IRIN, March 18, 2009
Sikh, Hindu minorities of Afghanistan “disappointed, isolated and oppressed”
"A lot of our houses, shops and other properties have been seized by powerful people, commanders and warlords."
Jalalabad- "We feel disappointed, isolated and oppressed," said Ravil Singh, a Sikh leader in Nangarhar Province, eastern Afghanistan, adding that local people "are good to us".
He spoke to IRIN about the problems facing the Sikh and Hindu minorities in Afghanistan.
Singh says many of the properties belonging to Sikhs and Hindus have been seized by local warlords and militia leaders. (Photo: Ayub Farhat/IRIN)
"Before the war  there were 16,673 Sikh and Hindu families in Kabul, Nangarhar, Ghazni, Khost, Kandahar and Helmand provinces. In the past 30 years we have suffered tremendously and many of our people left the country.
"We have too many problems but we get no help to solve them. A lot of our houses, shops and other properties have been seized by powerful people, commanders and warlords.
"There are no special schools for our children. We teach them our religion, language and other cultural values at home, but it's not easy and as a result most of our children end up illiterate.
"Apart from the two Sikh and Hindu members of parliament in Kabul, we do not have a say in decision-making and have no representation in government.
"For the past three years we have been asking for a meeting with the president [Hamid Karzai] without luck. It's so disappointing that even our president does not want to hear our problems, let alone solve them."
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