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New York State Assembly and New York City Council Honors
Sikhs for their Commitment to Humanitarian

Aid Efforts and Civil Rights Advocacy


Albany, NY & New York
NY, May 26, 2010
Rucha Kavathe

UNITED SIKHS was honored for their recent humanitarian aid efforts in Haiti and Chile, and ongoing civil rights advocacy work by the New York State and City lawmakers in May, 2010.

On May 17, 2010, UNITED SIKHS was honored before the New York State Assembly by the Speaker of the House of New York, by Assemblyman Lancman, and by Assemblyman Weprin for the Civil and Human Rights Advocacy and Humanitarian Relief Efforts undertaken by the organization with support from the members of the New York and national Sangat(community).

It was also an opportunity for UNITED SIKHS to meet with Chair of House Committee on Corrections, Assemblyman Aubry and counsel for Chair of the Senate Committee on Corrections, Ruth Hassell-Thompson and raise issues that Sikhs face while imprisoned. Members of the team also met with the Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Education Committee, Merryl H. Tisch, Chancellor for the Board of Regents and discused educational issues around Sikhs and school-bullying.

Jaspreet Singh, Chancellor Merryl Tisch,
Jagir Singh, & Birmohan Singh
Assemblyman Rory Lancman, Jagir Singh,
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, & Jaspreet Singh


In the State Assembly Chambers

"It was my pleasure to introduce UNITED SIKHS to my colleagues in the state legislature. UNITED SIKHS performs a valuable service by providing a unified voice for the Sikh community. I look forward to continuing our work together in making sure that voice remains strong in state government," said Assemblyman Rory Lancman.

Community board member Jagir Singh Bains, who accompanied the UNITED SIKHS Team to Albany, said, “While a lot has been done, as a community and as a society, we have a long road ahead in alleviating the suffering of people affected by natural disasters and in the fight to secure Sikh civil rights. The Sikh community of New York is proud to support the work of UNITED SIKHS as they continue to serve those in need without any discrimination, and through their work in areas of humanitarian aid, as well as human and civil rights, embody the message of Guru Gobind Singh ji to ‘recognize the human race as one.’”

Earlier in the month, on May 13, 2010, at the 311th Vaisakhi Day celebration organized by New York City Council members Mark Weprin, Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras and Eric Ulrich, UNITED SIKHS was honored as a Sikh organization dedicated to Humanitarian Relief and Civil Rights Advocacy. The Vaisakhi Day celebration was attended by Sikh community from New York Gurdwaras.

In his opening remarks, council member Mark Weprin emphasized on the increasing numbers of Sikhs in New York City and their contribution as members of civil society. In his position as a lawmaker, council member Weprin stressed on the importance of “looking for similarities, not differences and celebrate our differences in the world.” The council member honored the long time Sikh tradition of public service and highlighted the legislation he is heavily involved in that will allow Sikhs to serve in New York City agencies with their kakaars.

Jaspreet Singh, Staff Attorney, who accepted the award on behalf of UNITED SIKHS, remarked, “UNITED SIKHS is committed to serving people in need, and it was a pleasure for the Sikh community to be recognized for its humanitarian relief efforts, and for the advocacy we engage in on behalf of ourselves, minorities and disadvantaged peoples.”

The UNITED SIKHS Aid team has been running langgar (community meal) operations in Haiti since January, and is continuing to assist Haitians in rehabilitation and rebuilding. UNITED SIKHS volunteer team is assisting with langgar in Chile to those affected by the earthquake. The Civil and Human Rights Advocacy team recently coordinated the Sikh Summit, which was a way for leaders of the Sikh community and Sikh organizations across the United States to gather on Capitol Hill and express issues of the Sikh community to Senators, Congress persons and members of government think-tanks. Issues presented to legislators included Hate and Bias Crimes, Verbal Harassment, and General Xenophobia, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection: Misidentification and Watch-list Issues, Employment Discrimination, TSA and Photo-Identification Issues, a Separate Count of Sikhs in Census, the safety of Sikhs in Pakistan, and the Right to Turban in France and Belgium.