Muzaffarabad: Sardar Massod Khan, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has called on Australian Parliament, Government and civil society to raise their voice against human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.
He made these remarks while talking to Ms Lee Rhiannon former Senator of Australia and Human Right activist, who is currently visiting Azad Kashmir and Pakistan at the invitation of AJK President.
In the past Senator Rhiannon has been advocated protection of Human Rights of Kashmiri people for which she has been frequently criticized by Indian media. She is senior leader of Australian Green and has served as member of New South Wales Legislative Council.
Sardar Masood Khan said that Indian atrocities have reached at peak since July 2016 when Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a popular youth leader, was gunned down by Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir in a fake encounter. The popular reaction over the martyrdom of Wani was crushed by the occupation forces by the use of brutal force.
The President commended the efforts of Senator Rhiannon in support of Kashmiris rights which include their inalienable right to self determination.
The President highlighted that the recent report on the human rights situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir released by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has asked India to respect the right to self determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, which is protected under international law.
Senator Rhiannon on the occasion said that she would continue to speak on the plight of the Kashmiris and the need for a lasting solution of Jammu and Kashmir issue. She thanked President Sardar Masood Khan for inviting her to visit Azad Kashmir and said that she had undertaken visit to fully understand the dynamics of the Jammu and Kashmir issue.
The AJK President sought the support of Senator for two key recommendations by the OHCHR report namely constitution of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate human rights violations in IoK, and repeal of draconian laws.
Australia, he said, should call on India to give access to the COI and repeal the black laws – Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act – which are used by Indian forces to brutalize Kashmiris.
Senator Rhiannon said that awareness about the serious human rights situation in IOK should be raised at the global level. The President apprised Senator about the moves made by India to change demography in the occupied territory through illicit transfer of population, proposed illegal settlements, granting of residential rights to so called west Pakistani refugees and giving Kashmiri property to non-Kashmiris.
Through Senator Lee, President called on Australian Parliament to take cognizance of the UN report and urge Australian Government to raise the grave human rights situation in Kashmir at the UN Human Rights Council.
President Majsood Khan also informed the former Australian Senator that the United Nations Military Observer Group in Indian and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to which Australia has also contributed peacekeeper time to time, sends its reports regularly to the UN Secretariat, but these reports are neither submitted to UN Secretary General nor circulated to the United Nations Security Council members.
In response to a question by Senator Rhiannon, President Khan said that the UN-mandated plebiscite can be organized at short notice as soon as India withdraws its opposition to plebiscite. “Modalities for the plebiscite do not pose any difficulty”, he said. The President informed the Senator that Azad Kashmir was bearing a caseload of 40,000 refugees without any international assistance.
The President also said that although for Pakistan and Kashmiris the preferred mode for resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue has been UN Security Council resolutions, they have always been open to any process under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, including negotiations, third party mediation and other peaceful means for pacific settlement of the dispute.