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The Forgotten Massacres of Kashmir

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Article by Laura Schuurmans:

On the morning of January 20, 1990 there was a demonstration on the streets of Srinagar. In itself this was not an unusual occurrence. The 1987 elections, which were widely regarded as having been rigged, had deprived Kashmiris of any effective political voice. Street demonstrations were one of the few remaining avenues open to different interest groups wishing to express publicly a dissenting point of view. Accordingly in the period following the elections street demonstrations became a feature of life in Srinagar. This particular demonstration, however, was to prove especially significant.

Just prior to the demonstration the government of Farooq Abdullah had been dissolved and the province placed under the direct rule of the Indian President. The President, looking for someone able to crush dissent in the Province appointed Jagmohan as Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. The new Governor came with the reputation of being strongly anti-Muslim. Anticipating increased social and political unrest as a result of this appointment the Indian authorities deployed police paramilitaries and launched a series of night time raids against the civilian population targeting families of alleged activists and taking many people away for questioning.

Despite the raids, several thousand Kashmiris assembled in Basant Bagh, Habba Kadal and Gawkadal and started moving towards Lal Chowk, one of Srinagar’s main squares. The march was entirely peaceful. The Indian authorities, however, became alarmed by the size of the crowd and placed the city under curfew. Additional armed police were mobilized and put onto the streets. The demonstration was still entirely peaceful. The marchers reached the narrow wooden Gawkadal Bridge where they were confronted by armed paramilitaries from the Central Reserve Police Force. As the demonstrators moved forward the police fired on the marchers with live ammunition.

Official figures issued by the Indian administration put the number of casualties at 35 dead. Local human rights organizations put the figure at around 200 dead including those demonstrators who jumped off the bridge into the river to avoid the shooting and subsequently drowned. The incident quickly became known as the Gawkadal Massacre.

The killing of unarmed demonstrators triggered massive protests throughout Kashmir and left a long-term legacy of social unrest. Many young Kashmiris left home and crossed into Pakistan either to avoid arrest and torture or to seek arms and training to continue the struggle for freedom.

The period following the Gawkadal Massacre was one of the most violent in the history of Kashmir. Both the freedom fighters themselves and ordinary civilians paid a terrible price. It is only recently, however, that the full extent of the human rights abuses that took place at this time has become clear. A study by the Kashmir-based organization International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice led to the publication in 2011 of a report entitled Buried Evidence. Research for this report was undertaken by Parvez Imroz, a Kashmiri human rights lawyer who holds the prestigious Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize.

The report makes a horrific reading. Between 1989 and 2009 an estimated 70,000 people died from causes directly resulting from the conflict while a further 8,000 people have disappeared their whereabouts being unknown. The report identifies some 2.700 unmarked mass graves in the Kashmir Valley containing more than 2,943 bodies. The report also cites evidence of the systematic torture of prisoners by the Indian security forces.

Under the Geneva Convention civilians are protected during periods of armed conflict. Thus Article 3 of the Convention demands humane treatment for all persons in enemy hands, without distinction and specifically prohibits murder, mutilation, torture, cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment, the taking of hostages and unfair trials.

In the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region, however, the Geneva Convention has been disregarded. Instead India has claimed that the armed conflict in the region was not a liberation struggle by the local population but was actually a war against foreign militants fighting on behalf of Pakistan. The vast majority of people who were killed in the conflict were ordinary civilian Kashmiris who found themselves caught between pro-independence and pro-Pakistan fighters and the Indian security forces.

The disappearances have created another quite special dilemma for Kashmiri society. The wives of men who have been taken by the Indian security forces, whose whereabouts are unknown and where no body has been received for burial have come to form a new class of ‘Half-Widow’. These women are often seriously disadvantaged. Instead of being considered as widows and treated accordingly the Half-Widows of Kashmir are often neglected by the husband’s family who do not consider themselves responsible for the Half-Widow and her children. The Half-Widow has to struggle to bring up her children alone, to cope with the uncertainty of not knowing her husbands fate and is denied the possibility of finding economic security through re-marriage.

The International Community has largely ignored the Kashmir question. In 2008, the European Parliament passed a Resolution about the Mass Graves. This resolution called on the Indian government “to urgently ensure independent and impartial investigations into all suspected sites of mass graves in Jammu and Kashmir, and as an immediate first step to secure the grave sites in order to preserve the evidence”. Regrettably, no action has been taken to follow up on this Resolution.

The silence of the International Community, including the United Nations, on the question of human rights abuses in Kashmir is hardly surprising. For Europe struggling to lift the Euro zone out of recession, the issue of expanding trade with India is seen as a top priority. Europe’s leaders have been reluctant to broach any issue with the Indian government which might have negative consequences for trade relations. For the United States on the other hand, the focus has been on its programme of nuclear cooperation with India and on its geo-strategic interests in the Indian Ocean. Here the priority is to counterbalance the perceived threat from the rising political influence of China in the region.

A political solution to the conflict in Kashmir is not possible in the absence of a thorough independent investigation into the killings, forced disappearances and mass graves. Undertaking such an investigation requires that the experiences of the Kashmiri people and the abuses of their human rights that have taken place are recognized and their existence acknowledged. Only by confronting the reality of the situation will there be any prospect of bringing a lasting peace and political stability to an especially volatile part of South Asia where two nuclear powers confront each other across a poorly defined international border.

—The writer, a Jakarta-based research analyst, writes exclusively for Pakistan Observer.

Kashmir EU Week Starts on September 9, 2014

KASHMIR EUWEEK (1)

Kashmir is not part of India or Pakistan nor is it an Independent country unless determined by peoples of Kashmir by a referendum .Until such time Kashmir has its own unique acceptance in European Parliament and US Congress because it being on the United Nation Agenda. No other state or Province of India or Pakistan has this status and also do not compare it with any other rebel conflicts or insurgencies around the world.

The West Lacks Understanding

barackobamaindianprime

Except from article profiling Laura Schuurmans:

Laura believes that the West should shift its attention to Indonesia, as she considers the country to be the best example of how democracy and Islam can stand side by side. She also believes that Indonesian women should advocate their religious rights across the globe, in order to redress Western misconceptions of Muslim women.

“One should realise that oppression of women is not a religious thing; it is cultural. Women oppressed in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, who can neither go out of their house nor drive a car, is something from the patriarchal culture. If it has anything to do with religion, I believe it is being misinterpreted and used to fulfill one’s particular interests,” she says.

In a nutshell, she believes that the West has shaped its perspectives about Islam by generalising particular incidents and not noticing the diversity of Islam, as offered by Muslims outside the Arab-speaking region.

Brussels meeting focuses on Kashmiri women

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Read the full report here:

Shamila Mahmood, Azad Kashmir’s first woman judge and Qazia, highlighted her concern about the policy of water management vis-a-vis the Himalayan rivers.

“In IOK, implementation of policy and planning is embedded in a militarised context, and in AJK we will soon be confronted with its environmental consequences and how it will affect the people of Kashmir living in the areas concerned,” she said.

Despite the Indus Water Treaty, she pointed out that “India creates dams and that creation of dams by India is not agreed on the treaty: that makes the Kishenganga Hydropower project (to divert water of the Neelum River/Ganga River to Wullar Lake to generate electricity) highly controversial”.

She said the consequences would be ‘dramatic’ for the people in Neelum Valley.“The river will get dry, no water will be available for the people and that will trigger massive migration. Where will people go?” she asked.

Article: Extremism in Kashmir and elsewhere

Taliban-killed-in-Afghan-operationsAn article by Laura Schuurmans:

Thursday, July 24, 2014 – AFTER Iraq and Syria slid into a civil war, a vacuum has been created and these regions have become a safe haven for extremist forces, including foreign militants who are a sham for the true meaning of the Islamic term mujahideen – fighters for a just cause. These so-called jihadists are from predominantly Sunni Muslim countries, Uighurs from West China, and even include Europeans. On their return home to roost, these militants not only became increasingly radicalized, but also established an extensive network for further assistance, training and logistics for expanding militant activities in their countries and elsewhere. This pattern holds true for Kashmir and elsewhere.

Besides the ongoing battlefield in Afghanistan, a fresh wave of extremist groups has firmly established in Syria and Iraq in recent years. The potential dangers and the impact this will have on global security issues remains yet to be seen. After all, there is no denying that the aspirations of the militant ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) which finds its roots in Iraq, and which has extended its activities to Syria, has gradually been expanding into the region to establish an Islamic Caliphate throughout the wider Middle East. ISIS, however, is not the only extremist threat the world has to deal with. There is also second security vacuum that is being created. This year, US forces have planned its withdrawal from Afghanistan, of which the faith and future battlegrounds of the Afghan extremist forces has also been a focal point of discussion.

Against this backdrop, could we speak of a déjà vu? Could we rightfully speak of a repetition of the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989) when Muslims from all over the world were recruited to join hands and fight ‘in the name of God’ against the infidels and occupying forces just like what has been happening in Syria and Iraq today? In 1989 when this war ended and the mujahedeen returned home, Muslim fellows from around the globe declared them heroes for defeating the Red Army. Many so-called mujahedeen felt empowered as such that they continued searching for new and fresh battle grounds ranging from Algeria, to Kashmir and the Philippines, and which ultimately also resulted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Recently Al-Qaida uploaded a video “New Afghanistan being created in Syria” in which it urges Muslims to fight against Indian occupation in the disputed Kashmir Region. It also invites Kashmiri Muslims to join the global jihad. This is the first time in recent years that Islamic extremist forces have directly aimed at Kashmir. In 1989 a similar scenario was put in place when the Afghan-Soviet War ended and the Islamic mercenaries and vigilantes expanded their activities into Jammu and Kashmir where earlier an indigenous uprising against Indian occupation had set the disputed region on fire. The possible arrival of foreign extremist groups into Kashmir, however, is a threat that could have been tackled much earlier. For more than six decades, the Kashmir dispute has been left unresolved with no vision of a resolution to the conflict in sight. Human rights against innocent civilians have been violated on gross scale. In other words, Kashmir has reached a deadlock.

Recently, the Srinagar based “Rising Kashmir” published “A Stark Reality” in which was emphasized on the increasingly dissatisfied youth in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region who could be ready to support an indigenous armed uprising against Indian occupation. This is a third potential threat that could jeopardize peace and security in the region and beyond. Although the Kashmiris are peaceful by nature, the people of Kashmir have been living under the shadow of the gun in what is often considered “the world’s most beautiful prison”. Oppression, systematic torture, and even extra-judicial killings do occur regularly. This has left the people of Kashmir often disillusioned with no hopes for a prosperous future, and which, in recent years, has increasingly led to dissatisfaction among the Kashmiri youth, including the elders, who have started to sympathize, once again, with the armed militants who have been active in the region for the past few decades.

This is an alarming situation. Moreover, this danger, together with the possible arrival of extremist forces from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, could ultimately stir an armed uprising against Indian occupation in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. Therefore, it may be time that the newly elected Indian P.M. Narendra Modi, together with his Pakistani counter part Nawaz Sharif should go one step beyond shaking hands and smiles in front of the camera. They should start taking firm action, act jointly, and move one concrete step ahead into resolving the Kashmir conflict. Both leaders should make use of this narrow window of opportunity to engage with the Kashmiris and alleviate some of their suffering to reduce the possibility of militant forces entering and settling down in the disputed region.

From Harsha Empire to Present day Kashmir has never been Integral Part of India


World Kashmiri Diaspora Alliance (WKDA) has rejected the assertion of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that Kashmir is an integral part of India.  WKDA, in a statement issued in Toronto, London and Brussels simultaneously stated that Manmohan Singh’s assertion reflects either his obliviousness about Kashmir or a wilful distortion of historic, legal and political status of Kashmir.

Prime Minister and India`s Foreign office must improve with geo-political history of India from Harsha Empire to present which will satisfy them that Kashmir was never a part of India”, Statement quoted Farooq Papa who heads WKDA while adding that Prime minister of India should inform himself with the international legalities attached with dispute of Kashmir before issuing deceitful statements.

In Brussels WKDA executive member Ali Reza Syed who also heads Kashmir Council EU termed Prime minister of India`s statement as unlegislated act of aggression against aspiration of Kashmir`s 13 million people. He said that to discount the continuous mass political uprising against India in last 65 years of Kashmir’s occupation is absurd on the part of Indian Prime Minister.

In London Ms. Sadia Mir challenged Indian prime minister to produce any legal document that will back his statement while reminded him that Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had accepted the disputed status when he reiterated his position in a letter to the British Prime Minister on October 25, 1947.

The WKDA statement further quoted Farooq Papa saying, that it is unfortunate that Prime Minister of Pakistan has shown no concerns to his counterpart in India about the human right abuses perpetuated on Kashmiri people. It is appalling to note that Pakistan is agreeing to monitor of Cease Fire Line on bilateral basis through Directors General of Military Operations while there is a standing United Nations Military Observers Group( UNMOG ) explicitly dedicated by international community for the purpose of monitoring ceasefire line which should have been asked to be reinforced for such tasks .

4 Protestors Killed, 40 Injured – WKDA Calls for Appeals


Indian paramilitary forces fired at protestors resulting in four people killed and around forty members of the protestors wounded. The protest took place in the district Ramban.

It is believed that the Indian Border Security Forces (IBSF) forcibly entered into a local mosque at Gool Gulab Garh, Ramban, Jammu, interupting the prayers. Following this disrespectful act towards the Quran, the people of Gool Gulab Garh, Ramban took to the streets and began protesting for what IBSF did. It is believed the protestors went to the IBSF camp and started pelting stones as a matter of protest.

The IBSF responded by firing back at the protestors, clearly the lethal force used was disproportionate towards the demonstrating public.

IBSF’s Inspector General stated that the use of force was as self-defence to stop the protesters from causing harm. It is the routine rhetoric statement issued by the Indian armed forces following such tragic incidents.

After the brutal incident and the protest, mobile and internet access has been shut down and a curfew imposed almost in the entire Jammu & Kashmir. The Kashmiri pro freedom leadership has either been detained in their homes or arrested.

Kashmir has suffered constant conflicts with the Indian forces and repeated curfews which continue to rob the people of Kashmir their right to freedom and self-determination.

World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance, continues to raise concerns as to what happens to the people of Kashmir and how they suffer with repeated and unacceptable violence, torture and deaths at the hands of Indian Armed Forces deployed in the disputed territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS TO:

Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
South Block, Gate No 6
New Delhi – 110 01, India
Fax: +91 11 301 67810

Sushilkumar Shinde
Ministry of Home Affairs,
North Block, Central Secretariat
New Delhi – 110 001. India
Fax: +91 11 230 93750

Salman Khurshid
Foreign Minister of India
13, Talkatora Road, New Delhi-110001, India
Fax: +91 11 237 37623

Ban Ki-moon
Secretary General
United Nations
New York, 10017, USA
Fax: +1 212 963 4879

Navanethem Pillay
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais Wilson , 52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 90 00

Christof Heyns
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 90 00

BACKGROUND

Since January 1990 there has been a genuine and popular uprising in Jammu & Kashmir for the fulfillment of the promise about the rights of self-determination made by the government of India not only at international level through the United Nations but also through it’s own constitution (under article 253). The Indian government has responded to the demand for the right to self-determination by the Kashmiri people with an iron fist. Enforced Disappearances, Torture, Extra-Judicial Execution, Arbitrary Arrest and Rape are common place. The PSA is one of many laws that have been put in place by the Indian government in Kashmir. Under this law anybody can be arrested and held for up to two years without trial often moved a considerable distance from their families. Frequently people are re-arrested as soon as they are released after the maximum two year term; often at the prison gates.
Thousands of cases of human rights abuses have been lodged at the UN and well over 90,000 deaths have been recorded by credible NGOs since the beginning of the 1990’s. There are 8000 missing person and the European Parliament passed an emergency resolution in July 2008 on nameless and mass graves of Kashmir.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. LETTERS WRITTEN IN A PRIVATE AND PERSONAL CAPACITY MAY BE MORE EFFECTIVE. PLEASE STRESS THAT YOUR CONCERN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IS NOT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED BUT THAT IT IS BASED THE RIGHTS ENSHRINED IN THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS WHICH GRANTS THE RIGHTS TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND SECURITY, DISALLOWING TORTURE AND ARBITRARY DETENTION AND THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND PEACEFUL ASSOCIATION.

Our mailing address is:

World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance
12 Mandarin Crescent
Brampton L6S 2S3, ON
Canada

Indian Forces Kill Innocent Kashmiri Youth


Irfan Ahmad Ganaie and Irshad Ahmad Dar, both residents of Markundal village in Sumbal area, who were killed in army firing in early hours of June 30 in Bandipora district in Kashmir Valley triggering furious protests all over Indian-Held Kashmir.

Irfan Ahmed Ganie (19) and Irshad Ahmed Dar (25), both residents of Markundal village in Sumbal were killed on June 30 by Army officers. Irfan Ahmed Ganie death has been denied by the officers saying they were not involved in the killing of the youth. The killing was believed to be taken in the early hours of the day with shots being heard at around 3am and the officers being sighted at the scene.

Irshad Ahmed Dar’s killing has been admitted as a forced response to the protests occurring on Sunday morning. The two deaths has disturbed the atmosphere within Srinagar as shops, banks and other establishments have shut down.

With AFSPA still in enactment, the power given to troops for killing remains a controversial law as, such laws oppress the Kashmiri’s people right to freedom and self-determination. World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance is concerned that the draconian laws such as AFSPA are continuously promoting state terrorism by the Indian army and its paramilitary forces, and recent victims of this terror are Irfan Ahmad Ganaie and Irshad Ahmad Dar.