Over 6,000 Sikhs in Geneva vote for Khalistan Referendum despite snowstorm

By
Murtaza Ali Shah
|
Sikhs started arriving in buses and private vehicles overnight to take part in the voting process that was held at a vast community hall near the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) headquarters. Photo: Courtesy our correspondent
Sikhs started arriving in buses and private vehicles overnight to take part in the voting process that was held at a vast community hall near the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) headquarters. Photo: Courtesy our correspondent

  • Sikhs in Geneva vote for Khalistan Referendum amid snowstorm.
  • SFJ says voting day of December 10 picked in Geneva to coincide with International Human Rights Day.
  • Sikh people are facing an existential threat and their right to life and liberty is in danger under Indian governance, says SFJ General Counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.


GENEVA: More than 6,000 Sikhs from Switzerland and bordering France, Italy and Germany gathered in Geneva to cast their votes for the non-binding Khalistan Referendum, despite a heavy snow and rain storm in the Swiss capital to kickstart the European phase of the referendum on the United Nations Human Rights Day.

Sikhs started arriving in buses and private vehicles overnight to take part in the voting process that was held at a vast community hall near the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) headquarters.

Due to heavy snow storms overnight in Switzerland, France and Italy, several dozen coaches carrying Sikh families failed to reach Geneva on Friday due to traffic jams and road blocks.

Despite the obstacles, more than 6,000 Sikh men and women converged at the BFM centre and voted in the secessionist referendum for the liberation of Punjab from India.

Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), the organiser of the Khalistan Referendum, said that the voting day of December 10 was picked in Geneva to coincide with the International Human Rights Day. The Khalistan Referendum voting took place under the supervision of the independent Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC).

Citing 2021's 'Equality' theme of UN Human Rights Day, SFJ General Counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannun stated that Sikh people are facing an existential threat and their right to life and liberty is in danger under Indian governance.

“The independence of Punjab is the only solution,” added Pannun, who is camping in Geneva for the European phase of the Khalistan Referendum.

Pannun said that Sikhs have shown the world how to beat Indian fake news and propaganda against Sikhs by taking to the ballot boxes. He said the aim of the referendum was to show that Sikhs believed in exercising their right through democratic means.

SFJ’s Europe and UK Coordinate Paramjeet Singh Pamma said that International Human Rights Day reminds the international community every year about its commitment towards human rights, but sadly the rights of Sikhs are not seen in the same way and it was important, therefore, that the UN and other rights bodies took note of how Sikhs have been systematically killed by the Hindutva Indian regime, not just through the 1984 Sikh massacre but for decades before that.

After the voting was over, Sikhs marched towards the Broken Chair, outside the UNHRC building, to stage a protest where speeches were made by Khalistan leaders.

Speaking from the specially erected stage, Sikhs leaders called on the United Nations and the international community to take notice of the Indian government’s actions against Sikhs all over the world. They told the UN that India always puts up a decent face before the world, but behind the scenes it killed and discriminated against Sikhs and other minorities in India and at the same ran criminalisation campaigns against Sikhs in UK, Europe and North America to curb Sikh activism.

Prior to the Khalistan Referendum voting and rally in Geneva, the SFJ had submitted a report “India’s Criminalization of Khalistan Referendum” to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a special meeting.

Pannun and Council of Khalistan President Dr Bakhshish Singh Sandhu gave a presentation to UN officials on the Sikhs’ right to self-determination under international law and Narendra Modi government’s use of violence and sedition laws against Khalistan Referendum activists, in India and abroad.

The Sikh delegation informed the UN officials that Modi’s Hindu supremacist government is forcing Indian nationalism on the Sikh people in India to distort their culture and history. They told the UN officials that the Modi regime is using social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to push hyper Indian nationalism and to suppress the Khalistan Referendum campaign by blocking the contents and posts advocating for liberation of Punjab from India through means of a ballot.

The referendum campaign started in London on October 31, 2021 and voting was held over five different cities in the UK, with significant presence of Sikhs.