By: Noor Kaur (Age 13)

From the panel of inspiring women, I learned many, many things. But the first thing that I remember when I think of this day, is that the only way to succeed, to make a lasting change in the world, is to be the warrior that you are waiting for. Princess is a term that people misunderstand. They think of a pretty girl, with her nails done perfectly, flawless hair, and a fragile personality. And (unfortunately) I believed this as well. I would always wonder that if Guru Gobind Ji announced that men and women were equal, why women would be known as “princess” and men as “lion”. Why were we the delicate daisy that always needed someone to help her down the stairs and pull the chair back for her at the dinner table.

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By Tevleen Kaur (age-10)

I went to the Sikh Coalition’s  Sikh Women event in New York. It was a lot of fun, and it was a good learning experience.  I learned that if I believe in myself I can do anything. I loved how Valerie Kaur said “find your shield and sword, be a warrior,” meaning find something that you can fight back with (not physically). Valerie Kaur’s shield was education because she went to Stanford, Harvard and Yale, and Inni Kaur’s shield was Gurbani because Gurbani would always tell her what’s right and guide her. Reshma Kaur said something that I liked very much.  She said, “cushion your life with loved ones” and “you got to clear the roadblocks from the road.”\

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By Herveen Kaur

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa,

Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

Last Saturday, along with Noor, Tevleen, Taveen and Ravneet, I had the opportunity to hear and speak with Valarie Kaur, Inni Kaur, and Reshma Singh. These are 3 extremely inspirational Sikh women, who have overcome obstacles and become very successful as leaders and shaping the image for Sikh women in America. There are a few life-changing lessons I learned that day that I would like to share with all of you.

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By Ravneet Kaur

I recently went to a Sikh Coalition conference focusing on Sikh women in modern day society. Words can’t describe how inspired and motivated I am after listening to three women who have laid the path for our future. These inspirations were Valerie Kaur, Inni Kaur and Reshma Singh. Each one of them has paved their own paths to change society positively. These women have taught me that a true Sikh woman has beauty inside and out, and the true meaning of Kaur is when you become the warrior.

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By: Taveen Kaur

March 30, 2014 I attended a Sikh Coalition seminar in New York City. The seminar was called “Sikh Women In Contemporary America”. The three main speakers were Inni Kaur, Reshma Kaur, and Valerie Kaur. Each of them spoke about their careers and how being a Sikh influenced their life decisions. The discussion was very intriguing and the thing that stuck in my head when I left and in the car ride home was that you need to find the path of your life, with Wahe Guru being your guide.

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On March 4th, 2014, Sikhs in Georgia were formally recognized at the State Capitol by the House of Representatives – colorful turbans were a common sight at the Capitol throughout that day. A resolution was introduced to recognize and celebrate the contributions of the Sikh community in Georgia and throughout the United States. Representative Karen Bennett, along with other members of the House of Representatives, led this initiative with great enthusiasm providing invaluable support to raising awareness about the Sikh community. This was the first time such a day had been recognized by Georgia!

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The battle for civil rights is a long one, and many minority communities in the United States have struggled to achieve justice.  What follows is a short timeline highlighting important markers in the Sikh American community’s efforts to secure equal opportunity in the U.S. military.

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The Sikh Coalition was recently asked to present to a group of inmates at San Quentin State Prison in Northern California.  Organized by the Asian Prisoner Support Committee, which has a weekly class inside San Quentin State Prison called SQ ROOTS (Restoring Our Original True Selves), the Sikh Coalition was asked to make a presentation about the Sikh community.  The class is modeled after Asian American Studies courses, covering topics such as history, culture, personal experiences as well as health and reentry issues.  The class is comprised of Vietnamese, Filipino, Cambodian, Hmong, Lao, Chinese, Mexican in addition to Punjabi Sikh men.

The presentation was given by Sikh Coalition Advocate, Winty Singh and Advocacy Manager, Simran Kaur and included a Sikh awareness presentation followed by a discussion on the post-9/11 challenges experienced by the Sikh community, including hate crimes, school bullying, religious profiling and workplace discrimination.  It was a unique experience for both the Sikh Coalition as well as the inmates who noted at the end that they were “grateful” and “thankful” to have learned about the Sikh community and the issues that Sikh Americans were experiencing.  It was a moving experience and pushed us to think about restorative justice and the role of forgiveness within Sikhi.

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PRESS STATEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Sukhman Dhami | sdhami@ensaaf.org | 1.800.668.1516 x 101

Sikh American Organizations Stand with Gurbaksh Singh on 36th Day of His Hunger Strike; Demand Rule of Law in India

December 19, 2013 — We, the undersigned organizations, are concerned about the plight of Gurbaksh Singh, a Sikh activist in Punjab, who is on hunger strike to protest against the treatment of Sikh prisoners detained under counterinsurgency laws in India, who many believe have completed their sentences and are being held beyond their terms.

As Gurbaksh Singh’s hunger strike enters its 36th day, his deteriorating health underscores the outrage felt by many Sikhs throughout the world, whose friends and family members were arbitrarily arrested, tortured, and extrajudicially executed by security officials in the name of counterinsurgency operations in Punjab during the 1980s and 1990s. Despite evidence of these gross human rights violations, the government of India has refused to bring the senior perpetrators to account. Reputed lawyers and human rights defenders support his protest for highlighting the plight of India’s political prisoners in general and discriminatory policies toward minority prisoners in particular.

Numerous organizations, including the U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, have expressed concerns about irregularities in the Indian judicial system and impunity on the part of government officials implicated in atrocities against Sikhs during this period. Their reporting has highlighted, among other things, secret cremations of “disappeared” Sikhs and counterinsurgency laws that facilitated human rights abuses and shielded security forces from prosecution.

As organizations committed to universal human rights, including the right to due process, we appeal to the international community for increased oversight over India to ensure that its government upholds the rule of law.

Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister, has made no public statement about Gurbaksh Singh’s hunger strike, while Parkash Singh Badal, the Chief Minister of Punjab, ordered the unlawful detention of Gurbaksh Singh for his peaceful protest, before releasing him due to public pressure.

We, the undersigned, simply demand that India undertake a judicial review of cases against Sikh prisoners detained under counterinsurgency laws and release those who have served their sentences or have been illegally detained.

Ensaaf, Jakara, Sikh Coalition, Sikh Research Institute, SALDEF, UNITED SIKHS-USA

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Chardi Kala means to be in a state of eternal optimism and joy; even in the face of adversity. I was introduced to the concept of Chardi Kala during the initial days of my internship. At first, it was a puzzling concept for me to grasp, perhaps due to the cut-throat nature of law school or my own spiritual upbringing (or the lack thereof). But the more time I spent at the Sikh Coalition as a legal intern, the more I realized the true meaning of Chardi Kala and what it stands for.

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