Islamabad: The Ministry of Human Rights conducted a webinar to explore the Human Rights Crisis in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, marking the one-year siege since the Government of India revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, stripping the Muslim majority territory of Jammu & Kashmir of its autonomy. The illegal occupation and annexation of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir has been followed by a stringent lockdown, widescale arrests, and an unprecedented communication blackout.
Since last August, 1.5 million Kashmiri children in IIOJK have endured extreme forms of violence. Citizens live in constant fear of forced abductions, arbitrary arrests torture, extra judicial killings and debilitating injuries from pellet guns. They also suffer from restricted access to medical help, the internet, information and educational facilities. The right to life and from the prohibition of torture and other ill treatment as well as the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are protected under international law including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which India is a party.
The panel discussion explored how the situation in IIOJK has deteriorated in the last year, as well as how recent developments relate to International Human Rights Law. It was moderated by Federal Minister for Human Rights, Shireen Mazari. Panelists included Fawad Chaudhary, Federal Minister for Science and Technology; Ahmed Quraishi,
Executive Director of Youth Forum for Kashmir (YFK); Syed Ali Mohammad Zafar, Senior Partner of Mandviwalla & Zafar & Legal Consultants; and Muhammad Oves Anwar, Director of the Conflict Law Centre (CLC) at RSIL.
Minister for Human Rights, Dr. Shireen Mazari, highlighted the significance of the role played by PM Imran Khan in terms of changing the narrative of Kashmir amongst the International Community, by equating Modi’s human rights abuses and blatant refusal to comply with International Law, with Hitler’s Fascism. “Now that Modi’s fascism has come to light, the narrative has changed. We should move forward with active diplomacy.”
Advocate Ali Zafar clearly stated that Pakistan’s case is based on self-determination and in today’s world that principle will win against arms and boots. He said that there has been a total denial of Justice for the past 7 decades, which has taken the basic human right to life away from the Kashmiris. He concluded by saying “There are numerous incidents of sexual abuses, their voices have been shut down due to the blocking of internet connectivity and they have no right to trial.”
Oves Anwar shared an interesting presentation exploring the issue through the perspective of international humanitarian law. He noted that India has been turned into a warzone where villagers are used as human shields and 100s of rape cases have been documented between 1989-2017. He spoke about the significance of appealing to the international community at large, by framing the issue in humanitarian terms, so that it could be understood as a threat to Human Rights all over the world.
The Human Rights Ministry has stressed vehemently upon the fact that the Kashmir Issue along with being political has become an appalling Human Rights Crisis that requires both attention and the active participation of the international community so that justice and freedom can be restored to Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Ahmed Qureshi said that we have seen the narrative shift to Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir from Disputed Kashmir. He said that “There is now a sense of hope that we are in a state where the issue can be talked about in International Forums and it’s a good sign that the International Media has started to talk about and take notice of the Kashmir Issue.” In conclusion, Fawad Chaudhary said that there is a lot of support for Pakistan inside Kashmir, the Indian Army has committed numerous Human Rights Violations in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the next year is monumental for us as well as the Kashmiris.
Ijaz Masih emphasized that it had been seventy years since India has been committing human rights abuses in Kashmir and the Modi government has committed human rights violations that have affected women, children and the elderly. He concluded by saying that “The silence of the United Nations is truly alarming in these times.”
The Ministry of Human Rights also showcased a powerful film on the everyday struggles of Kashmiris in Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir, to mark the occasion and to launch its Reels for Rights Digital Film Festival. “Faryad: A Wail From Kashmir,” explores the intergenerational violence suffered by Kashmiris at the hands of the Indian Occupation Forces, by delving into the story of a journalist speaking out for the rights of Kashmiris. The film won the Award of Merit at the Indie Film Festival 2016 and the Best Film Award at the Los Angeles Film Fest in 2016. The live screening of the film was followed by a panel discussion on the Human Rights Crisis in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir,