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The Economist: Shaking the mountains

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A GROUP of special Indian police barged into a white-painted, single-storey house on the crisp morning of October 27th. They let their lathis do the talking. The wooden batons were first rammed through all the windows, furniture and a television. When the grey-haired owners protested, the rods were turned on them. The police broke the husband’s leg and beat his wife’s flesh a sickly purple. Before leaving, the officers added an insult, hurling religious books, including a Koran, to the floor.

Such intrusions are common in Palhallan, a hillside settlement in the north of Indian-run Kashmir. It looks like an idyllic rural spot, where bushels of red chilies hang from the eves of steep-roofed wooden houses and hay wains jostle with shepherds in narrow streets. But the village has been caught up in months of violent protests that have roiled Kashmir. In 2010 an uprising led by youthful Kashmiri separatists left over 110 people dead and thousands injured. Youngsters daub anti-India slogans on walls, yell at Indian police and soldiers to “go home”, and hurl stones.

In turn its residents have taken a beating. A young man lifts his hand to his head, showing a zip-like scar running from the crown of his skull to his neck. It is the result, he says, of a police battering. His lament is typical: “I am an unpolitical person, but they treat me like a terrorist.” Locals say they suffer collective punishment. Enraged officers usually fail to catch stone-lobbers, so lash out instead at families and residents nearby, accusing them, usually unfairly, of collusion.

As a military helicopter buzzes overhead, a resident counts eight people killed and many more hurt in the area in the previous three months. Bitterness deepens with each injury and funeral. “The police,” he says, “they want to start a war.” A return to war, or widespread armed insurgency, is unlikely for the moment. But fury has spread, spurring some young Kashmiris to demand a more violent, more bloody response than mere strikes and stones.

On November 10th three men in Pattan, a small town a few minutes’ drive down the hill from Palhallan, took matters into their own hands. Hidden in the crowd of a bustling market they marched up to a pair of police constables, shot them at close range, snatched their rifles and fled. Both the policemen died. The Kashmiris have aped Palestinian methods, mobbing India’s ill-trained, sometimes panicky, police, by raining stones and broken bricks on them.

The police—more in the habit of using sticks and bamboo shields—have struggled, fighting back with huge quantities of tear-gas (tens of thousands of canisters were fired in 2010) and then bullets. They have reckoned that any protesters who die have themselves to blame. Officials in Delhi bristle at any comparison between the year’s events and Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland or the unrest in neighbouring Tibet. Kashmiris, they insist, have their own land and state, enjoy religious freedom, are by no means the poorest in India and take part in elections, most notably in 2008.

Christmas and New Year Greetings – Message from Farooq Papa

While most of us are heading home to be with our families and our loved ones to share the joys of Christmas, there are millions who less fortunate. Once again this Christmas, like scores of Christmases in the past, Kashmir is under siege from more than half a million Indian Army and paramilitary forces who occupy one of the beautiful and scenic place on earth.

We wish you a happy Christmas and new year, but cannot forget to remind our friends that as we approach the new year, hundreds of families will be mourning their loved ones in Kashmir. More than 120 civilians, mostly youths, were killed when they took part in instant public demonstrations demanding an end to Indian occupation and continuing brutalities. Thousands more were injured, hundreds of them rendered immobile.

We pray that your families remain safe and that this Christmas and the New Year brings joy to you and all those around you. We also request you to remember Kashmiris in your prayers.

WikiLeaks, ICRC and Kashmir

Read Full Article by WKDA Secretary General Murtaza Shibli

The WikiLeaks report on widespread torture employed by the Indian Army and paramilitary forces in held Kashmir may have come as a surprise to some people for this is not what they expect from the ‘largest democracy’ in the world. However, in occupied Kashmir the leak was simply digested as a mere attestation of what has been going on for decades. In held Kashmir, the lack of any enthusiasm at the revelations may be due to the near total cynicism among Kashmiris as the world has forgotten their sufferings.

During the last twenty years of insurgency and public rebellion, held Kashmir has suffered unprecedented levels of death and destruction. According to various estimates, more than 100,000 civilians have died and about 10,000 are missing, mostly unlawfully arrested by the Indian troops and then made to disappear. In 2008, a group of Kashmiri and Indian human rights activists discovered thousands of unnamed mass graves. Kashmiris believe that they contain victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses.

Despite international pledges by the Indian authorities and continuous promises to seek a political solution to the vexed ‘Kashmir problem’, repression, torture and murder remain the chief tools for India in its engagement with Kashmir. Although once formidable insurgency is all but eliminated, held Kashmir remains on boil, owing to continuous human rights violations, torture and humiliation of the people. This was the main trigger for the youth-led new Intifada in last June, when millions poured out on the streets demanding Azadi. The Indian response was not different from the past – the Indian Army and the security forces killed more than 100 civilians, mainly youths, and injured thousands more.

The WikiLeaks story may have embarrassed the ‘world’s largest democracy’ for a moment or so, but it has elicited the time tested, oft-repeated and well choreographed response – blanket denial of any violations. Speaking to BBC, the Director General of held Kashmir Police, SM Sahai, inadvertently accepted the presence of secret torture centres to which the ICRC will not access, only to deny it seconds later. Omar Abdullah, the pro-India Chief Minister of occupied Kashmir brushed aside any need for an inquiry stating that the torture happened when he was not in power. Contrary to his resolve “not to allow any sort of incidents of custodial torture or any sort of breach of law”, a leading Kashmiri newspaper, Greater Kashmir published a list containing details of at least seven youths, all of them civilians, who were tortured to death by the police in recent months.

The youngest victim of the police brutality was Sameer Ahmed Rah, a 9-year old resident of Batamaloo in Srinagar. He was beaten to death by the Indian paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Another victim of the torture death was Syed Farakh Bukhari, a media student. He was arrested after taking part in protest demonstrations. Two weeks later his dead body was found with multiple torture marks.

Wikileaks: India ‘tortured’ Kashmir prisoners

Wikileaks: India ‘tortured’ Kashmir prisoners

Visits to detention centres in the region in 2002-04 revealed cases of beatings, electric shocks, sexual abuse and other types of ill-treatment.

The organisation concluded that India condoned torture in the region.

There has been no comment from the US. The ICRC said it was investigating.

The chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, told India’s NDTV channel that the allegations related to a period before his government took power and that he did not condone torture.

SM Sohai, inspector general of police in Indian-administered Kashmir, said the reports were baseless “propaganda”.

“I do not how the Red Cross could have accessed that information because, normally they would not have access to these kind of locations, so it’s completely unfounded,” he told the BBC.

“Torture doesn’t happen… Where can it happen?”

Correspondents say the revelations will be embarrassing for Delhi, coming at a time of heightened sensitivity in Kashmir, which is divided between Indian and Pakistani control.

They were published by The Guardian newspaper in the UK, one of five publications – including the New York Times, France’s Le Monde, El Pais in Spain and Germany’s Der Spiegel – given access to the entire archive of the reports from US diplomats out in the field by Wikileaks.

Wikileaks website says it has obtained more than 250,000 cables passed between the US State Department and hundreds of American diplomatic outposts – but it has so far only published a small sample of those messages.

The site’s founder, Julian Assange, was on Thursday freed on bail in London, where he is fighting extradition to Sweden over sex assault allegations made by two women. He denies any wrongdoing.

Kashmiris hold protest demonstration on arrival of Indian PM in Brussels

Place Schumann, Brussels Friday 10th December 2010 on ‘International Human Rights Day’ a mass protest was launched against the human rights violations in Indian held Kashmir. The demonstration was timed for the EU-India summit as Indian Prime Minister; Manmohan Singh was on official tour of the EU and engaged in talks with the EU institutions.

It served as a reminder that India cannot bury the issue of Kashmir nor ignore it, as hundreds of Kashmiris and their supporters protested peacefully on Place Schumann outside the EU headquarters. The protesters asked that the EU not forget its pledge to uphold human rights and condemn the government of India for its ongoing brutality against the people of Kashmir. The protesters complained about draconian laws such as ‘shoot to kill’ that are granted to the Indian military and paramilitary forces stationed in Kashmir, for which Prime Minister Manmohen Singh is directly responsible.  Protestor reminded  the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir, and ongoing   denial of  the right to self determination  as promised to the  people of Kashmir by former Indian Prime Minister, Late Jawaharlal Nehru, and agreed upon by  the UN in 1948. Over  600,000 troops are stationed  in Kashmir,  on every ten civilians  a soldier or security officer  is at duty, which is  five times more then the  international forces  in  a war zone  as  Afghanistan.

The protesters also reminded the EU that trade agreements should not take precedence over human rights and that the EU and the international community had a duty to investigate the mass graves and the human rights violations that are ongoing in Kashmir. Speakers   condemn  the way  Government of India replies to people’s non-violent protests, namely by imposing curfew,  brutal force and merciless repression by  army and security forces of the non-violent protestors.  Since  last June, so  in  only  five  months,   more than  120 non-violent protesters  (youth, women and children)  have been killed  by police and army bullets.Today as the United Nations applauded human rights defenders everywhere, the Kashmiris wanted the United Nations and the international community to uphold their promise of granting the Kashmiris their right to self determination as pledged in 1948.

The protesters asked the release  of  Kashmiri leaders  and demanded that India stop interfering in the Kashmiri democratic process and enforcing Indian puppet leaders on the Kashmiris. Indeed any trade agreements with a country such as India would be short sighted as India itself is to blame for instability and nuclear tensionsthat dominate South Asia today.In connection  with the demonstrators in  Brussels,  Mrs. Marjan  Lucas  represented  her own organization IKV Pax Christi as well as the Kashmiri human rights activists  in The Netherlands   as guest of  the Ministry of Foreign Affairs  in  the  Human Rights Defenders Tulip  Award Ceremony.

On  accepting her award  she stated: “There can be no future without truth and justice” .

Lucas and  Olivia  discussed the situation in Kashmir, acknowledging the important fact that the phenomenon of enforced disappearances is hunting Kashmiri up until today.  Mrs. Bertha Olivia  expressed her  solidarity with the Kashmiri  families and hoped  they would feel that her award for the work in Honduras  was also a recognition of the  courage  and persistence  of  the Kashmiri  human rights defenders.

For the first time a mass protest of this scale with Western NGOs; international civil society movements and European civil society organisations stood with solidarity to support the Kashmiris in their efforts to seek truth and justice.  Protest was addresed by speakers Ali Shanawaz Exective Director Kashmir Scandinavian Council, Ch. Mukhtar Head of  Kashmir European Alliance , Zahid Hashmi President of  Jammu Kashmir Welfare Organization , Raja Liaqat President MC Holland, Zaib Khan Chairman Kashmir Centre Holland, Khalil Chaudary Secretary General Kashmir Council EU, Ch Pervaiz Losar President PML Q, Sardar Sadeek President of MC Europe, Khalid Mehmood Joshi President of WKDA Eurpe, Raja Javed Leader of Jammu Kashmir PML N ,    Mian Arshaad Leader of PML N, Malik Mohammad Ajmal Senior Voice President  Pakistan Peoples Party, Khawaja Mohammad Sajjad of PPP, Abdul Sattar Qadri Chairman  Belgo Pak Belgium, Amin ul Haq   CDH, Malik Pervaiz leader of  Peoples  Muslim League, Chaudary Mushtaq Leader of JKLF,and  Dr. Gurmit Singh President  Council of Khalistan.Demonstration was Organised by Kashmir Council EU and Led by Ali Raza Syed the demonstration was supported by the following organisations;

  1. WKDA (Canada)
  2. IKV Pax Christi (Holland)
  3. Kashmir Center (Holland)
  4. Kashmir Scandinavian Council (Norway)
  5. Kashmir European Alliance (Norway) 
  6. Jammu Kashmir Self Determination Movement (UK)
  7. Kashmir Center (Holland)
  8. Jammu Kashmir Welfare Organization (France)
  9. Council of Khalistan
  10. All Jammu Kashmir MC Europe
  11. Jammu Kashmir PML Europe
  12. ICHD (Belgium) 
  13. Kashmir Coordination Committee (Norway)

A petition  was handed to the European Commission by Ali Raza Syed Chairman Kashmir Council EU acompnied by Ali Shanawaz  exective Director KSC and Dr. Gurmit Singh President Council of Khalistan   with the following memorandum to Indian Prime Minister Manmohen Singh.

Murtaza Shibli: Time for leadership on part of Kashmiris

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London 7th December 2010

The politics of rhetoric from all parties to the Kashmir conflict must give way to politics of consent for the settlement, on the basis of democratic rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Political and Human Rights. This was stated by Murtaza Shibli, Secretary General of World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance (WKDA) while speaking at Kashmir Conference held in British Parliament.

Mr. Shibli who represented World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance (WKDA) gave a brief catalogue of gross human rights violations and sufferings of people of Kashmir in the valley and said that Kashmiris must shape a dedicated process to reach out to both the Indian and Pakistani civil society that has offered support for seeking a just solution for Kashmir.

Commending the recent statements by the Indian Parliamentary and civil society delegation to Kashmir and using the phrase that” Kashmiris want freedom from the caged life” is explicitly an acceptance of India’s policy of brutality and coercion.

It is time for the display of leadership on part of Kashmiris from both sides of the divide as well as on the international level to pursue a common agenda rather than generic speechmaking politics.

The incognito acceptance by the Indian politicians and civil society leaders for terming Kashmir as a disputed territory is a significant development and hoped that the Kashmiris and Kashmiri leadership will articulate Kashmiri demands in a peace-making expression to work for a grand understanding in South Asia. The suggestions were supported by Vernon Cocker MP, Lord Tariq Ahmed and Craig Whitaker MP.

The Kashmir conference in parliament called upon the British lawmakers to use their influence to seek an end to continuing human rights violations on the Indian side of Kashmir. Organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Self Determination Movement (J KSDM), the conference aimed to highlight the continuing human sufferings in a run up to the World Human Rights Day on 10thDecember.

Welcoming the speakers, Raja Najabat Husain, chair, JKSDM, highlighted the importance of Kashmir resolution for South Asian peace.

Regretting undue pressure on Pakistan, Lord Nazir Ahmed hoped that the international community sheds its anti-Pakistani bias and work with both India and Pakistan to solve Kashmir problem as per the wishes of the people of Kashmir.

Julie Hilling MP, Anas Sarwar MP and Shabana Mehmood MP, Richard Errington MP endorsed the conference aims and objectives.

Mean while WKDA head Farooq papa appealed to all Kashmiris living in Europe to join the peaceful protest which will be lead by Ali Raza Syed executive member of WKDA and Chair of Kashmir Council and supported by IKV of Netherlands, in Brussels on 10th of December against human right abuses during India EU Summit where Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh is attending the Summit.

WKDA appeals for European Kashmiris to protest Manhoman Singh visit

Kashmiri’s in Europe are gearing up for a peaceful protest against the human-right abuses in Kashmir. Ali Raza Syed, Chairman of Kashmir Council, will lead the protest in front of European Parliament, where Indian Prime-minister Manhoman Singh will be attending a summit.

Farooq Papa, who heads the World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance, has appealed to all kashmiris living in Europe to show their solidarity.

More information can be found in this pamphlet.

Delhi Convention on Kashmir: Azadi – The Only Way

Delhi Convention on Kashmir: Azadi – the only way

The convention on Kashmir that was held on the 21 October 2010 proved to be historic in every aspect given the topicality of the issue. As can be noticed from the title of the convention itself we at the CRPP thought it necessary to pose the question directly, as the people of Kashmir, in their persistent struggle for their right to self-determination braving the repressive apparatus of the Indian State had dared even in their death.

When people are being killed in hundreds; maimed, tortured, raped and put behind bars in thousands; it is of utmost significance as a responsible body which gives paramount importance to right to life, liberty and equality, right to freedom of speech and movement and last but not the least the fundamental right to raise one’s voice and resist all forms of oppression and exploitation, it was of necessity to stand up for the fundamental right of the people of Jammu &Kashmir—their inalienable right to determine their own future, their Right to Self Determination. What better way can one make oneself democratic than to be in solidarity with the genuine urge of a people in their relentless struggle for their inalienable Right to Self-Determination. It is this conviction that has given us the strength to organize this convention. And we are confident that this convention would go a long way in the hearts and minds of all freedom loving people—who cherish the word justice—as a definite step in forging the solidarities of all who have been mistreated, discriminated, oppressed and exploited.

The following is a summary of the proceeding of the convention.

S A R Geelani, the Working President of the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) conducted and initiated the proceedings of the Convention on Kashmir titled ‘Azadi: The Only Way’, at the LTG Auditorium, New Delhi on 21 October 2010 by welcoming the chief guest, the speakers and the audience on behalf of CRPP. He recalled that in just the past four months, more than 100 people -mostly teenagers- have been martyred in Kashmir. He recounted how a small boy was brutally beaten to death by the CRPF, which was just one example of the untold atrocities and oppression committed by the occupation forces of India. Thousands have been injured, many have been blinded, raped, maimed and yet many are languishing in prison.

He took specific note of the shameful role of the Indian media for its motivated reportage conflating fiction with facts, turning truth upside down. The Indian establishment had successfully misled the people of the country for the last 63 years when it came to the hard facts about Kashmir. In this context CRPP felt that the voice of the Kashmiris needs to come out. The exercise of extreme forms of repression by the government has not just been over the past four months but for decades. He also hoped that the Kashmiri people’s demand for azadi, which has been attacked from many quarters as vague and undefined, will be clarified today, and what the Kashmiris mean when they call for azadi will be spelt out. He wondered about the total lack of political will of the Indian Parliament in taking a decision on the future of Kashmir as per the wishes of the Kashmiris. Nehru once held that the Indian Parliament had no right to take any decision on the future of Kashmir. Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris, and they will take decision. This was why the Kashmir dispute was referred to the UN. But the same Parliament passed a resolution in 1994 without any opposition which says that Kashmir is an integral part of India. This is the nature of the hypocrisy of the Indian ruling classes when it comes to Kashmir. He pointed out that when we talk of Kashmir, we do not mean the Valley of Kashmir alone, but the entire Jammu and Kashmir as in 1947. It includes Muzzaffarabad, Mirpur, Jammu, and Ladakh. When we say India oppresses us, we talk of the Indian state, and not its people. But we have to say this to the Indian people that when our people are killed, it is done in the name of the people of India. Indian people have to make it known that they are not a part of this oppression, and they stand opposed to it.