he actually does, sent me this link to YouTube. I do not support Edwards for US President, I favour Kucinich, for what it's worth. He won't win, but I think he's the best person standing or rather running. Edwards isn't too bad, though. But it makes no difference. Since I'm Canadian, they'd throw me in prison if I voted! Be sure and listen to the third verse here. We women need to be 'at the front of every fight.' Oh, yeah!









A Song About Mai Bhago - And Us

(After The Union Maid by Woodie Guthrie)
(tune, traditional: adapted by Woodie Guthrie
)

There once was a Khalsa maid,
She never was afraid,
Of the Mughul might,
She'd always fight
She'd never give up, she'd draw her blade

She'd ride to the battle front
Of wounds she'd take the brunt
And when the cowards ran away

She'd round them up and say:




















Oh, you can't leave me, I'm a fighting Khalsa,
And you're fighting Khalsa,
We're the Guru's Khalsa,
Oh, you can't back down, we're all Guru's Khalsa,
We'll be Guru's Khalsa
Till the day we die

Mata Bhag Kaur was wise
Forty cowards to despise
She led their way
Into the fray
She made them open up their eyes

She led them in the ring
Like a hawk that's on the wing
Bole so nihal
And sat sri akaal
For Guru Gobind Singh!
























Oh, you can't leave me, I'm a fighting Khalsa,
And you're fighting Khalsa,
We're the Guru's Khalsa,
Oh, you can't back down, we're all Guru's Khalsa,
We'll be Guru's Khalsa
Today you'll bravely die.


Now open up the door
For every Khalsa Kaur
To do her best
With all the rest
Her seva ever value more



Today's Khalsa maid is bold
As she was in days of old
Her voice soars on
Singing the kirtan
At Harimandir Sahib gold. (Well, soon...)

Oh, you can't stop us, we're fighting Khalsa,
The women Khalsa , we're the bold Kaur Khalsa
Oh, you can't stop us, we're Guru's Khalsa
We'll be Kaur Khalsa
And that's how we'll die.

Photograph of hawk (from ABOVE!) by solarider

Photograph of women from Panthic Weekly

13 January 2008

A Love Letter To Kenya



While in the Sikh corner of Maya, our fight for our Uncle/Brother/Friend Laibar Singh Ji continues, the rest of the world goes on.

The violence in Kenya has abated for the moment, but nothing has been settled there; it could spring up again at any moment. I came across this blogpost containing the poem and have received permission from the author to re publish them. The poem is sad, but I think you'll appreciate the beauty of the writing.






Mukoma Wa Ngugi, a Kenyan poet, author of Hurling Words at Consciousness and co-editor of Pambazuka News , heard about Split This Rock from the Africa Poets Yahoo Group. Mukoma is sharing with us a poem commissioned by the BBC World Service on the ongoing crisis in Kenya.

Kenya – A Love Letter
Mukoma Wa Ngugi

Inside looking out, snow is falling and I am thinking
how happy we once were, when promises and dreams
came easy and how when we, lovers covered only

by a warm Eldoret night, you waved a prophecy
at a shooting star and said, "when the time comes
we shall name our first child, Kenya" and how I

laughed and said "yes our child then shall be country
and human" and we held hands, rough and toughened
by shelling castor seeds. My dear, when did our

clasped hands become heavy chains and anchors holding
us to the mines and diamond and oil fields? Our hands
calloused by love and play, these same hands – when

did they learn to grip a machete or a gun to spit hate?
And this earth that drinks our blood like a hungry child
this earth that we have scorched to cinders - when we

are done eating it, how much of it will be left for Kenya?
My dear, our child is born, is dying. Tomorrow the child
will be dead.



Top photo: Mt. Kenya, sacred to the Kikuyus
Tiny little picture at the bottom: My grandbaby Ethan at one day old

Poem reprinted with author's permission
Crossposted to Sometimes - 2

11 January 2008

LAIBAR SINGH CASE PROTEST IS NOW NATIONAL

I received this last night. I'apologise for not getting it up earlier. My bad.
.
From NO ONE IS ILLEGAL through The Sikh Activist Network (SAN)
.
UPDATE ON LAIBAR SINGH:
.
(important ways to support and UPCOMING EVENTS/ACTIONS, including
cross-country are included below)
.

Dear friends and allies,
.
Thank to all those who expressed and showed their support over the past 48
hours, it is deeply appreciated.

As people have likely heard by now, Mr. Laibar Singh was not deported on
yesterday January 9 at 4:30 am and remains in sanctuary in Guru Nanak
Sikh Temple in Surrey. The last minute notice of the deportation and the
removal time of 4:30 am was a deliberate and under-handed attempt to
thwart public outcry and support. At 4:00 am, approximately 300 supporters
gathered to protest and bear witness to CBSA's enforcement of a
deportation in violation of sanctuary. In light of a major backlash for
violating sanctuary and in the presence of hundreds of supporters, CBSA
backed off from the deportation

The Surrey Guru Nanak Gurudwara has made clear to CBSA that Laibar Singh
is in sanctuary in their premises. In having decided to enter temple
premises yesterday or any date in the future, CBSA is breaching a historic
moral tradition of sanctuary. Sanctuary is an act of courage that faith
communities take to protect the lives of those facing deportation in light
of unjust government decisions.

In a December 20, 2007 press release the Ontario Sanctuary Coalition
stated "We reaffirm the regrettable necessity of the practice of granting
Sanctuary... [Sanctuary] has now become a national movement of
conscience." Denise Nadeau of the Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition and
Acting Director of the SFU Interfaith Summer Institute states "The
deportation of Laibar Singh from sanctuary and in the face of massive
public support for this man's right to dignity and to live with his
community is a fragrant violation not only of sanctuary but of the basic
human rights of disabled persons, of asylum seekers and of the democratic
will of a significant proportion of the population."

In fact, a May 2007 report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on
Citizenship and Immigration whose members include MP's Norman Doyle,
Andrew Telegdi, Meili Faille, Omar Alghabra, Dave Batters, Barry Devolin,
Raymond Gravel, Nina Grewal, Jim Karygiannis, Ed Komarnicki, Bill Siksay,
and Blair Wilson, recommended the following to CBSA and CIC "That CIC, the
CBSA, and law enforcement officials respect the right of churches and
other religious organizations to provide sanctuary to those they believe
are in need of protection... That in cases of MEDICAL EMERGENCIES
(emphasis added), those who have sought sanctuary, and members of their
family, be allowed to receive medical treatment without the threat that
they will be arrested or detained." The August 2007 decision by CBSA to
detain Mr. Laibar Singh while he was receiving emergency care and any
future attempts by CBSA to detain Mr. Laibar Singh if he requires medical
emergency care would clearly be in defiance and contravention of the the
government's own recommendations.

Recent sensationalist media reports have attempted to question the
significance of Mr. Laibar Singh's medical condition. There is clearly no
doubt that Mr. Singh is a severely disabled and paralyzed man. Immigration
Canada's own health assessments recognize the severity of Mr. Singh's
condition. Various doctors have dealt with Mr. Singh and have stated
various causes of his paralysis; yet the basic issue remains the same: Mr.
Singh is a severely disabled and paralyzed man who should be able to
remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

As expected unfortunately, there has been a significant backlash yet again
to the South Asian community and to refugee struggles in general. Pete
McMartin at the Vancouver Sun (who previously had written about a $5 bet
with his editor about the outcome of the case) has quoted Don DeVoretz, an
advisor to the CBSA, as stating how past legal Charter victories which now
afford some (minimal) protection to refugees have "bogged down the
immigration process" and how it is negative and undesirable that with time
a refugee is able to "to integrate oneself into the community." The
significant media scrutiny and questioning of this case and the South
Asian community at-large has revealed the ways in which
immigrant/racialized communities as awhole who are constantly reminded of
their subordinate position especially during moments of resistance to the
Canadian state.

Finally, a growing list of supporters are demanding that Mr. Laibar Singh
be granted permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
These supporters include Michael A. Leitold of the Law Union of Ontario
Steering Committee, Janet Cleveland who holds the Canada Research Chair in
International Migration Law, noted authors and researchers Naomi Klein and
Seth Klein, Professor and Japanese-Canadian redress activist Roy Mikki
(Order of Canada), Kader Belaouni who has been in sanctuary in Montreal
since Jan 2006, Sister Elizabeth Kelliher of the Fransican Sister of the
Atonement, labour activists such as Dave Bleakney of CUPW and Frank Lee of
CUPE, academics such as John Price, Nandita Sharma, Cynthia Wright, Gary
Kinsman, and Maro Jo Nadeau, Rabble Editor Derrick O'Keefe, along with the
Canadian Labour Congress, Hospital Employees Union, BC Coalition of People
with Disabilities, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Council of Canadians
BC/Yukon Chapter, Save our Rivers Society, Multifaith Action Committee,
Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society,
Indigenous Free Skool, Solidarity Across Borders Montreal, No One Is
Illegal Toronto, Industrial Workers of the World, Vancouver Status of
Women, La Surda Latin American Collective, Interfaith Community
Consultative Committee of the SFU Interfaith Summer Institute, Ligue des
droits et libertés du Québec, Student Christian Movement of Canada,
Students for a Democratic Society UBC, Halifax Coalition Against Poverty,
Vancouver Catholic Worker, Immigrant Workers Centre Montreal, Canadian
Youth Network for Asia Pacific Solidarity, and countless more individuals
and community groups.

It is also important to note that Mr. Singh's case is not unprecedented.
In October 2006, a Polish family on tourist visas in Winnipeg suffered
from a car accident that left the father paralyzed. Initially they were
refused; however their deportation order was subsequently overturned.
Ministerial discretion in humanitarian and compassionate claims can and
has been exercised in the past to stop deportations; in fact it exists for
that very purpose.

We believe it is unfortunate that some are declaring that he must leave
because he does not "belong" any longer, despite the fact that his newly
found family and community are here. Certainly his physical state of
paralysis and the widespread community support he has received are all
crucial factors and realities for Mr. Singh. He, like anyone else, should
be entitled to live a healthy and dignified life.

We must challenge the idea that some are more worthy than others to decide
their right to mobility and their assertion of self determination; instead
we should accept these as universal values of humanity. The struggle
against deportation and to support Laibar is not for him alone nor is it
simply one case, rather it symbolizes the struggles for all immigrant and
refugees who daily struggle to live with dignity. His situation reveals
how hard and long racialized migrants must fight to assert their right to
self-determination that the Canadian government consistently denies and
instead perpetuates pain, anxiety, and violence through detentions and
deportations against which we must continue to actively organize
ourselves.

All Power to the People! No One is Illegal!
For more information call 778 552 2099 or email noii-van@resist.ca
For an excellent backgrounder visit Communities For Laibar Singh:
http://supportlaibar.blogspot.com/

WAYS TO SUPPORT AND UPCOMING EVENTS/ACTIONS
.


1) Please attend the community forum in support of Laibar Singh and on
broader issues of migration and race with speakers lawyer Zool Suleman,
representatives of the Canadian Labour Congress and Hospital Employees
Union, theologian Denise Nadeau, and South Asian community organizers
Gurpreet Singh and Gurvinder Dhaliwal.

Details: Saturday Jan 12th at 5:45 pm at Vancouver Public Library.
Organized by Communities for Laibar Singh. Call 604 779 7430.
Further details are available at: http://noii-van.resist.ca/?p=610


2) Please write letters to the editor, post online, or call into radio
shows into the various media outlets that are covering this story. We
strongly urge and stress to supporters the importance of voicing your
opinion on this issue and adding your thoughts to the very public debate
on Laibar Singh and immigration in general. Although it may seem futile
and given the biases that have been clearly stated by various media
outlets, it is still absolutely crucial for us to enter this public debate
and discourse at this time.


3) Please stay in tune for details on an upcoming vigil in support of
Laibar Singh as part of a National Day of Action in Support of Laibar
Singh along with allies in Montreal, Toronto and other cities.

*** Our allies in Toronto with No One Is Illegal Toronto, Sikh Activist
Network and their supporters are organizing a delegation and press
conference in support of Laibar Singh. Details: FRIDAY JAN 11 at 10am at
25 St. Clair Avenue East, Toronto (Immigration Canada Regional offices.
Please visit
toronto.nooneisillegal.org for more details. (Sorry, this is past.)

4) Please continue to pressure Immigration Minister Diane Finley. We
realize that most of you are probably flooded by letter-writing campaigns
or find letter-writing futile. However, it is CLEAR that the government
has been forced to respond to an unparalled amount of support and pressure
and it is time that they get the message and grant Mr. Laibar Singh a
permanent stay on his deportation order. If you have called or written
before, please do so again!

IMMIGRATION MINISTER DIANE FINLAY
* CALL (PREFERABLE): (613) 996-4974
* FAX: (613) 996-9749
* EMAIL: minister at cic.gc.ca and Finley.D at parl.gc.ca

MINISTER STOCKWELL DAY (RESPONSIBLE FOR CBSA)
* CALL: 613.995.1702 or 250.770.4480
* FAX: 613.995.1154 or 250.770.4484
* EMAIL: day.s at parl.gc.ca or days1 at parl.gc.ca

======> SAMPLE LETTER <========

Minister Finley and Minister Day,

Regarding: Laibar Singh

I am writing regarding the situation of Mr. Laiber Singh. I am sure that
you are aware of the case of the paralyzed Punjabi refugee claimant Mr.
Laiber Singh, who is currently facing deportation .

A wide variety of human rights organizations, disability advocates and
community groups have also expressed their support for Mr. Singh's bid to
remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. These groups
include the Canadian Labour Congress, BC Coalition of People with
Disabilities, B.C Hospital Employees Union, the Multifaith Action
Committee, and a long list of South Asian community groups and gurudwaras.

Over the past few months, approximately forty thousand people have signed
an Official petition to Parlimament in support of Mr. Singh remaining in
Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

On October 9, 2007, a group of health care professionals- including 13
independent doctors- issued a letter to Immigration Minster Diane Finley
stating, "As health professionals, we are outraged at the fact that the
Canadian government would consider deporting a paraplegic man, whose
health condition is extremely fragile… For the sake of his safety, health
and well being, we fully support him and demand that [the Minister] grant
him permanent residency status on the basis of humanitarian and
compassionate grounds immediately."

It is outrageous that the Canadian government would deport a man who is
already struggling to life a live of dignity and autonomy, and whose
physical health is so fragile.For the sake of his own safety, for the
well-being of his physical health, and based on the life that Mr.Singh has
already established, I fully support him and demand that you stop the
deportation of Mr. Laibar Singh immediately and grant him permanent
residency status. I also urgently request that the Canadian government and
CBSA officals respect the sanctity of sanctuary that the Guru Nanak Sikh
temple have granted to Mr. Laibar Singh and not attempt to remove Mr.
Singh from sanctuary or detain him if he requires urgent medical attention
at a medical facility.

Sincerely,
.
--
Some see things as they are and ask, Why?
I dream things that never were and ask, Why not?
Bobby Kennedy

09 January 2008

Update - REPRIEVE - LAIBAR SINGH IN SANCTUARY


Vaheguru has blessed the Saadh Sangat. Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj has come to the aid of his Khalsa children..The Canadian Border Service is honouring the gurdwara as sanctuary - for now. Once again our dear brother has been pulled back from the edge of the precipice.
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ANNOUNCEMENT - PRESS RELEASE
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No One Is Illegal-Toronto along with various Sikh Youth Activists and Organizations will be hosting a press release for the media tomorrow. For those interested in attending and/or speaking, it will be taking place at 10am, 25 St. Clair East. Downtown Toronto."
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UPDATE - 1O January 1:30 PM
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I have no new information, but I do have a couple of blogs you will like to check out. The first, Dust My Broom, by His Tory-ness Darcey, actually quotes this post! Darcey, this is a war only in a symbolic sense, sort of David and Goliath, to get biblical.
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The second blog, maisonneuve, presents a more balanced view of the case and contains some excellent news links that I'm too worn out to put in here. It's worth a read.
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UPDATE - 1:30 AM
(What's the matter with you, woman; have you forgotten how to sleep?)
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I came across this rather compelling and hopeful - for us - article that suggests that the CBS will, in practical terms, have to let Laibar Ji stay because they've bungled things so badly up to this point. From The Province. (Shouldn't someone explain to them that it's no disgrace to be defeated by the Sikhs? Or maybe not, just leave well enough alone.)
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And India eNews is suggesting that the 'White' community is a bit annoyed with the CBSA's seeming inability to deport Uncle Laibar Ji. Well, the word they actually used is 'outraged.'
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UPDATE - 10:00 PM
No new news links this time. I wrote and published a post on sometimes - 2, my personal blog about my life in roughly the last 24 hours. I think some of you would enjoy reading it; if so, go here. It will probably be cross posted over here eventually, but for now, I want to leave this as the lead post on this blog. Now I am going to check out my e-mail. I see there are now 55 unread messages. Sheesh. Most of them will be from the Gurmat Learning Zone (GLZ) and the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO), two groups I belong to. Those can wait, if necessary. But some few will be personal to me and those need to be answered. So off I go. (I most sincerely hope there are no Laibar Singh Google Alert Updates! A futile wish, I know. Actually I got no more updates until around 1:30 AM)
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UPDATE - 5:00 PM
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A couple of new links
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From India eNews, an article.
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From MediaScrape, a CBC video
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ORIGINAL POSTING - THIS MORNING
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Here is the story from The Vancouver Sun (Kim Bolan's newspaper.)
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And here is a link to a blogger who was there from the Hammond Face.
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And here is the print story from CBC, along with a link to the video. Here is a direct link to their comments. Please voice your support for Laibar Ji here, and remember to be calm and well mannered whatever you may read others writing about him and us..
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And from The Province. Be sure to read the comments, or at least a few of them. Such hatred!
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Photo from The Vancouver Sun.