European lawmakers urge EU action on 'alarming humanitarian situation' in Indian-occupied Kashmir

Published July 30, 2021
Indian paramilitary soldier fires tear gas shell towards a Kashmiri protester during a protest in Srinagar. — AP/File
Indian paramilitary soldier fires tear gas shell towards a Kashmiri protester during a protest in Srinagar. — AP/File

Sixteen European parliamentarians on Friday wrote a letter to the European Commission on the "humanitarian situation" in Indian-occupied Kashmir, urging the European Union to raise its voice on the issue and take action.

Addressed to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Vice President Josep Borrell, the letter said: "As a champion of universal human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule-based international order, the EU must raise its voice against the violations of human rights affecting the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

"We believe that the EU should use all its leverage and tools to cooperate with our Indian and Pakistani partners to honour the pledge made to the Kashmiris by the international community and create an environment conducive to the implementation of the United Nations resolutions."

The lawmakers expressed the resolve to continue their engagements with Pakistani and Indian lawmakers as well as Kashmiri leaders "to impress upon them the urgent need to foster a climate of peace and dialogue in the region".

The letter noted that it was "extremely important" for Kashmiris to be heard and granted the opportunity to decide their own future.

The lawmakers called on von der Leyen and Borrell to carry out the following actions on the EU's behalf:

  • Convey the "grave concern" over the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in IoK to the Indian government
  • Take urgent action to address the "alarming" human rights situation in the region
  • Contribute to peace and stability in the region by enhancing dialogue between India, Pakistan and Kashmiri representatives through making use of "our special relationships with both India and Pakistan".

"We hope in your strong support for this cause," the letter read.

'Major threat to peace'

It pointed out that the "miseries of the people of Jammu and Kashmir" had been amply documented in the International Human Rights Watch World Report 2021 and reports by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2018 and 2019.

The lawmakers noted that the region was already under a lockdown since India revoked its special status on August 5, 2019, and there were restrictions on the rights to movement, information, healthcare, education and free speech.

"Journalists and human rights defenders have been increasingly targeted for raising their voice in support of the Kashmiri people and [denouncing] their situation. Arbitrary detentions continue, public assembly is still prohibited [...] and hundreds, including minors and several elected legislators of Jammu and Kashmir, remain under preventive detention," the letter underlined.

It added that a number of laws introduced by the Indian government over the years to prevent terrorism and separatism had instead often been misused against Kashmiris.

The letter emphasised that apart from being a humanitarian crisis, the Kashmir dispute also posed a "major threat to peace, stability, and security in the region, being a flashpoint between two nuclear-armed countries and we are worried that any miscalculation can lead to unwarranted consequences".

The parliamentarians noted that the region's security situation was "delicate" and deteriorating due to the continuous Kashmiri protests against the revocation of IoK's special autonomy and the Indian Citizenship Amendment Bill. They said the frequency of the protests was creating unrest and strife in the valley which in turn were adding to "volatility and tension" between the Pakistani and Indian militaries.

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