GENOCIDE PREVENTION 101
I thought of all these different ways to educate, share, and enlighten, but this still seems the best way. In a perfect world, I’d have a nice little home studio for video and audio production, but there’s a recession on, we’re still in the throes of a global pandemic, and ecosystems are collapsing (times being what they are), and it’s nice to have goals.
The recent negotiated takeover by the Taliban of Afghanistan, in tandem with a stated troop withdrawal, included talks of “religious pluralism” among the varied religious groups in the country. Given the Taliban’s past history towards Hindus and Sikhs — which has included mandating they wear yellow so as to be publicly identifiable (sound familiar?) — these pledges for an inclusive post-occupation Afghanistan were met with cautious optimism at best, rightful skepticism on the other hand.
Just over a week ago, on 10/5/21 an armed group entered a Sikh gurdwara (house of worship) in Kabul, where they vandalized the worship hall. They also destroyed CCTV cameras, a telling precursor for further incidents of violence. Last year, ISIS-K took responsibility for a gurdwara attack, also in Kabul, which killed 25 and left more injured. Other gurdwaras in the nation have evacuated completely, including ensuring the transport of their sacred scriptures to safety.
There are approximately 250 remaining Sikhs and Hindus essentially trapped in Afghanistan. With ISIS-K remaining an active presence, and one seemingly willing to engage in the kind of dirty work the treacherous Taliban pledged to avoid (they are simply outsourcing the labor), a rising concern is the very real likelihood that 250 could be reduced to zero. This would, by definition, effectively be an act of religious genocide.
Your Role In This
We often look at past events — the Trail of Tears, the enslavement of Africans, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the Holocaust, the MOVE Bombing — and pledge, “Never again.”
Well, it’s time to put up or shut up. As great as this country is at creating refugees, to our credit, we do also have relocation and safe haven programs for those fleeing persecution. For the record, there is no speculation that the persecution is taking place, it is simply a question of what the US State Department is willing to do as part of the international effort towards the prevention of Afghanistan from descending to the hellish “failed state” model of Libya.
You can help. Real activism is quite boring and it’s mostly done over the phone. You are probably better-equipped to engage in this kind of activism sitting where you are right now than you think. There’s a place and time for redecorating the windows of [REDACTED], but this isn’t it. The goal is not to polarize in these efforts, but to change minds. To motivate people in power to action.
People you will never meet need you to help save their lives. We need to call our elected officials to both raise awareness and put pressure on the State Department.
Everyone living in America has two Senators and one Congressperson representing them. Find who yours are and save their numbers. Don’t let engaging with these offices be a one-time thing. They serve you — remember that.
(Deviate as needed, make it natural and anticipate the potential for interruption.)
“Hello, my name is ________ and I am one of your constituents. The reason I am calling today is to raise awareness of the current situation in Afghanistan facing Hindus and Sikhs. Currently, there are around 250 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan, and their situation is becoming increasingly desperate. There is no guarantee for religious freedom under Taliban rule. In the past, they have made Hindus and Sikhs wear identifying markers, a move straight out of the playbook of Nazi Germany, while just this month there was a mob attack in Kabul, where a Sikh temple was vandalized. These actions are often seen as precursors for further, more focused violence.
It is my hope that (Senator/Representative) _(name)_ join the call for Secretary Blinken and the State Department to ensure Hindus and Sikhs currently stuck in Afghanistan be granted visas under the Humanitarian or Significant Parole Program. This would be consistent with prior actions. If this small group of 250 cannot be relocated under this program, I strongly urge (Legislator’s Name) to urge the State Department to provide priority designation to Afghani Hindus and Sikhs under the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Do you think this is something (Legislator’s Name) would be willing to get behind?”
Regardless of the answer — again, regardless of the answer — thank them for their time and wish them well.
Congressional Switchboard — (202) 224–3121 (all you need to know is your ZIP code and you can then be directed to your two Senators and Congressperson)
Find your Representative — house.gov/representatives
Find your Senator — senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm
The Sikh Coalition — sikhcoalition.org
I also wish to emphatically state, while the Taliban’s extremism is wrapped up in the language of Islamic theology, the enemy at hand is not Islam, rather the extremist group wrongly acting in the name of Islam known as the Taliban. If you want to join a campaign to bash Muslims, go join the Proud Boys.