National Council of Asian Pacific Americans Seeks Response from Local Texas Authorities regarding Arrest of Two Men on False Terrorist Threat Charges

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 1, 2016

 Contact: Mary Tablante;

 (202) 706-6768;

 

mary@ncapaonline.org

   

National Council of Asian Pacific Americans Seeks Response from Local Texas Authorities regarding Arrest of Two Men on False Terrorist Threat Charges

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) joined 40 organizations in sending a letter today urging local Texas authorities to ensure that incidents such as the arrest of two South Asian American men who were falsely accused of making terrorist threats do not occur again.

Mr. Daljeet Singh and Mr. Mohammed Chotri, a Sikh American and Pakistani American who are both asylum applicants, were seated together on a Greyhound bus in Potter County, Texas, in February and spoke Punjabi to each other. After a fellow passenger falsely reported the men for making a bomb threat, Mr. Singh and Mr. Chotri were arrested at gunpoint and held in a jail cell for 30 hours. Law enforcement also removed Mr. Singh’s Sikh religious headwear in public, in violation of his religious rights. Neither of the men committed any crime.

NCAPA member Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) issued the following statement: “The painful and embarrassing ordeal Mr. Daljeet Singh and Mr. Mohammed Chotri suffered through was in direct contradiction of our nation's ideals, enshrined in the First Amendment. It is unacceptable for people to be profiled based off of nationality, religion, or perceived language barriers. SALDEF values the integrity of the justice system, and fully supports Mr. Chotri and Mr. Singh. We look forward to working with the Potter County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement agencies to learn from this incident and prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future.”

“The only crime I committed was wearing a turban, having a beard and speaking in a different language to another brown man on a bus,” said Mr. Daljeet Singh to The Sikh Coalition, who led the letter.

“When Mr. Daljeet Singh and Mr. Mohammed Chotri were profiled and discriminated against by their fellow passengers, law enforcement should have taken action to resolve the situation, but instead, they made it worse,” said NCAPA National Director Christopher Kang. “This should never happen in our country, and it certainly should never happen again in Potter County, Texas. Local authorities must allow experienced organizations to help review their policies--from profiling and diversity training to translation services and redress protocols--to protect the rights of all Americans.”

Read the full letter here.

NCAPA members who signed on to The Sikh Coalition letter are Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) and the South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA - North America).

 

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Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of 35 national Asian Pacific American organizations that serves to represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns. Our communities are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, currently making up approximately six percent of the population.


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