Ottawa, (July 19, 2021): The Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation, Khalsa Aid Canada, and the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO), renew calls for Government of Canada to create a special program for Afghanistan’s highly vulnerable Sikh and Hindu minorities.
As the situation on the ground in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, we are seeing Afghan interpreters who worked side by side with Canadians, coming under threat and fearing for their lives. Reuters journalist Danish Siddiqui, who himself was doing all he could to share the stories of the devastation of the Afghan people, lost his life.
We are in strong agreement with those that are asking for the Government of Canada to act swiftly by providing a way to safety for vulnerable populations in Afghanistan. This includes Sikh and Hindu minorities that have been longstanding targets of extremist groups. Attacks at places of worship have led to the killing of children and adults. Further loss of life is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.
In 2015, Manmeet Singh Bhullar took on the cause of helping Sikh and Hindu minorities in Afghanistan. Since his passing the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation has worked with The Government of Canada and community partners to bring 60 refugees to Canada with 120 remaining in the queue to arrive shortly through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program.
Hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus fled Afghanistan after the suicide attack on Gurdwara Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib in Kabul in March 2020 and are currently in India, with no viable option of resettlement.
There is a critical need at this time for the Government of Canada to extend their efforts and establish a special program that will allow for these vulnerable religious minorities to find refuge in Canada.
“Now is the time for progress to be expedited to ensure that we can assist as many Afghan Sikhs and Hindus that face deep uncertainty and imminent danger on an hourly and daily basis” says Tarjinder Bhullar, of the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation. “We urge the Government of Canada to expedite and reaffirm their commitment to work with us to ensure the safe settlement of these families in Canada at the same time as they address the critical and urgent need to assist Afghan translators.”
WSO President Tejinder Singh Sidhu said, “The situation for Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan is dire and they face an existential threat to their very survival. We have consistently called on the Government of Canada to create a special program under Section 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to bring these vulnerable individuals to safety. The time to act is now or we will increasingly see the Sikhs and Hindus remaining in Afghanistan targeted and killed.”
Jatinder Singh, National Director for Khalsa Aid Canada, says, “as an international humanitarian relief agency, we have seen first-hand what happens to marginalized communities during civil conflict. We urge the Government of Canada to not only provide safety to those who assisted it as interpreters, but also to ensure that minority communities such as the Afghan Hindus and Sikhs are also provided safe settlement as a matter of urgency.”