June 10, 2010 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Ottawa (June 10, 2010) – The World Sikh Organization of Canada recognized NDP leader Jack Layton for his work to advance human rights in Canada and abroad.
During a meeting with the NDP leader, the WSO presented Mr. Layton with a plaque featuring the kirpan, the Sikh article of faith that represents grace, dignity, and defence of the defenceless.
The plaque is inscribed, “In recognition of your outstanding contribution towards the advancement of human rights in Canada and abroad. Your fearless advocacy for the underprivileged members of our society is a testament to your dedication.”
“The WSO and Canada’s over 400,000 Sikhs appreciate Mr. Layton’s support on human rights issues, particularly those affecting Sikhs,” said WSO President Prem Singh Vinning.
In April, Mr. Layton presented a petition in the House calling on the federal government to officially apologize for the 1914 Komagata Maru tragedy, in which 376 Indian immigrants, mostly Sikhs, sat for two months in the Vancouver Harbour before being turned back. Twenty were killed after disembarking in India. In 2008, the B.C. legislature apologized unanimously for the incident.
Mr. Layton also showed courageous leadership in March when he asked his caucus not to attend events featuring Indian Roads and Highways Minister Kamal Nath, who is accused of leading a mob that burnt several Sikhs alive in November 1984. (To date, the Indian justice system has failed to convict any of the politicians connected with the 1984 massacre.)
Mr. Layton also released a statement expressing sympathy on the 26th anniversary of the invasion of the Darbar Sahib complex, the Golden Temple, and demanding accountability for the innocent lives lost.
“When innocent lives are lost with no accountability or explanation from the government, we have an obligation, as one democratic government to another, to ask why and seek honest answers for our citizens,” Mr. Layton said, in his statement.
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