MP slams Australian authorities for caving into Indian pressure over Sikhs voting

There have been dozens and dozens of Khalistan Referendum events in the UK, Canada, and Europe and this is the third one in Australia

Murtaza Ali Shah
Greens Senator David Shoebridge. — Author
Greens Senator David Shoebridge. — Author

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Greens Senator David Shoebridge has slammed the Australian authorities for the cancellation of three venues booked for Khalistan Referendum voting in Sydney.

The lawmaker has raised serious concerns that a foreign country – the Indian government – was able to use its pressure on the Australian authorities through various means in order to deny the local Sikhs their fundamental right of voting – a right protected by Australian laws.

Senator David Shoebridge spoke out after three venues were cancelled, booked for Khalistan Referendum by pro-Khalistan Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) yet the voting went ahead and over 3,1000 Sikhs took part in 4 July 2023 voting on the edges of a hastily booked centre in Sydney.

Senator David Shoebridge visited the voting venue to express his support for the Australian Sikhs and their democratic right. He said: “I am here to make a stand for the Australian Sikhs, to express support for their basic democratic human right to express themselves peacefully through the ballot box.

There have been dozens and dozens of Khalistan Referendum events in the UK, Canada, and Europe and this is the third one in Australia. Sydney is the only place where venue after venue has been cancelled after political pressure was used.”

The lawmaker said that the Australian authorities were involved in breaching the rights of Sikhs.

He said: “When we give into that kind of political pressure to prevent people peacefully expressing their will at the ballot box then that’s a fundamental attack on democracy. I am standing here with the Sikh community to show solidarity and to stand up for their fundamental rights – the right to exercise your will at the ballot box in a democratic country like Australia. The right to vote is a fundamental Australian. I think it's deeply upsetting that this has happened.”

The Australian MP said the Sikhs were right to seek answers and justice over the 1984 Golden Temple Amritsar massacre.

Australian Sikhs alleged that extremist Australian Hindutva groups aligned with India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Sewak Singh (RSS) backed by the Indian govt were behind the cancellation of three venues but failed in their concerted effort to stop the Sydney Khalistan Referendum voting.

Australian radical Hindutva groups ran a massive campaign to stop the Sydney Khalistan Referendum from going ahead, using Indian diplomatic power, mass emailing and raising false security alarms and spectres of violent terrorism. The Hindutva groups alleged in their emails to the booking centres that Sikh and Hindu groups will fight publicly and there could be bloodshed and public disorder if the voting was allowed.

Leading pro-Khalistani group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) had booked Sydney’s Blacktown Leisure Centre Stanhope for the 4 June “Shaheed General Shabeg Singh Voting Centre” but the venue was cancelled on May 12th. Sydney Masonic Centre cancelled the booking 10 days before the event. The organisers then booked New South Wales Cropley House on Baulkham Hills which was also cancelled by the administration just five days before the event on grounds of security concerns.

24 hours before the event, the organisers booked a truck yard on Sterling Road, Michinbury, in a desolated area, some 40 miles outside of downtown Sydney.

In a show of defiance to the Indian actions, thousands of Sikh men arrived at the Shaheed General Shabeg Singh Khalistan Referendum Voting Centre on Sterling Road, Michinbury, to cast their votes under the supervision of the independent Punjab Referendum Commission which is overseeing the worldwide referendum voting, commissioned by the SFJ.

More than 100 policemen from riot squad units of the New South Wales Police put up their pickets outside the venue fearing there will be violence. There were policemen on mounted horses and bikes and armed officers to man the venue. The police shut down three roads leading to the voting centre to prevent any clash.

The Sydney phase of the Khalistan Referendum was organised to mark the anniversary of the 1984 Operation Blue Star Amritsar Genocide when Indian authorities killed thousands of Sikhs during a bloodied attack on Sri Harmandir Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple).

Just two weeks before the Khalistan Referendum voting in Sydney, PM Modi was in Australia where he met the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and other govt authorities and urged them to stop Sikhs from going ahead with voting but the Australian govt told Modi that the whole Canberra respected India’s position it was no in position to stop its own citizens from expressing their legal and democratic right. However, the Australian councils cooperated with the Indian diplomatic missions against Sikhs.