Kashmir Black Day Seminar at the High Commission

Important for the world to know about the human tragedy in IOK: Nafees Zakaria

Speakers warn international community of slow burning and perpetual genocide in Indian occupied Kashmir.

London:  Speakers at the Kashmir Black Day Seminar expressed deep concerns over the siege of 8 million Kashmiris since 05 August 2019 and worsening humanitarian crisis in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). They warned the international community of slow burning and perpetual genocide in IOK.

The High Commission organised the Seminar in connection with the Kashmir Black Day which is observed every year on 27 October. This is the day when in 1947, the Indian forces illegally landed in the State of J&K, and together with Patiala troops, already illegally present in Kashmir, Dogra forces and RSS terrorists carried out genocide of over 300,000 Kashmiris and displaced over one million Kashmiri Muslims.

The Kashmiri community, Parliamentarians, academia, legal fraternity, cross-section of the civil society, representatives of human rights organisations and media persons attended the Seminar at the High Commission on 14 November 2019.

Speaking on the occasion, the High Commissioner took into account multiple facets of the longstanding dispute of Kashmir. He traced genesis of the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe and said Kashmir issue is back on the international radar in the wake of illegal action taken by the BJP government on 05 August 2019. The status of the longstanding international dispute of Kashmir was changed in blatant violation of UN Security Resolutions, which promised Kashmiris' right to self-determination under a UN supervised plebiscite, he added. Mr Zakaria said the siege and the ensuing humanitarian crisis necessitated immediate response from the international community.

The High Commissioner said given the Indian forces' track record of atrocities and crimes against humanity, it is not beyond comprehension that the stories of tragedies of individual families may start to surface in due course since media, human rights activists or even the relatives have absolutely no access to the Kashmiris under siege. He identified that there are numerous crimes against humanity, committed by the Indian forces, including more than 2 dozen massacres since 1989, mass rape of Kashmiri Muslim women of Kunan Pashpora, dilemma of 'Half Widows', mass blindings and physical tortures, all documented by international human rights organisations.

Mr Zakaria highlighted that connivance, manipulation in demarcation of boundaries and deceit were the reasons behind the creation of Kashmir dispute. He quoted several examples to this effect from the books of renowned authors Alastair Lamb, Victoria Schofield and Sir Christopher Beaumont.

The High Commissioner concluded that the Kashmir dispute, which was a political issue, has assumed many other dimensions such as human rights, security and socio-economic impact on the impoverished people of the region. This is what Prime Minister of Pakistan has been cautioning the international community about since 05 August 2019, he added. He emphasized that it is important for the world to know about the human tragedy in IOK before it is too late.

In his talk, Dr Nazir Gilani, President Human Rights - JKCHR explained the genesis of Kashmir issue and aftermath of the partition. He spoke about the legal framework in which so far the Kashmir dispute has been discussed and dealt with by the UN and various countries including UK, USA and others. Dr Gilani shed light on the background of the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir and shared the history of legal debates on the dispute. He emphasised on educating the people about the jurisprudence of Kashmir for deeper understanding of the conflict. Mr Gilani cautioned the constant siege of Kashmir could have bearing on communal relations in the UK; therefore, international community must pay attention to the humanitarian crisis in IOK.

British Barrister of international fame and former UN Rapporteur on Human Rights, Mr Ben Emmerson QC spoke on human rights violations in Kashmir in the light of numerous documented accounts and emphasized on the legal accountability of crimes in IOK. He said Kashmir is facing a unique and possibly existential crisis. He deplored the paradoxical irony that it is only when the human rights situation becomes worse that the world starts paying attention to it. Despite documented evidence, Mr Emmerson added, the world has turned a blind eye to the glaring atrocities against Kashmiri people. He refuted Indian narrative of Kashmir being an internal matter and termed it to be a Nazi defence against human rights abuses. He said Kashmir is clearly an international crisis.

Mr Emmerson equated the plight of the Kashmiri people to the “slow burning genocide”. He refuted Indian claims of those killed in IOK as terrorists and said the International People's Tribunal Report on mass graves proved them to be indigenous Kashmiris by examining their DNA. He noted that no one wants to see the military solution due to its grave consequences, rightly pointed out by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Summing up, the QC said that given the disproportionate presence of the military in IOK, indigenous people cannot get the right to self-determination through fighting; therefore, under the circumstances, it is imperative for the international community to intervene and resolve the conflict. Mr Emmerson assured the Kashmiris that he stands with them.

Ms Anthea McIntyre, MEP urged to stop immunity of Indian forces from prosecution for crimes. She called upon all EU countries to condemn what is happening in IOK. She asked how India could expect to be the permanent member of the UNSC when its human rights record is so appalling. Ms McIntyre said UK wants trade with India but not at the price of human rights, which to too high a price. The MEP also recalled her recent visit to Pakistan and AJ&K where she listened to the heart rending stories of the victims of Indian firing along the Line of Control.

Renowned Kashmiri activist, Professor Nazir Shawl deliberated on the impact of Kashmir issue on regional prosperity and development. He said peace is a precondition for prosperity and development. When the right to life has been snatched from the Kashmiris, how could we expect prosperity? Prof Shawl posed the question. He was of the view that regional trading blocs like EU and ASEAN are pre-requisite for prosperity and development but India has constantly been impeding regional development by scuttling SAARC.

Prof Shawll likened the IOK siege to the Srebrenica siege and said India is disciplining the Kashmiris with death and warned the international community of an impending genocide of the Kashmiris. He said Kashmiris are waiting for preventive diplomacy from the UN. He thanked international media for highlighting the humanitarian crisis in IOK.

Ms Uzma Rasool, a young woman of Kashmiri descent, delved on the plight of Kahmiri women. She narrated the account of Kunan Pashpora mass rape of women in 1991 by the Indian occupation forces and its devastating socio-psychological impact on the lives of the victims. She shared that women in IOK are so traumatised that they sleep in groups at night for their safety and security. Ms Uzma condemned the Indian politicians who, in the wake of 05 August measure by Indian Government, announced that they could now marry 'fair Kashmiri women'. She said in IOK there is a state endorsed sexual violence going on and appealed for international intervention in IOK.

All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) representative, Ms Sahmim Shawl gave an account of the current situation in Kashmir. She said the Indian government has been following the policy of fear, humiliation and torture to break the will and resolve of the Kashmiri people. In order to destroy the economy and livelihood of the Kashmiris, the Indian government imposed siege on IOK exactly when the apple crop was ready for picking, she apprised.

At the end, the High Commissioner thanked the speakers and attendees for their participation. He hoped that the Seminar would raise awareness about Kashmir issue. Mr Zakaria urged the participants to become the voice of the voiceless Kashmiris and provide them with moral support.

The speakers and the attendees appreciated the High Commissioner for putting together such an enlightening and timely Seminar on Kashmir.

The Seminar was concluded with the unanimous approval of the Kashmir Black Day 2019 Seminar Document.

First Secretary Aneel Zafar conducted the Seminar.

November 14, 2019

Last updated: November 15, 2019

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