September 20, 2012 (Washington, DC) – Over 400 people attended a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday to watch Harpreet Singh Saini deliver an emotional tribute to his mother, who was one of six worshipers whose lives were taken during the Aug. 5th attack on the Oak Creek Gurdwara. Harpreet also made history by being the first Sikh to testify at a U.S. Senate hearing.
With his brother Kamaljit by his side, and backed by Oak Creek community members Amardeep and Kanwardeep Singh Kaleka, Harpreet moved the hearing room to tears with his courageous and heartfelt testimony, saying “I want to tell the gunman who took her from me: You may have been full of hate, but my mother was full of love.”
Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, paid tribute to the Oak Creek community by displaying photographs of those who lost their lives: Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suvegh Singh, Satwant Singh Kaleka. Of note, the United States Justice Department representative at the hearing stated that by “mid-October” the decision of the Justice Department on the longstanding Sikh demand to create an anti-Sikh hate crime category “would be known.”
Yesterday’s historic hearing was convened after more than 150 organizations, led by the Sikh Coalition, requested the hearing in a joint letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 21. The Coalition thanks Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin for his leadership in convening the hearing. The Coalition is also deeply thankful to the over 400 people, mostly Sikhs, who completely filled both the hearing room and the hearing overflow room. Their service in attending yesterday’s historic hearing made a clear statement to the Senate that Sikhs will stand up for both their rights and the rights of all. The Sikh Coalition is also grateful to Harpreet Singh Saini for exemplary courage and leadership in offering his testimony.
As always, the Sikh Coalition encourages all Sikhs to fearlessly practice their faith. —
“While speaking today about our mother and our loss was difficult, it was necessary. My brother and I are grateful that the Senate heard our testimony. We would like to thank the Sikh Coalition for making the hearing and today’s testimony happen. They supported us every step of the way.”
– Kamaljit Singh Saini, Brother of Harpreet Singh Saini