11 February 2008

Birthday of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale Khalsa Ji

I saw this picture and find it both beautiful and compelling.

I hope you love it as I do.

As usual, I am at a loss as to what to write about one of our great martyrs. What is there to say about him that hasn't already been said? That [Indira Gandhi] thought to use him as her tame Sikh and discovered that there are no tame lions? (I heard that the other day, and it gave me a smile!)

In my research, I happened upon this tribute by D S Gill of the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) of which I am a member. It inspired me and I hope it inspires you!


A Tribute to saint-soldier

Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale (1947-84)

On his birth day, February 12

Religion and politics are inseparable and synonymous in Sikhism. This
concept is a great contribution of Guru Hargobind Sahib to Sikhism. We are
considered anti-national. We wish to live in India, but are the Government
of India prepared to keep us in India? We want to live in India as
first-rate citizens, which, as at present, we are not. We would like to live
on par with other citizens, rather than slaves. As we made 90% sacrifices in
the freedom struggle of the country, we are not prepared to live like
slaves. Now it is for the Centre to state whether it wants to keep us as
slaves or as equal citizens. I am opposed neither to Khalistan nor in favour
of it. It is for the government to decide whether it wishes to keep us in
India or concede Khalistan. We will accept it; we will not repeat the 1947
blunder. My mission is to ensure that every one- Hindu, Sikh, Muslim remain
true to one's religion, and there is unity among all sections of people,
that the modesty of woman is not violated, that all social evils are
eradicated. For all this, I am dubbed as extremist. And, I do not mind being
known as extremist; rather I am proud to be such an extremist. This is what
Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale had said at different times during Dharam
Yudh Morcha (1982-84) and it has been reported in the SGPC White Paper, 1996
(Truth About Punjab). But on June 3, 1984, when the Golden Temple was under
the siege of the Indian Army, Sant Bhindrawale did say unequivocally 'now we
can not live in India: 'We need a separate home.' Earlier too, he had
expressed and repeatedly said that the day the Indian Army attacked the
Golden Temple and Akal Takht, foundation of Khalistan would be laid, A R
Darshi says so in his renowned book, Bhindrawale the Gallant Defender

And now, to carry forward the mission of Sikh Guru- fully enshrined in Sri
Guru Granth Sahib, as envisaged from Akal Takht, the glorious history of the
Sikhs and its recent propagation by the Sant- we in International Human
Rights Organisation propose the formation of a united front (third front) to
all those opposed to the crafty politics of the so-called traditional
Akalis, now largely led by Badal. And all those groups and individuals who
distance themselves from the legacy of the Rajiv-Longowal Accord should
co-operate, co-ordinate and actively participate in the proposed Panthic

And they should have commitment towards the two historic documents- Amritsar
Declaration and Anandpur Sahib Resolution, with an endeavour for fulfilling
the spirit behind these documents and the Sikh litany Raj Karega Ga Khalsa.

We in IHRO will appreciate if the interested groups or individuals could
pool their efforts to for doing Sarbat Da Bhala (Welfare of all) and, thus,
proving that Raj Karega Khalsa, Aaki Rahey Na Koi (when Khalsa rules, no one
remains in distress) and making this mission a success. So, the Guru Panth
has to project only the Khalsa polity.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a perpetual Guru (Guide) and a model for truthful
living: ''Falsehood will perish, O Nanak, and truth shall prevail,
ultimately.' They should start afresh and stick to a new revolutionary
ideology aimed at the spiritual rejuvenation, moral uplift and social
emancipation of people, confronting the dogmatism and religious hypocrisy of
the priestly classes and challenging the religio-political oppression of the
contemporary leaders.

t is a good beginning that Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president
Simranjit Singh Mann, Shiromani Khalsa Dal president Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu
and Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa, on February 12, the
birthday of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, at Fatehgarh Sahib, announced to
carry forward the message of Bhindranwale to meet the aspirations of the
people of Punjab with a firm faith in justice and peace. For this, they
should put into practice the idea of collective leadership (Panch Pradhani)
at the gross root level along with the concept of selection, propagated and
practised by the Gurus and, thereafter, to sift out meritorious servers from
amongst them.

And they should strive to guide public opinion by propagating rational and
constructive views on Sikh Polity and human rights, including the right to
self-determination by virtue of which nations and peoples regain their lost
countries, maintain their cultural identity, and establish basic human and
economic rights. They should also co-operate and co-ordinate all political
and other groups in Punjab who categorically distance themselves from the
legacy of Rajiv-Longowal Accord and make commitment to secure socio-economic
and political justice and the dignity of the individual. In addition, on
that basis, combat racism and eradicate untouchability, castes and

Will they be able to do all that, is no one's assurance because all the
splinter Panthic groups have a problem of being threatened or highjacked
from each other. Smaller the group, graver is the problem. Ideologically,
politically or commitment-wise, there seems no difference or contradiction
among them to unite for the mission of the Guru. There may be some
organisational or day-to-day working problems that may be sorted out by
sitting together. Problem, which may crop up in the process of uniting, is
of leadership. For some time, collective leadership may the best choice.
But alas, petty vested interests with little uncanny personality cult seem a
big hindrance in forming the United Front to lead the Panth. We do not know
why they get together to celebrate birthday of great Sant Bhindranwale if
they cannot get on for his mission. May God bless them with politically wise
minds! d_oh.gif

D S Gill

Chair IHRO


So Much Trouble In The World

Vaheguru! So much evil in the world! So much injustice! So much unnecessary pain, suffering, inhumanity! What is one human being to do? How many worthy causes are there out there in Maya? How can I pick and choose what to bellow and howl about.? Sikh things, Sikh causes, of course. But what constitutes a 'Sikh cause'? What injustice does not constitute a 'Sikh cause'? Picking and choosing is so very difficult!

I remember back in the 1960s a newspaper - maybe it still exists, I'm not sure - called The San Francisco Bay Guardian. On its masthead was the line, It is a newspaper's duty to print the truth and raise hell. Me, too. That is what I try to do. One voice. I hope with an added voice or two. I remember a poem:

Only we two
And yet our howling can encircle the world's end
Frightened, you are my only friend.
And, frightened, we are everyone.
Someone must take a stand.

Me, frightened? Of course not! Mai is never afraid! But sometimes she is. She wonders if she's gone just a little too far and someone, somewhere will find a way to silence her. But then she sigh a sigh of relief, remembering she is just one small voice among the billions on the planet. She really isn't afraid for herself. Her fear is for her dear Maman, Vini, in occupied Khalistan. The noble Vivi, however, with a wave of her hand, laughs and says, 'Carry on, daughter.' And so I do. But constantly I pray for her safety. I have begged her to return to Canada, but she insists that she will live - and die - in Khalistan, occupied or not. So let me salute our beloved Vini Kaur and print out one of her favourite marching songs - from the 1960s, Carry it on:

There's a man by my side walking
There's a voice within me talking,
There's a voice, within me saying,
Carry it on, carry it on.

They will tell their lying stories,
Send their dogs to bite our bodies,
They will lock us up in prison,
Carry it on, carry it on.

All their lies will be forgotten,
All their dogs lie dead and rotten,
All their prison walls be crumblin',
Carry it on, carry it on.

When you can't go on any longer,
Take the hand, hand of your sister and brother,
Every victory gonna bring another,
Carry it on, carry it on.

Carry on, carry it on.

Repeat 1st Verse

This post was supposed to be about torture at Guantanamo Bay, about how a death sentence is about to be passed out based on 'testimony' given under torture. That is terribly important, so, I suppose that will be a third post for today here.

Back To The Inquisition!

Stress Positions, circa 1492>

Stress Positions, circa 2006

GUANTANAMERA (peasant Girl of Guantanamo)
by José Martí

Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma
Guantanamera, guajira, Guantanamera

I am a sincere man
From where the palm tree grows
And before dying I want
To share the verses of my soul.

Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmín encendido
Mi verso es de un ciervo herido
Que busca en el monte amparo
Guantanamera, guajira, Guantanamera

My verse is light green
And it is flaming crimson
My verse is a wounded deer
Who seeks refuge on the mountain.

Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace más que el mar
Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera

With the poor people of the earth
I want to share my good fortune
The brook of the mountains
Gives me more pleasure than the sea

From the Center For Constitutional Rights:

Today Military commission charges were handed down that seek the death penalty against CCR's client Guantánamo detainee Mohammed al Qahtani.

No military commission against Mr. Al Qahtani will ever achieve justice. Instead, it will deteriorate into a controversy over secret trials and the United States' well-documented torture of Mr. al Qahtani during interrogations at Guantánamo.

Read more about Al Qahtani's Torture

For the past six years, the United States government has refused to conduct traditional criminal trials or courts martial against Guantanamo detainees suspected of wrongdoing.

Instead, the military commissions at Guantanamo allow secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and evidence obtained through torture. They are unlawful, unconstitutional, and a perversion of justice.

Read more about military comissions

Now the government is seeking to execute people based on this utterly unreliable and tainted evidence: it is difficult to imagine a more morally reprehensible system. Executions based on secret trials and torture evidence belong to another century. These barbaric sham proceedings will likely to inflame the controversy surrounding Guantanamo and draw the condemnation of even our allies.

Career military officers have already resigned because they could not stomach participating in a military commission system that goes against every principle of justice, due process and the rule of law. In particular, they were opposed to precisely the kinds of issues that will be the focus of Mr. al Qahtani's commission - the United States' use of torture and subsequent efforts to hide the criminal conduct of U.S. personnel.

Mr. al Qahtani may be the one charged today, but it is the illegality of his interrogation under torture that will be tried in the commission. Regardless of the results, no one will ever have confidence in the outcome of these military commissions.

Read more about military comissions

The United States has nothing legitimate to gain from prosecuting prisoners in military commissions at Guantanamo and a great deal to lose.

What kind of a nation have we become that we would rely on torture evidence, secret trials and an untested and deeply flawed system to impose the death penalty?

Our nation must abandon the failed experiment at Guantanamo. If the administration believes Mr. Al Qahtani has committed a crime, he should be charged and tried in a lawful proceeding worthy of our country.


Vincent Warren
Executive Director

And check this out about The U. S. Marines


Congressman Tom Lantos Dies

This arrived from The Sikh Coalition this morning. We grieve the loss of a good friend and offer our condolences to his family.

New York, New York (February 11, 2008) - The Sikh Coalition
is deeply saddened by this morning's announcement that U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, a strong ally of the Sikh-American community, passed away today. Congressman Lantos represented a sizeable Sikh population in his home constituency of San Mateo, California, and was an ardent supporter in our fight for religious rights. His loss will be deeply felt throughout the Sikh community.
Congressman Lantos, first elected in 1980, came to Congress with a long history of fighting religious discrimination - he was the only member of that institution to have survived the Holocaust. Over the years and as Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, his became a loud and influential voice in defense of human rights everywhere.

Last year, Congressman Lantos led the charge in our efforts to change the mandatory turban-screening policy put into place by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). In a letter to TSA Administrator Kip Hawley, Congressman Lantos wrote "As a victim of religious persecution myself, I abhor the idea that a U.S. government agency is engaged in a practice that isolates and humiliates ordinary Sikh Americans solely because they choose to wear the turban as an article of their faith."

We would like to thank Congressman Lantos for his support and leadership over the years. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, staff and colleagues at this difficult time. Together with all of you, we grieve for the loss of an outstanding statesman, a zealous advocate and a principled politician.