1898 WA Sikh Petition to the Crown
ASIATIC IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION.
PETITION FROM SIKHS TO MR. CHAMBERLAIN.
The following letter, enclosing the sub-joined petition to Mr. Chamberlain, has been sent to His Excellency the Governor by Mr. Gilbert Probyn Smith, on behalf of the Sikhs in the colony :—
"To His Excellency Sir Gerard Smith, Governor of Western Australia.—Your Excellency,—On behalf of the Sikh population of Western Australia, we beg you to forward the enclosed petition to the Right Honourable Joseph Chamberlain.
- We respectfully beg to draw Your Excellency's attention to the fact that the petition has one motive for its object, and that is sh[e]wing that the Sikhs are naturally British subjects, and that their fortunes, lives, and existence are bound up in the welfare of the British nation.
- That that being so, they are only asking for a common right with the colonist to uphold the dignity and integrity of the British Empire.
- We beg to offer to you our assurances of loyalty and respect to the throne and person of Her Imperial Majesty Queen Victoria, the Sovereign of the Sikhs, and to Your Excellency as the Viceroy of the most powerful Monarch in the world. Your Excellency's most humble and obedient servants, etc."
"To His Excellency the Right Honourable Joseph Chamberlain, Secretary of State for the Colonies of the Dependencies of Her Imperial Majesty Queen Victoria's dominions outside Great Britain. Your Excellency,—The humble petition of the Sikhs, Her Imperial Majesty's subjects in India, now resident in the British colony of Western Australia .
- We humbly beg to acknowledge our admiration for Her Majesty's throne, person, and goodness.
- That we claim in common right with our fellow-subjects in India to be under the protection of the British flag.
- That to sustain the prestige of that flag, and add to its glory, many of the signatories to this petition have risked their lives in the service of Her Imperial Majesty during the wars with the Afghan tribes and the expedition into that country.
- That our lives and our fortunes, our existence and our all are bound up in the welfare of the English nation.
- That believing that British subjects, be they black or white, receive the same justice in every part of Her Imperial Majesty's dominions, we were induced to visit the colony of Western Australia.
- That to our dismay and utter confusion we have been treated as aliens, enemies of Her Imperial Majesty, and Afghans, while at the same time, many of us are proud possessors of medals for service under General Lord Roberts, in the campaign which has made "Kandahar" and "Cabul," words familiar to the history of the British Empire.
- We humbly submit that we are denied miners' rights, and hawkers' licenses, that our entry into the colony is menaced by local enactments, and that our life is made a burden to us by the action of the colonists.
- That Italians, Japanese and other aliens receive more favour than we, while it is a fact that all Sikhs in this colony are ryots in India and have their interests centred in the Indian Empire.
- We humbly pray that our case may receive your Excellency's favourable con-sideration, and that by the merciful Providence of God, the Imperial Government, of which you are so illustrious a member, may condescend to recognise the rights of Her Imperial Majesty's subjects from the Punjaub in Western Australia. And your petitioners will ever pray, first for the long life and prosperity of Her Imperial Majesty, Kaisir-i-Hind, Queen Victoria, Sovereign of the land of the Sikhs, and secondly, that your Excellency may be endowed with health, together with a long life to make the name of our illustrious monarch even greater than it is now.
Your Excellency's most humble servants, etc."
The petition bears the signature of a hundred Sikhs.
A sympathetic note is attached from the Governor, Gerard Smith, to the Acting Premier, Edward Horne Wittenoom asking his favour in commenting on it before its dispatch.