ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday warned of a possible Srebrenica-like genocide of Muslims in India-held Kashmir.

“We see problems for the people of Kashmir. 800,000 Indian troops have besieged eight million people of Kashmir. We all fear that a similar sort of massacre may follow them there,” PM Khan said in a televised statement on the 25th anniversary of the killings in the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Srebrenica was captured by Serbian forces on July 11, 1995. The troops later butchered over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, mostly men and boys, in the worst mass killings in Europe since World War II. The International Court of Justice later in 2007 ruled that the Srebrenica massacre was a genocide.

“I still remember the day very well along with most people, who have humanity in their hearts. I remember when it happened. We were shocked. We were appalled how in a United Nations safe haven, this massive massacre was allowed to happen,” Mr Khan said.

Says world must learn lessons from the 1995 genocide

He wondered how the world had allowed the 1995 massacre to have happened.

The prime minister, therefore, emphasised that the world must take notice of the situation in occupied Kashmir and never allow such acts to happen again.

Kashmir has been under Indian occupation since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 and the people of the region have endured Indian brutalities all along. However, things turned for worse since the rise of Hindu extremism in India and subsequent annexation of the occupied territory by India in August last year.

The area has been under lockdown and military siege for most part of the past 11 months. Meanwhile, a communication blockade has also been imposed in the area on the pretext of security.

Indian forces have engaged in systematic violence against the people of Kashmir including the so-called cordon and search operations and fake encounters, according to reports from the area. It is estimated that about 150 people have been martyred by the Indian forces in the first six months of this year.

Moreover, occupying troops have carried out ‘collective punishment’ of entire communities and neighbourhoods.

Mr Khan, while referring to Srebrenica massacre, said it was important for the world to learn lessons from it.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is recovering from the novel coronavirus disease, in his tweet also pointed to parallels between the Srebrenica mass killings and the current happenings in occupied Kashmir and Palestine.

“The world has a collective responsibility to ensure history is not repeated. What is happening in IOJK and Palestine is chillingly similar,” the foreign minister said while referring to the Srebrenica tragedy.

The Foreign Office had in a statement a day earlier called on the United Nations to continue observing and documenting human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir so that Indian government could be held accountable for its crimes in Kashmir.

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which had in 2018 and 2019 produced two consecutive reports on rights situation in Kashmir, did not publish another one this year despite spike in the number of incidents.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2020