Background and Context
On September 18, 2023, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canadian intelligence agencies were “pursuing credible allegations of a potential link” between the government of India and the June 2023 murder of Canadian Sikh Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. Then, on November 29, 2023, the U.S. Justice Department unsealed an indictment detailing charges against an Indian national who allegedly collaborated with a representative of the government of India to plan at least one assassination of a Sikh American; per the indictment, the case was connected to the alleged assassination of Nijjar, and at least three more similar plots were in the works.
These actions violate U.S. and Canadian sovereignty and attempt to intimidate voices and invalidate the rights of marginalized communities like ours. They—and other documented threats (see here, and here) against Sikhs throughout North America—constitute “transnational repression,” which is described by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as when foreign governments “stalk, intimidate, or assault people in the United States.”
The Sikh Coalition has chosen to undertake advocacy work in response to transnational repression because we are gravely concerned about 1) the possibility of efforts to harm or kill peaceful, law-abiding Sikhs in the United States, and 2) broader narratives that seek to paint some or all of the Sikh community as dangerous extremists on the basis of political views they may or may not hold. The Sikh Coalition does not take an institutional position on Khalistan, but firmly believes that all people have a right to free speech and to lawfully advocate for their beliefs. We also denounce any and all calls for political violence.
See below for more about this ongoing work.
Sangat members who are concerned for their safety and feel comfortable doing so should immediately contact the 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, including a January 2024 Punjabi language public service announcement.
Additionally, 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.
View some of the Sikh Coalition’s work in response to transnational repression below.
- February 15, 2024: Submitted written statement for the record for the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s hearing on “Transnational Repression and the U.S. Response”
- January 17, 2024: Submitted written statement for the record for the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Hearing
- December 18, 2023: A message from the Sikh Coalition’s Executive Board Chairman on transnational repression work
- December 6, 2023: Sikh Coalition statement for the record submitted to Congress for the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee’s December hearing on transnational repression, which was cited during the hearing by Chairman Ben Cardin
- December 6, 2023: Sikh Coalition letter to the White House regarding the unsealed indictment
- November 30, 2023: Sikh Coalition press statement regarding the unsealed indictment around a plot to assassinate a U.S.-based Sikh
- November 17, 2023: Sikh Coalition-led letter, signed by allied Sikh organizations, in support of the Transnational Repression Policy Act
- September 21, 2023: First Sikh Coalition letter to the White House regarding the threat of transnational repression against the Sikh community
In addition to these and other advocacy efforts, the Sikh Coalition remains committed to providing subject matter experts, resources, and context to allies across the civil rights ecosystem as well as media who are reporting on these topics, in many cases for the first time. We also remain grateful to our longtime partners at the World Sikh Organization in Canada who remain at the forefront of the ongoing international conversation, our fellow U.S.-based Sikh organizations that continue to collaborate in this space for the common good, and allied Hindu organizations and community leaders who continue to amplify concerns expressed by the Sikh community around our safety.