vrijdag 26 december 2014



October 29, 2014
Source: World Sikh Organization of Canada

Sikhs in Canada - Freedom of Religion

OTTAWA, CANANDA - The World Sikh Organization of Canada has helped Master Seaman Wanda McDonald become the first Sikh woman to wear the turban while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). 

McDonald, a Sonar operator based out of Halifax Nova Scotia, joined the RCN in 1997 and became interested in the Sikh faith three years ago. After deciding to become an initiated or amritdhari Sikh, she requested permission to wear the turban on duty. 

The WSO regularly provides information to the Canadian Forces with respect to Sikh practices and articles of faith. When McDonald made her request to wear the turban, the WSO was once again consulted and provided information and advice on the significance of the turban to both Sikh men and women. 

The Canadian Forces now allow both Sikh men and women to wear turbans and the Sikh articles of faith while serving. 

McDonald has now been given permission and has begun to wear her turban full time while on duty. She said today, "as the first Sikh woman in the Royal Canadian Navy to be approved to serve while wearing a turban, I feel fortunate to be given this opportunity. Military service is a very rewarding career, and I hope that my example will inspire other Canadian Sikh women to follow this path; to be able serve their country without worrying about having to compromise their identity as a Sikh. I would especially like to thank legal counsel Bhai Balpreet Singh Ji, and the World Sikh Organization of Canada for the assistance they have provided in this process."

WSO President Dr. Amritpal Singh Shergill said, "it is another milestone for Canadian Sikhs to see a Sikh woman proudly serve her country in the Canadian Forces while fearlessly being allowed to follow the teachings of her faith. We congratulate Wanda for this achievement and the Royal Canadian Navy for making it possible. This is another example of what makes Canada great and makes us proud to be Canadians."

dinsdag 23 december 2014

BE: Legal Victory - Belgian Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Turban in GO School

Legal Victory: Belgian Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Turban in GO School

"The UNITED SIKHS legal team has been in the forefront of a roller-coaster legal battle since 2006, when a lower court overturned a turban ban in GO Schools, which was then reinstated by another court on a technicality, before the ban was firmly overturned by the Conseil d'Etat yesterday," said Mejindarpal Kaur, international advocacy group.

"After many years of peaceful resistance, the Sikhs have been proved right,"said Pieter Lagae, UNITED SIKHS' Belgian lawyer.

15th Oct 2014, St Truiden, Belgium - The Belgian Conseil d'Etat has upheld the freedom of religion of Sikh students by overturning the ban on the Sikh Turban in a GO school, which is part of a large group of schools attended by many Sikh students in the Flemish part of Belgium.

13-year- old Sharanjit Singh was forced to remove his patka to attend a Belgian school for the past one year

"In a landmark decision dated 14th Oct 2014, which was communicated to us yesterday, the Highest Administrative Court has held that GO has the obligation to organise its education without harming the respect for diversity and plurality," said Mejindarpal Kaur, International Legal Director of UNITED SIKHS, an international advocacy NGO that has led the legal campaign to reverse the ban on the Sikh turban.

Sharanjit Singh, then a 12 year old, brought an action in Sept 2013 against his GO school for forcing him to remove his patka (a head covering worn by young Sikhs), which he is mandated to wear, at all times, as an integral part of his Sikh faith.

"Sharanjit is a rather shy boy, afraid of doing things wrong or being excluded. Following the ban he took off his patka very much to his distress. I am very happy that the Conseil d'Etat has overturned the ban and I hope my son will be able to put the past year behind him and look ahead to a good future ," Sharanjit Singh's father, Surjit Singh, said. You may watch a short video interview in Panjabi, with Belgian Sikh boys affected by the past year's ban, at www.youtube.com/unitedsikhstv

"The Conseil d'Etat has claimed, in essence, that a school cannot simply impose a ban on wearing outward symbols of religious belief without having grounds for doing so (such as disturbing the peace, proselytising, etc.). If a school nevertheless does this, it represents an excessive breach of the internationally protected fundamental right to religious freedom (art. 9 ECHR)," said Pieter Lagae, Sharanjit's lawyer, of the law firm of Van Steenbrugge & partners in Merelbeke,

In the decision, the Court emphasised repeatedly that Sharanjit, and by extension, Sikh-students - had never displayed any such negative behaviour. Mr Lagae, who also represents 10 year old Sukhjot Singh, who was forced to leave another GO school because he refused to remove his patka, expects a positive decision in his case too.

"We are grateful to all those who faithfully supported us and to the Conseil d'Etat for making this robust decision," said Amarjit Kaur, the President of UNITED SIKHS-Belgium.

You may read a previous press release on our advocacy for the right to wear a turban here.

UNITED SIKHS and the Belgian Sikh Sangat have, since 2006, equally paid approximately £67,000/ $103,00 USD for legal fees, translation costs and other expenses for fighting the Belgian turban ban.

UNITED SIKHS thanks its lawyers, supporters, volunteers and directors for the hard earned legal victories.

Issued by -
Mejindarpal Kaur,
International Legal Director, UNITED SIKHS
Tel: +1778.833.0973


zaterdag 13 december 2014

Vilvoorde en Sikhs akkoord over aanpak mensensmokkel

Vilvoorde en Sikhs akkoord over aanpak mensensmokkel

Door: redactie 11/12/14 - 20u51  Bron: Belga
Vilvoordse Sikhs protesteren tegen de sluiting van de tempel in Vilvoorde, 28 oktober 2014. © belga.

VILVOORDE Burgemeester Hans Bonte (sp.a) van Vilvoorde heeft met de vertegenwoordigers van de plaatselijke Sikh-tempel een overeenkomst bereikt over de aanpak van mensensmokkel. Hierdoor kan de tempel, die op bevel van Bonte eind oktober gesloten werd, weer de deuren openen. Voortaan geldt evenwel een sluitingsuur tussen 20 uur 's avonds en 7 uur 's morgens.

Bonte besliste tot sluiting van de tempel omwille van een aantal vaststellingen die wezen op linken tussen de tempel en mensensmokkel. Tijdens een rechtszaak waarbij in 2013 een aantal Indiërs wegens mensensmokkel veroordeeld werden bleek al dat de mensen zonder wettig verblijf, die zij onder hun hoede hadden, in de tempel verbleven en er zoals iedereen gratis eten kregen. Ze konden overnachten in een pand aan de Houtkaai. 

Dat er in oktober in dezelfde schuilplaats opnieuw 11 Indiërs zonder wettig verblijf werden opgepakt was voor Bonte een nieuwe aanduiding dat de tempel fungeerde als een magneet voor illegale mensenhandel. 

De samenwerkingsovereenkomst stipuleert dat de politiediensten met een zekere regelmaat identiteitscontroles zullen houden in de omgeving van de tempel, terwijl de verantwoordelijken van de tempel zich engageren om elke indicatie van illegaliteit of smokkel onmiddellijk te melden aan de politiediensten. Tijdens de openingsuren moet het ook steeds duidelijk zijn wie er de verantwoordelijkheid draagt. Verder spraken alle partijen af om een keer per trimester met mekaar te overleggen, om zo een goede samenwerking uit te bouwen.