By Wallace Mawire
The Pakistan Embassy in Zimbabwe is intensifying and amplifying the global call to denounce the continued oppression of the Kashmir people.
His Excellency Murad Baseer, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Republic of Zimbabwe concurrently accredited to the Republic of Angola, Malawi, Zambia and DR Congo hosted a commemoration event to denounce the continued persecution of the Kashmir people.
On 5th August every year, Pakistani and Kashmiri people, all over the world commemorate Youm-e-Istehsal, or the Day of Exploitation. This year we commemorate the 3rd anniversary when on 5th August, 2019 the Government of India introduced the removal of Article 370 from the Indian Constitution that provided a special status to Jammu &Kashmir. This action by the Government of India was a manifestation to further subjugate the Muslim people of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) though force, fear and abuse of power.
The story of IIOJK is one of oppression and subjugation for the last 75 years. Before I elaborate the persistent human rights deterioration of human rights situation in the Valley of Kashmir, let me briefly recall the history of the dispute. At the time of partition of British India in 1947, Jammu & Kashmir was a princely state. Jammu & Kashmir state had its roots in terms of history, religion, demography, trade and road linkages with current day State of Pakistan. Its overwhelming population was Muslim, but the state itself was governed by a Hindu ruler. On partition the ruler acceded to India against the wishes and sentiments of the masses who wanted to opt for the new state of Pakistan. This was against the ethos of the partition that took into account the fact that Muslim majority areas will join Pakistan and Hindu majority will join India.
It was India who first took the case of Jammu & Kashmir to the United Nations. In this regards several UN Security Council Resolutions, including the S/RES/47 dated 21 April 1948, S/RES/38 & 39 dated 17 January and 20 January 1948 were passed that required the future of the State of Jammu & Kashmir to be decided according to the wishes of the people of Jammu & Kashmir through a plebiscite under UN auspices. Unfortunately, instead of honouring its obligations, India opted to use brutal force and occupied the 2/3rd of the state Jammu & Kashmir state by sending its land forces to occupy the capital Srinagar. Subsequently, rather than agreeing on giving the choice of self-determination to the people of Jammu & Kashmir, India resorted to use force against Kashmiri men, women and children and has since then denied them their inalienable right to self-determination till date.
Tired of the brutal atrocities committed against defenceless innocent people, the Kashmiri leadership and youth of IIOJK intensified their freedom struggle in 1989 and came to the streets to secure their right to self-determination and challenged the Indian Government. Despite the brute force used by the Indian government, so far it has not been able to subdue the brave Kashmiris who seek for self-determination and union with Pakistan. Spontaneous protests initiated by the people of Jammu & Kashmir during 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2016 were the manifestation of the ever-strong resistance to the Indian government. These protests by the ordinary people of Kashmir have opened the eyes of the international community and international human rights organisations have taken notice of the human rights situation in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
The Indian State brutalities in IIOJK reached new heights after 05 August 2019 actions of the Government of India. The Indian troops have killed a number of peaceful protestors in extrajudicial killings, imprisoned the Kashmir leadership, activists, journalists and imposed an internet blackout in the Valley.In the aftermath of the actions of 5th August which is an attempt to change the demographics of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, more than 10,842 people endured pellets injuries and over 140 of them lost eyesight in both the eyes and 210 in one eye while vision of over 2,500 victims was damaged partially.
The unabated Indian repression, in contravention to international law, UNSC resolutions and the 4th Geneva Convention, including extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris, unprecedented restrictions on freedom of speech, fake encounters, cordon-and-search operations, custodial torture and deaths, enforced disappearances, incarceration of Kashmiri leadership and youth, use of pellet guns, destruction and burning of houses, and other methods of subjugation have miserably failed to shake the resolve of the Kashmiri people.
The actions of 5 August 2019 by the Government of India have introduced various constitutional amendments such as the removal of Article 370 which provides special status to Kashmir and removal of Article 35 which gives power to Kashmiris to define resident status to change the demography of the valley and influence any future plebiscite. To strengthen the ill attempt, the Kashmir valley census has also been delayed till 2026. Moreover, introduction of the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Third Order 2020 non-Permanent residents can now buy property in Kashmir. The idea is for more Hindus to buy property and reduce the Muslim population into a minority.
A prominent example of the ruthless suppression against the people of Jammu & Kashmir was the funeral of 91-year-old iconic Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who passed away while under house arrest on 01 September 2021. When the bereaved family was preparing for the last rites of Syed Geelani, Indian police snatched the deceased leader’s body and denied it a proper Islamic burial and according to his will (in “Cemetery of Martyrs” Srinagar). Not content with the level of callousness, Indian authorities resorted to harassing Syed Ali Geelani’s family and registered cases against them on trumped up charges.
Government of India’s blatant violation of human rights in Jammu & Kashmir is nothing new. To its infamous record of human rights, it has the discovery of thousands of unmarked graves in early 2000s; use of pellet guns that blinded the Kashmiri youth in last decade and stripping millions of the very basic human rights to life and dignity all through since 1947.
Reports of unmarked graves in IIOJK first surfaced in 2006. European Parliament’s resolution of 2008, called for independent and impartial investigations into the matter; in 2011, Amnesty International, expressed concern over “confirmation” of 2700 unmarked graves. Discovery of unmarked graves created a furore and concern everywhere in the world, except India.
IIOJK, now for several years remains the most densely militarized place in the world, with 900,000 uniformed security personnel on ground, teethed with draconian laws. In a June, 2019 report of Amnesty International described the situation as “Tyranny of a lawless law”.
During the recently held 48th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers held in Islamabad, Pakistan in March 2022, the Council denounced India’s ill-fated attempt of altering the demographic structure of the IIOJK including the issuance of over 4.2 million domiciles to non-Kashmiri Indian citizens and redrawing of electoral constituencies in the occupied region to influence any future plebiscite.
Unfortunately, all this is happening in today’s “civilized world”, where we often hear about the sanctity of human rights and human dignity. It is happening today now as we speak, in a world that is connected across the globe with a single click on our mobile devices. Is this acceptable? “If not, then the question is, what is our responsibility; at collective and at an institutional level?
Since January 1989, Indian troops have martyred 96,095 innocent Kashmiris, custodial killings include 7,246, Civilians arrested 164,970, Structures/homes destroyed 110,487, Women widowed 22,946, Women molested 11,255, children orphaned 107,866 since January 1989 till 31 July 2022.
The Right of Self Determination was promised to the people of Kashmir by the International community through UN resolutions. Let us support the oppressed people of Jammu & Kashmir and join the voices that are struggling for peace and justice all over the world.