Exhibition on Human Rights Violations in Occupied Jammu & Kashmir
Statement by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi
(London, 5 February 2019)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalam-o-Alaikum and Good Morning
We gather here today to salute the courage, and the resilience of the people of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.
To pay homage to their sacrifices
And to join our voice with theirs; to share their grief, to lessen their sorrows.
We are privileged to have with us, members of Pakistan’s Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, representing the spectrum of political opinion in our Upper House of Parliament.
The people of occupied Jammu & Kashmir continue to bear with great fortitude untold adversities unleashed by a ruthless and merciless oppressor.
A picture, it is said, is worth a thousand words.
You have before you the vivid saga of Indian occupation
The abuses it has entailed; the crimes it has committed; the costs it has brought to bear upon a helpless and hapless populace ?
Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir are being brutally and systemically murdered, maimed and raped for the simple crime of demanding their right of self determination.
A right inherent to all mankind; as inalienable and sacrosanct as life itself.
A right that has been committed by the international community, and by India itself.
But India has no intention of honouring its commitments
As the international community stands idly by, India has drawn upon the occupied territories a heavy and opaque iron curtain
Behind that iron curtain oppression of every conceivable nature goes on unabated, unquestioned, unaccounted.
By the reckoning of the Indian state, every civilian in Indian Occupied Kashmir is a terrorist.
And the cheapest commodity there, is the life of a Kashmiri.
Brutal crackdowns, curfews, detentions, massacres, target killings, sieges, burn downs, torture, disappearances, rapes, molestations and fake encounters have not extinguished the flame of freedom, only fueled it further.
In three decades of the latest uprising, conservative estimates put 100,000 martyred; 145,000 arrested; 23,000 women widowed; 11,111 gang raped or molested; 108,000 children orphaned and 109,000 structures arsoned and gutted.
I wish to draw your attention towards the unrelenting atrocities, oppression and torture being faced by the Kashmiri women.
‘Half-widow’ is a term unique to the IoK context, alluding to married Kashmiri women whose husbands have disappeared and remain missing, their fates, unknown.
Sexual humiliation and rape remain a favoured tool at the hands of the occupation forces.
What happened in the villages of Kunan and Poshpora on the cold night of 23 February, 1991 is still alive in the minds and memories of people.
In a search and cordon operation, over 100 women were reportedly dishonoured.
Children too have been victims of unfathomable horrors.
An entire generation is growing up, traumatized under the dark shadow of targeted attacks, sexual violence and forced disappearances.
In November 2018, Hiba a 20-month old girl from Shopian in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, was hit by pellets.
Tragically, despite undergoing surgery, she might still lose eyesight in her right eye.
Kashmiris are aware that their injuries m
ay not be taken seriously by the international community. The rampant use of pellet guns has destroyed the lives of several thousand Kashmiris, blinding and mutilating them, taking away their eyesights and livelihood.
India considers this to be a ‘Non-Lethal Weapon’.
And who can forget the case of 8 year old Asifa Bano of Kathua, who was abducted, repeatedly gang raped, and ultimately killed.
This ladies and gentlemen this is the tip of the iceberg; it is hard to imagine the true quantum of atrocities being committed.
And yet, justice has been elusive all these years, as the Indian army has continued to exercise barbarism under the umbrella impunity afforded by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
This draconian law calls for investigation, only if allowed by the government.
To date, not a single conviction for any crime perpetrated by the armed forces in Kashmir, has taken place.
The deteriorating situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir has made it all the more necessary to establish an independent, impartial and international investigation to assess the situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan has repeatedly called for an unbiased investigation into the gross human rights violations in IoK.
This is consistent with the Report of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for human rights which confirms the atrocities and calls for the formation of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate human rights abuses.
The OHCHR Report on Jammu and Kashmir corroborates the observation of the report of OIC-Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC), which also impressed upon the Indian government to provide access to its fact-finding mission.
UK’s All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) in its report on Jammu and Kashmir has called on the Indian government to undertake a series of measures, including initiating a comprehensive public investigation into the identities of bodies in unmarked graves.
Blanket refusal to legitimate scrutiny only raise questions: what is the Government of India trying to hide from the international community?
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These pictures and the stories they narrate warrant our consideration, and compassion
They cry out for empathy and understanding
They beckon our collective conscience to raise our voices and combine our efforts.
They call in short, for justice.
Let us resolve to stand by our Kashmiri brethren as they seek justice, and fulfill their yearning for Azadi.
Let us lend them our strength.
Let us add our voices to theirs.
I Thank You