“Identity at its core, is the root of freedom. The ability to explore that which is different and express one’s one manifestation of self is at the crux of creativity. It is the ability to have an identity that provides the diversity in the world that makes it such a vibrant and interesting place. Some may argue that it is the differences in groups or peoples that create the difficulty and the conflict we see in the world. This is simply not the case. With the exception of resource based wars, the majority of conflict has arisen where difference is attacked for the purpose of creating homogeneity, or worse to wipe out the difference all together. Furthermore, diversity of identity is simply part of the past and present human condition; a homogeneous human species is not the way our reality has evolved. ”
So begins the Global Sikh Civil and Human Rights Report for 2010. The report assesses experiences of Sikh minority communities with regard to profiling at airports, airline travel, and being counted in the Census, particularly in the United States; 29 countries are described in terms of their religious demography, general civil and human rights, rights of minorities, Sikh community rights, and issues that are country-specific such as women’s rights, articles of faith, discrimination, prisoner rights, and hate crimes.
United Sikhs also held an expert panel discussion focused on the findings and their implications. Speakers discussed the challenges faced by Sikh minority communities globally, including the tightrope balancing act of rejecting profiling while being acknowledged and accepted for one’s individual and community identity. They also noted the importance of building alliances with groups who share experiences of discrimination, and breaking out of a mindset that inflicts many marginalized groups –a mindset which rejects profiling of their own group but accepts it or even endorses it under certain circumstances for other groups. Strategies for practical next steps include know your rights trainings, mobilizing the community to act in support of the findings, and advocacy at local, national, and international levels.
Speakers included: Dr. I.J. Singh, Professor Emeritus, NYU; Speaker, Writer; Professor Thane Rosenbaum, Novelist, Essayist and Law Professor; Pabrita Benjamin, Rights Working Group; Attorney Daniel Mach, ACLU; Dr. Bobbi Nassar, Professor, NGO Committee on Human Rights. Moderators were representatives from United Sikhs: Ilana Ofgang, Legal Fellow and Hansdeep Singh, Staff Attorney