Altaf Hamid Rao,
MIRPUR (AJK): Vice Chancellor of the state-run Mirpur University of Science & Technology Prof. Dr. Habib ur Rehman (Sitara e Imtiaz) has said called upon the comity of nations including the international forums claiming to be the champions of the custodians of human rights the world over, to take immediate notice of the increased human rights abuses in the Indian occupied Jammu Kashmir where India has unleashed the reign of history’s worst state terrorism at the might of her forcibly and illegally launched occupational military troops since past 71 years.
He was speaking at a day-long Joint National Conference titled “UN Report on Human Rights Violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir: Demographic Changes and Societal Implications” hosted by Mirpur University of Science & Technology with the coordination of Pakistan House Islamabad, at the main campus of the varsity here yesterday.
AJK President Sardar Masood Khan, who is also the Chancellor of the AJK-based public sector universities including the MUST, inaugurated the grand congregation which was also addressed among others by Ghulam Muhammad Safi, Convener of All Parties Hurrivat Conference, (AJK Chapter) Dr Nazir Gillani, President, Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights, Syed Faiz Naqashbandi, Convener of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Sayd Abdullah Gillani, Representative of Syed Ali Gillani, elderly Hurriyat leader and head of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and others. Speakers spoke in detail in the key topics of the grand moot including “International Community and Human Rights Violations in Kashmir”, “Human Rights Violations in Kashmir: Impact on Women and Children” and “Demographic changes in Kashmir: India’s Neocolonialism Strategy”.
In their addresses of welcome, Prof. Dr Habib ur Rahman, Vice Chancellor, MUST, and Rana Athar Javed , Director General, Pakistan House elaborated the objective of holding of the grand moot, which, they said, is primarily aimed at to promote the protection of innocent Kashmiri youth and deterioration of peace in the bleeding valley of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.
In his detailed address to the conference depicting the ongoing ugly picture of the bleeding occupied valley of Kashmir, the Dr. Habib ur Rehman underlined that not a single day was left when the innocent Kashmiris were butchered since the incumbent BJP government came into power in New Delhi.
He continued as saying “The world had largely turned its back on Kashmir and preferred to watch widespread human rights violations in the region from a safe distance. The international silence over Kashmir has also encouraged a culture of impunity that fashioned many bloody Saturdays over the years. According to Al Jazeera, at least 400 people got killed in Kashmir this year – indicating the highest death toll in a year since 2008. Indian forces are conducting these repressive operations with full legal cover and without fearing of accountability”.
“Unless the UN resolution on the Kashmir conundrum is implemented, the dark night of tyranny and oppression will continue to prevail in the valley. To stop senseless killing in Kashmir, the peace-loving nations should pressurize India for the resolution of the Kashmir conflict in a timely manner and to the satisfaction of the people of Kashmir’’, Dr. Habib ur Rehman observed.
Lauding the publication of the report, the VC said, the university understands that the GoAJK, particularly the President of AJK Sardar Masood Khan made tremendous contributions towards the realization of the reports. The university acknowledges the contributions of all including the UN HC for Human Rights, All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group in the UK parliament, the APHC leaders in the IOK,the APHC representatives in Pakistan, Mushaal HusseinMullick, Chairperson of Peace and Culture Organization and others and most particularly the Kashmiri Martyrs who gave the supreme sacrifices their lives in their just and principled struggle for freedom of the motherland from manacles.
Dr. Habib ur Rehman recalled that 15th December, 2018 was one of the bloodiest days in the history of Jammu & Kashmir when seven innocent civilians were killed in a single incident, marking the highest toll in recent years, while dozens of others were injured when a trigger-happy force fired at protesters in the Pulwama district of South Kashmir. This is not an isolated incident, he added.
Expressing grave concern over the increased incidents of state terrorism in the occupied valley, the Vice Chancellor further said that fresh wave of violence in Kashmir in which at least 18 Kashmiris lost their lives is the grim reminder of the fact that people in Kashmir are suffering a great deal at the hands of Indian forces. “Living according to one’s own wish and will is the birth-right of every individual, but, unfortunately, Kashmiris have been denied this right. For decades now, the Indian military has been using every kind of trick to subdue Kashmiris’ just struggle. People are being detained, tortured and mercilessly killed, and are being used as human-shields, but these brutalities have failed to catch the attention of numerous human rights organizations till 2018”, he said
Dr. Habib ur Rehman said underlined Kashmir issue had largely been eclipsed since the 9/11 attacks. The renewed wave of violence, he said, has brought the Kashmir issue back towards the international radar; it has become a global hotspot for major human rights violations; this has gradually shattered the international silence. Several international bodies are now calling for close scrutiny of human rights abuses, sustained repression and disproportionate use of force in the Kashmir valley.
The Vice Chancellor observed that Kashmir has now started Gaining Global Sympathies and support viz a viz its early peaceful solution for the sake of emergence of everlasting regional and global peace. In this connection, he referred to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a comprehensive and detail report on the situation of human rights in Kashmir in June 2018.
“Besides featuring the gross human rights violations in Kashmir and calling for international investigation, the report reiterate the peoples’ right to choose their destiny. The United Nations High Commissioner’s report urges India to ‘Respect the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people’. Remarkably, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has not only backed Human Rights High Commissioner’s call for an international investigation into human rights situation in Kashmir but also stated that the report represents the “voice of the UN”, he said.
Habib ur Rehman said that All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group of the British parliament issued an 18-page-long report on Kashmir, largely endorsing the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights report which is considered as a path-breaking document. The All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group in the British Parliament has condemned Indian government for using excessive force against Kashmiris and refusing to allow independent observers from Britain to enter into the Indian-held Kashmir to monitor the true scale of human rights tragedies. The APPKG report made reference to the human rights watch commentary on conditions in IOK which stressed that Indian occupation forces use brutal force against protestors.
The release of this report, he observed is seen as second big break through after the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights report on Kashmir. The report noted that the Indian Occupied Kashmir remains heavily militarized and draconian laws that provide legal cover for human rights abuses by security officials remain in force, giving the army widespread powers to search houses, arrest people without warrants and detain suspects indefinitely, he added.
He point out that the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also published a 16-page long report, wherein it has been stated that “the Kashmir dispute is not merely a question over territorial jurisdiction but it concerns the future of millions of people who wish to exercise their inherent and inalienable right to self-determination.”
The publication of the above mentioned reports, he observed, broke three long-held myths: First, that Kashmir has lost international empathy, particularly that the United Nations’ mechanism is no longer relevant to Kashmir. Second, that the right of self-determination is an obsolescent part of the international discourse. And, finally, these reports underlined the need to establish an independent investigation to make culprits accountable before a court of law.
He appreciated the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) for demanding the international Human Rights Institutions (HRIs) to raise voice against the brutalities of Indian forcesin the occupied Kashmir. It strongly condemned the killings and persecution of innocent people of Kashmir at the hands of Indian forces in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district as the stories of brutal assassinations have become a common occurrence in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. It further demanded that the NCHR Chairman is of the view that United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner must order a Commission of Inquiry into the atrocities in Kashmir. “India must be held responsible for its actions and the Human Rights Commission of India who is snoozing over the actions of Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir is very unfortunate.” It strongly condemns of the genocide of the people of Kashmir at the hand of the Indian Military forces, he said.
Meanwhile, once again the United Nations’ Third Committee unanimously adopted a resolution on self-determination. The resolution reaffirms international support for the people’s right to self-determination as a fundamental human right. It brought back international attention to the long-pending issues on the UNSC agenda including Kashmir.
Dr. Habib ur Rehman further stated that tragedies and suffering of the people of Kashmir goes beyond the reports and imaginations. An Italian photographer, Camillo Pasquarelli, captured the tragedies and sufferings of the people of Kashmir in his camera during summer of 2017-2018. The ‘Time Magazine’ featured a comprehensive story about the plight of Kashmiri pellet-guns’ victims based on his photographs and experiences in September 2018. He told ‘Time’ that “pain and suffering surrounds you in Kashmir all the time. Somehow, everyone you speak to is related to the conflict. Maybe his neighbor has been injured, may be his son or daughter has been killed.” A few weeks ago, Cédric Gerbehaye, a Belgian photographer, held an exhibition portraying the pellet-gun victims of Kashmir at the European Parliament. The exhibition got immense attention from EU members and civil society across Europe. Subsequently, Rania Abouzeid, an award-winning print journalist contributed a long piece on Kashmir along with pictures of the journalist; this appeared in the issue of ‘National Geographic’. This story represents the real pain and suffering of the Kashmiri people who have been caught in an unending conflict since 1947, in particular since the last three decades. This article went viral and became one of the most referred-to pieces over the Kashmir conflict.
Unprecedented, the ‘New York Times’ published a front-page story titled ‘In Kashmir, Blood and Grief in an Intimate War: ‘These Bodies Are Our Assets’ a few months ago. It says that: Now, the resistance inside the Indian captured areas of Jammu and Kashmir is overwhelmingly homegrown. Some of the issues raised include unmarked graves and use of pellet firing shotguns were vigorously highlighted in all articles. In this background, the human rights committee of the European Parliament is also set to host a hearing on Kashmir in early2019, he said.
“The fact reports enlists all kind of human rights violations including killings, massive use of force, disappearances, restrictions, abuses, violence, torturing and violation of the right to education. We have been witnessing the same on the electronic media and reading in the print media. Now the world has endorsed the gross human rights violations in the IOK by the Indian security forces.
The Vice Chancellor MUST observed that the violations of laws in respect of altering the special status of Jammu and Kashmir which includes demographic changes and settlement of non-state subjects in the valley have not been covered under the reports. Remaining issues need to be identified and brought to consideration of the UN HC for Human Rights, the Kashmir Groups in the British and European Parliaments and other human rights’ organizations,so that all aspects of the violations impacting life of the people of Jammu and Kashmir may be addressed. The President of AJK termed the reports as just the tip of the iceberg as a lot have not been covered. The Govt. of Pakistan and/ or Go AJK may form committee or commission for the implementation and promotion of the reports on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. Meanwhile, we should also pursue the human rights watch organizations to revise the reports by including the missed violations and for the implementation of the report by all means including seminars and conferences.
The vice chancellor extended thanks and gratitude, on behalf of the faculty, staff and students of the University, for all those who contributed towards realization of the reports, articles and resolutions to highlighting the situation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir. We also thank the groups and individuals who have been highlighting the atrocities of Indian occupying forces in IOK. The MUST commends these reports, articles and resolutions to support the Kashmiris for their just struggle for freedom. We also commend leadership of Hurriyat Conference in IOK for their unprecedented sacrifices and continued struggle for freedom. The university solemnly hopes that the UN, the peace loving nations and human rights organizations will pressurize India further to stop human rights violations in the IOK and accept the right of the people of Jammu and Kashmir for self-determination, he added.
The MUST, the Vice Chancellor resolved, will continue playing its role for the realization of the right of self determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I urge media representatives to promote the reports and worst kind of human rights violations in IOK. The students of the university are also urged to make the operative parts of the reports and human rights violation in the IOK viral through social media.
The VC thanked the AJK President and other keynote speakers including Rana Athar Javed, Director General Pakistan House, for joining the MUST to organize the Conference.
Dr. Rehman concluded by reading the last paragraph of the APPKG report -“In the meantime, we offer this report as our contribution to the debate on the need for human rights to respect in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. Far too many innocent lives have been lost already; far too many lives are blighted now. This is intolerable; it must end.”