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Reseachers at the NYU/Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture published a study titled “The Effects of Torture-Related Injuries on Long-Term Psychological Distress in a Punjabi Sikh Sample” to determine whether “physical injury moderates or mediates the relationship between torture and major depressive episodes (MDE) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among survivors of political persecution in India.” Translation: do physical injuries in the setting of torture manifest themselves through mental disease? Major conclusions of the study included that “the diagnosis of MDE was not associated with torture, although depression was associated with chronic injuries” and “injury mediates the effect of torture on longterm PTSD.” Translation: it wasn’t the torture experience itself that led to MDE or PTSD in the sample of Sikhs studied, but rather the “traumatic cues” or reminders of being tortured through the chronic injuries one sustained that led to the manifestation of psychiatric illness.
Some bloggers have noted it was upsetting to not see Sikh physicians associated with the study. Although I agree to some extent, this is where it gets a bit fuzzy for me. It would be inspirational to see Sikhs in the medical world document the physical and psychological toll of human rights abuses in Punjab. Yet, these bloggers are setting a dangerous precedent by narrowing the population to be served to Sikhs alone. We, the Sikh Panth, are a nation defined by an insignia: we must maintain our miri and piri and protect our own spiritual and political sovereignty yet embrace the circular symbol of oneness and our duty to humanity by fighting all injustices and actions of oppression. The atrocities in Punjab have most certainly not been brought to an appropriate scale of attention, and we should use that frustration to motivate us. We must, however, make sure we do not remain blind to our current state of affairs. Genocides are going on right now in Kenya, Sudan, Chechnya, Palestine, and Burma. Right now. Yes, I’ll say it again: genocides are happening right now. In fact, we can broaden the list a bit further: when an individual is denied access to healthcare or medications a human rights violation is committed. Which means I’ve indited nearly every country on the planet, including the U.S. and Canada. Our frustration should not only be with the dearth of Sikhs within the field of human rights but with the number of spirited Sikhs enraged by the brutality currently being enforced on our brothers and sisters. Let us start by reading and getting up to speed with current national and world events and then ask questions, get linked into organizations such as Human Rights Watch or Physicians for Human Rights, sign petitions, blog our thoughts, write letters to the editor, go into the field, march in the streets, shout from the rooftops… okay, I’ll end before I start calling for total anarchy. But you get my drift, I hope.
Correction: February 1, 2007
There is an erroneous statement above, and it has been striked. The blogger did not place limits on the population to be served.
Ensaaf and Human Rights Watch released a damning joint report against the Indian government titled “Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India” along with a slideshow and video testimonials.
Lots of links to click on above, but definitely worth taking a look at each carefully.
As much as I love my Armenian brothers in System of a Down (SOAD), please don’t think like me and conjure up images of rock stars when you hear the word Armenian. Rather, I’d like you to consider this: Interesting how Armenians have creatively switched gears from directly confronting their Turkish-government-in-denial to instead lobbying their US Congressman to declare that the Ottoman Empire authorized and committed genocide against their ancestors. Yes, it may have taken twenty years for Armenian-Americans to get the attention of their legislators and draft a bill. And yes, the chances of the bill being passed by the House are slim to none in our current geopolitical climate. Yet our community may want to take note of this as an example of how powerful we can be if we organized ourselves as one voice with specific and unified goals and employed our collective votes and lobby machines in the same manner. And we shouldn’t forget the role of rock stars: the guys in SOAD have held demonstrations in Washington, D.C. to fight for recognition of their history. Perhaps a Sikh band similar to SOAD could get together to remind people of our “forgotten” history as well.