Right to Turban Briefing held at United Nations

"How does a community without borders defend its Civil and human rights?"

On December 15th 2008, The United Sikhs held a press conference at the United Nations Church Center. I attended as the representative of the 3HO NGO and also as a representative of Sikh Dharma International. It was a very amazing assembly of great human defenders of faith in international arenas. Hari Kaur Khalsa of New York also attended as an additional representative from 3HO NGO.

In the photo we have Clive Baldwin, who is the Legal Advisor to Human Rights Watch, Lucinda Mosher and Chipp Pitts, the Board President of the Bill of Rights Defence Committee (formerly of Amnesty International).

Chip was a very dynamic speaker and he stated: "The French law is an extreme perversion of Human Rights." Ironically, he had just returned from Paris where he attended the 60th Anniversary of the signing of the French Declaration of Human Rights. (sic)

The theme for this event was "How does a community without borders defend its Civil and human rights?" A challenge for the Sikh Community. The reason for this conference is the French law that does not allow conspicuous religious symbols.

Bikramjeet Singh a 17 year old high school student, has not been allowed to attend school in France wearing his turban. Shingara Singh who is a French citizen does not have a drivers license because he feels his rights have been infringed upon by requiring him to pose for his photo without his turban which he wears at all times.

A diverse panel of International human rights attorneys and defenders was led by US Attorney, Mehjinderpal Kaur. Stephen Grosz from Great Britain defended Bikramjit at the European Court of Human Rights where his case was defeated.

French law protects a Muslim child from being forced to wear a hijab (religious head covering) by their parents. Yet, the law is also impeding the rights of those who personally choose to cover their heads as a part of their religious convictions. The case failed in the European Human Rights Court because the court itself does not have a favorable track record in resolving the issues concerning Asian religions.

Dan Mach, the Director of Religious Freedom Projects for the ACLU, Councilman Avela of New York city, Bhai Daljit Singh of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Bibi Kirinjot Kaur from the SGPC in Amritsar, President of the SGPC, Bhai Sahib Avtar Singh (who said, "an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere"), Rabbi Kaplin (who said, "removing symbols of one's faith is the most rampant and destructive form of violation of one's human rights.") Dan Mach of ACLU, Chip Pitts, the Board President for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Previously Chairman of Amnesty International), Clive Baldwin, the Senior Legal Advisor of Human Rights Watch, Bridget Kusten, South Asian Researcher from the US Committee on Inter-religious Beliefs. There were many other esteemed speakers whomh I did not get to hear.

Chip Pitts also pointed out that it was not until 1920 that both Women & Native Americans were given the right to vote in the USA. Also, he referred to the Dred Scott Decision from the 1800's that classified Black people as non-humans in the United State of America.

Sat Kirin Kaur Khalsa

Growing up in a musical family Satkirin started singing for hours any jingle or song of spirit.

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