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US passes resolution to remember Wisconsin gurdwara victims

August 02, 2013 10:37 IST

The United States senate has unanimously passed a resolution remembering victims of the Oak Creek gurdwara shooting on the occasion of the first anniversary of the tragic incident.

Condemning in the strongest possible terms that horrific shooting, the resolution sponsored by the two Senators from Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson, honoured the memory of Suveg Singh Khattra, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh, Paramjit Kaur, and Prakash Singh, who were shot dead by a white supremacist named Wade Michael Page.

Offering condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of those who died in the shooting the resolution condemned hatred and acts of violence towards racial and religious groups and called for renewed efforts to end that violence.

Standing with those who plan to gather in Oak Creek on August 2 through August 5, to memorialise the lives lost in the shooting and to continue healing as a community, the resolution also commends the heroism of the first responders, and members of the community who courageously and selflessly placed their lives in danger to prevent the death of more innocent people.

Remembering the anniversary of the tragic shooting on August 5, 2012, at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Wisconsin the resolution said many members of the Sikh community and the community as a whole selflessly sought to aid and protect others by putting their own safety at risk.

The heroic action of law enforcement officers such as Officer Sam Lenda prevented additional loss of life, it said.

Other senators who co-sponsored the resolution were Chris Coons, John Cornyn and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Meanwhile, the recently formed Sikh caucus in the House of Representatives announced to introduce a similar resolution on Friday. The resolution would be introduced by Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congressman David G.

Valadao, co-chairs of the American-Sikh Congressional Caucus, along with other Caucus Members and Representatives.  "One year after gunfire shattered the peace of the gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, we are reminded of the frailty of life and the power that prejudices hold in our society," Chu said.

"As we mark this solemn day and remember the six people who were lost, we must work to ensure that discrimination and hateful acts based on intolerance do not have a place in our nation," she said. Chu and Valadao founded the Congressional Sikh Caucus in April, 2013, in order to better represent the Sikh community across the country.

Since the horrific events, which occurred on September 11, members of the Sikh community have faced a growing amount of discrimination and persecution by people who mistakenly associate Sikhs with the terrorists who plotted and carried out the attacks in 2001, a media release said. "Sadly, hatred and prejudice toward the Sikh community has increased over the last decade and has occurred in my own Central Valley Congressional District, which is home to a large Sikh population," said Valadao. "Heartbreaking events such as this highlight deep societal problems, specifically what I believe is a general disregard for human life that has unfortunately become prevalent in our society.”

“As Americans, we must see past stereotypes and treat each other with compassion and respect," he said.

Image: A candlelight vigil to honour the victims of the shootout at the Oak Creek gurdwara

Photograph: Reuters

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