US-based Sikh rights body seeks UN probe into 1984 killings of Sikhs in India
NEW YORK: A US-based Sikh rights organization seeking independence for the Indian state of Punjab has renewed its call to the United Nations to investigate the killings of thousands of Sikhs in India following the 1984 assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
"Systematic killings of a community fall under the 1948 Genocide Convention and (the) UN cannot just ignore its own mandate," Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser to Sikhs for Justice (SfJ), said in a statement.
Pannun was reacting to a statement made last week at a briefing in New York by Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the UN on the Prevention of Genocide, while replying a question about the world body's failure to probe the large-scale atrocities committed against the Sikhs.
Dieng had said, "Justice delayed is justice denied, I, of course, agree with that firmly, however; my mandate is a mandate which is looking forward, which I have established only in 2005 to try to prevent. And secondly, my mandate is not to make a legal determination whether this crime is a genocide or not, that legal determination can be made only by a court of justice, as we have seen in ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia) or in Rwanda with ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) so to my view one needs simply to, of course, make sure whenever or wherever serious crimes are committed it has to be dealt with celerity because if you don't deal with those crimes committed in the past, you are going to face one day sooner or later such level of frustration which can therefore push for the commission of other crimes."
In his statement, Pannun, the SfJ adviser, stated that India had failed in its duty to hold the perpetrators of the killings to account, thus making a UN probe essential.
"Even though UN officials stated that it lay with the International Criminal Court to apply the genocide label still it's their responsibility to investigate the violence against the Sikhs ...", he added.
He accused the Congress party, which was ruling India at that time, of running death squads, with the authorities arming and transporting killers, using voting lists to locate Sikhs, and the state media demanding "blood for blood".