Khalistan Referendum in Geneva
GENEVA: More than 6,000 Sikhs from Switzerland and bordering France, Italy and Germany gathered in Geneva to cast their votes for the non-binding Khalistan Referendum, defying a heavy snow and rain storm in the Swiss capital to kickstart the European phase of the referendum on the United Nations Human Rights days.
Sikhs started arriving in buses and private vehicles overnight to take part in the voting process that was held at a vast community hall near the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) headquarters.
Due to heavy snowstorms overnight in Switzerland, France and Italy, several dozen coaches carrying Sikh families failed to reach Geneva on Friday due to traffic jams and road blocks. Despite the obstacles, more than 6,000 Sikh men and women converged at BFM Centre and voted in secessionist referendum for liberation of Punjab from India.
The Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), the organiser of the Khalistan Referendum, said that the voting day for Dec 10 was picked up in Geneva to coincide with the International Human Rights Day. The Khalistan Referendum voting took place under the supervision of the independent Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC).
Citing 2021 ‘Equality’ theme of UN Human Rights Day, the SFJ General Council Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said: “Sikh people are facing existential threat and their right to life and liberty is in danger under Indian governance”.
“Independence of Punjab is the only solution,” added Pannun, who is camping in Geneva for European phase of Khalistan Referendum. Pannun said Sikhs had shown to the world how to beat Indian fake news and propaganda against Sikhs by taking to the ballot boxes. He said the aim of the referendum was to show that Sikhs believed in exercising their right through the democratic means.
The SFJ’s Europe and UK Coordinate Paramjeet Singh Pamma said that International Human Rights Day reminds the international community every year about its commitment towards human rights but sadly the rights of Sikhs are not seen in the same way and it was important, therefore, that the UN and other rights bodies took note of how Sikhs have been systematically killed by the Hindutva Indian regime, not just through the 1984 Sikh massacre but for decades before that.
After the voting was over, Sikhs marched towards the Broken Chair, outside the UNHRC building, to stage a protest where speeches were made by Khalistan leaders. Speaking from the specially erected stage, the Sikhs leaders called on the United Nations and the international community to take notice of the Indian govt’s actions against Sikhs all over the world. They told the UN that India always puts up a decent face before the world but behind the scenes it killed and discriminated against Sikhs and other minorities in India and at the same ran criminalisation campaigns against Sikhs in UK, Europe and North America to curb Sikh activism.
Prior to the Khalistan Referendum voting and rally in Geneva, the Sikhs For Justice submitted a report, ‘India’s Criminalization of Khalistan Referendum’ to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a special meeting. SFJ General Counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and Dr Bakhshish Singh Sandhu, President Council of Khalistan gave a presentation to UN officials on the Sikhs’ right to self-determination under international law and Narendra Modi government’s use of violence and sedition laws against Khalistan Referendum activists, in India and abroad.
The Sikh delegation informed the UN officials that Modi’s Hindu supremacist government is forcing Indian nationalism on the Sikh people in India to distort their culture and history. They told the UN officials that the Modi regime is using social media platforms Facebook, twitter, Instagram and YouTube to push hyper Indian nationalism and to suppress the Khalistan Referendum campaign by blocking the contents and posts advocating for liberation of Punjab from India through the means of ballot.
The referendum campaign started in London on Oct 31, 2021 and voting was held in five different cities in the UK with heavy significant Sikh community presence.