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Webinar to commemorate the right of self-determination of Kashmiris held in New York

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In his key-note address, Ambassador Munir Akram said that this was to mark the fifth of January 1949, when the UNCIP adopted the resolution, promising the right of self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir through the holding of an impartial plebiscite under auspices of the United Nations. This resolution and subsequent resolutions of the Security Council concerning the final disposition of Jammu and Kashmir and the provisions of the resolution were accepted by all parties to the conflict.

They are binding on both Pakistan and India. Unfortunately, over the course of the last 73 years, India has failed to implement these resolutions of the Security Council. First, by resorting to various forms of obfuscation, and deviousness and delay, and later, through a campaign of massive oppression which in the course of a 10-year period, from 1989 to 1999, killed over 100,000 Kashmiris martyred and brought untold suffering to Indian occupied Kashmir. The latest ploy by India is to impose its unilateral measures from 5 August 2019 when it sought to obliterate its statehood. These acts were aimed at destroying the state of Kashmiris’ distinct identity to induct 900,000 troops to oppress the freedom struggle of its people; to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir; and transform it from a Muslim majority state to a minority territory of the Indian government.

Ambassador Akram further emphasized that Pakistan was of course, entirely, and fully committed to the freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people from the outset and since five August 2019. Pakistan has also put together a detailed dossier, which lists over 3400 specific crimes committed by Indian security forces in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and have called for these persons responsible for these crimes to be held accountable.

Ambassador Akram added that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Khan, has set out the conditions for the resumption of dialogue with India. And the conditions are three: First, Halt in India’s human rights violations in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Secondly, the immediate cancellation of all the unilateral measures taken by India post August 2019; and third, reverse the process of demographic change in Jammu and Kashmir

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum said that Kashmir was the oldest unresolved international conflict still pending on the agenda of the Security Council. And that Kashmir was the only international dispute where the solution of the conflict – right to self-determination — was suggested by the parties themselves, India and Pakistan.

Fai cited the example by quoting Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation of India who said on 29 July 1947 in Delhi, “I am not going to suggest to the Maharaja (Ruler of Kashmir) to accede to India and not to Pakistan. The real sovereign of the state are the people. The ruler is a servant of the people.” “Kashmir would belong to the Kashmiris.” Fai also quoted columnist Swaminathan Aiyar of New Delhi wrote in The Times of India “We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and give them three choices: independence, union with Pakistan, and union with India. Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.”

“Much is being made of the fact that seven decades have passed since the principled solution was formulated by the United Nations with almost universal support. Mere passage of time or the flight from realities cannot alter the fact that these resolutions remain unimplemented until today. The United Nations resolutions can never become obsolete or overtaken by events or changed circumstances. The passage of time cannot invalidate an enduring and irreplaceable principle – the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir, Fai explained.

Fai made an appeal to the Secretary General of the UN to persuade India to take four steps. 1. Rescind Domicile Law which was designed to change the demography of Kashmir; 2. Release all political prisoners, including Yasin Malik, Khurram Parvez, Shabir Shah, Aasia Andrabi, Masarat Alam and others; 3. Repeal all special repressive laws; and 4. Restore the rights of peaceful association, assembly and demonstrations.

Ms. Victoria Schofield, British biographer and historian said that our aim as we know is to show solidarity on the occasion of the Kashmiris’ right to    self-determination day – in the light of the UNCIP resolution of 5 January 1949. It goes without saying that I condemn all human rights abuses – the longer the issue remains unresolved the higher the statistics…the more dangerous globally the issue becomes and the more people suffer.

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Again – Ms. Schofield added, putting the resolution in its historical context – two prior resolutions – one passed by the Security Council in April 1948 and the other by the recently established UNCIP in August 1948 – had already endorsed this process. The 5 January 1949 resolution was meant to resolve aspects of disagreement which had already arisen and then move forward to resolution. What is the resolution’s significance today, she asked, in relation to the inhabitants’ right of self-determination? I would suggest, together with the other key resolutions, that it still establishes the necessary principle of consultation, of reference to the people, of self-determination.

So, considering where we are today – and appraising ‘the right of the Kashmiris to self-determination in the light of UNCIP resolution of 5 January 1949,’ – it is important that we learn the history, we understand why the resolution was passed, what the context was, and why it failed. We also have to move on. But that does not mean forgetting the Kashmir issue or setting it aside. We have a voice, we have a pen, we need to continue to highlight the situation so that the inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir can enjoy, like us, in the privileged western world, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Victoria explained.

Dr. S. H. Shaheed Soharwardi, Professor of International Relations at Peshawar University said United Nations resolutions adopted by the Security Council, be it Palestine or Kashmir need to be implemented. Human rights standards should be the perquisite for any member country to maintain the status at the United Nations. Those who are violating the international agreements need to be banned from joining any session of the United Nations General Assembly or the Security Council.

India is involved in human rights violations, Dr. Soharwardi added, including extrajudicial killings in Kashmir. India is using all methods to change the demography of Kashmir, be it land grabbing, allowing non-Kashmiris to settle in Kashmir. Human Rights Council needs can be instrumental in handling the situation there.

Dr. Soharwardi explained that the United Nations has to play a role to persuade member countries to abide by its Charter and other relevant Security Council resolutions, whether in Palestine or Kashmir. In order to avoid more human tragedy, UN must initiate peace talks over Kashmir. United Nations has played a very important role, particularly in East Timor which gives us hope that if it can happen in East Timor, it can happen in Kashmir too. World powers need to settle the Kashmir issue for the sake of international peace and security.  

Dr. Halil Thoker, Professor at Istanbul University, Turkey said that he felt embarrassed, as a human being, of the fact that after 75 years since the Occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by Indian Army and after 73 years since 5th January resolution of 1949 by the UNSC,   we   are   here   together   again   and   discussing   how   a nation’s right of self-determination has been denied and how a nation is being subjugated to live under inhuman conditions created by an occupation force.

As a human being and a human right activist whenever I look at the Kashmir problem, naturally, I see a problem from the Human rights perspective. So I started going through the human right reports and other resources so that I may present more reliable information. However, when I went through and found the human right abuses in Kashmir and crimes against Kashmiri people, I thought it will be better to take a look at UN Charters and concerning papers about the human right abuses, Dr. Thoker emphasized.

Thoker explained that he was not a lawyer, nor an expert of international relations, nevertheless,  when he read the Article 7 of Roma Statue concerning “crime against humanity” and Article 8 of Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II concerning “war crimes”, without any hesitation his logic had it connected the crimes committed by Indian Forces in Kashmir to those Articles 7 and 8 of UN regulations.

In short, the situation in Kashmir is alarming and the rest of world should act against the inhuman offenses committed against the people of Kashmir. As the members of human race, we should declare that human right violations in the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir are not acceptable, and the right of Self Determination of Kashmiri people must be respected and United Nation resolutions must be implemented as soon as possible.

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Lars Rise, Norwegian parliamentarian said that the United Nations Security Council resolutions stemming back to 1948 and expressly endorsed by both India and Pakistan mandate a self‑determination referendum for Kashmir administered by the United Nations. Negotiations between India and Pakistan have failed to break the logjam for an equally long period.  It is time to recognize the true Kashmiri leadership should be recognized as the principal party to the dispute. It was a glaring mistake from the outset in 1948 to exclude Kashmiris from discussions over their future destiny.

Lars Rise emphasized that he never considered the Kashmir conflict a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. It is the issue of the right of self-determination that was promised to the people of Kashmir by both India and Pakistan and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. Modi, Lars Rise added is violating all international conventions. We must call Modi what he is – a criminal – who even banned the Missionaries of Mother Teressa Charity.

Norway, he added, being the member of the Security Council in 2022 can play a role in the right direction. He still believed that appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir could bring the parties together and that it was time that both India and Pakistan realize that until the people of Kashmir are included in the peace process, any negotiations between these two neighbours may not lead them to any logical conclusion.

Muzzammil Ayub Thakur, Director, Justice Foundation said as we remember this day as the Right to Self Determination Day, I’d like to remind everyone the urgency of achieving self-determination for the people of Indian occupied Kashmir. Right to self-determination will always remain relevant but the precondition to that is not just the end, but the reversal of India’s settler colonial project to force demographic change. Since 5th August 2019, India have taken many steps towards fulfilling their promise of an Akhand Bharat, a pan Hindu nation.

Muzzammil warned that Genocide watch issued an alert 2 years ago, warning genocide is imminent. Bear in mind modern genocides and ethnic cleanings don’t necessarily happen by bullets and tanks and missiles. Modern Indian fascism has paved the path to accomplishing their agenda of a pan Hindutva nation. 

The youth of Kashmir, Muzzammil added, have announced that no compromise on principles and ideology. The intellectual and ideological lines of demarcations have been drawn. They have sacrificed far too much to sit on a fence and appease everyone. 

We must devise a plan for sustainability of this resistance, fostering a new generation of leaders, thinkers, writers, activists, strategists etc, willing to give up everything as I have. Space needs to be filled by the new generation, well equipped and adept in the modern world. Our enemies are organised, and they evolve and adapt quickly. We must too, Muzzammil observed.

Muzdalfa, British Kashmiri youth representative said yet again, we are witnessing another anniversary of the non‑implementation of the Security Council resolution on Kashmir. It’s been 73 years since self‑determination plebiscite in the disputed territory of Jammu & Kashmir remains unfulfilled. Self-determination is one of the fundamental rights codified in all major human rights instruments as well as the United Nations Charter. The denial of this right and subjugation of Kashmiris is the very negation of human dignity. 

Muzdalfa emphasized that in these seven decades, we have seen Kashmir becoming one of the most militarized zones in the world, where Indian occupation forces have committed massive human rights violations, that have been documented in two reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2018 and 2019. India’s continuous aggression against the Kashmiri people shows that peace could only be restored by a free and fair self‑determination plebiscite.  Therefore, Secretary General of the United Nations should call India out for its inhuman actions taken in IIOJK and fulfill its obligation of holding a free and impartial plebiscite, to let the Kashmiris exercise their right to self-determination.

Towards the end, Mr. Raees Warsi read an emotional poem specifically for the occasion.

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Kashmiri political prisoners need to be released unconditionally:

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Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. May 3, 2024. An impressive and meaningful meeting of the leadership of all religious, social and political parties of Azad Kashmir took place at Jeddah to discuss the latest situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The guest of honor of the event was Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, the chief guest was Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum, and the event was presided over by Sardar Waqas Inayat, President, Jammu Kashmir Oversees Community, Jeddah.


 Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, who was in town to attend the annual meeting of the Muslim World League (MWL), as a member of the Supreme Council of MWL said that the Kashmir dispute was primarily the issue of self-determination which is a basic principle of the United Nations Charter. The applicability of the principle of self-determination to the specific case of Jammu and Kashmir has been explicitly recognized not only by the United Nations but also equally by both India and Pakistan when the Kashmir dispute was brought before the Security Council in 1948. The Kashmir issue, Sardar Attique added involves the life and future of the 23 million people of the State of Jammu & Kashmir that existed on August 13, 1947. Because of its impact on relations between India and Pakistan, however, it directly affects the peace and stability of the South-Asian subcontinent. The denial of this right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir has brought India and Pakistan to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.
 
Sardar Attique explained that all international conflicts ultimately were resolved on the negotiating table. If that is true, then the world powers should become deeply engaged in order to make sure that the peace process between India and Pakistan once initiated does not get derailed.  “His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman can also play a bridge building to bring parties together so that the animosity is done away with, and the dawn of dialogue and engagement is sustained,” Sardar Attique highlighted.

Sardar Attique reiterated that it must be the first and foremost objective of our strategy to seek the immediate release of Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Masarat Aalam, Aasia Andrabi, Khurram Parvez and others. There are no laws and there is no due process for political and human rights victims and prisoners in Kashmir

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai said that Kashmir conflict is not about Modi’s so-called development or jobs or even money; it’s about freedom and respect for the sovereign right of a people to choose their own way of life, their own leaders, and their own politics without interference from outsiders. The people of Jammu & Kashmir, irrespective of their religious background and cultural affiliations, were given the right by the United Nations to decide the future status of Kashmir. That is a principle that was agreed by both India and Pakistan and endorsed by the world community.  Perhaps India may pretend that it can preempt that option unilaterally, but the people of Kashmir have not forgotten it at all.

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Fai warned that cost of inaction by the international community is enormous – for the global community, for the region of South Asia and especially for the people of Kashmir. If the global initiative is taken, it will not only end the bloodshed and suffering in Kashmir, but also will have a direct positive effect on international security by eliminating regional fighting and risk of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. It is in everyone’s interests to settle the Kashmir dispute peacefully without further delay.

Dr. Fai cautioned that gimmickry and maneuvers, no matter by whom encouraged and approved, cannot be a response to a demand for which tens of thousands have shed their blood in Kashmir. To ignore this principle is to plan for failure, he added.
 
Mr. Farooq Rehmani, former Convener, All Parties Hurriyat Conference said that the repression of Kashmir’s soul has not diminished the pain or the need for India to meet those face to face who have had nothing but a boot to the belly and a cane to the back.  The voice of Kashmir not only remains as vibrant and shrill as in the very beginning, it is yet even stronger. It is time that India showed some honesty and forthrightness in its dealings with Kashmir.
 
Farooq Rehmani added that it’s time to end the violence.  It’s time to end the charade.  It’s time for the world community to intervene and let Kashmiris sort out their own affairs and determine their own future
 
Consul General, Khalid Majeed Sahib said that our brothers and sisters in Occupied Kashmir have suffered for over seven decades. They look towards us to raise their voice against the oppression at the international forums. It is our moral, legal and religious duty to come forward and be the voice of the people who feel muzzled by the draconian laws which have given total immunity to over 900,000 Indian occupation forces in Kashmir. The whole nation of Pakistan is standing with the oppressed people of Jammu and Kashmir and will keep exposing the atrocities and brutalities of PM Narender Modi at all international forums.
 
Mr. Khalid Majeed warned that since August 5, 2019 India is pursuing the policy to alter the demographics of the territory. Hundreds of thousands Hindus and army personnel have been provided domicile certificates and allotted land that has been grabbed from local Muslim population.
 
Mr. Masud Ahmed Puri, Chairman, Kashmir Committee, Jeddah said the sovereignty and right to self-determination is being ignored. But the people of Kashmir will not rest unless they achieve their ultimate objective which is freedom from Indian occupation. The leadership of various political parties in Azad Kashmir has played a role for decades in internationalizing the issue of Kashmir. The people of Azad Kashmir will never let the sacrifices of the people of Kashmir go in vain, Mr. Puri added.
 
Sardar Waqas Inayat, President JKCO and the host of the event said that the leadership of the Kashmiri political resistance movement and human right activists in occupied Kashmir are incarcerated on frivolous charges and lodged in notorious prisons under sub-human conditions. The goal is to convert Indian Occupied Kashmir into a Hindu majority state with a long turn plan to achieve favorable outcome in case plebiscite is held in the future.  Sardar Waqas expressed his dissatisfaction about the apathy and passivity of the world powers towards the longest issue that is pending on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council – Kashmir.

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Sardar Muhammad Ashfaq, Vice Chairman, JKCO and Emcee of the event said that to the horrors of repression for which the people of Kashmir suffer are added two other circumstances, each cruelly adverse. One is the apathy of the world at large, including governments and organizations that otherwise are justly proud of their championship of democracy and human rights. The second is the fog of myths and evasive arguments currently surrounding India’s wrongful occupation of Kashmir. Sardar Ashfaq urged the people of the world to stand up and speak up for the freedom of Kashmir.
 
Others who spoke included: Engineer Arif Mughal, senior vice chairman, JKCO; Choudhary Khurshid Ahmed, former Chairman, JKCO; Raja Shamroz, Additional Secretary General, JKCO.
 
The event concluded with the du’a for the martyrs of Kashmir and Gaza.
 
Dr. Fai is also Chairman, World Forum for Peace & Justice.
He can be reached at: WhatsApp: 1-202-607-6435.  Or.  [email protected]
www.kashmirawareness.org

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Kashmir and the Administration of Justice-III

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Professor Zafar Khan, Head of the Diplomatic Department of JKLF and a well-known leader of Kashmiri global diaspora has said, “Kashmiris are denied their collective and individual rights by India. The political, judicial and security establishment in India has orchestrated an environment of fear and impunity across Jammu Kashmir

With thousands of civilian deaths and politically motivated trials of Kashmiri leaders, India shows scant respect for domestic and international law. Yasin Malik’s trial to convert his deeply flawed life sentence to death is a glaring example of this impunity. It has to be said that recourse to justice for Kashmiris after annexation of disputed Jammu Kashmir, is no longer a basic right for them.”


Human Rights Watch in its World Report 2023 (India) writes, “Allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings persisted, with the National Human Rights Commission registering 147 deaths in police custody, 1,882 deaths in judicial custody, and 119 alleged extrajudicial killings in the first nine months in 2022.
Amnesty International says, “Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in police custody remain widespread.” According to Amnesty International, these broadly defined powers facilitate the shooting of the suspects in custody. Amnesty International calls PSA as ‘Lawless Law.’

Many members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, International Commission of Jurists, and other international NGOs have expressed concern that these provisions contravene the right to life provided in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Dr. Farhan Mujahid Chak, a Canadian-Kashmiri scholar and widely respected expert on the subject of Kashmir has said, ‘The justice system in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir is as artificial as its current governance structure. No bearing with the reality on the ground and as illegitimate as any settler-colonial power would be anywhere in the world.’ The laws weaponized in the disputed territory are not meant to protect the powerless against the powerful or establish justice.  They operate to perpetuate the illegal stranglehold India has over society.

The 43- page report on the ‘Situation in Kashmir’ by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) issued on June 14, 2018, noted that, “Special laws in force in the state, such as the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 (PSA) , have created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.  AFSPA grants broad powers to the security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir and effectively bestows immunity from prosecution in civilian courts for their conduct by requiring the central government to sanction all prospective prosecutions against such personnel before being launched.”

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An incarcerated but eminent and internationally known human rights activist, Khurram Parvez echoes those sentiments in 549-page report on, ’Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control in Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir’ on page 104, “In the context of unprecedented militarization in the state of Jammu and Kashmir post 1989, the army is omnipresent in all the villages and towns of the Kashmir Valley. Following the Doctrine of Sub-Conventional warfare (breaking the will of the people), the armed forces have perpetrated inter alia massive torture in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, they are equipped with legal, political, and moral impunity. Despite possessing some powers, the judiciary is avoiding confronting the executive, resulting in an overall state of judicial impunity.”

United States, Department of State Country Report 2022 states that “The Public Safety Act (PSA), which applies only in Jammu and Kashmir, permits authorities to detain persons without charge or judicial review for up to two years without visitation from family members.  In April, the press reported that more than 500 persons remained in detention under the PSA in Jammu and Kashmir.”
The country report further adds, “There were reports that police beatings of prisoners resulted in custodial deaths (see section 1.a.).  There were reports of abuse in prisons by guards and inmates, as well as reports of rape of detainees by police. According to human rights NGOs, police used torture, other mistreatment, and arbitrary detention to obtain forced or false confessions.  In some cases, police reportedly held suspects without registering their arrests and denied detainees sufficient food and water.”

Advocate Jalil Andrabi has said that “the laws conferring unrestricted and arbitrary powers on the armed forces continue to remain in operation in Jammu & Kashmir, with full impunity to the perpetrators or crimes against the humanity and violations of fundamental human rights, threatening the very existence of the people of Kashmir. Indictments and appeals from the United Nations Rapporteurs on Torture; Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution; freedom of opinion and expression; the situation of human rights defenders; Independence of judges and lawyers; Freedom of religion and belief; Violence against women; International Commission of Jurists; Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch have failed to make India withdraw these laws.”

The arbitrary powers conferred upon the armed forces with virtual impunity from any legal action are a part of deliberate Indian State policy wherein, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, extra-judicial killing, and killings of civilians and unarmed and peaceful demonstrators have been used as a weapon of war. The motive behind these crimes against humanity is to force the Kashmiri people to abandon their struggle for fundamental human rights of self-determination.

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The problems associated with attempting to curtail human rights abuses in Kashmir are further complicated by India’s steadfast refusal to allow non-governmental organizations, the United Nations Thematic Special Rapporteurs, Amnesty International and other NGO’s to investigate allegations in Kashmir.

UNHCHR has recommended to the Government of India in its report on page # 48 that “In line with its standing invitation to the Special Procedures, accept the invitation requests of the almost 20 mandates that have made such requests; in particular, accept the request of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and facilitate its visit to India, including to Jammu and Kashmir.” It has also recommended to the UN Human rights Council to, “Consider the findings of this report, including the possible establishment of a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.”

In reality, as Advocate Jalil Andrabi has said the people of Kashmir are prisoners – prisoners of their conscience. They have been deprived of their non-derogable human rights including their right to life and liberty, and access to justice only because they are demanding to exercise their fundamental inalienable and non-derogable right to self-determination. To restore the basic human rights of the detainee, India must be compelled to concede the right of the people to exercise their self-determination and stop its crimes against humanity in Kashmir.

With these words I have shown the merest tip of the iceberg of the pandemic violations of human rights with which the people of Kashmir must live on a day-to-day basis. Such events are not rare and occasional, but most decidedly part of a systematic policy of repression, victimization, suppression, and colonization. By extension, one has to ask what extremely deleterious effects this activity must have on the psychological health of even the occupying forces, and the families and neighbours of all those affected by such violence.

By our shared humanity, we are obliged not to sit idly by, but to act swiftly and surely to repair the disastrous human chaos that daily threatens human life and the human dignity of the people of Kashmir. The question arises: what should be the point of departure for determining a just and lasting basis? The answer is (a) the Charter of the United Nations and (b) the international agreements between India and Pakistan

(……Concluded….)

Dr. Fai is the Chairman, ‘World Forum for Peace & Justice’.He can be reached at: [email protected] www.kashmirawareness.org

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Kashmir and the Administration of Justice-II

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Advocate Nasir Qadri, Executive Director, ‘Legal Forum for Kashmir’ (LFK) has documented and analyzed India’s institutionalized and systematic discrimination against Kashmiris within the framework of the definition of Genocide and ethnic cleansing under international law. It has further analyzed the laws, policies and practices which have been newly introduced as the transitional phase of settler colonialism to change the demography of Muslim-dominated regions. Furthermore, it has documented specific repressive measures against the selected individuals, serious human rights violations and crimes under international law, committed against the Civilian population with the intent to maintain this system of colonial domination.

Advocate Jalil Andrabi, Chairman, ‘The Kashmir Commission of Jurists’ who was arrested by Indian paramilitary forces (35th Rashtriya Rifles) on March 8, 1996, and three weeks later, his dead body was found floating in the river Jehlum, has said that “The judiciary is working under great strain in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The judges who try to dispense justice impartially are either transferred to a far-flung state in India or forced to resign or denied promotion which otherwise is due to them.”

We know that in particular, the minimum standards for the respect of the most fundamental rights and dignity of detainees are absent in Kashmir. More shockingly, India has passed a series of laws that empower its 900,000 military and paramilitary forces to act against the people of Kashmir in violation of international standards. In this context, India has legalized arbitrary arrest, and wanton destruction of property and has given its soldiers the right to conduct searches without warrant. Ignoring the application of international humanitarian law. India claims that the Kashmiri defenders are separatist and ‘militants’ and has granted its armed personnel ‘shoot-to-kill’ powers against the people of Kashmir.

Some of these laws clearly violate international standards.

‘Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act’ (PSA) enables the Indian military and paramilitary forces in Kashmir to detain civilians for up to one year without trial or due process for a wide variety of reasons, including the exercise of free speech. For example, under this act, an individual whose child has been murdered by the Indian army and speaks out publicly against India’s campaign of terror can be detained for up to one year without trial for endangering ‘public safety.’ Also, under this act, an individual who produces pamphlets or newsletters that advocate the implementation of the United Nations resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir can also be arrested and detained without formal charge or due process.

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In disturbed areas, the army and paramilitary forces are granted sweeping powers of arrest and search without warrants under 54 (a) of the Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act, (AFSPA) 1990. Section 4 (a) of this act grants the army and the paramilitary forces in ‘disturbed areas’ broadly defined powers to shoot to kill in the following terms: I quote: “If… it is necessary so to do the maintenance of public order…fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death against any person who is acting in contravention of any law or order for the time being in force in the disturbed area prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons or the carrying of weapons or things capable of being used as weapons or of firearms, ammunition or explosive substances.”

For any of the above actions, article 7 of the act titled ‘protection of persons acting in good faith under this act’ holds that ‘no prosecutions, suit or other legal proceedings shall be instituted…against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this act. This means that any member of the armed forces who conducts the above-described human rights violations. – summary executions of unarmed civilians, burning down homes and villages, torture and arbitrary arrest – can do so with complete immunity from prosecution.

Masarat Aalam Bhat, Chairman, All Parties Hurriyat Conference has been-arrested under PSA. He is a political prisoner who has spent 26 years in Indian jails. He is in jail not because he is guilty of a crime but because he believes that the people of Kashmir should be free to decide their future in accordance with the pledge extended to them under the authority of the United Nations Security Council. The Indian government has kept Aalam in jail for decades on more than 30 charges but never convicted him of a single one.”

Shabir Ahmed Shah, President, the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party has spent 36 years in Indian jails. He is known as the ‘Mandela of Kashmir.’ Amnesty International has condemned the imprisonment of Shah via AI INDEX: ASA 20/WU 13/94 and demanded his release claiming that Shah was illegally imprisoned under the ‘Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA).

‘Unlawful Activities Protection Act’ (UAPA) is a draconian law, mostly used by the Government of India to suppress dissent. Experts call UAPA, jail without bail. Under Section 43(D)(5) of UAPA, it is impossible to get bail once the chargesheet is filed against a person. One prime example is Khurram Parvez, an internationally known human rights defender who was arrested on November 22, 2021, under UAPA. He is the Chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).  He received ‘Reebok Human Rights Award’ in 2006. He is included in ‘Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2022. Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders said, ‘Khurram Parvez is not a terrorist. He is a human rights defender.’ Yet BJP/RSS-led Modi government says he is a terrorist.

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Mohammad Yasin Mali, one of the most recognizable leaders of Kashmir was arrested under UAPA and was sentenced to life imprisonment. If Yasin Malik is a terrorist as India has charged him, then how to explain the eagerness of a person no less important the then the prime minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh to urge Malik during an official meeting on February 17, 2006, to help initiate a peaceful negotiation for the resolution of Kashmir dispute. Dr Manmohan Singh sought the meeting with Malik because of the non-violent ideology that Yasin Malik has been pursuing since 1994. Ambassador Kuldip Nayyar, former Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, wrote in Redfiff.com on August 7, 1999, “The first militant, Yasin Malik, who raised his gun at a public meeting in the heart of Srinagar, has turned nonviolent and vegetarian. Now he is a follower of Mahatma Gandhi.”

Asiya Andrabi, Chairperson, Dukhtaran-e-Millat was lodged under PSA more than 20 times. Then arrested under UAPA since 2018. Her husband, Dr. Muhammad Qasim Fakto, an educator and a scholar, is serving life imprisonment. He has already spent more than 30 years in Indian jails.

These laws violate articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It also contravenes the principles of the United Nations which states that ‘a person shall not be kept in detention without being given an effective opportunity to be heard promptly by a judicial or other authority.’ Under Principle 17, it is stated that ‘A detained person shall be entitled to have the assistance of a legal counsel,’ and under Principle 18 that ‘A detained or imprisoned person shall be entitled to communicate and consult with his legal counsel.’

( To be concluded………….)

Dr. Fai is the Chairman, ‘World Forum for Peace & Justice’.He can be reached at: 1-202-607- 6435 or [email protected] www.kashmirawareness.org

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