Kashmir EU-Week 2015
‘Speaking with One Voice” was the theme of the eighth Kashmir-EU Week that took place in the European Parliament, Brussels 14th- 18th September
An event that brought together academics, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), experts and parliamentarians from Europe and Kashmir.
The aims of the event were to raise public awareness in Europe of the 68-year-old conflict in Kashmir and persuade Europeans legislators to engage in promoting a negotiated settlement.
The debate revolved around two conferences: “What really is the way ahead”, led by Member of the European Parliament Sajjad Karim MEP (UK, ECR) who is hosting Kashmir-EU Week, and “Emerging shadows of war”, the opening speech by Farzana Ahmed, Minister for Social Welfare and Women’s Development in the Azad Kashmir administration.
“Ordinary Europeans have little or no knowledge of the situation there and MEPs’ engagement is enhanced by such awareness raising,“ says Sajjad Karim. Human rights violations: murder, rape, disappearances, torture, the use of pellet guns by the Indian authorities and lack of freedom of speech are everyday occurrences.
Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights activist draw attention to a recent report released by the NGO “Parents of Disappeared People.” It accuses 972 Indian officials of torture, rape, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
“Those responsible must be brought to justice,” says Ali Raza Syed, Chairman of Kashmir Council-EU, an NGO organising Kashmir-EU Week along with International Council for Human Development and the World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance. “It is a tragic conflict where every passing hour brings misery to the people of Indian occupied Kashmir. The human cost of this tragedy is far too high; this conflict must have a just resolution, otherwise, it can provoke nuclear war and destruction,” further added Mr Syed.
The participants of the Kashmir-EU Week draw up a final conference resolution that called on the EU to use its good relations with both India and Pakistan to encourage both countries to sit around the negotiating table.
‘I hope that by increasing people’s knowledge here of the situation in Kashmir, we can compel the EU to play a more active role in promoting a negotiated settlement which involves the people of Kashmir and resolve, this ongoing conflict once and for all, whilst eliminating the risk to the world as a whole of conflict between nuclear-armed neighbours,” says Sajjad Karim.
Running parallel to the debate, the Kashmir exhibition consisted of a display of Kashmiri crafts, weaving and needlework. It also featured photographs entitled as the ‘Lost Paradise’, capturing through lenses the beauty and promise contrasted by anguish and loss.