40th March and Rally in London to mark the anniversary of the 1984 Sikh Genocide in Amritsar
London - Sunday 4 June 2023
Thousands of members of the British Sikh community will gather today in central London to mark the anniversary of the 1984 Sikh Genocide in Amritsar. The march and rally commemorate victims of the attack on Sri Harmandir Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple) in Amritsar by the Indian authorities.
The first march and rally took place on 10 June 1984. UK government papers released after more than 30 years showed how the Indian authorities urged Home Office Minister, Douglas Hurd to arrest the Presidents of all UK Gurdwaras to sabotage the first protest. Special Branch told Home Office Ministers this was not possible. The Indian Home Minister then suggested to the British High Commissioner that Sikh protesters should be shot in London.
British Sikhs will be told at the rally In Trafalgar Square that a Labour Government if elected next year will launch an independent public inquiry into the 1984 British Government involvement in the run-up to the massacre and anti-Sikh measures against British Sikhs at the request of the Indian authorities.
The push for an independent public inquiry follows publication of classified documents under the 30-year rule in January 2014 that showed the Indian authorities sought British advice and assistance prior to the attack. The Heywood review immediately commissioned by then Prime Minister David Cameron was widely recognised as limited in scope and a whitewash.
The Labour Party has made manifesto commitments to hold an independent public inquiry and Keir Starmer has confirmed this commitment. It is expected a Labour Government would commence an inquiry within the first 100 days of coming to power.
The Sikh Federation (UK) has also published the highly acclaimed Sacrificing Sikhs report setting out the need for an investigation. The Sikh Network has recently released this as an audiobook.
Following a three-and-a-half-year legal battle a tribunal unanimously ruled in June 2018 against the Cabinet Office. Judge Shanks having heard arguments from Foreign Office officials, often in secret session acknowledged in his judgement the limitations of the Heywood review, the speed with which it was carried out and the limited time period of the files that were looked at.
The UK Government decisively lost the arguments on public interest in the tribunal and not surprisingly failed to appeal against the judgement. However, when only 40 pages were released from three Cabinet Office files relating to India covering the 1984 period without any mention whatsoever of the 1984 Sikh Genocide it was clear to all concerned that a judge-led public inquiry that would have complete access to secret papers was the only way to get to the truth.
The Sikh Federation (UK) will be announcing at the rally there will be a mass lobby of the UK Parliament on 28 June 2023 that will be focused on challenging MPs to support the right to Sikh self-determination and the re-establishment of an independent Sikh homeland given the British annexation of the Sikh Kingdom in 1849 and the British offer of a Sikh homeland in 1947 before Partition.
Sikh Federation (UK) spokespeople are available for interviews during the day.
Contact: Dabinderjit Singh, 07485 039944 or Jas Singh on 07977 700800
Schedule for 4 June 2023
· 11am to 1pm: Gathering at Wellington Arch. Coaches arriving from across the UK.
· 1pm to 2pm: Remembrance March from Wellington Arch via Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square.
· 2pm to 4pm: Freedom Rally in Trafalgar Square.
Jaspal Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)