Sikh Solidarity with Palestine's Liberation Struggle
The Khalistan Centre issued a statement today reaffirming Sikh solidarity and support for the Palestinian liberation struggle. The statement calls on “sangarsheel (mobilized) Sikh naujawan to study the experiences of the Palestinian struggle and learn from the theory and practice of liberation unfolding before our eyes.”
This statement forcefully articulates an unapologetic Sikh perspective that is rooted in Sikh sidhant, history, and the concrete relationship between our struggles. There are many misguided Sikh voices today that are advocating for so-called neutrality based on a misunderstanding of Sikh struggle and complete ignorance of how our oppressors are working together. Israel is not only responsible for occupation and genocide and the Palestinian people, but is also a staunch supporter of India's Hindutva project that provides military training and technology to security forces directly targeting Sikh activists and jujharoos. Even without this context however, Sikh jujharoos have consistently articulated their unequivocal support for the struggles and liberation of oppressed peoples all over the world.
The full statement can be read here and has been reproduced below for our readers:
“The Khalsa Panth will always support the struggle of those movements that promote the principles of equality, uphold the dignity of labour and share its wealth while contemplating Naam. This assembly of the Sarbat Khalsa strongly endorses the armed struggles of the peoples of the world, especially those in India who are fighting oppressive colonial rule for their rights and independence…”
-Gurmatta (Guru Panth’s resolution) of the 1987 Sarbat Khalsa (collective assembly of the Guru Khalsa Panth)
Sikhs around the world express their firm solidarity and support for Palestine’s ongoing liberation struggle and resistance to occupation. Boldly asserting their defiance and dignity despite suffering some of the most inhumane conditions imaginable today, the Palestinian struggle has sparked rejuvenation and reflection in movements around the world.
While unequivocally condemning Israel’s occupation and genocidal violence against Palestinians, we must also identify and challenge the global power structures that benefit from and support Zionist violence. This includes the unqualified support of the Indian state. The racist dehumanization of Palestinians–and the complicity of mainstream media reporting globally–is inevitably paving the way for an escalation in genocidal tactics as we have seen in recent days. Appeals to the international community continually go nowhere as global powers continue their geopolitical games to secure trade routes, military bases, and markets at the cost of Palestinian lives. Similar games are being played in the South Asian region where the same powers are also offering their outright support to the fascist Hindutva regime in India.
Despite every effort to undermine the legitimacy of their struggle however, Palestinians are boldly asserting their inalienable right to every means of resistance, including armed struggle. In response, supporters are continuously called upon to condemn their own struggle based on disinformation and carefully scripted narratives aimed at delegitimizing their political aspirations altogether. These are the same tactics used against Sikh and other liberation struggles as well; diverting meaningful dialogue around the politics of the conflict by questioning the humanity of the oppressed before they can even be granted access to the realm of public discourse. These efforts at obscuring colonialism, occupation, and genocide of oppressed peoples must be met with a firm refusal to enter the rhetorical trap of condemnation. Oppressed and colonized peoples will continue to exercise their right to self-determination and self-defence by any means necessary.
Liberation struggles are fought to uphold the dignity and sacredness of life. There is no celebration for the loss of any life, especially those of non-combatants. The death of a single non-combatant in the course of any struggle is tragic. Those engaging in moral chastizing from the sidelines and seeking to erase all context must not equate the violence of the oppressed with that of the oppressor. Such allegations cannot be weaponized to define and undermine the legitimacy of a struggle as a whole.
Those committed to collective liberation must also confront the material and ideological support mutually shared between the fascist Zionist and Hindutva projects in Israel and India. This doctrine of mutual support includes direct Israeli support to Indian security forces to surveil and target Sikh activists and jujharoos (warriors), as well as others throughout the subcontinent. This includes massive arms sales, the provision of mass surveillance and other digital technology, as well as the extensive training of Indian counter-insurgency forces in Punjab who continue to target Sikhs for incarceration and death with impunity. Both countries are committed to supporting each other’s genocidal policies to formalize their respective ethno-supremacist states.
Those individuals occupying Sikh spaces who are advocating so-called neutrality in order to pursue our own selfish interests first, as well as those expressing a performative solidarity without a real commitment to Sikh or Palestinian liberation need to reflect on the sidhant (principles) and virasat (legacy) of the Khalsa. Our history has been dedicated to the destruction of the tyrants and protection of the marginalized, and our conduct today must reflect this. There is no doubt that the Khalsa will chart its independent course of politics and struggle according to our own values and circumstances, but our Sikh principles will always remain paramount as we navigate the geopolitical changes running throughout the world today. Furthering our struggle does not mean ignoring others, and it cannot ever mean ignoring the widespread atrocities occurring in Palestine today.
The Sikh sangarsh (struggle) for Khalistan centres around our drive to liberate Punjab from the colonial domination of the Indian imperial project and establish a sovereign society-polity built around the Guru's vision of sarbat da bhala (welfare of all of Akaal's creation), sanjhivalta (co-creation/existence), and halemi raj (just political structure) in its place. This struggle was initiated as a revolutionary resistance to abolish the Indian state, capitalist exploitation, and Hindutva's caste-based supremacy–with a clear commitment to advancing the liberation of all oppressed peoples across the subcontinent and the world.
Our collective liberation will ultimately come from building our own sovereign power through autonomous institutions and employing all modes of resistance–not submitting to the whims of electoral politics and representation in systems of borrowed power (subedari) or making depoliticized calls for the international community to simply defend our “human rights”. Fundamental human rights are meant to be non-negotiable protections from state atrocities although they are obviously not applied equally. Vague calls for human rights are not substitutes for the just resolution of political conflicts, colonization, or occupation, nor are these calls meaningful expressions of solidarity. Addressing the root causes of armed conflict requires meaningful political settlement to ensure the right to self-determination is guaranteed as the foundation of all other human rights.
We encourage sangarsheel (mobilized) Sikh naujawan to study the experiences of the Palestinian struggle and learn from the theory and practice of liberation unfolding before our eyes. Open dialogue with your local Palestinian organizations and offer your ongoing support. We are committed to developing grassroots solidarity with Palestinian liberation movements and reaffirm our steadfast commitment to dismantling the colonial edifices that occupy our respective homelands, as well as countless others around the world.