FO assails ban on Muharram activities in held Kashmir

Published August 30, 2020
“India must be made to comply with its international legal obligations and respect fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people, including the foremost right to life,” the FO spokesperson said. — DawnNewsTV/File
“India must be made to comply with its international legal obligations and respect fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people, including the foremost right to life,” the FO spokesperson said. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has condemned extrajudicial killing of Kashmiris in fake encounters and imposition of restrictions on religious gatherings and processions in occupied Kashmir.

“Pakistan strongly condemns extrajudicial killing of four more Kashmiris in staged encounter in Shopian region of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). Equally condemnable are the restrictions imposed on religious processions and gatherings during Muharram,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO) said.

Nearly 300 innocent Kashmiris, including women and children, have been martyred by the Indian occupation forces in fake encounters, so-called “cordon and search” operations, and other instances of use of brutal force including pellet guns over the past one year.

“India’s inhuman methods to subjugate the Kashmiri people through killings, torture, forced disappearances and incarcerations have failed in the past and will not succeed in the future. The long communications blockade and Indian attempts to muzzle the media, including targeted campaigns against Kashmiri male and female journalists, are further illustration of how the brutalisation of Kashmiris continues to accentuate under the RSS-BJP regime. The perpetuation of India’s state-terrorism cannot break the will of the Kashmiris or quell their efforts to secure their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions”.

The FO spokesman asked the international community to hold India accountable for its serious crimes against the Kashmiri people. “India must be made to comply with its international legal obligations and respect fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people, including the foremost right to life,” it said.

Asks world community to hold India accountable for state terrorism

The statement said it was a collective responsibility of the world community, including the United Nations, to work for peaceful and permanent resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant Security Council Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people for durable peace and stability in South Asia.

“Pakistan will continue to expose India for its illegal and unacceptable actions in IIOJK and extend its full support to the Kashmiris in their just struggle for the inalienable right to self-determination”.

Human rights report

In a recent report, the Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) described harms, costs and consequences of the digital siege in the disputed territory from August 2019, when New Delhi stripped the region of its statehood and the semi-autonomy that gave its natives special rights in land ownership and jobs.

The multi-faceted and targeted denial of digital rights is a systemic form of discrimination, digital repression and collective punishment of the regions residents, particularly in light of India’s long history of political repression and atrocities, said the report, titled “Kashmirs’ Internet Siege”.

Despite authorities’ claims to the contrary, many Kashmiris view the move as the beginning of settler colonialism aimed at engineering a demographic change in a Muslim-majority region, a development that could increase the possibility of heightened conflict.

Although some of the communications restrictions have been removed and the internet has been restored over fixed lines, mobile internet speeds in most of the region remain painfully slow.

Digital rights activists have consistently denounced the internet restrictions and some have called them far worse censorship than anywhere in the world. The report said India leads the world in ordering internet shutdowns and Kashmir accounts for more than two-thirds of shutdowns ordered by the country.

The JKCCS said its report was based on field work, government documents, court files and media reports. It describes the consequences of the longest ever lockdown in the regions turbulent history and its severe impact on livelihoods, education, health and media freedoms.

It said the digital siege led to chilling effects of online surveillance, profiling and criminal sanctions, with police complaints registered against some working journalists and over 200 social media users.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries pegged the economic losses in the region at $5.3 billion and job losses at half a million since August last year.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2020

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