Rights Working Group Stands in Solidarity with Sikh Americans

Calls for Full Investigation of Attack, Increased Security, Tolerance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Keith Rushing, Communications Manager, krushing@Rightsworkinggroup
(p) 202.591.3305, (c) 202.557.4291

August 6, 2012, Washington D.C. – Rights Working Group expresses its deepest sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives during a mass killing at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisc. on Sunday.

“We are saddened by this deplorable and depraved act of violence,” said Jumana Musa, deputy director or Rights Working Group. “It is horrible that innocent people would be targeted for violent attacks at any time. But it is particularly disturbing that the Sikh community in Oak Creek seems to have been targeted because of their religious identity and that this incident occurred as victims were gathering peacefully to attend worship services.”

Rights Working Group, whose members include the Sikh Coalition, United Sikhsand the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, calls for a full and thorough investigation of this crime, including a thorough search for any accomplices involved in what seems to have been a hate attack. News reports indicate that the shooter, Wade Michael Page, was a neo-Nazi and member of two racist skinhead bands, End Apathy and Definite Hate. Page had reportedly been tracked since 2000 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.

“So many lost loved ones suddenly and violently for no sensible reason during this mass killing,” said Musa. “We stand in solidarity with the Sikh community throughout the United States and call for an end to the racial and religious bias, xenophobia and stereotyping that gives rise to acts of hate. We ask people throughout the United States to teach tolerance and understanding instead of allowing voices of hate to proliferate,” she said.

Rights Working Group recognizes that this incident is a continuation of other bias attacks on Sikh Americans that have happened repeatedly since the Sept. 11 attacks when Balbir Singh Sodhi lost his life and became one of the first victims of hate inspired by the attacks. Rights Working Group calls on law enforcement to increase security in around all Sikh Temples and for thorough investigations of all active hate organizations.

                                                                                                                                                               ###

Rights Working Group (RWG) formed in the aftermath of September 11th to promote and protect the human rights of all people in the United States. A coalition of more than 340 local, state and national organizations, RWG works collaboratively to advocate for the civil liberties and human rights of everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, citizenship or immigration status.