Biden Administration must insist on transparency in Kashmir: Dr. Fai

Washington, DC. March 23, 2023 (tarkeen e watan): Once again, the United States Department of State has issued its latest report on human rights practices around the world. The report was issued on March 20, 2023. The section on India (around 39 pages) contains graphic documentation of human rights violations being committed by the Indian military and paramilitary forces in Jammu & Kashmir. Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman, ‘World Forum for Peace & Justice’ underscored that the scale of gripping wrongdoing in Kashmir dwarfs what was witnessed in Bosnia and East Timor prior to international intervention, yet the world powers have watched the people of Kashmir suffer like spectators at the Roman Coliseum. That complacency gives at least the impression that Kashmiri lives and hopes are worth less than those of others.

This report Fai added at least takes the veil of secrecy off of India’s crimes against humanity. Perhaps now the United Nations can share the outrage felt by the people of Kashmir.

Here are the excerpts of the report given below.

While as “Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)’ has reported that there are 8 to 10 thousand persons who have disappeared in Kashmir, Amnesty international echoed, “India: ‘If they are dead, tell us’ – ‘Disappearances’ in Jammu and Kashmir.” The State Department report mentions the following regarding disappearances. “In March 2021, UN special rapporteurs asked the central government to provide details regarding allegations of arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings, and disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir, including the status of Naseer Ahmad Wani, who disappeared in 2019 after being questioned by army soldiers. The location of Wani was still unknown at year’s end.”

The report adds: “On July 29, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance and UN special rapporteurs expressed concern over continued allegations of lack of identification, protection, and preservation of large numbers of unmarked single and mass burial sites in Kashmir, including the failure to conduct proper forensic investigations, efforts to search for the forcibly disappeared, and the lack of progress in identifying the remains of individuals buried therein in accordance with international standards. The rapporteurs stated they were concerned by reports of intimidation and harassment against individuals and civil society organizations, including human rights defenders and journalists, who called for investigation and accountability.”

The report details many instances where the use of draconian laws has given sense of total impunity to the Indian army in Kashmir. It states, “The Public Safety Act (PSA), which applies only in Jammu and Kashmir, permits authorities to detain persons without charge or judicial review for up to two years without visitation from family members. In April, the press reported that more than 500 persons remained in detention under the PSA in Jammu and Kashmir.” It is pertinent to mention here that Amnesty International calls PSA as,’Lawless law.’

The State Department report cites the example of “Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, who was arrested by the NIA for “terror funding” and “conspiracy” in November 2021, continued in detention. His pretrial detention has been extended at least five times by the NIA Special Court in New Delhi.” Meanwhile, Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on HRD said, “Khurram Parvez is not a terrorist. He is a human rights defender.”

As we know that Committee to Protect Journalist has said that news media in Kashmir is at the brink of extinction. The State Department report says that, ”noted journalists working in Jammu and Kashmir continued to face barriers to free reporting through communications and movement restrictions…As of July 21, two journalists from The Kashmir Walla, an online newspaper, remained in detention. In June, the State Investigation Agency in Jammu and Kashmir arrested Abdul Alaa Fazili, a one-time contributor to The Kashmir Walla, under the UAPA for a November 2011 article.

The State Department report also added, “Kashmiri journalist, Aasif Sultan, detained since 2018, under the UAPA, was rearrested before his release on bail in April under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows for detention for up to two years without trial…In Jammu and Kashmir, police arrested journalists Fahad Shah and Sajad Gul under the UAPA and PSA. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 35 journalists had faced assaults, police interrogations, raids on their places of work, fabricated cases, and restrictions on movement in Jammu and Kashmir since 2019.”

The report continued that “On July 2, immigration authorities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi prevented Pulitzer-award winning photojournalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo (Kashmiri) from travelling to France, where she was scheduled to attend a book launch event. According to Mattoo, the immigration authorities did not state any reason for stopping her. In October, authorities prevented Mattoo again from boarding a plane on her way to the Pulitzer Prize ceremony in New York, despite her having a valid ticket and visa, without explanation according to media sources.

It is well documented that the bloody occupation has resulted in massive human rights violations, particularly targeting women and children. The sanctity of women has been violated, in a gruesome and unforgiving fashion. The State Department report says, “Women in Jammu and Kashmir, northeastern states, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh, as well as vulnerable Dalit or tribal women, were often victims of rape or threats of rape.”

Dr. Fai warned that “Human rights will continue to be violated as long as political and civilian killings continue unabated, torture and rape remain widespread, civil liberties are suspended, and international human rights groups and United Nations Thematic Rapporteurs are prohibited from gaining access to Kashmir.”

Dr. Fai urged the Biden Administration to insist on transparency in Kashmir to build moral suasion against the massive and systematic human rights violations there perpetrated by Indian occupation forces with impunity.

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