MP Ujjal Dosanjh target of Facebook threats
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, April 23, 2010 6:37PM EDT
VANCOUVER - A Facebook page titled "Ujjal Dosanjh is a Sikh Traitor" has prompted the RCMP to investigate threats against the outspoken British Columbia MP, who says "poisoned minds" are behind the frightening campaign.
Insp. Paul Richards, of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, said Friday his unit was informed of what he described as "very serious" threats posted on the page and an investigation is underway.
Several of the entries have been removed from the site but at least one posting on Friday morning urged the assassination of the Indo-Canadian politician.
"It'd be much more appropriate to pierce him with bullets, not compassion," the posting said.
The site also descends into name calling and ugly comments in general.
"Take those rags off your heads," wrote someone else.
At one point, a posting by someone going by the name of Avtar Kanda pleads for people to "not post violent threats on this group.
"We are a peaceful people that want to encourage debate."
Dosanjh has been an outspoken critic of Sikh separatist extremism, and most recently sounded the alarm that it might be on the rise in Canada after he was the target of veiled threats on a Punjabi-language radio show.
"Canadians should take these threats very seriously as an indication of poisoned minds, born and raised in Canada," Dosanjh said.
"It is a very, very serious issue. Personally for me, yes it's serious, but for the country it's a lot more serious. I'm just one person."
Dosanjh said it's time that the "silent majority" of Canadians speak up before such hateful tendencies get out of control.
"There's absolutely no justification and no rationale for this kind of development," he said. "There's absolutely no justification. This is bizarre, frighteningly bizarre."
The one-time B.C. premier has received threats in the past and was severely beaten in 1985 for his condemnation of Sikh violence in their fight for a separate homeland called Khalistan in India's Punjab province.
The federal Liberal caucus issued a statement Friday condemning the threats.
"We urge all Canadians to speak out against all forms of violence and extremism, and to affirm zero tolerance for threats of violence in our communities," the statement says. "Ujjal, we stand united in support for you."
Dave Hayer, a provincial Liberal MLA who along with Dosanjh was singled out on the radio show for not being invited to the annual Vaisakhi parade in suburban Surrey, said threats have no place in a democratic society.
"I'm shocked," he said of the Facebook contents. "This is against our value system in Canada and it's against Sikh views."
Like many of the extremists, some visitors to the Facebook page cited the Indian Army's 1984 storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Sikhism's holiest shrine.
The raid came before the assassination of India's prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh body guards and the 1985 bombings of government-owned Air India planes that resulted in the deaths of 331 people.
One B.C. man has been convicted for his role in the bombings. Two others were acquitted in 2004.
Dosanjh and Hayer have criticized organizers of the Vaisakhi parade in Surrey for floats that have carried pictures of men involved in Indira Ghandi's assassination and in the bombings.
Hayer's father, publisher Tara Singh Hayer, was shot dead in his Surrey garage in 1998 after condemning Sikh extremists in his Indo-Canadian newspaper. His murder has not been solved.
"The community has to stand up and say this type of nonsense is not acceptable at all," Hayer said.
Hayer said the Facebook death threats have stirred emotions about his father's murder.
"It reminded me of what my father went through and we have to stand together as Canadians," said Hayer. "You have to stand united and say we will not accept this type of nonsense either in the media or on Facebook."
Balwant Gill, the former president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple in Surrey, home to Canada's largest Indo-Canadian population, condemned the Facebook threats.
"People who want to have Khalistan should go back there and fight for Khalistan, not here in this peaceful society," he said.
Gill also condemned those posting anti-Sikh comments on the page, saying they are just as ignorant as those issued against Dosanjh.