UN security at sixes and sevens over kirpan
A United Nations committee chairman has hinted at a relaxing of attitudes towards the wearing of the kirpan by Sikhs in UN buildings.
Jeffery Huffiness was unable to prevent UN security officers from prohibiting the wearing of the 4ins religious dagger – one of the Sikh articles of faith – at a conference in the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
But later the Chair of the UN’s NGO/DPI (Department of Public Information) executive committee pledged: “We will seek to uphold the right of all NGOs (Non Governmental Organisations) associated with the UN Department of Public Information to enter UN buildings in the future.”
The United Sikhs lobbying organisation had secured approval for Sikhs to wear the kirpan at a Human Rights Village exhibition at Paris City Hall a few days before the conference, which had the theme Reaffirming Human Rights for All – the Declaration at 60.
Both events marked the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.
For the Human Rights Village, the UN’s Jerome Perdreau said its security service had agreed to allow the kirpans into Paris City Hall and the Paris police had not voiced any objection.
But Jeffery Huffiness said he was unable to prevent the ban at the UNESCO building, reported Gurpreet Singh, of the United Sikhs legal team.
Mr Huffiness had told him there were other NGO groups who were being excluded for other reasons, said Mr Singh.
Visitors to the United Sikhs’ stand at the Human Rights Village were told of its work, including its Right to Turban campaign, which records the problems that Sikhs face over the wearing of the turban in Europe.
Event organisers asked exhibitors and visitors to write messages in support of human rights on a large canvas.
This was later shown at various sites across Paris, bearing, among others, the Sikhs United motto: “Recognise the Whole Human Race as One” – derived from the command of Guru Gobind Singh Jee, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs.
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