Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 12, 2013

Sikh Human Rights vigil at the United Nations

Filed under: Sikhs — louisproyect @ 11:29 pm

Despite the fact that India has a Sikh Prime Minister named Manmohan Singh, who functions mostly as a Congress Party token, this religious minority based mostly in Punjab still suffers from discrimination dating back to the creation of the state of India and long before that. Indeed, the birth of the religion in the 16th century was marked by persecution by the Muslim Mughal rulers and continues to this day under Hindu domination.

I first learned about these issues from a film called “Amu” that was directed by Shonali Bose and produced by Bedaprata Pain, who went on to direct “Chittagong”, a film about an armed revolt against British rule by high school students in 1930. “Amu” recounts the tale of a young woman from India living a carefree life in California who discovers that her parents were victims of the anti-Sikh pogroms in 1984 that grew out of the assassination of Indira Ghandi by her Sikh bodyguards. They were driven to this desperate act after the Indian army assaulted the Golden Temple, the most sacred of places to a Sikh.

After attending a Sikh film festival in New York in 2011, I stopped by the cubicle of a fellow programmer at Columbia University who wore a turban. As most educated Americans understand, this is an important element of their religion. The uneducated ones mistake them for Osama bin-Laden and his fanatical supporters who also wore turbans, with the most deeply uneducated resorting to violent attacks on a gentle and decent people. I interviewed Harpreet Wahan Singh not long after I made his acquaintance, thus becoming more knowledgeable about Sikh beliefs and the problems they are facing in a period of deepening xenophobia following 9/11.  http://louisproyect.org/2011/12/12/conversation-with-a-sikh/

By happenstance, Harpreet is a well-known Sikh activist who keeps me up to date on important political struggles being waged by his community. The video below was made at a Sikh protest at the U.N. on December 11, 2013 in solidarity with Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, who has been on a hunger strike since November 14th to protest the imprisonment of 118 Sikh political prisoners, mostly guilty of nothing except protesting human rights violations. These men completed long terms but are still being kept behind bars in the fashion of Guantanamo Bay.

For updates on the fate of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, go to https://www.facebook.com/bhaigurbakshsinghkhalsa. For general coverage of Sikh human rights issues, go to http://www.lfhri.org/.


  1. “They were driven to this desperate act after the Indian army assaulted the Golden Temple, the most sacred of places to a Sikh”

    I don’t see how that is justification for assessinating anybody and less a head of state

    Comment by Olivares — December 13, 2013 @ 1:56 am

  2. I wasn’t trying to justify it, only explain it. Like, for example, explaining suicide bombings by Palestinians.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 13, 2013 @ 2:21 am

  3. Is it right to kill thousands of Sikhs Mr. Olivares and that to on a given day the government knew there was going to be a large gathering of Sikhs? It’s wasn’t right to assassinate anyone but when this long going killing of Sikhs is going on you have to put an end to it. You can’t just stand and watch you have to take action into your own hands when the government doesn’t want to.

    Comment by Singh — December 13, 2013 @ 3:25 am

  4. Come on.

    Apples and oranges. The Palestinians are comparable to the indigenous Americans, Australians or South Africans — displaced and discriminated against to make way for a new society they couldn’t be easily integrated into. The Sikhs are more akin to the Mormons in the US — pushed aside and sometimes attacked for holding mythical beliefs that justify ways and actions outside of the bourgeois norm.

    It’s comically odd that you describe the Sihks as “a gentle and decent people” only a few sentences after describing an assassination by a group of Sikhs that worked as *armed men in the bourgeois state apparatus*. Generalizations are dangerous, as are relativist “explanations” for atrocious acts. The Sikh secret servicemen were no more “driven” to assassinate Indira Ghandi by an armed incursion into a building (Marxists talking about “holy places” is like something out of the Twilight Zone) than the terrorists who flew planes into the WTC were, supposedly because of an incursion into their “holy land.”

    The kind of Indian that Marxists should be looking up to is Bhagat Singh, the socialist revolutionary who ditched the Sikh superstition for atheism and encouraged his compatriots to do the same, even in the days leading up to his execution.

    Would Louis promote a demonstration by Scientologists in Germany fighting for their “human rights” to practice a whacked out cult religion in a place that has sensibly outlawed such fucking nonsense?

    Comment by Jim Hiller — December 13, 2013 @ 6:54 am

  5. @Jim Hiller… dont make ignorant remarks. first you need to go and study about the Sikhism and Sikhs in India, get some enlightenment and if you still have the same ignorant thoughts, then america help you. lol
    Also, lets say your house was robbed by some government paid goons, would you just keep watching while they rape our family and kill all of you, or would you fight? hmmm

    Comment by Anita — January 13, 2015 @ 12:15 am

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