Apology from the British Prime Minister in Parliament before the 100th anniversary of the British massacre of Sikhs at Jallianwala Bagh on 13 April 1919 – Third report from the Sikh Federation (UK) National Sikh Convention
London – 20 September 2016
In April 2016 a speech was delivered by Dabinderjit Singh, an adviser to the Sikh Federation (UK), at a Vaisakhi event in Parliament on the significance of the Khalsa.
In that speech a reference was made to what Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, had just announced on the occasion of a Vaisakhi event in Parliament Hill in Ottawa. He said that on 18 May 2016 he would make a full apology in the House of Commons for the Komagata Maru incident from 1914 when over 350 passengers – nearly all Sikhs and British subjects – were denied entry, starved of food and water for two months with the ship eventually being forced to return to India.
In 2013 David Cameron visited Jallianwala Bagh, in Amritsar where on the occasion of Vaisakhi on 13 April 1919 soldiers of the British Indian army fired at more than 10,000 unarmed men, women and children who had gathered. During his visit he described the Amritsar massacre as “a deeply shameful event in British history, one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as monstrous. We must never forget what happened here and we must ensure that the UK stands up for the right of peaceful protests”.
Dabinderjit Singh pointed out on 13 April 2018 it will be 100 years since the massacre by British soldiers in Amritsar. The minimum the worldwide Sikh community deserved was an apology by the British Prime Minister in Parliament.
Greg Clarke, the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) at that time listened carefully to the full speech and nodded to acknowledge the demand. DCLG and Foreign Office officials were reminded at a meeting last week on the need to make progress on this issue. The response so far has been generally agreeable to the suggestion.
Bhai Amrik Singh in his speech at the National Sikh Convention mentioned it was made all the more painful as the Amritsar massacre of 1919 came within months of the end of the First World War where Sikhs had made sacrifices in huge numbers for the freedom of Europe. The Sikh Federation (UK) wrote to the Foreign Secretary on this matter a week ago to try and accelerate progress on this subject.
The Sikh Federation (UK) is by far the largest, most prominent and influential campaigning Sikh organisation in the UK that leads on political engagement for the British Sikh community. The organisation is often referred to as the first and only Sikh political party. The Sikh community in the UK and throughout the diaspora look to the organisation for leadership and direction.