By Altaf Hussain Wani
Since August 2019, the people of Indian occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir have witnessed a year-long severe military clampdown coupled with communication blockade. The abysmal situation in the restive region has led to a great deal of diplomatic activity at the world level. Besides human rights activists, influential world leaders while voicing their concerns lashed out at the Indian government for its aggressive and expansionist designs to wrest Kashmir by the dint of force. The Turkish president Recep Tayyab Erdogan, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, former Malaysian premier Mahathir bin Mohammad have openly challenged India’s illegal moves and called for holding a referendum to settle the dispute in line with the UN resolutions. Even the OIC, UN and the US state department officials and congressmen and parliamentarians from across the world have publicly challenged the legitimacy of the re-annexation of Kashmir to India, stressed the need for de-escalation of tensions in the region and strengthening of peace and confidence building measures to settle the dispute peacefully.
Joining the chorus the eminent rights activists from across the globe criticized India’s dictatorial decision to revoke Article 370 and deprive people of Kashmir of their fundamental rights guaranteed to them under the international law. In a series of speeches and informal addresses the representatives of World Muslim Congress, Amnesty International, Asian Forum for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, International Service for Human Rights, International Commission of jurists, International Muslim Women Union, Committee for Human Rights and Advocacy Centre,
International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) and others while exposing Modi’s true face of barbarism left Indians red faced during a debate at the 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last month.
Invoking international covenants such as Vienna Convention and Geneva Convention for human rights they observed that these agreements stressed on the principles of equality, justice, tolerance, fair-play in international dealings and gave equal importance to all human rights, including the right to self-determination.
While referring to Indian government’s perpetual denial to grant Kashmiris their basic right they pointed out that the Indian government has been brazenly violating these agreements, which not only acknowledges the people’s fundamental right to self-determination but underlines the importance of the effective realization of this right. They regrettably noted that the people of the Indian occupied Kashmir were being subjected to the worst kind of subjugation by India for demanding this right.
Citing the reports of systematic genocide, ethnic cleansing, continued bloodshed, violence and killing of Kashmiri youth at the hands of the Indian occupation forces the rights activists urged the council to take concrete action and push India to allow an OHCHR fact-finding mission to visit occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir to carry out an independent investigations into the rights abuses committed by the Indian troops. The World Muslim Congress representative Mehmet Sukru Guzel while taking part in the debate held under agenda item 3 said, “Since India defined Kashmir problem under Article 73 of the UN Charter in 1947, Kashmir becomes not only the object of international concern but as well under the erga omnes responsibility for all the member States and the bodies of the UN”.
African Commission on health and human rights promoter ANA Leurinda said, “In Jammu and Kashmir the disproportionate use of force by the Indian forces and the impunity from accountability enjoyed by them under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA), the use of torture, lack of credible investigation into human rights violations committed by the them, restrictions on expression and movement of independent journalists to prevent the voices of Kashmiris reaching the international community and targeting of Kashmiri Muslims outside Jammu and Kashmir is a clear breach of human rights.
The HRC she said can show its commitment to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action VDPA by endorsing the OHCHR Kashmir Reports’ recommendations and the special procedures of the UNHRC. “This will pave the way for resolution of this long-standing dispute and result in the protection of human lives and promote regional peace and security”, she added.
Bringing into limelight the deadly impacts of xenophobia, intolerance, and racism in Indian state the rights activists without mincing, words told the international audience that the so-called world’s largest democracy was fast turning into fascist state under Modi where minorities particularly the Kashmiris are treated with violent disdain.
It may be noted that the UN Rights chief Michelle Bachelet in her opening remarks observed that in Indian administered Kashmir the incidents of military and police violence against civilians continue including the use of pellet guns. Major constitutional changes including the changes in domicile rules she said were generating anxiety and space for debate and public participation continue to be severely restricted particularly since new media rules have vaguely-defined anti-national reporting. She said that hundreds of political activists remain under arbitrary detentions in Jammu and Kashmir.
The special Rapporteurs in their reports also called on the government of Indian to respect the human rights of people of Kashmir and called for the restoration of full speed internet, freedom of assembly and expression and release of detainees, for which joint communique were sent to the government of India.
During the online webinars organized by Kashmir Institute of International Relations on the sidelines of 45th session, international rights defenders and parliamentarians including Barrister Mather Owen, Barrister Mark McDonald condemned India’s unilateral actions, its plans of demographic changes and attempts to gag local media in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
On the other hand Pakistan’s mission at the UN and Geneva deserve all the appreciation for playing a significant role in galvanizing the international community’s support for Kashmir. The effective lobbying by the mission has led to many diplomatic achievements for Kashmiris as well as the the state of Pakistan. Pakistan’s re-election to HRC is one of the significant achievements, which will hopefully provide a unique opportunity to it to remain actively engaged with the Council to mount pressure on India to stop HR violations in Kashmir besides highlighting the plight of oppressed people all over the world.
(Writer is Chairman Kashmir Institute of International Relations and coordinates Kashmir advocacy at Geneva, can be reached at [email protected])