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Petition US Congress to pressure India to release political prisoners

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I am writing to make an urgent appeal to secure the release of Sikh prisoners of conscience who are being deprived of their liberty by being imprisoned in India for years beyond their terms of sentencing, in egregious violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law.

Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, a Sikh rights activist, is on a continuous hunger strike since November 14th, demanding the release of Sikh prisoners of conscience who are being illegally detained and deprived of their liberty by the Government of India. Six of these prisoners are Gurmeet Singh; Lakhwinder Singh; Shamsher Singh; Lal Singh; Wariam Singh; and Gurdeep Singh Khaira. Each of these individuals is in continuous detention for a period ranging from 18 to 23 years, a period which is far in excess of the 14 years sentence imposed on them.

A review of the each of these cases reveals that they fall under "Category I" cases as identified by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. According to the Working Group's mandate, "Category I" cases are those where:

"[I]t is clearly impossible to invoke any legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty (as when a person is kept in detention after the completion of his sentence or despite an amnesty law applicable to him)."

As per the mandate of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions as established by resolution 1991/42 of the former Commission on Human Rights, an immediate action is warranted in this case.

The continuous arbitrary detention of Sikh prisoners of conscience violates every norm of democracy, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international laws. If the ongoing practice of illegal and arbitrary detention of Sikhs and other innocent minorities goes unchecked, it will result in another era of unrest, torture, illegal detentions, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of Sikhs, a religious minority, as has happened to them during 1984-98 which has been extensively documented by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Similar instances of genocide and oppression can be found against other communities including Christians and Muslims.

I, therefore, urge you to:

* SECURE the release of Sikh Prisoners of Conscience Gurmeet Singh; Lakhwinder Singh; Shamsher Singh; Lal Singh; Wariam Singh; and Gurdeep Singh Khaira and save the life of Sikh activist Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa who is on a continuous Hunger Strike since November 14th.

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