With thunderous applause and support at the federal NDP convention in Montreal, a resolution to recognize Jaswant Singh Khalra as a defender of human rights was passed by the membership of Canada’s NDP unanimously.
The resolution sets an unprecedented standard. In adopting the recognition of Jaswant Singh Khalra as a defender of human rights as official party policy, Canada’s NDP and it’s leader Tom Mulcair have set a benchmark in respecting Canada’s role in the world as a keeper of human rights and social justice.
The step taken by the NDP and adoption of this policy moves beyond political lip service that the Liberals have conducted for years and counters the Conservatives continual degradation of Canada’s reputation in the world.
While delivering a speech on the floor of the convention, Ontario NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh highlighted the need for Canada to reaffirm its role as a defender of human rights and social justice.
“This is an important moment for the Sikh community – not just in Canada or in Punjab, but around the world,” said Jagmeet Singh. “The passing of this resolution gives the NDP a greater opportunity to continue speaking loudly on shared values of justice, equality and human rights, as these are not just Sikh values but values the NDP and Canadians also stand by.
Khalra was a human rights activist based in India and discovered evidence of cremation sites, proving Indian security forces illegally killed innocent Sikhs during the 1980s and 1990s. He clearly linked the police to fake ‘encounters’ and disappearances of citizens, and uncovered the systemic abduction, torture, death and cremation of thousands of unidentified and unclaimed bodies. In 1995, Jaswant Khalra delivered a speech in Canadian Parliament, only to return to Punjab and become a victim at the hands of the very same security forces. Despite meeting with various members of parliament during his trip, Jaswant Singh Khalra remained virtually ignored by succeeding Liberal and Conservative Governments.
Martin Singh, a former NDP leadership candidate, said the contribution of Jaswant Singh Khalra provides both Sikhs and non-Sikhs support to continue the ongoing discussion on social justice and human rights.
“Jaswant Singh Khalra spoke with and met many Canadian MPs across political parties in Canada and highlighted the situation in Punjab – his legacy of defending human rights is something we want to continue,” said Martin Singh.
4-03-13 Resolution on Recognizing Jaswant Singh Khalra as a Human Rights Defender
WHEREAS Jaswant Singh Khalra’s investigation of thousands of cases of missing, murdered and disappeared Sikhs in the Punjab earned him recognition from Amnesty International as a defender of human rights;
WHEREAS Jaswant Singh Khalra visited Canada and presented his findings to Canadians and Members of Parliament immediately before his forced disappearance in 1995;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT New Democrats recognize Jaswant Singh Khalra as an important defender of human rights and in his memory, recommit to the pursuit of justice and transparency characterized by our shared values of truth, justice and respect of human rights