Canadian parliament admits motion to call 1984 riots ‘genocide’

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS,

Toronto : A motion by an Indo-Canadian MP asking the Canadian government declare the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as ‘genocide’ was tabled in the country’s parliament late Thursday.

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Sukh Dhaliwal, MP for Newton-North Delta on the suburbs of Vancouver, was joined by Andrew Kania, MP from the Punjabi-dominant constituency of Brampton West on the outskirts of Toronto, in presenting the motion.

“On behalf of Canadians, I am here presenting a petition on the tragic events of 1984 in India,” said Dhaliwal, adding that “many Canadians across the country are marking this solemn occasion.”

Reading the motion, reportedly signed by 10,000 people, Dhaliwal said, “The petitioners call on the government of Canada to recognize that an organized campaign of violence, rape and killings took place in India in November of 1984 against the Sikh community, resulting in the deaths of thousands.”

He said the Canadian government should “call upon the government of India to take measures to bring all persons responsible for the organized campaign of violence to justice. This includes criminal proceedings against the responsible persons following the due process of law.”

Concluding the motion, he said, “Finally, (Canada should) recognize that this organized killing resulting in deaths of thousands is genocide as per UN convention on the prevention and punishment of the kind of genocide.”

Both the MPs who moved the motion belong to the main opposition Liberal Party whose leader Michael Ignatieff has distanced himself from the motion.

Critics have described the motion as an attempt to embarrass Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is coming here for the G-20 summit later this month.

But Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor of Sikhs for Justice, a New York-based human rights advocacy group which is backing the motion, said “leaders of the Sikh community have sent a written request to meet with Prime Minister Singh to dismiss the notion that the Canadian Sikh community supports any kind of militancy or separatist movement.”

He said, “The Sikh community holds India as their ancestral motherland and wish India to thrive economically.

“All they want from India is to act on its responsibility with regard to imparting justice to the victims of Sikh genocide. This will restore and enhance India’s reputation in the world and will make the Indian diaspora proud.”

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at [email protected])