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The Chairman of Kashmir Council-EU, Mr Ali Raza Syed has expressed his solidarity with the victims of enforced or involuntary disappearances and their relatives.

Enforced disappearance has become a global problem and is not restricted to a specific region of the world. Indian-Administrated Kashmir region has seen a dramatic increase in enforced and involuntary disappearances since 1989.

Mr Ali Raza Syed issued a statement after a meeting with the KC-EU’s core committee in Brussels on the International Day of Disappeared People. He said, ‘investigations have revealed unidentified mass graves, believed to contain the remains of victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and other abuses which have occurred in the context of armed conflict continuing in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989′.

A recent report has revealed that more than 8,000 Kashmiris have disappeared. The relatives claim that their loved ones had been subjected to enforced disappearances committed by the armed forces of India. International human rights organisations are giving a lot of accounts of what is happening on the ground, but most of the time there are being denied access.

The Chairman of Kashmir Council-EU Ali Raza Syed said he supported the action demanded by the Chairperson of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons in Jammu and Kashmir (APDP) Mrs Parveena Ahangar, India must fulfil its obligations under International Human Rights laws. In 2017, Mrs Parveena Ahangar and Mr Parvez Imroz, the President of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) have been awarded by the RAFTO foundation in Norway.

The Chairman of Kashmir Council-EU added:

‘The International Community needs to play its role and put pressures for intensive investigations into the allegations of human rights violations committed by the armed forces of India which continue in an atmosphere of impunity. The families of enforced and involuntary disappearances are still waiting for their loved ones, they should be granted full reparation. The state authorities must ensure that all detentions meet the minimum requirement of international legal standards, proper treatment, and prosecution, prompt access to lawyers and independent courts, as well as accountability for any violation of such procedures. India’s recent attempt to remove 35A from its constitution is just another way to abolish the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the identity of Kashmiris.’

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The number of enforced disappearance in Jammu and Kashmir is alarming and more than many countries in Asia. As per rights groups Nepal has around 900 disappeared persons, Pakistan has 1532, Bangladesh has 329, Philippines has 1166, Indonesia 1270, Thailand 293, Timor-Leste has 428 etc. while as more than 8000 persons have been subjected to enforced or involuntary disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir, which is higher than most of the Asian countries. Despite less number of disappearance cases many countries have constituted enquiry commissions to investigate into the cases and have initiated certain processes for providing justice and reparations to the victims, but on the contrary the Indian state continues to be in denial for investigating the crime of enforced disappearances and establishing a commission of enquiry despite recurrent appeals from APDP from more than two decades. Despite recommendations by government’s State Human Rights Commission [in 2011 and 2017] and various international institutions like UN OHCHR & European Parliament, the Indian government maintains it reluctance to conduct comprehensive forensic investigations including DNA testing into more than 7000 unmarked and mass graves.

The countries even with less number of disappearances have allowed United Nations Working Group on Enforced or involuntary Disappearance (UNWGEID) to visit these countries and gave them access to monitor the situation of enforced disappearances. While as the government of India continues its reluctance for giving access to UNWGEID for monitoring situation of disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir. Even the Indian government barred operations of many international humanitarian organizations like International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), etc. by restricting their mandate from unraveling truth behind distressing situation of human rights particularly enforced disappearances in Kashmir.

Besides giving access to UNWGEID for country visits, the countries like Nepal, Sri-lanka, Pakistan, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Turkey, etc. have allowed other international bodies and processes to look into the crimes against humanity including the crime of enforced disappearances. Unlike Indian state these countries to some extent have allowed investigations as well as enquiries for initiating the process of justice. While, in Kashmir the victim families feel exhausted as the government along with its judiciary has largely failed to provide any remedies and to act against the crime of enforced disappearances due to prevalence of continued impunity to armed forces.

Despite bragging the claim of world’s largest democracy Indian state has failed to extend respect to international human rights and humanitarian laws by not allowing access to truth and justice in Jammu and Kashmir. India signed the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced or Involuntary against disappearance in 2007, but till date there is no development towards its ratification. Whenever many Asian countries like Japan, Philippines and Sri-Lanka have already ratified the International Convention against Disappearances. Even the Indian government is yet to legislate against the crime of enforced disappearances.

In light of the recent first ever human rights report on Kashmir by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), APDP appeals international institutions to intervene for a comprehensive fact finding on the issue of enforced disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir. The association calls upon UN OHCHR and Working Group on Enforced Disappearance (UNWGEID) to conduct specific extensive in-depth monitoring of the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in Kashmir for consistent periodical update to the global community.  Further, the international community must urge Indian state to ratify International Convention against Disappearances and constitute a process of justice, which will ensure that the government and its institutions adhere to a rule of law-based approach for impartial investigation into all the cases of enforced disappearances, bringing the perpetrators to justice through criminal trials and provide truth, justice and reparations to thousands of agonized and distressed families of disappeared persons in Jammu and Kashmir.

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