August 16, 2023 (Chicago, IL) — Yesterday, at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Sikh Coalition was proud to join a screening of Niskham TV’s latest documentary project: Baywatana: ‘Without a Home.’
The documentary was produced by the Sikh youth of Nishkam TV, including Aekem Singh, Jaskeerat Singh, Sahej Singh, Tanisha Kaur Kapoor, Suner Kaur Chopra, and Jasratan Chopra, all working under the guidance of Emmy Award-winning producer and director Harbaldeep Singh. It focuses on the journeys of religious minorities who have fled Afghanistan due to recent violence and political upheaval. Drawn from 175 hours of interview footage shot in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and India, Baywatana follows the stories of multiple families that are attempting to build new lives for themselves after experiencing discrimination, persecution, and violence in their home country.
“Baywatana is a testament to the boundless potential of young minds,” said Harbaldeep Singh. “Under my mentorship, Nishkam TV’s high school student film crew has artfully crafted a documentary that not only stands on par with industry professionals but also pushes the boundaries of the established standards. This journey exemplifies the incredible power of unity and compassion, underscoring that the voices of youth resonate on a global scale.”
The Sikh Coalition is credited as a co-producer on Baywatana, and continues to coordinate with Nishkam TV on this project in the context of our significant advocacy work around the safe and immediate resettlement of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus to the United States. That advocacy work originally ramped up after the 2020 attack by ISIS-K on a Kabul gurdwara, and included congressional engagement, correspondence with the Biden Administration, coordination with allied organizations, and hundreds of hours in meetings with government officials and advocates across four different countries in search of solutions. After more than a year of work with partners, we were proud to help facilitate the safe arrival of one multigenerational Afghan Sikh family to New York via the United States Significant Public Benefit Parole Program; we then facilitated an exclusive Associated Press story about their journey and the need for wider government action in response to the outstanding and urgent needs of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan, India, and the United States.
“The Sikh Coalition is proud to support Baywatana and Nishkam TV’s work on this important story,” said Sahej Preet Singh, Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Community Development. “It is critical that more people understand the discrimination, persecution, and violence that Afghan Sikhs and Hindus have experienced, and it sends a powerful message to have Sikh youth being the ones who conduct these interviews and tell these stories.”
We are grateful to Nishkam TV for their work in elevating this critical issue and look forward to continuing to collaborate with them as Baywatana reaches new audiences and media markets. In the meantime, our work on behalf of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus continues. While we stand in solidarity with the tens of thousands of Afghans from all faith backgrounds who remain in harm’s way, we continue to advocate specifically for Afghan Sikhs and Hindus so that they are not left behind or forgotten by U.S. authorities.
In addition to joining Nishkam TV for the screening of Baywatana, the Sikh Coalition is active in other portions of this week’s Parliament of the World’s Religions. This afternoon, Sahej Preet will speak on two additional panels. The first, entitled Afghani Sikhs and Other Minorities: Their Exodus in Their Own Words, will also feature Kulwinder Singh Soni, a member of the Afghan Sikh family who arrived in New York in 2022. The second is Global Sikh Meet: Showcasing Institutions Working for the Charhdi Kala of the Panth. Finally, the Sikh Coalition was glad to facilitate a kirpan training by our Legal Director, Amrith Kaur Aakre, for staff at McCormick Place, where the Parliament is being held.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.