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|Sikh Organizations Unite Against Racism|
International Outcry Against Video Game Linking Sikhs and Dalits to Terror
SikhNet has partnered with over 100 Sikh and non-Sikh organizations around the globe to demand that video game publisher, Eidos Interactive, recall one of its games from the market. The game, Hitman 2, incites racism and hatred against Sikhs and Dalits by linking them to terrorism. The game glorifies violence against Sikhs within a Gurdwara that looks like the Harmander Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, while Dalits are portrayed as followers of an evil cult leader, according to a vivid description that was recently removed by Eidos from its web site.
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|Petition to Eidos to recall the video game - Hitman2|
|October 16, 2002 |
Michael P. McGarvey
Chief Executive Officer
Wimbledon Bridge House
1 Hartfield Road
London SW19 32RU
Dear Mr McGarvey:
The game Hitman 2: Silent Assassin has been brought to our attention. We have received numerous complaints about the racist nature of the game from across the globe. It was felt that if you were made aware of the potentially serious ramifications of your involvement in the game and the international outcry against the racist nature of this game that you would want to limit the damage to your company's name and reputation by removing this game from the market.
A close look at this game reveals a strong prejudice against Sikhs (adherents of the fifth largest religion in the world) and Dalits (literally meaning "broken" people who face oppression stemming from the Hindu caste system). 
One of the locations in the game takes the players to Punjab. The location description states:
"A magnificent, ancient gurdwara (Sikh temple) - complete with marble inlays, glazed tiles, filigree partitions, priceless old wall paintings and gold domes - is flanked by a qila (old fort) and protected by high walls as well as fanatical believers - in front, a maze of small shops and bangalas (small houses) gives evidence of riches and prosperity in this otherwise poverty stricken remote region of Punjab in Northern India. Relentless loos (hot dry winds that blow across the plains of North India during summer) keeps this little oasis isolated from the outside world. A Sikh uprising in this region in the mid 80's was ruthlessly cracked down on by government issued troops, and many innocents were killed - ever since, no outsider has dared venture into this territory for fear of reprisals."
Based on the physical description of the Gurdwara, one can state with certainty that it refers to the Harmander Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, which was attacked by the Indian Army in June 1984. During the attack thousands of innocent Sikhs and possibly others were killed. Furthermore, the filigree and artwork shown in the game match the sacred ornamentation on the walls of the Harmander Sahib. The Harmander Sahib is a holy Sikh place of worship that serves as a religious and a political center for the Sikhs worldwide. The Harmander Sahib is held in reverence, just as the Vatican by Catholics. Whether the Gurdwara portrayed in the game is Harmander Sahib or not, such a graphical portrayal of violence within the sacred grounds of any religious place -- whether a Gurdwara, a Temple, a Church or a Mosque, is completely unacceptable.
Given the media-constructed images linking Sikhs to terrorism and the oppression that Sikhs have endured in Punjab for the past twenty years, this game shows a deliberate lack of decency and sensitivity by depicting a turbaned Sikh succumbing to violent aggression within the sacred precincts of a historic Sikh shrine. Such actions in your game encourage hate and may possibly endanger innocent Sikhs all over the world by connecting Sikhs with terror.
The world has been shaken by the terrible tragedy of September 11, 2001. Since September 11th, Sikhs, like others, have been grappling with grief and fear. Hundreds of Sikhs have become targets of hate crimes because of their appearance alone. Several innocent Sikhs have been murdered as a result of this bigotry. By propogating hate and stereotypes, Hitman 2 irresponsibly adds to this climate of intolerance.
We pray that misplaced racial and ethnic victimization - of Sikhs, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Dalits and people of all faiths and colors - will not continue. The Sikh community invites you to join us in bringing about mutual understanding and deep respect for all people.
Across North America and in Europe, the only people who wear turbans are Sikhs. Sikhism is a revealed, monotheistic faith that stresses the equality of all men and women. Sikhs believe in three basic principles: meditating on the name of God (praying), earning a living by honest means, and sharing the fruits of one's labor with others. Sikhism rejects caste and class systems and emphasizes service to humanity.
One of the characters shown in the game refers to a cult leader:
Zip Master Deewana Ji is the self-proclaimed satguru of a cult called Samhara Dharma that worships Kali, the malevolent Hindu goddess of war, and studies advanced computer technologies. His panth (followers) comprise a strange blend of dalits (the lowest Hindu caste, aka untouchables), thugz (a sect of murderers and robbers, hitherto believed to be exterminated by the English colonialists almost two centuries ago) as well as top trained computer engineers.
The Dalits are a people who have faced oppression that continues today. Dalits are not "untouchables" and strongly resent such a characterization. To charge a nation of 200 million people worldwide as followers of an injurious cult leader is an unacceptable practice and factually incorrect.
We are seeking an agreeable resolution to what appears to be an egregious act of racism and promotion of hatred against Sikhs and Dalits, as depicted in Hitman 2. We stipulate the following:
Issue an apology to Sikhs and Dalits worldwide.
Recall all copies of the game from distributors and retailers.
Remove all scenes depicting Sikhs and Gurdwaras immediately from all versions of the game in-stock and from those recalled.
Remove all offensive mention of Dalits as followers of an evil cult leader from all versions of this game.
Remove all references to Dalits, Gurdwaras and Sikhs immediately from all media advertisements, promotions and the content from all web sites owned by Eidos, its partners and its affiliates.
The undersigned organizations and individuals worldwide would like a written response from Eidos with a project plan showing how it plans to achieve the aforementioned stipulations. If a satisfactory response is not received, these organizations will seek further action against Eidos and its partners. A respected publicly traded company such as Eidos should be concerned about the economic and other repercussions that may result from negative publicity and damage to its reputation.
At a time when the world is grappling with issues of international violence, extremism and racism, the Dalits and the Sikhs are deeply concerned about media stereotypes in the video game world that depict violence as a form of victory over people of a particular faith, ethnicity or origin.
The undersigned organizations stand in solidarity with 26 million Sikhs and 200 million Dalits worldwide in strongly objecting to the hateful content associated with Sikhs and Dalits in the video game, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin.
We appreciate your earnest consideration and rapid response in removing the offending material from your website and look forward to a positive response to the fundamental issues by removing this content from the video game.
The Sikh Coalition
Sikh Communications Council
Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force
Sikh Council On Religion & Education
United Sikhs in Service of America
American Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee
Sikh American Association
Columbia University Sikhs
Sikh Association of Boston University
Sikh Heresy Regulation Board
Sikh Students Associations - Illinois
Gurudwara Singh Sabha of Washington
Sikh Volunteers of Washington
Baba Makhan Shah Lobana Gurdwara, NY
Sri Guru Singh Sabha of Glenrock, NJ
Gurudwara Sacha Marg, Kent, WA
Guru Nanak Sikh Temple, Marysville, WA
Sikh Religious Society of Chicago
Sikh Society of Minnesota
Sikh Foundation, Inc. (WA)
Washington Sikh Center
Sikh Youth Forum
Sikh Association of Central Virginia
Bay Area Sikhs
Sikh Sabha of New Jersey
International Institute of Gurmat Studies, California
Iota Nu Delta Fraternity, Inc., New York
Sikh Student Association at Binghamton University, New York
Sikh Student Association - San Diego, California
Sikh Student Alliance - Coalition of Sikh Student organizations from Southern California
World Sikh Council - America Region
The Sikh Cultural Society of New York
Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Society of Cleveland, Ohio
Sikh Foundation of Virginia Gurdwara, Fairfax Station, Virginia
IkOnkar, The First International Sikh Youth Magazine
The Sikh Youth Commission, Washington D.C.
Sikh Study Circle, Inc, Atlanta, Georgia
Sikh Students Association - Kingston
Central Jersey Sikh Association, Windsor, New Jersey
Sikh Students Associations, Queens College, New York
Sikh Student Association, University Of California -Riverside
Tri State Sikh Cultural Society Pittsburgh, PA
Working Group on Sikhs and Education (WorkSE)
United Sikhs in Service of Europe
Oxford University Sikh Society
British Sikh Federation
Federation of Sikh Organisations, UK
Akhand Kirtani Jatha, UK
Brunel University (UK) Sikh Society
School of Pharmacy Sikh Society, University of London
Khalsa Human Rights
Sikhs in England (SIE)
Metropolitan Police Sikh Association, London, UK
Sikh Arts and Cultural Association (SACA), UK
Awaze Qaum International, UK
Sikh Society of Westminster University, UK
Council of Sikh Gurudwaras in Birmingham, UK
Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, UK, Kenya, Anandpur, Hazur Sahib
Sikh Community & Youth Service (UK)
Canadian Sikh Council, Montreal, Canada
Montreal Sikh Students Association, Montreal, Canada
Anti-Racist-Action Montreal, Montreal, Canada
Sikh Awareness & Resource Centre, Calgary, Canada
Sikh Virsa, Monthly Magazine from Calgary, Canada
The Maritime Sikh Society, Canada
The Khalsa Diwan Society of Victoria, B.C., Canada
Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, Surrey, B.C., Canada
Akali Singh Sikh Society, Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Sikh Students Association at University of Toronto, Canada
Waheguru Simran Society, Canada
United Sikh Federation, Canada
The West Coast Sikh Youth Alliance, B.C., Canada
Sikh Kirtan Prachar Mission of Australia, Inc.
The North Shore Sikh Association of Sydney Inc., Sydney, Australia
Australian Sikh Association, Australia
Gurdwara Sahib Titiwangsa, Malaysia
Sikh Youth Organization of Indonesia (HUMSIKHA), Indonesia
Punjab based Organizations
The Nanakshahi Trust
Non-Sikh Organizations in support
Anti-Racist-Action Montreal, Montreal, Canada
Iota Nu Delta Fraternity, Inc., New York
Islamic School of Seattle, Seattle, WA
National Council of Hindu Temples (UK)
Hate Free Zone Campaign of Washington, WA
Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC)
Arab American Institute
Chinese Information and Service Center
Delta Epsilon Sigma Iota Fraternity, Inc.
AFL-CIO, Pride at Work
Adrian Dominican Sisters
American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
American Jewish Committee (AJC)
Arab American Institute (AAI)
Council on Arab Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Indian American Center for Political Awareness (IACPA)
The Interfaith Alliance
National Asian Pacific American Legal Center (NAPALC)
National Congress of American Indians
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR)
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
Muslim American Society (MAS)
Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA)
Saint Joseph Health System
Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament
Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington
Japanese American Citizens League
Tahirih Justice Center
San Juan Parish Catholic Church
Holy Family Parish, New Mexico
For more information on Dalits, see http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/india/index.htm
For more information on state terror against the Sikhs, see http://www.sikhcoalition.org/HumanRights.asp