EU MPs voice concerns over worst human rights abuses in IIOJK

n Lawmakers say despite Indian govt’s claim of ‘improvement in situation’ in IIOJK, more and more youth joining insurgent groups.

Urge all actors to give Kashmiris hope and chance for right of  self-determination.

ISLAMABAD    –   As many as 14 members of the European Parliament have written a strong worded letter to the EU Commission president and vice president, expressing grave concern over the human rights violations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and called upon the Indian government to stop perpetrating atrocities on Kashmiris.

In a significant development, European parliamentarians condemned the August 5, 2019 action of the Indian government in their letter, describing it a despicable military means to deal with the crisis.

“Due to the continued tensions, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been subject to intolerable suppression of their freedom and fundamental rights over the past seven decades, as it is shown by the accounts of many human rights organisations and the reports of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” says the letter.

EU MPs said it’s apparently more evident that India has abandoned any political approach to the insurgency in Kashmir and is managing the crisis with almost exclusively military means.

“As per Amnesty International Report of 2021, indeed, since the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in 2019, the Indian authorities have arrested many human rights defenders including journalists and activists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, India’s primary counter-terrorism law. At least 36 journalists have faced interrogation, raids, threats, or physical assault for their reporting until now. According to Access Now, people in Jammu and Kashmir faced at least 85 internet shutdowns in 2021 – one of the highest in the world,” says the letter.

“Despite the Indian government’s claim that its decisions would put an end to militancy in the region and that there has been a significant improvement in the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiris are increasingly alienated from the Indian state, with more and more youth joining insurgent groups, “ says the letter.

The letter further said, “Moreover, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act legislation that officially tasks the Indian security forces with protecting civilians, upholding national security and combating violence by armed groups has historically been abused, with security force personnel committing many grave human rights violations which have gone unpunished. The failure to address these abuses has violated the rights of the victims to justice and remedy, which is enshrined in the Constitution of India and the international human rights law.”

“Against this backdrop, we have also witnessed some positive development in the past few years. In February 2021, India and Pakistan recommitted to the 2003 ceasefire after holding back-channel talks. However, while back-channel talks are encouraging, and were welcomed by the EU High Representative, the ceasefire accord alone will not bring about long-term stability, especially in the absence of proper diplomatic ties,” says the letter.

It said:  “Kashmir is internationally recognised as one of the most militarised zones in the world and a tremendously dangerous conflict flash point between two nuclear powers. We believe that we should look at this region with great concern and avoid at all costs an escalation of the conflict by strengthening our dialogue with India, Pakistan, and the representatives of Kashmir in order to recover the dimension of dialogue, negotiation and diplomacy in the resolution of the conflict.”

“We believe that the European Union and its member states can play a crucial role in helping address this deadlock, especially in the context of the resumption in late June of negotiations between India and the European Union for a comprehensive free trade agreement,” says the letter.

MPs  says therefore, we are calling on you, as Commission President and VP/HR, on behalf of the European Union to convey  our concerns to  the Indian government on these issues,  and to call on India to fulfil its obligations under International Law, especially the imperative of protecting civilians, and ask  all the actors involved to make a real commitment to put a halt to any form of violence, abuse and discrimination against the Kashmiri and to guarantee the full respect of their human rights.

MPs demanded that EU should use all of our diplomatic and political channels to actively encourage India and Pakistan to move toward normalisation of diplomatic relations and the resumption of formal bilateral talks.

“A renewed attempt of peace talks is needed more than ever. In order to do this, it is required for all the actors to stray from the logic of conflict, stop exploiting and fomenting ethnic and religious tensions and accept to give Kashmiri people hope and a chance for right of self-determination, “says MPs letter.

“As European Parliamentarians, we will do our part, continuing and increasing our engagement in parliamentary diplomacy with colleagues in India and Pakistan to foster a climate of detente and dialogue, and being vocal in calling for a real change in Kashmir,” they concluded.

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