Putting Jammu and Kashmir on a new trajectory: the international community needs to do more
Kashmir’s conflict needs the urgent attention of the international community as it is a universal threat to humanity, said Ali Raza Syed, while speaking at a peaceful demonstration.
The Kashmir Council-EU held a peaceful demonstration today in front of the Indian Embassy in Brussels to mark a year after India unilaterally revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status, redrew its internal boundaries, and scrapped Kashmiris’ exclusive rights to immovable property and access to government jobs.
The unilateral change in the status of Kashmir’s was followed by an enforced military lockdown and a massive crackdown launched by the Indian government restricted all movement, detained thousands of people — including Kashmir’s political leaders — and cut off all communications causing grave hardship on the local Kashmiri population.
“In my lifelong struggle to draw attention to the abuses of human rights that have become a feature of everyday life in Kashmir and for the right of self-determination for Kashmiris, I do not remember a single year without a fresh reason for concern, a new act of horrendousness by the Indian state. For years, we have been agitating against mass graves, black laws, and the impunity of the state officials. Today, even the people of India are starting to say that the revocation of Article 370 and 35A that granted Kashmir a special status is illegal”, Ali Raza Syed further added.
On the world stage, the Indian government vowed that the change would bring about a “new dawn” of peace and prosperity after decades of what it described as failed policies towards Kashmir and bringing it politically closer to the rest of India. Instead, it was a year of widespread repression and increasingly oppressive policies.
The Kashmir Council-EU has made numerous calls to the UN, EU, and major international human rights organisations to pay attention to what is happening in Kashmir and lift the veil of silence over an administration that routinely makes use of live ammunition against peaceful demonstrators, arbitrary arrests under a draconian public safety law, extra-judicial killings while in custody and rape. Indian brutalities against the people of occupied Kashmir, and the discriminatory policies of Modi’s government against various minorities, including the Muslim community and other segments of the society in India, were all highlighted by protestors.
Every human life lost in this conflict, every woman raped, every injustice committed is the injustice done to more than one and half billion people of India, Pakistan, and entire South Asia.
The government of India aspires to be a liberal democracy. In a functioning democracy, the basic human rights of all groups in the population are respected, the voices of all groups in the population are listened to and the obligations of government as set out in the body of legislation that constitutes accepted international law are rigorously observed. Regrettably, there is a growing body of evidence that for the people of Kashmir none of these criteria are being met.
Speaking at the demonstration, the Kashmir Council-EU, Chairman, Ali Raza Syed said: “On behalf of the people of Kashmir whose human rights are being abused and whose voices are being silenced the Kashmir Council-EU calls upon the Indian government to fully respect its obligations as a member of the International Community and to apply the same standards of transparency and accountability as are expected from all members of the UN system. The UN Security Council in its Resolution of 1948 proposed the holding of a plebiscite under their auspices to enable the people of Kashmir to determine their political future.”
Narendra Modi’s government must create a favourable environment in Indian-Administered Kashmir, to nominate a senior public service official to be responsible for entering into a peace dialogue with the representatives of the Kashmiri people. It is envisaged that such a dialogue would evolve into a fully developed peace process, where the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmir people would be heard and respected.