September 29, 2023 (New York, NY) — The Sikh Coalition continues to closely monitor the evolving situation around Canada’s ongoing investigation into the alleged assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia last June. Our work on this issue remains centered solely on the civil rights and safety of Sikhs in the United States.
Most urgently, recent public reporting indicates that immediately following the assassination of Mr. Nijjar and in the weeks since, law enforcement agencies notified some U.S.-based sangat members of potential threats against their lives. The Sikh Coalition has further confirmed this information with trusted sangat members and allied organizations. Accordingly, it is essential for sangat members who feel they may be at risk to remain vigilant during this time.
It is illegal for foreign governments to stalk, intimidate, or assault people in the United States; it is also illegal for foreign governments to target naturalized or U.S.-born citizens who have family overseas or other foreign connections. This kind of “transnational repression” has resulted in successful prosecutions by the United States government. If you are concerned for your safety, sangat members who feel comfortable doing so should immediately contact the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) at tips.fbi.gov or call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). Note that the FBI has more information available in Punjabi.
As a reminder, if you are traveling abroad, U.S. Embassies and Consulates (including those in India) can assist if a U.S. citizen is arrested, missing, is a victim of violent crime, becomes ill or dies, or when there is otherwise a need for immediate help. U.S. citizens traveling abroad should consider the following cautionary measures:
- Be informed about the countries to which you are traveling. For embassy and consulate emergency contact information specific to India, visit this State Department emergency contact information page.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- Be aware of the State Department’s information if you are a victim of a crime while abroad.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance.
Given the evolving situation, the Sikh Coalition continues our advocacy work. Last week, we prioritized engaging the Biden Administration—including via our letter to President Biden and our statement for the record in favor of the reauthorization of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. We have since held meetings with members of Congress on Capitol Hill to ask that they stand for the civil rights and safety of Sikhs in the United States. Several members, from both parties, have also expressed public concern for and solidarity with the Sikh community; we continue to amplify these important voices.
Of note, there have been significant developments related to the investigation and the U.S. government’s reaction. Reporting this past weekend clarified that the U.S. government offered Canadian intelligence “context” and “information” in their analysis of Mr. Nijjar’s murder, but the solid evidence linking India to his killing came from Canadian agencies. Moreover, spokespeople from various agencies in the U.S. government continue to signal that they are taking this issue seriously. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for “accountability,” National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said that the Biden Administration is urging India to cooperate in a “fully transparent [and] comprehensive investigation,” and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan promised “no special exemption” for India if it was found culpable for Mr. Nijjar’s murder.
As a final note, we wish to reiterate that the Sikh Coalition is undertaking this work because we are gravely concerned about the possibility of efforts to harm or kill peaceful, law-abiding Sikhs in the United States on the basis of political views they may or may not hold. We continue to believe that everyone has the fundamental right to peacefully advocate for their beliefs. And we condemn in the strongest terms any calls for violence and all attempts to blame all members of any one demographic group for current tensions.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.