London, Sunday (March 18th 2012): In a recent letter to Lord Indarjit Singh, the Director of The Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), the Ambassador to Poland, Robin Barnett confirms he will review Mr. Shaminder Puri’s case. Mr Puri is a Gursikh geophysicist working with the UN in Poland. In 2010 the Polish Border Guards on grounds of security began a policy of asking Sikhs to remove their turbans and place them on the conveyor for inspection. Mr. Puri fell foul of the Border Guard’s policy. The Ambassador, Robin Barnett writes:
“The Embassy was aware of this issue. However, I personally took over in Warsaw only last year. We will look into this matter and get back to you as soon as possible.”
The NSO’s Polish campaign began August 2010, following a terse plea from Mr. Puri. With the help of UK gurdwaras and other Sikh organisations, the NSO took advantage of a Prime Minister led Polish trade delegation to India to get the Indian government to criticise the Polish behaviour. The lobbying was effective. External affairs minister Preneet Kaur outraged by the behaviour of the Polish authorities towards her fellow Sikhs made her feelings known to the Polish Prime Minister in no uncertain terms, leading to the Polish authorities grudgingly halting their harassment of Sikh visitors to Poland.
Further to detailed discussion between the NSO, Shammy Puri Secretary General of a scientific organisation working with the UN in Poland and other Sikhs in Poland along with advice from human rights lawyers Bindman and Partners, it was decided to ventilate the issue in the Polish courts direct, rather than approaching the European Court of Human Rights. The NSO have also supported Mr. Puri financially and The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR) took up his case pro bono. The case has gone to appeal against the decision of the first instance court, which dismissed all of Mr. Puri’s claims in December 2011.
Notes to Editors.
1. The Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO) is a registered charity that links more than 100 Gurdwaras and other UK Sikh organisations in active cooperation to enhance the image and understanding of Sikhism in the UK.
2. The trade delegation met Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on the 7th of Sep 2010, by which time the NSO managed to get more than 50 letters of concern to Preneet Kaur
3. The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR) is a major Human Rights organization in Europe.