MR ENTSCH: This week I had the absolute honour of being invited to celebrate the 550th birthday of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh religion and the first of 10 Sikh gurus.
It was the first time this special event has been celebrated in Parliament House.
Guru Nanak preached the message of equality, justice and respect for all.
More importantly, Guru Nanak was one of the most important religious figures to have contributed to the empowerment of women in India.
Sikhs have played a very important role in Australia’s rich multicultural life for the past 200 years, and I am fortunate enough to call many Sikhs my friends, including Daljit Singh and his family, who travelled from Cairns to attend the event this week.
It was Mr Singh who, through our friendship, educated me in Sikh culture, tradition and religion and made me aware of a horrific event against the Sikh community in India in November 1984.
The anti-Sikh riot resulted in the killing of more than 3,000 Sikhs in New Delhi, and a further 8,000 to 17,000 Sikhs were killed in 40 counties across India.
It’s high time Australia recognised this horrific event for what it was.
It was an act of genocide.
There are many in the Sikh community who will never forget the harrowing images of 1984 and who want to see justice in their lifetime.
It’s time for healing, but in order for that to happen we must recognise the past and do that by acknowledging this as an act of genocide.
That way, hopefully, we can prevent it from happening in the future.