The Sikh Organisation for Prisoners Welfare is a Registered Charity (UK), run by volunteers, working to achieve justice for those, who have been illegally imprisoned and tortured.
SOPW was founded in 2008 by Bhai Balbir Singh who was arrested in 1999 by Delhi police who said they had found a consignment of RDX explosives. However due to International support for the UK national, the case was taken to the Supreme Court where the judge threw out the charges, calling them a “balloon of falsehoods” after it emerged the RDX in question had come from a police warehouse. Whilst in Tihar jail Balbir Singh met Prof Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who implored him to carry the plight of the Sikh Prisoners to the Sikh Diaspora.
In October 2010, SOPW volunteers from the UK travelled to India to meet some of the prisoners; one of them was Prof Bhullar who asked for a message to be relayed to the Sangat:
“Help the Shaheeds, whether living or passed away (the phrase “living Shaheeds” is for those such as the Sikh prisoners for whom each day is a sacrifice).
They were locking up people even before 1984, stand up and unite, there are too many Sikhs in prisons, but nobody cares & nobody helps. They need support and help, for any prisoner to even think about getting bail or released only a good lawyer can make that happen, but how can a prisoner have a good lawyer when he cannot even pay for his own basic needs?!
The aim I had was that the Sangat gives not only help and support to prisoners, but gives them the two most important things in life, HOPE and a VOICE… we are silenced in here, we have no where to go, each day could be our last, and no one does anything unless they’re paid, lawyers never support us unless they get paid, so we suffer for 10 years, because we can’t pay them… This is our life…”
In addition to funding legal cases, SOPW provides monthly support (to approx 100 Sikh Prisoners) consisting of basic needs such as clothes, soap, hair oil etc. In October 2010 UK volunteers travelled to Delhi, India and provided all the Sikh prisoners in Delhi Jails with warm winter clothing.
Many of the prisoners currently being supported have never been convicted or even charged with any offence, but have been unlawfully detained nonetheless for as long as 20 years. Furthermore, many Sikhs have been convicted solely on the evidence of signed confessions extracted under torture, as in the case of Professor Devinderpal Singh Bhullar:
“There are serious concerns that Davinder Pal Singh Bhuller may not have been given a fair trial.”
- Amnesty International
“Not a single witness, out of the 133 witnesses identified him.”
- The Voice Refugee Forum
SOPW is the only charity in the world whose mandate is solely to ensure the civil rights of Sikh Political Prisoners are ensured in India. Its success and progress is down to the support of the Sangat, we rely on your support to continue and develop this worthy project.