Grave and systematic human rights violations of the Kashmiri people: EU

ISLAMABAD: Fourteen members of the European Parliament have written a letter to European Commission’s President Von der Leyen and Vice-President Borrel, conveying serious concern over ‘grave and systematic human rights violations of the Kashmiri people’. They have pointed out that the European Union and its member states can play a crucial role in helping to address this deadlock, so that there is a real change in Kashmir. On Friday, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto had met EU High Representative Josep Borell on the sidelines of the ARF Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh where both had discussed the situation in South Asia. The foreign minister had briefed him on the ongoing human rights violations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K). Even in the past, Pakistan has continually reached out to the international community, including the European Union and told them to play its role as India has imposed illegal and unilateral measures in IIOJK, incarcerated Kashmiri leadership, carried out extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and staged cordon-and-search operations. The letter by the members of the European Parliament points out that due to the continued tensions, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been subject to suppression of their freedom and fundamental rights over the past seven decades by the accounts of many human rights organisations and the reports of the Office of UN Commissioner for Human Rights. “Since the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act on Aug 5, 2019, however, it appears more evident that India has abandoned any political approach to the insurgency in Kashmir and is managing the crisis with almost exclusively military means,” adds the letter. The EC president is also made aware of the fact that 36 journalists have faced interrogation, raids, threats, or physical assault for their reporting until now. People in Jammu and Kashmir have faced at least 85 internet shutdowns in 2021, one of the highest in the world. The parliamentarians asked the European Commission’s president and vice-president to express their concern with 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 Kashmiris and to guarantee them full respect of their human rights and to use all our diplomatic and political channels to actively encourage India and Pakistan to move toward normalisation of diplomatic relations and the resumption of formal bilateral talk. “Despite the Indian government claim that its decision would put an end to militancy in the region and 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, causing the long standing violence against the civilians escalate even further in recent times.”