Today, Ensaaf needs your help to build Testimonies of Truth: A Video Archive of over 200 survivor interviews, thematic clips, and oral histories, exploring key human rights themes and survivor perspectives.
This human rights video archive will be the first and largest repository of video testimonials from surviving families of the “Decade of Disappearances.”
Over the next 15 days, we have an incredible opportunity to raise $30,000 by August 30, the International Day of the Disappeared. Generous donors will match the first $15,000 raised, dollar for dollar.
I never forget him. I always think of him. On the day I began construction on this home, I thought, “I wish he was standing next to me today and I had his support.”
On any day, sad or happy, I always think of him, wishing he could celebrate with us. Our family was very poor. So much so that even for our education, my mother borrowed money from her family to pay our fees. Because he was born into poverty, he was determined to stand on his own two feet…So, he worked in electronics, delivered mail, and worked at the dairy in the morning. This is how he made ends meet for his family.
He told me, “They cut my legs apart. [They] cut open my legs with a cutter, and put hot peppers in [the wounds]. They humiliated [me] a lot.” He was tortured a lot. He was beaten very badly. He was unable to sit up or even stand.
…I was put in one room and he was put in another room. For about 15 to 20 days, they kept us separated like this. His room was next to me and we could hear each other’s voices. We spoke with one another a little.
When I would ask him, he would say, “I have been beaten very badly and they are going to kill me….I am begging them to kill me, but not to kill you as you are a child.”
In 1993, the police took [my father] from our home and killed him. After that, we had no one to help us. Our life has been very difficult. No one has listened to us. I was around 13 to 14 years old when the police abducted my father from our house.
By killing my father, he [policeman] didn’t finish any of my family members. But, he did ruin the families of the poor individuals in the village. The village could always rely on the fact that “Bhai” was around. Today, if people get together or there is an issue to discuss, people recall that “Bhai” used to be around. Even today, the world remembers him.
Testimonies of Truth: A Video Archive will serve as a permanent, powerful, interactive tool to educate the global community, complementing Ensaaf’s data site on Crimes Against Humanity.
We’re writing to share a letter we co-authored with Arjun Sethi. We’re very proud of this intervention.
This is the first open, public letter from a coalition to President Biden about the farmers’ protest. It also fills a gap among the statements that have been circulating, as it highlights the connection between the anti-farmer bill, recent authoritarian laws passed by Modi, and the culture of impunity that Sikhs know all too well.
The decision to limit the letter to South Asian civil and human rights lawyers was intentional. We want this to be a call-to-action to many sectors across society, including philanthropists, journalists, academics, environmentalists, and public intellectuals, urging them to speak up and challenge India’s attack on human rights and democratic norms.
The letter is being directed to senior U.S. officials and lawmakers as well, and will allow for further engagement across government.
We’re very proud that The Wire published it. They’re one of the most prominent, independent media outlets in India, and the founder is currently facing sedition charges for covering the protest.
35 years ago on February 4, 1986, India’s security forces shot and unlawfully killed four Sikh men participating in a peaceful religious procession and protest in Nakodar, Punjab.
For 35 years, the families have tirelessly fought for truth and justice to bring the perpetrators to account. Ensaaf stands in solidarity with the survivors and is inspired by their courage and perseverance.
Every day for the past year, Ensaaf has been sharing the profile of a person who was disappeared or unlawfully killed by India’s security forces in Punjab on the anniversary of the incident. From young children, to the elderly, these crimes against humanity impacted countless families and communities, the consequences of which still reverberate today.
On August 30, 2019, the International Day of the Disappeared, Ensaaf released its first in-depth perpetrator dossier of former Punjab Police Chief Sumedh Singh Saini. Our dossier includes a visualization identifying his victims, command history, awards, and known promotions. The dossier also includes news articles detailing a key legal case and disciplinary hearings, among other materials.
On the International Day of the Disappeared, Ensaaf invites you to view the first-of its-kind interactive data visualization site, mapping victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in Punjab, India.
The interactive site compiles over 5,000 cases of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions perpetrated by India’s security forces, based on data collected over the past decade through survivor interviews. These cases can be viewed geospatially to observe trends across time and space, as well as through a gallery and individual victim profiles.
Mr. Johal asserts that during 5 to 9 November, Indian police tortured him during interrogation by means of electric shocks to his ears, nipples, and genitals, forcing his limbs into painful positions, and forced sleep deprivation. Mr. Johal’s lawyers in India report that at a secret court hearing on 10 November, witnesses observed that Mr. Johal had severe difficulty in standing or walking, and had to be assisted by police officers as he entered and left the courtroom.
Imagine sending your son to school one day, only for the police to gun him down. On November 14, 1989, Charanjit Kaur’s ten year old son Gurjit Singh went to school, never to return home alive.
The story of Charanjit Kaur is the story of many mothers in Punjab who saw their families destroyed during the Decade of Disappearances. Watch Charanjit Kaur’s video, as she revisits the events of that fateful day, describing in detail the killing of her young son and the effects on her family. She further shares her personal perspectives on justice and the Indian government.
(Amritsar, Chandigarh, California) On Human Rights Day, 10 December,Khalra Mission Organisation, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, andEnsaafrelease a new web-based human rights tool to help empower victims of government abuse to report their experiences atReportPunjabPolice.org.
We request anyone with information on human rights violations to use this tool to document abuses perpetrated by security forces in Punjab. The data collected throughReportPunjabPolice.org, in Punjabi or English, will shine a spotlight on the officials and institutions that violate human rights.
Rajvinder S. Bains: This procedure has failed completely.
Rajvinder S. Bains, a human rights attorney in the Punjab & Haryana High Court for over 20 years, discusses his experiences with the High Court in cases filed on behalf of victims of disappearances or extrajudicial executions. (Oct. 2007)
Mohinder Singh: What justice can we get from here?
Mohinder Singh discusses the abduction and murder of his son by the Punjab police and his pursuit of numerous avenues of justice. (Oct. 2007)
Tarlochan Singh: A Mockery of Justice
Tarlochan Singh describes his son Kulwinder Singh’s abduction by the Punjab police, and his 18-year continuing legal struggle for justice for Kulwinder Singh’s extrajudicial execution. (Oct. 2007)
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Gurcharan Singh and his Desire for Justice
In an SBS Dateline program on Punjab, Geoff Parish discusses the Punjab governments offer of compensation to 17 families, with no investigation or admission of liability by the state, in the Punjab mass cremations case. Gurcharan Singh rejected this offer. (Apr. 2002, Uploaded with permission from SBS.)
Jaswant Singh Khalra: Investigations into Illegal Cremations
An SBS Dateline program on Punjab describes human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalras discovery of the Punjab polices use of secret cremations to hide evidence of extrajudicial executions. The clip includes an interview with human rights activist Ram Narayan Kumar. (Apr. 2002, Uploaded with permission from SBS.)
A Witness Among the Bodies: Surviving Bluestar
On the 30th Anniversary of Operation Bluestar, Ensaaf presents an eyewitness account of the Indian Army attack on The Harmandir Sahib Complex in Amritsar, Punjab, from June 1 and June 6, 1984. This exclusive interview reveals how the Indian Army intentionally killed thousands of civilians and used excessive force during this assault.
Ensaaf Speaks with Manak about Court Decision, November 28, 2013
On November 26, 2013, the Punjab & Haryana High Court allowed the appeal of the State of Punjab and reversed and nullified the decision of the Single Judge directing investigation by the CBI. Not only did it refuse to order an inquiry into Satwant Singh Manak’s allegations that he witnessed the Punjab Police torture and unlawfully kill ten people, it also fined Manak, ordering him to pay 2,000 rupees to each of the accused police officers.
A Labor Of Love: Contesting Impunity
On July 23, 1989, Punjab Police officers abducted, tortured, and unlawfully killed 35-year old Sikh community leader Kuljit Singh Dhatt. For 25 years, his family has relentlessly pursued justice, attending over a hundred hearings, petitioning various courts and commissions, and enduring police harassment and intimidation of witnesses. On May 9, 2014, a judge convicted three police officers of abduction in order to murder Kuljit Singh Dhatt, sentencing them to a mere five years. The legal battle continues, now in the higher courts.
Navkiran Kaur Khalra:
“We are proud of what our father did.”
Navkiran Kaur Khalra, daughter of murdered human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra, recounts her family’s struggle for justice and her father’s discovery of thousands of killings and secret cremations by the Punjab police to hide evidence of wrongdoing. (Oct. 2007)
Jaswant Singh Khalra: Last International Speech – The Struggle for Truth
In his last speech made to a Canadian audience, Jaswant Singh Khalra discusses his investigations into the thousands of illegal killings and secret cremations by the Punjab police and his readiness to die to expose the truth about these crimes. Jaswant Singh Khalra begins his speech with a moving fable about the struggle of truth and light against expanding darkness. He recounts how he traced the fate of many disappeared Sikhs to Amritsar’s municipal cremation grounds. Through government records obtained from these municipalities, Khalra exposed a detailed history of systematic human rights violations in which security forces abducted, murdered, and secretly cremated an estimated 6,017 Sikhs in Amritsar district alone–then one of 13 districts in Punjab–from 1984 to 1995. (Apr. 1995)
Paramjit Kaur Khalra on Impunity in Punjab
In this video, Paramjit Kaur Khalra describes the need for a truth commission to redress the thousands of disappearances and killings in Punjab, India perpetrated during the counterinsurgency of 1984 to 1995. In September and October 1995, Indian security forces illegally detained, tortured, and killed her husband, human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, for his work uncovering over 2,000 cases of extrajudicial executions and secret cremations in Amritsar district alone. On November 4, 2011, India’s Supreme Court upheld life imprisonment for five officers involved in Khalra’s unlawful abduction, torture, and killing. Mrs. Khalra continues to seek justice for the all victims of illegal killings and disappearances.
On Human Rights Day, we share this documentary to show you how your support helps us document abuses on the ground. Seeking Ensaaf, filmed by Andrew Heskett, Ryan Westra, and David Thompson, recipients of the Sikh Scholarship Program at Chapman University, in August 2013, follows Ensaaf field workers as they document a case of extrajudicial killing in Punjab. Thank you for joining us on this journey to end impunity and achieve justice for the disappearances and unlawful killings of the Decade of Disappearances in Punjab.
A Light of Justice: Commemorating Jaswant Singh Khalra
On the 20th anniversary of the police abduction of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra, Ensaaf released A Light of Justice: Commemorating Jaswant Singh Khalra. This 30-minute film contains interviews with Khalra’s family, as well as archival footage of Khalra when he was investigating secret cremations and disappearances in Punjab.
Twenty years after Khalra’s martyrdom, the architects of the widespread and systematic human rights abuses in Punjab remain free. The Indian government is no closer to bringing Gill and the other perpetrators to justice for organizing Khalra’s – and thousands of other innocent Sikhs’ – death.
Please watch and share this film via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The Last Killing
Satwant Singh Manak joined the Punjab Police to provide his family with a stable income. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in response to an insurgency, Indian security forces committed systematic and widespread torture, disappearances, and unlawful killings in Punjab. Manak silently witnessed the torture and executions of 15 unarmed individuals at the hands of his fellow police officers. The killing of Kulwant Singh, a teenager who had passed 10th grade, deeply affected Manak. No longer able to suppress his conscience and the horror of what he witnessed, he resigned from his job and filed a case against his fellow police officers. That case covers ten of the victims.
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