Sikh Group Sues the MacDonald-Laurier Institute and former CBC Journalist Terry Milewski over Khalistan Report

TORONTO, Dec. 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Claiming malicious, misleading and baseless accusations, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) filed a defamation lawsuit with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against the MacDonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), a right-wing think tank, and former CBC journalist Terry Milewski, for authoring and publishing a report entitled “Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan.” 

Released on September 10, 2020, MLI’s report, without any evidence, asserts that the idea of Khalistan as well as the SFJ’s initiative of holding first ever global non-governmental referendum on the question of secession of Punjab promotes hatred and extremism and is a project conceived, supported, promoted and funded by India’s archrival Pakistan and has no support among the Sikh people.

December 01 complaint filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice states that: 

“The defendants, The MacDonald-Laurier Institute (“MLI”) and Terry Milewski have published an untrue and misleading report regarding SFJ’s efforts in promoting Referendum 2020. Without any basis, they paint the referendum as a covert attempt to foment extremist ideologies. The authors also characterize SFJ as the puppet of the Government of Pakistan. The report is a malicious attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Referendum 2020 and to threaten SFJ’s viability as a not-for-profit organization.”

“MLI’s report is defamatory, malicious, misleading feeds into a narrative that is being propagated by the Government of India. Contrary to MLI’s allegations, the Khalistan Referendum is a grass roots initiative led by Sikh sovereigntists who were forced to leave India due to persecution on account of political opinion,” stated Gurpatwant Singh Pannun General Counsel to SFJ.

On November 18, SFJ announced that voting in the non-governmental Punjab Independence Referendum, which is well grounded in international laws, treaties and UN Charter and principles of democracy - will begin on August 15th from London, UK and will be monitored and tabulated by the “Punjab Referendum Commission” a panel of non-aligned experts on direct democracy and secession.

“Since under the Canadian laws, “truth” is the best defense to the charges of defamation, this lawsuit provides an apt opportunity to MLI, Mr. Milewski and the Indian government to submit any evidence in support of their allegations that Pakistan or its secret service is funding SFJ and Referendum 2020,” added Pannun.

Explaining his motive in writing the anti-Khalistan Referendum report, Mr. Milewski stated that "the trigger for writing this work was a poster of supposedly a referendum - ‘Referendum-2020’ put up at Surrey Gurdwara in Canada as recently I came across the poster on a voter registration drive organized by Sikhs For Justice (SFJ). “These posters annoy me,” Terry added, while addressing a webinar called “Khalistani Terrorism & Canada” organized by India’s right-wing think tank Law and Society Alliance.

About Sikhs for Justice
Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is a Sikh rights advocacy group which believes in and adheres to the principles and rights enshrined in UN Charter, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and is contributing to the creation of an environment in which minorities – regardless of race, religion, language, gender, or ethnicity – can freely and fully exercise their rights including right to self-determination. 

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun                                        
Legal Advisor to SFJ                                                                       
(917) 789-2914    

Andrew Findlater 
SELECT Public Relations
(647) 444-1197