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OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly

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The OIC Ministerial Meeting of the Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir was held on September 20, 2023, at the United Nations headquarters, in New York on the sidelines of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting was chaired by Mr Hissein Brahim Taha, the Secretary General of the OIC. It was attended by the foreign ministers and senior officials of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Niger and representative of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The ministers reaffirmed their support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their struggle to achieve the right of self-determination that was promised to them by the United Nations. The ministers also expressed their fervent desire to see an immediate end to the sufferings of the people of Kashmir so that conditions are created for a sustained and meaningful dialogue between Pakistan, India and the leadership of the people of Kashmir.

Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani, the foreign minister of Pakistan apprised the members of the Contact Group about the deteriorating and serious situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, saying that “The current Indian leadership is bent upon perpetuating India’s occupation of Jammu & Kashmir.” He warned the members of the Contact Group that newly enacted laws are designed to change the demography of Kashmir. Otherwise, why India has issued millions of domicile certificates to Indian citizens to settle in Kashmir, he asked?

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah, participated today in the meeting of the Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), on the sidelines of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 78). Addressing the meeting, Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands by the Muslim people in maintaining their Islamic identity and preserving their dignity. The foreign minister also reiterated the Kingdom’s support to the afflicted people in areas witnessing conflicts and unrest, including the people of the Jammu and Kashmir region.

Saudi Foreign Minister added that the Jammu and Kashmir issue constitutes one of the pressing challenges facing the security and stability of the region, the foreign minister said, warning that leaving the issue unresolved will contribute to regional instability. The Kingdom is exerting unremitting effort to mediate between the parties of the conflict in order to reduce escalation and achieve calm and a peaceful settlement to the issue in accordance with the relevant international resolutions, the foreign minister said. Such efforts emanate from the Kingdom’s unwavering stance in support of Islamic peoples. Deputy Minister for International Multilateral Affairs Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Rassi and Director-General of the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulrahman Al-Dawood attended the meeting.

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, representing the people of Jammu and Kashmir conveyed the gratitude of the people to brotherly member states of the OIC Contact Group for their steadfast and unwavering support extended to them in their struggle for the right of self-determination.

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Dr. Fai added that the issue of Indian-occupied Kashmir continues to be unresolved and the international community has almost relinquished and retracted from the promise that was made to them in 1948. – the promise of the right of self-determination under the auspices of the United Nations. To break the will of the people of Kashmir, India has deployed over 900,000 soldiers fully armed and with unlimited powers under the draconian Kashmir-specific laws which have wreaked havoc in the region. The atrocities inflicted on the hapless Kashmiris have been documented by Indian and international human rights organizations, like Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, including a 47-page report issued by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights.

The following nine recommendations were made by Dr. Fai to the OIC Contact Group in Jammu and Kashmir for immediate action.


1. OIC must re-educate the member nations of the UN General Assembly that the conflict of Kashmir is primarily about the right to self-determination, no ifs and no buts.

2. OIC must persuade the United Nations to convey to the Government of India to rescind the Domicile Law which is designed to change the demography of Kashmir and change the majority Muslim character into a minority community
 
3. OIC should also convince the United Nations to prevail upon India to repeal all draconian laws, including the Unlawful Activity Prevention Act (UAPA), the Public Safety Act (PSA) which are being used to forcibly silence the people into submission.
 
4. Given the report, issued by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights on June 14, 2018 & July 8, 2019, regarding the ‘Situation in Kashmir’, we request the OIC members of the Human Rights Council to endorse this report and initiate a joint OIC resolution to set up an enquiry commission on human rights violations in Kashmir during the forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to be held in February 2024.
 
5. Widely use and disseminate testimony of Dr Gregory Stanton, Chairman, ‘Genocide Watch’, which he gave to the United States Congress on January 12, 2022, and repeated that Kashmir was on the brink of genocide.
 
6. The OIC must provide ‘safe havens’ for the Kashmiri Diaspora, especially those fleeing oppression in Occupied Kashmir – scholars, activists, journalists, and businessmen – in OIC member states, in an institutional manner, like opening up visas/jobs / relocation facilitation for such skilled and professional Kashmiris, for whom living in Modi’s India has become unbearable.
 
7. In the ‘battle of ideas for Azadi (Freedom) of Kashmiri people, OIC must promote the 3 core causes together: PKR (Palestine, Kashmir, Rohingya); and establish a special website, combining genocide with resistance.
 
8. OIC should allocate emergency scholarship funds to the meritorious students of Kashmir who are the victims of Indian state terrorism.
 
9. OIC must persuade the Government of India to release all political prisoners unconditionally, including Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Masarat Alalm, Aasia Andrabi, Khurram Parvez, and others.

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A Joint Communique was adopted unanimously during the Contact Group meeting which condemns the protracted detention of the entire Hurriyat leadership, the genuine voice of the Kashmiri political aspirations, and thousands of political activists, journalists and human rights defenders.

The Communique also reads:

Reaffirming the inalienable right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Rejecting the conduct of the G-20 Tourism Working Group Meeting, held in Srinagar on 22-24 May 2023, which aimed to legitimize India’s illegal occupation of the IIOJK and sought to project a facade of normalcy in the occupied territory.

Denouncing India’s continued refusal to allow the OIC Special Envoy, the OIC- Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), the UN Special Mandate Holders and international civil society organizations to visit IIOJK.

Welcoming the role played by the relevant UN Special Rapporteurs, world leaders, parliamentarians, human rights organizations, and international media, in raising their voice against illegal Indian occupation and then ongoing egregious human rights violations in IIOJK.

The Joint Communique also:

Denounced the Indian authorities’ fresh plea seeking the death penalty for one of the renowned Kashmiri leaders, Yaseen Malik, who is incarcerated and has already been awarded life imprisonment; and mandated the Special Envoy on Jammu and Kashmir to take appropriate steps to raise voice against the possible award of the death penalty to Malik.

Rejected the illegal and unilateral actions taken by India on August 5, 2019, as well as subsequent steps to undermine the internationally- recognized disputed status of the IIOJK and to alter its demographic structure and political landscape.

Appreciated the countries, which decided to dissociate themselves from the G-20 Tourism Working Group Meeting in Srinagar, and,

Barrister Sultan Mehmood Choudhary, President Azad Kashmir & Mr Ghulam Mohmmad Safi, representative of All Parties Hurriyat Conference addressed the Contact Group via Zoom.

Barrister Sultan Mehmood Choudhary, President, of Azad Jammu Kashmir said that Kashmir is one of the oldest issues, pending on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council. The urgency dictates the United Nations and the OIC must come forward to support the people of Kashmir in their struggle to achieve the right to self-determination.

Mr. Safi highlighted the grave situation in Kashmir and emphasized that the Kashmir dispute needs to be resolved for the sake of international peace and security. The inaction and passivity of the world powers have given the sense of total impunity to 900,000 Indian soldiers in occupied Kashmir, Mr Safi told the group.

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Conflict

The Israeli Colonial-Settler State Unmasked: Democracy No Barrier to Genocide

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The Israeli colonial settler state has been a topic of controversy for decades. The idea of a state based on the colonisation of another people’s land has been criticised by many as a violation of human rights and international law. The recent unmasking of the Israeli colonial settler state has brought these criticisms to the forefront of international attention.

Israel’s democracy has been touted by many as a model for the Middle East. However, the reality is that the Israeli state has been accused of committing genocide against the Palestinian people. This accusation is not new, but it has gained traction in recent years as more and more evidence has come to light. Just like the historic Anglo-American colonialism in the US, Canada and Australia, Israel’s democracy has not been a barrier to genocide.

The unmasking of the Israeli colonial-settler state has been a long time coming. The international community has been calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land for decades. However, it is only in recent years that the world has begun to see the true nature of the Israeli state. The evidence of genocide and human rights violations has become too overwhelming to ignore.

Historical Context of Israeli Settlements

Origins of Israeli Colonial-Settler State

The establishment of the Israeli state in 1948 marked the beginning of a long-standing conflict with the Palestinian people. Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the construction of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been a source of tension and violence for decades. The Israeli colonial-settler state has been unmasked for what it is, with its policies of ethnic cleansing, displacement, and genocide being exposed for the world to see.

The origins of the Israeli colonial-settler state can be traced back to the early Zionist movement, which advocated for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In the early 20th century, Jewish settlers began to arrive in Palestine, purchasing land from absentee landlords and displacing Palestinian farmers. This process of colonization continued after the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948, with the Israeli government actively promoting the settlement of Jewish Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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Comparative Analysis of Anglo-American Colonialism

The Israeli colonial-settler state shares many similarities with historic Anglo-American colonialism in the US, Canada, and Australia. Like these former colonial powers, Israel has used violence, displacement, and genocide to maintain its control over Palestinian land. Israel’s democracy is no barrier to these policies, as evidenced by the ongoing occupation and settlement of Palestinian land.

One key difference between Israeli colonialism and Anglo-American colonialism is the role of religion in the former. While Anglo-American colonialism was often justified on secular grounds, such as the need for resources or the spread of civilization, Israeli colonialism is rooted in religious beliefs about the Jewish people’s rightful claim to the land of Israel. This has led to a particularly brutal form of colonialism, with Israeli settlers often using violence and intimidation to displace Palestinian families from their homes.

In conclusion, the historical context of Israeli settlements is rooted in the early Zionist movement’s desire for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Israeli colonial-settler state has been unmasked for what it is, with its policies of ethnic cleansing, displacement, and genocide being exposed for the world to see. The similarities between Israeli colonialism and historic Anglo-American colonialism are striking, with both using violence and displacement to maintain control over colonized lands.

Democracy and Its Limits

Mechanisms of Israeli Democracy

Israel has long been touted as a democratic state in the Middle East. However, the reality is that the mechanisms of Israeli democracy have been used to systematically oppress and disenfranchise the Palestinian people. The Israeli government has used a variety of tactics, such as gerrymandering and discriminatory laws, to ensure that Palestinians are not able to fully participate in the democratic process.

For example, the Israeli government has implemented a number of laws that discriminate against Palestinians, such as the “Jewish Nation-State Law” which declares that only Jewish people have the right to self-determination in Israel. This law effectively disenfranchises the Palestinian population and reinforces the idea that Israel is a colonial-settler state.

Democratic Facade and Human Rights Violations

Despite claims of being a democratic state, Israel has a long history of human rights violations against the Palestinian people. These violations include the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank, the use of excessive force against protesters, and the imposition of a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

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Furthermore, Israel’s “democratic facade” has been used to justify these human rights violations. The Israeli government often claims that it is acting in the name of democracy and national security, but in reality, these actions are designed to maintain the status quo and ensure that Israel remains a colonial-settler state.

In conclusion, while Israel may claim to be a democratic state, the reality is that the mechanisms of Israeli democracy have been used to maintain a system of oppression and disenfranchisement against the Palestinian people. The so-called “democratic facade” has been used to justify human rights violations and maintain Israel’s status as a colonial-settler state.

International Perspectives and Responses

Global Reactions to Israeli Policies

The Israeli colonial-settler state has been criticized by many countries and international organizations for its policies towards Palestine. The United Nations has passed several resolutions condemning Israel’s actions, including the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In addition, many countries have imposed economic sanctions on Israel in an attempt to pressure it to change its policies.

One of the most significant global reactions to Israeli policies is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The BDS movement aims to put economic and political pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestine, dismantle the separation wall, and grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel. The movement has gained significant support from civil society organizations, trade unions, and political parties around the world.

The Role of International Law

International law has played a significant role in addressing Israeli policies towards Palestine. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued several advisory opinions on the legal status of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The ICJ has ruled that the settlements are illegal under international law and that Israel is obliged to dismantle them.

In addition, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has established a commission of inquiry to investigate the Israeli military’s conduct during the 2018 Gaza protests. The commission found that Israeli soldiers had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by using excessive force against unarmed protesters.

Despite these international efforts, Israel continues to violate international law with impunity. The lack of accountability for Israeli officials has led to widespread criticism of the international community’s failure to take effective action to end the occupation of Palestine.

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Human Rights

Commemorating Human Rights Day: False consolation for Kashmiris

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Today, on December 10, 2023, the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being celebrated. December 10 commemorates the day in 1948 when the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mr Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General said, “Human rights are the foundation for human dignity, and the cornerstone of peaceful, inclusive, fair, equal and prosperous societies…They are a unifying force and a rallying cry. They reflect the most fundamental thing we share – our common humanity.” 

Dr. Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said, “On this Human Rights Day, we reaffirm the universality and indivisibility of all rights, as we stand up for human rights for all.”  He added, “Human rights is a force to reckon with, not because it serves the interests of the powerful, but because it has captured the imagination of the powerless…And so I will endeavour to promote advances in all human rights, without distinction, in every region, and across all UN activities.”

Besides, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world body has adopted the ‘Geneva Convention’ its ‘Additional Protocols’, (1949)  and International Criminal Court (ICC) (1998) for a single purpose: to defend protect, and safeguard the human rights of all. The basic human rights provisions of the Geneva Conventions including the ones protected under Common Article 3 of the conventions are non-derogable in the sense that they must be respected even in times of international and non-international conflicts, international disturbances, and foreign occupations.

The preamble of the ICC states that ICC is “mindful that during this century millions of children, women, and men have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity” and “recognizing that such crimes threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world.”
 

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Tragically, civilized nations have fallen from their lofty calling: namely, human rights for all mankind. There is a sad commentary on the state of human rights all over the globe. It is the job of all human rights defenders to jump-start that moral evolution.

George Bernard Shaw, world renowned political philosopher was prophetic when he said in 1940’s “Only on paper has humanity yet achieved glory, beauty, truth, knowledge, virtue, and abiding love.”
 

The presence of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ ICC and other human rights instruments offers no consolation for the people of Kashmir because its framers have not lived up to its spirit, at least applying it selectively to suit the objectives of certain powers.

The people of Kashmir are perplexed as to how to interpret such joi de vivre. Over seventy-five years have elapsed since the adoption of this Declaration, but the people of Kashmir have not seen an iota of change in the human rights situation in Kashmir. For worse may be but never for the better. The latest phenomenon of settler colonial project has brought Kashmir to the brink of genocide, as articulated by Dr. Gregory Stanton, Chairman, of Genocide Watch before the United States Congress on January 12, 2022. Such international treaties are meaningless for the people of Kashmir, or Palestine or for any other people who do not see their application, or even a negative mention to those who ride roughshod over them with total impunity while enjoying the good graces of some of the members of the world community to aspire to a high moral station above others. 

According to the definition of ICC, tens of thousands of Indian soldiers and scores of India officials are guilty of crimes against humanity in Kashmir. The crimes committed by 900,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces in Kashmir are a daily feature of Kashmiri life. According to Arundhati Roy, India’s legendary novelist, the 900,000 Indian soldiers have made Kashmir the largest militarized zone in the world. Indian army has organized and employed violence against civilians to create deep fear among the general population to advance the political and religious agenda of a Hindutva ideology. Does anyone seriously believe that Under ICC Statue, a single Indian soldier or an official would ever be prosecuted before the ICC? Of course NOT. India has sneered at international law for decades and the international community has just yawned.
  
Too often, the international community closes its eyes to the brutal reality of Kashmir because of India’s hegemony in South Asia and its potentially attractive consumer market.  As a consequence, the moral suasion that could jolt India into recognizing its international law obligation to accede to self‑determination in Kashmir is blunted. 

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The world body and saner elements in American policy agencies should take a leaf out of the warning of Arundhati Roy, “Kashmir is the real theatre of unspeakable violence and moral corrosion that can spin us into violence and nuclear war at any moment. To prevent that from happening, the conflict in Kashmir has to be addressed and resolved.” Huff Post, Mar 1, 2019

We call upon the United Nations to use its influence in putting an end of human rights violations especially when the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being celebrated with great pomp. The UN needs to do more than celebrate anniversaries if it is concerned about ensuring peace, stability and security in South Asia.

Dr. Fai is Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum. He can be reached at: [email protected] www.kashmirawareness.org

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Human Rights

The Role of Arab League, OIC, and UN in the Gaza Crisis for Peace

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Introduction

The Gaza crisis has been a longstanding and deeply entrenched conflict, with far-reaching implications for regional stability and global peace. In this opinion article, we delve into the roles played by three key organizations—the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the United Nations (UN)—in addressing the crisis and fostering a path towards lasting peace.

The Arab League: A Regional Voice

The Arab League, comprising 22 member states, has historically been a significant player in Middle Eastern affairs. Its mission is to promote cooperation, solidarity, and joint action among Arab nations. When it comes to the Gaza crisis, the Arab League has taken several steps:

  1. Advocacy for Palestinian Rights: The Arab League consistently advocates for the rights of Palestinians, emphasizing their right to self-determination and statehood. It has condemned Israeli actions in Gaza and called for an end to the blockade.
  2. Diplomatic Efforts: The League has engaged in diplomatic efforts, urging dialogue between Israel and Palestine. While these efforts have faced challenges, they remain crucial for maintaining communication channels.
  3. Humanitarian Aid: The Arab League provides humanitarian aid to Gaza, supporting essential services and infrastructure. However, the scale of the crisis demands sustained and expanded assistance.

The OIC: Solidarity and Advocacy

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation represents 57 member states, making it the second-largest intergovernmental organization after the UN. Its role in the Gaza crisis includes:

  1. Solidarity with Palestinians: The OIC stands in unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people. It has consistently condemned Israeli aggression and called for an end to the occupation.
  2. Legal Advocacy: The OIC has supported legal efforts to hold Israel accountable for violations of international law. This includes advocating for investigations into alleged war crimes committed during conflicts in Gaza.
  3. Promoting Dialogue: The OIC encourages dialogue between Israel and Palestine, emphasizing the need for a just and comprehensive solution. It recognizes that peace cannot be achieved without addressing core issues.
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The UN: A Multilateral Approach

The United Nations, as the global body responsible for peace and security, plays a critical role in the Gaza crisis:

  1. UN Resolutions: Numerous UN resolutions affirm the rights of Palestinians and call for an end to the occupation. However, implementation remains a challenge due to geopolitical complexities.
  2. Humanitarian Assistance: UN agencies provide vital humanitarian aid to Gaza, including food, healthcare, and education. Yet, the situation remains dire, with chronic shortages and infrastructure damage.
  3. Peacekeeping Efforts: The UN supports peacekeeping missions and facilitates dialogue between conflicting parties. However, achieving lasting peace requires sustained commitment from all stakeholders.

Conclusion: A Collective Responsibility

The Gaza crisis demands collective action. The Arab League, OIC, and UN must collaborate more effectively, transcending political differences. Here are some steps forward:

  1. Comprehensive Dialogue: Encourage direct talks between Israel and Palestine, addressing core issues such as borders, settlements, and refugees.
  2. Economic Development: Invest in Gaza’s economic development to alleviate suffering and create opportunities for its people.
  3. International Pressure: The international community must exert consistent pressure on all parties to comply with international law and seek peaceful solutions.

In the end, peace in Gaza is not just a regional concern—it is a global imperative. Let us work together to ensure a brighter future for all.

FAQs

What is the Gaza crisis? 

The Gaza crisis refers to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, specifically centered around the Gaza Strip. It involves territorial disputes, violence, and humanitarian challenges affecting the lives of civilians in the region.


What is the Arab League, and what role does it play in the Gaza crisis? 

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The Arab League is an organization comprising 22 member states from the Arab world. Its role in the Gaza crisis includes advocating for Palestinian rights, engaging in diplomatic efforts, and providing humanitarian aid. The League consistently condemns Israeli actions and calls for an end to the blockade.


How does the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) contribute to addressing the Gaza crisis? 

The OIC represents 57 member states and stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people. It supports legal efforts to hold Israel accountable for violations of international law and promotes dialogue between conflicting parties. The OIC emphasizes the need for a just and comprehensive solution.


What role does the United Nations (UN) play in the Gaza crisis? 

The UN, as a global body responsible for peace and security, has issued numerous resolutions affirming Palestinian rights and calling for an end to the occupation. UN agencies provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, but achieving lasting peace requires sustained commitment from all stakeholders.


What steps can be taken to address the crisis and work towards peace?

  1. Encourage comprehensive dialogue between Israel and Palestine.

Invest in Gaza’s economic development.

Exert international pressure to ensure compliance with international law.

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