Sikh group sues think tank and former CBC reporter

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“Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan” was published on September 10, 2020.

Sikhs for Justice sues MacDonald-Laurier Institute and former CBC journalist Terry Milewski on defamation charges over a report titled “Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan.”

A group called Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) lodged a lawsuit against MacDonald-Laurier Institute (MLI), a right-wing think tank, and former CBC journalist Terry Milewski for authoring a report titled “Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan.” The group claims that the report is “untrue and misleading.”

SFJ describes itself as a nonprofit group that works towards promoting the rights of Sikhs “to find self-determination.” This US-based secessionist group was also a driving force behind the Referendum 2020, a worldwide non-government campaign that asked for the creation of an independent Sikh state to be called Khalistan. 

The lawsuit filed on December 1 alleges that the MLI report, published September 10, 2020, states without any evidence that the concept of Khalistan and SFJ’s campaign as a covert attempt to propagate extremist ideologies and characterizes the group as “puppets of the Government of Pakistan.” The group further argued that the report misleads the supporters and donors because it is in reality forwarding a foreign government’s agenda. SFJ is demanding $2 million in damages.

In a statement, MacDonald-Laurier Institute and Terry Milewski said they stand behind the report: “The civil claim against MLI and Mr Milewski is a meritless attempt to silence debate. They stand by the article and have every confidence that they will succeed.” However, no formal defense has been filed in court.

While addressing a webinar called “Khalistani Terrorism and Canada” organized by right-wing think tank Law and Society Alliance, Milewski said that he recently came across a poster of Referendum 2020 that was put up at Surrey Gurudwara triggered his report. 

The Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP) Canada reacted on social media to the lawsuit, tweeting: “So much of freedom of speech that rejects academic analysis in Canada today. Political patronage on #VoteBasedPolitics is the root cause – a danger to democratic ideals.”

The MacDonald-Laurier report can be accessed here.

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