Washington, USA: Sikh activists, fed up with being singled out at US airports, yesterday launched an updated smartphone application to make it easier for passengers to file complaints.
The free downloadable app called FlyRights lets travellers instantly send their concerns to the US Transportation Security Administration, which would then respond through its own channels.
Launched ahead of Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel periods in the United States, the updated “FlyRights 2.0” also allows passengers to send copies of their complaints to members of Congress, and it features maps that show which airports have the most troubling records.
An initial version of FlyRights has been downloaded 18,000 times since it was launched in April 2012, according to the Sikh Coalition, the advocacy group that released the application.
Amardeep Singh, Director of Programmes at the Sikh Coalition, said many travellers did not trust the Transportation Security Administration’s own response to complaints and called for an independent review of its screening practices.
“Until that happens, we call on the public to hold the TSA accountable by downloading and using FlyRights,” Singh said.
Singh addressed a news conference that included rights activists for African Americans and people with disabilities, who said they also found the app useful to address concerns about profiling. “The rights of every individual deserve to be protected. And we can be safe without violating the rights of individuals,” said Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
The Sikh Coalition says that some US airports pull aside virtually all Sikh men, stigmatising them, leading outsiders to associate turbans with danger.
Sikhs in the United States have faced a wave of violence since the September 11, 2001 attacks, with assailants sometimes believing them to be radical Muslims. In the worst incident, a white supremacist shot dead six Sikhs after barging into their temple in Wisconsin in August 2012.
Singh said that the Sikh Coalition hoped eventually to expand FlyRights beyond airports to include schools, where Sikh children report widespread bullying.
Fighting for rights
* The free downloadable app called FlyRights lets travellers instantly send their complaints to the US Transportation Security Administration
* It has maps that show which airports have the worst records
* Some US airports pull aside virtually all Sikh men
Source: The Tribune