Through its role on the U.S. government’s interagency Incident Management Team, the Sikh Coalition is working to guarantee Sikh civil rights in emergency situations
(Washington, D.C.) August 6, 2007 – Over the past two months, the Sikh Coalition has been actively partipating in an inter-agency terrorist incident management team convened by Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the United States Department of Homeland Security. This group of government officials and community leaders from Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Sikh communities meets regularly to coordinate their responses to domestic and international terrorist incidents.
The Sikh Coalition views the creation of an Incident Management Team as a positive step in the right direction. For years the Coalition has asked government to recognize that terrorist events have historically led to violence and discrimination against Sikhs. The Coalition will continue to work with its government partners on this effort while reminding them government action that is perceived as discriminatory undercuts attempts by government to stem discrimination by private citizens.
This summer, the Incident Management Team (IMT) has met three times to convey community concerns in the face of adverse intelligence information. Two days after the terrorist attacks in Glasgow, Scotland, the Sikh Coalition met with other team members to discuss how to stem any hostile sentiment created by the widely publicized arrests of Muslim and South Asian men in Britain. The Departments of Homeland Security and State and the Transportation Security Administration led the briefings. Among other things, the team discussed best practices from the British handling of the attacks. These included Prime Minister Brown’s refusal to use the label “Islamic” to refer to terrorists and the involvement of British Muslim politicians in media coverage about the incidents.
Most recently, the Sikh Coalition participated in a conference call regarding the release of the National Intelligence Estimate, a report detailing U.S. intelligence strategies. While the analysis itself is not a terror threat, the Incident Management Team was convened so that government agencies could explain the substance and unclassified portions of the report to concerned communities.
In addition, the Department of Homeland Security also trained Incident Management Team members in a half day workshop. Sikh Coalition staff members were able to review potential government actions in a variety of fictional scenarios and discuss Sikh-specific safety concerns that may arise in such cases.
The Sikh Coalition thanks the Department of Homeland Security and Daniel Sutherland, Director of the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, for inviting us to participate in this nationwide effort. We appreciate their leadership in making backlash mitigation and civil rights a federal priority. We look forward to a productive working relationship with all of our team partners.
List of IMT Government Partners
Department of Homeland Security, Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Transportation Security Administration
US Citizenship and Immigration Services
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Customs and Border Protection
Department of State
Department of Transportation
Department of Treasury