On June 2nd in the Legislature, Deputy Leader for Ontario’s NDP Jagmeet Singh’s motion calling on the Ontario Government to formally recognize the November 1984 state organized violence perpetrated against Sikhs throughout India as genocide was debated and voted down by the Ontario Liberal Government.
“Today, the liberals turned their back on human rights, social justice, reconciliation and healing. They turned their back not only on Sikhs but every Hindu and Muslim family that risked their lives to shelter their Sikh neighbours,” the MPP from Bramalea-Gore-Malton said following today’s devastating vote.
Despite receiving support from both the NDP and Progressive Conservative caucuses, Ontario's Liberal Government defeated the motion 40 to 22.
The state organized anti Sikh violence has commonly been referred to as a riot. However the term riots suggest the violence was spontaneous and communal.
“It is important to clarify the misconception that the violence against Sikhs was communal in nature. This could not be further from the truth,” Singh said to kick off the debate.
Under McGuinty the Liberals welcomed Kamal Nath an alleged perpetrator of Genocide, Kathleen Wynne was a part of these meetings.
“Ontario is a place where people see democracy as a way to heal from the wounds of the past, but today Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals denied this opportunity to Sikhs,” Singh explained. “It’s unfortunate that the Liberal Government does not understand the importance of accurately describing the violence as a genocide, which works to remove the blame from innocent members of the community and instead places the blame squarely on those who organized this atrocity.”
The current Indian Government's own Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, described the atrocious anti-Sikh violence in 1984 as Genocide, citing that several people who took part in and had a role in the carnage were yet to be punished. Other cities in North America that have also recognize the events of November 1984 as a genocide include the City of Stockton, California, Kerman City, California, Bakersfield, California and Harvey, Cook county Illinois. The California State Assembly passed a resolution denouncing the November 1984 violence as a pogrom and the Delhi State Assembly passed a resolution denouncing it as a massacre.
Former Justice of the Indian Supreme Court, author of the Nanavati Commission Report stated that the killing of Sikhs was planned and organized. Human rights organizations have also reported that the voter lists were used to identify and target Sikh businesses and homes.
“While, we cannot change the horrific events of 1984, as Members of this Legislature, we had an opportunity to clear misconceptions which divide the community” Singh explained.
“The first step to healing and reconciliation is to recognize the harm that was committed and that’s what this motion, if passed would have done.”
The Ontario Government would have been the first legislative assembly to formally call the events of November 1984 a genocide in the world.