JOHANNESBURG – Exiled activists from Kashmir recently appealed to the South African government to exert pressure on the Indian government to allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination.
During a press conference organised by the South Africa Kashmir Action Group (SAKAG) in Johannesburg earlier this week, human rights organisations revisited three reports which alleged gross human rights abuses by Indian state security forces in the troubled Kashmir region.
The reports included a 43-page July 8, 2019 report by the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights – https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/IN/KashmirUpdateReport_8July2019.pdf, which is a follow-up on the earlier and first ever one – https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/IN/DevelopmentsInKashmirJune2016ToApril2018.pdf, consisting of 49 pages – issued by UN on the Kashmir human right crisis, released on June 14, 2018, covering the period between 8th July 2016 to June 2018.
The third report – http://jkccs.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/TORTURE-Indian-State%E2%80%99s-Instrument-of-Control-in-Indian-administered-Jammu-and-Kashmir.pdf, was compiled by JKCCS Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies and tilted “Torture Indian-State’s-Instrument-of-Control-in-Indian-administered-Jammu-and-Kashmir”. It consists of 500 pages and was released in February 2019.
Each of the reports carries gory details of human right abuses in the Indian-Administered Kashmir, punctuated by the butchering of civilians and excessive use of force, continued use of pellet-firing shotguns on civilians, cordon and search operations, arbitrary detentions, impunity for human rights violations, restrictions on freedom of expression, censorship and attack on press freedoms, restrictions on freedom of assembly and association, wanton torture and the targeting of Kashmiri Muslims outside Jammu and Kashmir.
As a result, the attendees resolved to petition the South African government to help stop to the “ongoing tyranny, violence and oppression by the Indian army against the defenseless and innocent Kashmiri people in general and Freedom fighters in particular”.
“The indigenous and native population of Jammu and Kashmir must be accorded opportunities to exercise their natural right of Self-determination, that was promised by no other than the first Prime minister of Independent India i.e. Bharat Pandit Jawaher Lal Nehru to the International community; this is accordingly enshrined in the UN resolutions,” read part of the petition, seen by Africanvoice Global.
The activists hoped that South Africa’s intervention would help them achieve peace, prosperity and create an atmosphere for the people in Indo-Pak sub-continent to lead an anxiety free and dignified life.
“Though, we vehemently support and welcome the recent efforts from both the sides and consequent developments and the peace initiatives, but at the same time, we have to understand and admit that, the dialogues and confidence building measures are meaningless and futile attempts unless the following steps are taken in good faith,” said the organisations, who bemoaned 70 years of India’s “illegal” occupation of Kashmiri land, adding that dialogue had failed.
“We request to the South African government through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to review UN Ohchr report first and second report and instruct the SA mission in New Dheli to engage their Indian counterparts. We also submit to your office our request that Dirco must advise Sahrc to send a fact finding mission to Indian occupied Kashmir to investigate and provide Dirco firsthand information on the human right abuses in IoK Kashmir,” added the organisations, who also requested South Africa to use its political and economic influence to push for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Indian troops – comprising 700,000 armed personnel from occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where they said military presence in especially civil area was second highest besides Palestine.
“The unlawful detentions and un-arbiter unabated summary extra-judicial and wanton annihilation of the Kashmiri people should be stopped without further loss of time. We demand the release of all political prisoner of conscious from Indian and Indian occupied jails. We additionally demand the immediate end of the house arrest of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is under house arrest for last eight years and demanding the immediate release of separatist leader Shabir Shah.”
The organisations believed an atmosphere should be created conducive to the normalcy in the region. This is only possible if the dreadful shadow of trigger-happy Indian soldiers is forth-with removed from the civil areas.
“The people of Jammu and Kashmir should be returned back their hitherto legitimate but usurped political, social socio-economical, religious and all the other human rights, as prescribed by the United Nation’s Charter of “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” which had been ratified by the Indian Government. The basic human right viz. freedom of speech and freedom of expression has been curtailed by the occupation authorities and these should be henceforth restored to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” read the petition.
“In the prevailing horrifying and draconian environment religious congregational meetings and assemblies cannot be imagined, hence a need to nullify those unjust “laws”. Austerity and modesty of the unblemished Kashmiri noble ladies must not be violated by the Indian occupying forces. Aggressors are these days using this as a degrading weapon, this should be stopped immediately.
“The International Human Rights agencies, South African Human Rights Commission, other Civil Societies NGOs should be given easy access to the illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian armed forces. The International Fact Finding Missions should be allowed unconditional access to the illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Each and every Kashmiri must be given opportunities for fair and unbiased just hearing before trial or resorting to extra-judicial executions in the form of “Fake Encounters”.”
The multilateral composite dialogues must resume without pre-conditions and its aim should be to find fair, just and amicable solution to the problem which is consuming energies and financial resources for the past more than half a century and which could have been utilized to provide food, shelter, education and health facilities to our down trodden masses, said the organisations, who also demanded an immediate date to be set for free and fair plebiscites as enshrined in the UNSC resolution 47 of 1948, which was duly accepted by founding father of Indian Union Mahatma Gandhi and PM Jawaharlal Nehru.
“The promised plebiscites must be implemented without delay, so Kashmiris can decide for their Right of Self- determination.”