Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kashmir: We Are All Born Free and Equal : Feb. 5th Solidarity

Kashmir: Significance of February 5th

© 2011
Susan Marie and Waleed Ashfaq

"We Are All Born Free and Equal"

- Article I: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations 1948

 © Rifaqat A. Mir:  Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 2010

"We observe 26th January as Black Day. When India celebrates its democracy, we want to remind the world that India has illegally and brutally occupied Kashmir. This time around we will observe peaceful processions on 26th January with Black Flags.  Please get our message to the masses and officials in Pakistan that we need a strong Pakistan that will enable us to achieve freedom." 

-  Mr. Syed Ali Geelani Sabas, exclusive interview Fortress Magazine Jan. 2011

On November 2, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian Prime Minister broadcast to the nation from All India Radio, "We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given (and the Maharajah has supported it) not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been established to have referendum held under international auspices like the UN.  We want it to be a fair and just reference to the people, and we shall accept their verdict. I can imagine no fairer and juster offer".

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Preamble states, "If man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law, [that] it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations, [and] Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Kashmiri woman throwing stones at an Indian soldier © Frontline Kashmir 2010

On January 5, 1949, Document #: S/1196, PARA IS, Resolution adopted at the meeting of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan agreed the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite [people allowed to decide outcome of vote, a decree from the citizens] and that there is no victimization in Kashmir.

Female Indian police in (brown khaki) beating trying to arrest a Kashmiri woman 
during pro-freedom protest in Srinagar. © Frontline Kashmir 2010

On September 28th, 2010,
[United Nations News Service reported] Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi address the UN General Assembly [main policy making organ of the United Nations] stating, "that the Kashmiri people’s human rights must be respected and their voices heard to create an enabling environment for a peaceful solution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute.”  Qureshi continued by condemning the brutality and prevailing situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir where more than 100 Kashmiris have been killed by Indian Security forces over two months prior to September 2010.  In the same month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [8th Secretary General of the UN] called for an immediate end to violence in Kashmir after recent deadly clashes.

The last attempt at peaceful declaration with no resolution was made four months ago.

Syed Ali Geelani Sabas speaking to media on stone pelting. © Frontline Kashmir 2010

On January 18, 2011, Muhammad Tabish, Correspondent for "Fortress Magazine" [Karachi, Pakistan] conducted a live audio/video interview with Mr. Syed Ali Geelani Sabas, [Chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference] where Geelani stated, "Kashmiri nation is suffering from unbelievable atrocities since 63 years.  It is time for the world to respond to oppression. We believe Pakistan will not only rely on diplomatic standards, in fact, [they] will strongly support our legitimate struggle."

Blood of a martyr flowing on the roads on Srinagar  © Frontline Kashmir 2010

Kashmir, a northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent is a disputed territory.  It is claimed by India and Pakistan, as well as China.  Kashmir includes Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan occupies Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.  China administers Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.  The Treaty of Amritsar 1846, was in place due to the purchase of Kashmir by Britain from then Sikhs ruler, Ranjit Singh which annexed Kashmir. Gulab Singh became the new rulers, under British Crown until 1947.  Jammu and Kashmir signed a treaty with India.  India accepted this treaty from Kashmir until a time when the will of the people could be recognized because Kashmir was disputed territory.

An innocent citizen beaten by Indian Security in Kashmir © Frontline Kashmir 2010

By the 19th century, Kashmir had passed from Afghanistan, from Mughals and Afghans to the conquering Sikh armies. The Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu was founded 1820 - 1858 and did not develop full identity.  In 1857, after the Indian Rebellion, Kashmir turned to Britain under direct rule and Kashmir came under seize of Britain. 

Kashmiri wounded by Indian Security In Kashmir  © Urooj Ul Ummar Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 2010

The reigning monarch in 1947 and end of British rule with partition of British India formed the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan.  During this split, both countries agreed that the rulers of Kashmir would be given the right to choose between Pakistan or India or to remain independent.  Kashmir shared boundaries with India and Pakistan. Pakistan thought India would accede to Pakistan with end of Britain rule. When this did not occur, the United Nations were then a mediator.


Kashmiri funeral prayers of Fayaz Ahmad who died due to injuries 
Sept. 18, 2010, Srinagar, Kashmir, India © Burhaan Kinu

In 1948, India approached the United Nations Security Council for a resolution. 


Grand mother of Yasir Rafiq Shiekh during his funeral procession 
Sept, 17 2010 Srinagar © Burhaan Kinu


The United Nations approved a demilitarization of the state accepted by India and Pakistan. This cease fire divided Kashmir into two parts. Jawaharlal Nehru, one of India's founding fathers and first prime minister, told the Indian Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1947 that when the people of Kashmir are given the chance to decide their future it shall be done under supervision of the United Nations. On June 26, 1952, Nehru told Indian Parliament that if the Kashmiri people wish to go they can. India had broken promises originally made when first approaching the United Nations by later backing away from promises made in front of international community allowing Kashmir the right to self-determination. This began grave human rights violations towards Kashmir.


Person treated Srinagar's hospital, security forces opened fire on protesters 
in Indian Administrated Kashmir Sept, 17, 2010 © Burhaan Kinu

Since 1991, February 5th as been observed by Pakistanis around the globe as a day to stand in solidarity with the people of Kashmir who have been struggling under oppression for six decades. Kashmir Solidarity Day is a direct result of the partition of the subcontinent while under British rule in 1947. Under this plan, the subcontinent was to be split into two states, India and Pakistan.

To understand this partition of sovereign states, one must look at the geographical importance of Kashmir. Kashmir has tendency to accede to Pakistan. However, the then Hindu ruler, Jawaharlal Nehru along with the Indian National Congress, deployed its armies there on October 27, 1947 against the original partition plan and Kashmiri wishes. This began an armed struggle supported by a public uprising. Kashmir did not accept the illegal Indian occupation, struggling with their liberation to present day.

File:Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.JPG

Freedom of thought and expression do not exist in Kashmir. Under the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act of 1958, Public Safety Act of 1978 and the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act of 1992), Indian troops have been given a free hand to kill, detain and torture any person irrespective of their age and gender. Nearly one hundred thousand Kashmiris (including youth) have suffered, suspect to be freedom fighters. Enforced disappearances are common in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan has always been an advocate towards India regarding a peace dialogue yet this has yet to occur. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani have stated that Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris and that is their fate. The issue of Kashmir has led Pakistan through three wars, devoting budget to defense. Kashmir is the nuclear flash point of Asia, surrounded by three nuclear powers. Kashmir is an integral part of Pakistan.  Both South Asian sides are armed with nuclear weapons.  A war on Kashmir has potential to be a nuclear disaster not only for South Asia but the world.

Mother of Feroz Ahmad Malik during his funeral © Frontline Kashmir 2010

In 1948, ceasefire was agreed under United Nations.  The United Nations never truly interceded resulting in relations between India and Pakistan to deteriorate leading to two more wars over Kashmir in 1965 and 1999.  India has control of half the area of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan controls a third, Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir.  In 1951, elections held in Indian Jammu and Kashmir brought the leader Sheik Abdullah, the National Conference, supporting India. The President of India ordered the Constitution Order under Article 370. In 1957, elections to the State Legislative Assembly were held for the first time. This ratified the State’s accession to Union of India. The two countries fought several declared wars over Kashmir:  The Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. The last resulted in a United Nations ceasefire.


Kashmir Protests. Young boy pelts stones 
at armed CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) Kashmir © Burhaan Kinu

As of 1971, Resolution 307, United Nations Security Council discussed that the grave situation in Kashmir is a threat to international peace and security deciding on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister of Pakistan and Foreign Minister of India that:  1.  Unilateral ceasefire and cessation of all hostility will be observed until all withdrawal takes place.  2. That all states refrain form aggravating this ceasefire due to harming international peace, to preserve human life under the Geneva Conventions of 1949. 3. To protect the sick and wounded, prisoners of war and civilians.  4. That international assistance be given to relieve the suffering and to rehabilitate refugees.  5. To authorize the Secretary-General of the U.N. for humanitarian issues nor to delay in informing the council on present solutions, and to remain seized of the matter and to keep it under consideration.  All votes were in favor of this resolution of 1971. 

September 11, 2001 changed the course of history. When the United States formed alliance to combat terrorism, India turned its back once again attempting to blame Pakistan for aiding militants through cross-border terrorism. The observance of the Kashmir Solidarity Day is Pakistan’s commitment.  February 5th is a day to recognize Kashmiris’ struggle for justice, peace, truth, and basic human rights.

Indian Occupied Kashmir

*A 2005 study conducted by Medecins Sans Frontieres [Doctors Without Borders] found that Kashmiri women are among the worst sufferers of sexual violence in the world, with 11.6% of respondents reporting that they had been victims of sexual abuse.

*Amnesty International called on India to "condemn enforced disappearances" and ensure that impartial investigation is conducted on mass graves in its Kashmir region. [The Indian state police confirms as many as 331 deaths while in custody and 111 enforced disappearances since 1989.]

*1996: Human Rights Watch and Time Magazine: "In retaliation for the killing of one soldier, paramilitary forces rampaged through Sopore's market, setting buildings ablaze and shooting bystanders." [The Indian government pronounced the event 'unfortunate' and claimed that an ammunition dump had been hit by gunfire, setting off fires that killed most of the victims.]

*OHCHR  spokesmen stated "The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights" is concerned about the recent violent protests in Indian-administered Kashmir that have reportedly led to civilian casualties as well as restrictions to the right to freedom of assembly and expression.

*Amnesty International criticized Indian Military regarding an incident on April 22, 1996, when several armed forces personnel forcibly entered the house of a 32-year-old woman in the village of Wawoosa in the Rangreth district of Jammu and Kashmir. They reportedly molested her 12-year-old daughter and raped her other three daughters, aged 14, 16, and 18. When another woman attempted to prevent the soldiers from attacking her two daughters, she was beaten. Soldiers reportedly told her 17-year-old daughter to remove her clothes so that they could check whether she was hiding a gun. They molested her before leaving the house.

*Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned human rights abuses in Kashmir by Indians such as "extra-judicial executions", "disappearances", and torture.

*The Armed Forces Special Powers Act grants the military wide powers of arrest, the right to shoot to kill, and to occupy or destroy property in counterinsurgency operations. Indian officials claim that troops need such powers because the army is only deployed when national security is at serious risk from armed combatants. Such circumstances, they say, call for extraordinary measures. Human rights organizations have also asked Indian government to repeal the Public Safety Act, since "a detainee may be held in administrative detention for a maximum of two years without a court order." A 2008 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determined that Indian Administered Kashmir was only 'partly free'.

Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

*A two-day conference on Gilgit Baltistan was held on April 8–9, 2008 at the European Parliament in Brussels with the International Kashmir Alliance. The European Parliament expressed concern over the human rights violation in Gilgit Baltistan, and urged Pakistan to establish democratic institutions and rule of law in the area.

*International Crisis Group stated "Almost six decades after Pakistan's independence, the constitutional status of the Federally Administered Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan), remains undetermined, with political autonomy a distant dream.

*According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence operates in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and is involved in extensive surveillance, arbitrary arrests, torture, and murder. Generally this is done with impunity and perpetrators go unpunished.

*Act of 1970 Constitution of AJK [Azad, Jammu and Kashmir] states election rules have been so formulated as to permit authorities to reject nomination papers of any politician believed to be insufficiently committed to the idea of accession to Pakistan. This was constituted by the people of Kashmir.  Kashmir has been acknowledged as a disputed territory by Pakistan.

*No Kashmiri can be appointed on the official posts of "Inspector General of Police [PaK], Accountant General [PaK], and Chief Secretary of [PaK]. One from other provinces of Pakistan will be appointed on all posts, regardless how deserving and capable a Kashmiri officer is.

* * *

The Line of Control [LOC] matches the front line at the end of the first war between India and Pakistan, over the control of Kashmir in 1947. The LOC runs over 700km of forest, hills and inhospitable terrain. It splits villages in half and bisects mountains. Thousands of Kashmiri families have been separated from each other and aspire to meet yet due to ever-tensed circumstances between Pakistan and India, families are unable to reunite from years and decades. Kashmiri people demand softening of borders and LOC so separated families can meet and see their loved ones.

Another reason for dispute over Kashmir is water. Kashmir is the origin for rivers and tributaries of the Indus River basin with tributaries that flow into Pakistan.  The Indus Water Treaty of 1960 resolved most of these disputes but the treaty faced issues raised by Pakistan over the construction of dams on the Indian side which limit water flow to the Pakistani side.

In 2008/09, Amnesty International and BBC News reported that hundreds of unidentified graves [believed to contain victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses] have been found in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. Data is based upon "Facts under Ground" a report issued by the Srinagar-based Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). The graves are in areas not accessible without permission from security forces due to their proximity to Pakistan controlled areas. Since 2006, the graves of at least 940 people are reported to have been discovered.  Amnesty International has urged the Indian government to launch urgent investigations into the graves, thought to contain the remains of victims of human rights abuses in the context of the armed conflict that has raged in the region since 1989.


Saffron Plant, Kashmir, India. There are only two or three places in the whole world where saffron grows.
Kashmir has the proud privilege of being one of these places. ©
Burhaan Kinu 2010

"With all deference to this Parliament, I would like to say that the ultimate decision will be made in the minds and hearts of the men of Kashmir and not in this Parliament or at the UN . . . however, the people of Kashmir do not wish to remain with us, let them go by all means; we will not keep them against their will, however painful it may be to us. We want no forced marriages, no forced unions. I want to stress that it is only the people of Kashmir who can decide the future of Kashmir. It is not that we have merely said that to the United Nations and to people of Kashmir; it is our conviction and one that is borne out by the policy that we have pursued, not only in Kashmir but everywhere. Though these five years have meant a lot of trouble and expense, and in spite of all we have done we would willingly leave Kashmir if it was made clear to us that the people of Kashmir wanted us to go. However sad we may feel about leaving, we are not going to stay against the wishes of the people. We are not going to impose ourselves on them at the point of the bayonet.  "I started with the presumption that it is for the people of Kashmir to decide their own future. We will not compel them. In that sense, the people of Kashmir are sovereign."

- Nehru, Indian Prime Minister’s statement in Indian Parliament, August 7, 1952.

In July 2009, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert O. Blake, Jr, stated that the United States had no plans of appointing any special envoy to settle the dispute, calling it an issue which needs to be sorted out bilaterally by India and Pakistan. According to Dawn this will be interpreted in Pakistan as an endorsement of India's position on Kashmir that no outside power has any role in this dispute.

India continues to assert their sovereignty or rights over the entire region of Kashmir, while Pakistan maintains that it is a disputed territory.

"Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein." 

- Article 30: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations, 1948. 

* * * 

© photo Burhaan Kinu, Rifaqat A. Mir, Frontline Kashmir, Urooj Ul Ummar
© Video/Audio Geelani: The Fortress, Muhammad Tabish 

No comments: