(Latter to The President of the United Nations Security Council New York.)
UN Security Council Must Act on India’s Annexation of the Disputed Territory of Jammu and Kashmir
In light of the Government of India’s action to annex the Disputed Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August 2019, by revoking Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India by Presidential Order, and creating a grave risk of a humanitarian catastrophe for the Kashmiri people, we call on the Member of the UN Security Council to take immediate action to prevail upon India to reverse their illegal occupation.
The entire population of approximately 8 million people has been imprisoned in their homes by more than 800,000 Army and paramilitary troops. Their imprisonment continues at the date of this communication. All forms of communication have been cut preventing the people from reaching out for support or emergency assistance. A Section 144 forbidding any gathering of citizens has been imposed to prevent the movement of people or protest. Both pro-freedom and pro-India leaders (including two former Chief Ministers), religious and business leaders, and activists have been placed under house arrest. Voices of Kashmiris have been silenced and the will and human rights of the people have been subjugated.
The Presidential Order is in violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions and other bilateral agreements between Delhi and the Kashmir Government, and between the Governments of India and Pakistan which is a party to the more than 70 year Kashmir dispute.
The annexing of Jammu and Kashmir, held by many Indian and international legal experts to be unconstitutional, deprives the Kashmiris of their rights and leaves them at the mercy of a Government determined to change the demographics to dilute and crush the Muslim population by moving in large groups of Hindu settlers. With Hindu nationalism and extremism, and attacks on Muslims on the rise across India, the spectre of ethnic cleansing of Muslims and genocide in Jammu and Kashmir is a serious concern.
The population of Jammu and Kashmir have long been subjected to brutal human rights abuses, with thousands killed, injured or ‘disappeared’ by the Indian Armed Forces and other State security authorities who have acted with total impunity from prosecution. According to the UN Human Rights Council Report on Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir, June, 2018, a report supported by the UN Secretary General, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1990, and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) 1978, have “created structures that impede the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations”. The Report categories a long list of grave human rights violations.
The Report, and a follow-up report of July 2019, called for the UN Human Rights Council to “consider the findings of this report, including the possible establishment of a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir. India has rejected these reports and all recommendations to the Government to cease the violence and abuse of human rights. With the annexation of Jammu and Kashmir, the Government of India has again shown total contempt for the United Nations and the rights of the people.
It cannot be stated too strongly that Kashmiris are in great peril. India has rejected all previous calls for talks between the parties and offers of mediate between the parties by a third country. The Presidential Order annexing Jammu and Kashmir means all external parties are now excluded from any negotiations or mediation, rendering the people deprived of their rights including the right to self-determination, and their safety and security.
We call on the Member of the Security Council to take immediate action to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, protect the Kashmiri people, and to pressure the Government of India to revoke the annexing of Jammu and Kashmir and return to what has been the status quo. Failure to by the Members of the Security Council to act will have devastating consequences for peace and security not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but the entire region. The Kashmiri people deserve, and must have, the protection and intervention of the United Nations to provide them with peace and security, and to retain the right to self-determination.
Altaf Hussain Wani
Chairman Kashmir Institute of International Relation