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UK decides to lift ban on pro-Khalistan Sikh group ISYF

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Britain: Set to lift a 15-year-old ban on a pro-Khalistan militant group after a debate, the House of Commons in Britain concluded that “sufficient evidence” does not currently exist to link it to terrorism.

The International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), established in the 1980s in militancy-wracked Punjab, was involved in “assassinations, bombings and kidnappings, mainly directed against Indian officials and interests”, the British Parliament heard this week.

However, the debate entitled ‘Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism’ on Tuesday night concluded that “there is not sufficient evidence to support a reasonable belief” that the ISYF is currently concerned with terrorism.

It therefore approved the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2016, which was laid before the House of Commons on February 22 and will be formally passed on Friday.

“The decision to de-proscribe the ISYF was taken after extensive consideration and in the light of a full assessment of all the available information,” UK minister for security John Hayes told the Commons.

He was questioned by Labour’s shadow home secretary Andy Burnham whether the ban had been maintained since 2001 “because of pressure from the Indian government”, something Hayes denied “without equivocation, hesitation or obfuscation”.

Labour’s longest serving Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz welcomed the government’s decision, saying, “At every meeting that I have attended to do with the Sikh community, members of the community ask about the issue and feel that they have been discriminated against.

“There are 450,000 Sikhs living in the United Kingdom, and about 150 gurdwaras in the UK. Even though it is one organisation, because it has the word ‘Sikh’ in its name, it affects other parts of the diaspora,” he said.

He also called for a review of the ban in place against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The ban on the ISYF in the UK came in force in March 2001, which led to the organisation being banned in India in December that year and in Canada in July 2003.

The Sikh Federation (UK) had applied for the ban to be lifted last year, followed by a legal challenge against UK home secretary Theresa May for refusing to lift the ban.

The Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission (POAC) had sought further reasons for May’s refusal to lift the ban but the UK government decided instead not to further contest the ban and moved the order for parliamentary approval on February 22 this year.

Sikh Federation chair Bhai Amrik Singh said “The Home Secretary has shown courage in making this decision despite the inevitable pressure from the Indian authorities and so close after the attacks in Paris (last November). However, this also shows there was no case against the ISYF that would stand up to legal scrutiny”.

Britain’s decision to lift the ban will be formally notified to the UN and the European Council once agreed in Parliament at the end of the week.

(The article was first published in

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  • Shriya Katoch

    it is great to see that such unfair bans have been lifted

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Facebook, Twitter Urged to Do More to Police Hate on Sites

Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA
Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA

Tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google are taking steps to police terrorists and hate groups on their sites, but more work needs to be done, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday.

The organization released its annual digital terrorism and hate report card and gave a B-plus to Facebook, a B-minus to Twitter and a C-plus to Google.

Facebook spokeswoman Christine Chen said the company had no comment on the report. Representatives for Google and Twitter did not immediately return emails seeking comment.

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Facebook one of the most popular apps in US. Pixabay
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Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, said Facebook in particular built “a recognition that bad folks might try to use their platform” as its business model. “There is plenty of material they haven’t dealt with to our satisfaction, but overall, especially in terms of hate, there’s zero tolerance,” Cooper said at a New York City news conference.

Rick Eaton, a senior researcher at the Wiesenthal Center, said hateful and violent posts on Instagram, which is part of Facebook, are quickly removed, but not before they can be widely shared.

He pointed to Instagram posts threatening terror attacks at the upcoming World Cup in Moscow. Another post promoted suicide attacks with the message, “You only die once. Why not make it martyrdom.”

Cooper said Twitter used to merit an F rating before it started cracking down on Islamic State tweets in 2016. He said the move came after testimony before a congressional committee revealed that “ISIS was delivering 200,000 tweets a day.”

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This photo shows Facebook launched on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. VOA

Cooper and Eaton said that as the big tech companies have gotten more aggressive in shutting down accounts that promote terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism, promoters of terrorism and hate have migrated to other sites such as, a Facebook lookalike that’s based in Russia.

There also are “alt-tech” sites like GoyFundMe, an alternative to GoFundMe, and BitChute, an alternative to Google-owned YouTube, Cooper said.

“If there’s an existing company that will give them a platform without looking too much at the content, they’ll use it,” he said. “But if not, they are attracted to those platforms that have basically no rules.”

The Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, hate, and terrorism. (VOA)