The events of 1984 are among the most painful periods in Sikh history. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives not because of what they did but because of who they were and the Sikh faith they followed. The grief and pain caused by those terrible events is still very real today. And in the Sikh community here in the UK and right across the world, on this the 30thanniversary of Operation Bluestar, these events are being remembered this weekend.
We remember friends and relatives lost. We think of the lives cut short and the terrible fear of those times. And we know those memories are all the more painful because of the lingering injustices from that time.
From 1984 on India’s image of itself as a tolerant multi faith country could never be the same again. The damage done to this ideal by the events of 1984 has been acknowledged by many including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. For any country, freedom of religion has to be a living reality, not just an ideal on paper.
And today, here in Britain, The Sikh community has learned this year about the advice sought and given from the British Government at the time on how to storm one of the holiest places for the Sikh faith, the Golden Temple. Questions remain about this period which we have urged MPs to continue to pursue.
Let us remember 1984 and vow to fight for a world where people are judged by what they stand for and can contribute and are never oppressed or marginalised by the religion they follow. That idea remains as powerful and relevant today as it ever was and one that as Sikhs and Labour members we strongly support.
Neena Gill MEP (elect) Chair S4L
On Saturday 10th May we will be campaigning in the West Midlands in the run up to the all important Euro elections on 22nd May. All are welcome so please come and join us at the Sydni Centre, Cottage Square, Leamington Square, CV31 1PT from 1.30pm where we will have speeches from Pat Mcfadden MP, Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, Cllr Kuldeep Singh Sahota and others before heading out on the Labourdoorstep from 2.30pm to 4.30pm.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Sikhs4Labour: An ‘Incredibly Important’ Organisation Says Ed Miliband
Sikhs4Labour (S4L) celebrated the launch of their new organisation in a meeting in the Old Shadow Cabinet Room in Westminster earlier this month.
Sikh Labour Party members, with the support of some prominent Members of Parliament, have set up the organisation, with an aim to be a voice for the Sikh community within the Labour Party. The group intends to encourage other Sikhs to join the Party, as well as influence policy decision-making.
Pat McFadden MP one of the group’s founders described S4L as a two-way street, stressing the importance of Sikhs having a voice within the Labour party, but equally for Labour to have a strong voice in the Sikh community.
Ed Miliband said, “Sikhs for Labour is not just an organisation for the election but an organisation that will go well beyond the elections that’s why it such an important initiative.”
He added the group was “incredibly important” and the Party wanted to hear the voice of the Sikh community from across the country.
Speaking at the Launch, Tom Watson MP said he was absolutely delighted to be have become Honorary Patron.
He added, “We need more Sikh representation at all levels in the Labour party in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords. So I want to use this role to make sure we support Sikhs in the party, we give them the support and training that they deserve, because as you know, Sikhs in this country are making Britain great, they are the economic drivers, cultural leaders and there is a humanity to Sikhism that we can all learn from and so can the Labour party.”
Many Members of Parliament attended including Yvette Cooper MP – Shadow Home Secretary, Keith Vaz MP – Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Sadiq Khan MP – Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, John Spellar MP, Seema Malhotra MP, Fiona McTaggart MP, Jon Ashworth MP, Mike Gapes MP, David Winnick MP, Liz Kendall MP, Stephen Timms MP and Steve McCabe MP.
Panjab Radio sponsored the event, which attracted many younger members of the community, including Midlands based singer Foji Gill. The Interim Chair of S4L Neena Gill, former MEP for the West Midlands, is tipped in making a return back to Brussels, in next month’s European elections.
Vaisakhi message from Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP
I know that Vaisakhi is a hugely important occasion for the UK’s Sikh community. It is time of great celebration in homes and Gurdwaras across the country and I was pleased to join Vaisakhi celebrations in Parliament last week.
My vision for One Nation Britain shares many of the Sikh values you rightly celebrate: the commitment to generosity towards those who have less; treating everyone equally regardless of faith or station; and leaving your society a better place than you found it.
I would like to take this opportunity to recognise that great contribution the Sikh community makes to our society. We remember that this is has been an on-going contribution over many decades as we approach the anniversary of World War 1 and we recall the many Sikhs who fought and gave their lives for our freedom.
Today Sikhs play important roles in all walks of life – from business to charity, from law to medicine. I am delighted that we have three Sikh Parliamentary candidates Amanjit Jhund, Chaz Singh and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and a Sikh MEP candidate, Neena Gill. But I know there is further work to do on Sikh representation in politics and I take that seriously as Leader of the Labour Party.
I also know that the community has had real concerns over the issues around 1984 and the Harmandir Sahib complex in Amritsar and that you are working closely with Labour MPs. I take these concerns seriously and my Party will continue to work with the Sikh community on this issue.
I want to end by thanking you all for the contribution you make to British life and I wish you, your families and your friends all the best.
Vaisakhi dee lack lack vid-ayee
Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP
Leader of the Labour Party
Following the very successful and well attended launch of Sikhs for Labour on 1st April 2014 at the House of Commons please read our press release.