Ottawa, June 14
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) calls on Canadian law enforcement agencies to fully investigate and prosecute those responsible for targeting a Sikh rally in Ottawa with a false bomb threat.
On Saturday, based on a false tip, police cordoned off and surrounded the area around Parliament Hill in Ottawa and detained two Sikh organizers of a rally commemorating the 1984 Indian army attack on the Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) complex in Amritsar, Punjab. The Indian assault and simultaneous attack on over 60 other gurdwaras across Punjab resulted in the death of thousands of Sikhs and is commemorated by Sikhs across the world every year.
According to law enforcement, the detailed tip included the names of the Sikh organizers, photographs and license plate numbers. On Saturday night, sources confirmed to the media that a “major” national security investigation was underway related to “Sikh extremists”.
After investigations turned up no actual threat or explosives, the two detained Sikhs were released without charges.
This is not the first time the Canadian Sikh community has been targeted by false bomb threats. Such threats targeting the Sikh community were frequently made in the 1980s. In June 1985, a call was made to police to report that “Sikh extremists” were planning to bomb a concert at Maple Leaf Gardens featuring Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar. The tip was investigated and found to be a hoax.
The false narrative of “Sikh extremism” has repeatedly been used in the past by the Government of India and Indian media to target legitimate Sikh expression and the Canadian Sikh community generally. Unfortunately, this narrative has also been uncritically perpetuated by Canadian media, law enforcement and politics in the past.
WSO President Tejinder Singh Sidhu said today,
“The hoax bomb threat targeting a Sikh rally in Ottawa is deeply concerning. This was clearly an attempt to obstruct the commemoration of the 1984 Indian attack on Sri Darbar Sahib and to frighten Sikhs who attend such events. This is yet another example of false allegations of ‘Sikh extremism’ being used to thwart and suppress legitimate Sikh expression.
Notably, throughout the week, Canadian MPs from all political parties also commemorated the 1984 attack on social media and a statement in the House of Commons was made by MP Ruby Sahota.
We call on law enforcement agencies, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to fully investigate this incident and ensure those responsible for making the false threat are fully prosecuted and held accountable.”