Ex-AJK president urges UNHRC to hold India accountable for IIOJK rights abuses

No excuse for being silent when human rights are being violated in occupied region with impunity, says Masood Khan


Our Correspondent September 24, 2021
Mourners are detained by IIOJK police while trying to participate in a Muharram procession in Srinagar on August 28, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD:

Former Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) president Sardar Masood Khan on Friday urged the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to break its silence and hold India accountable for human rights violations and committing crimes against humanity.

Speaking at a webinar convened by Fahim Kayani, the president of Tehreek-e-Kashmir, United Kingdom on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, said that Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and her office are silent at a time when the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) has deteriorated.

The webinar was also addressed by members of the UK Parliament Afzal Khan, Fahim Kayani, prominent Hurriyat leader Altaf Ahmed Bhatt and others.

Masood asserted the silence of the UN Human Rights Council on Kashmir because of Indian pressure and global politics is an abandoning of its avowed functions and objectives. "The UNHRC must speak and act. There is no excuse for being silent when human rights are being violated in IIOJK with impunity."

Read more: In IIOJK, few now dare to speak out

He said that the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had failed to publish its follow-up report on its earlier reports published in 2019 despite the most serious crime being committed in the occupied territory.

“India right now is bringing radical change in IIOJK’s demographic composition. Nearly 4.2 million non-native Indians, the majority of them Hindus, have been illegally domiciled in the IIOJK," the ex-AJK president said. "This illegal transfer of population in the disputed territory is a breach of human rights instruments and international law.”

He went on to say that if the Human Rights Council remains silent on these glaring violations, it is scuttling its own mandate as a body with universal jurisdiction.

He told the participants and audience of the webinar that the land grab by India in IIOJK is in full swing. "Nearly 80 per cent of Kashmiris’ land has been confiscated to build illegal settlements in IIOJK. The other such examples are in the Occupied Palestinian Territory or during apartheid in South Africa. Land laws in IIOJK have been amended by the occupation authorities to deprive Kashmiris of their ownership rights and it must be stopped," he added.

Also read: Pakistan takes India’s IIOJK move to UNSC

Masood said in his speech that Kashmiri youth are being killed, blinded, illegally detained, and tortured in concentration camps, adding that genuine leaders are behind bars. "Asiya Indrabi, Masarat Alam Bhatt, Yasin Malik, and Shabir Shah - all are in the most notorious prisons. Mir Waiz Umer Farooq is under detention. They must be released immediately. No ifs and buts; no false charges of terrorism."

Referring to the recently forced burial of popular Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Geelani, he said that the barbaric Indian act has shocked and pained all of us. "Kashmiris who love him [Geelani] wanted to pay homage to him."

“By this act, India has already turned his grave into a monument of liberty. His call for self-determination reverberates in the hearts and minds of the people. His covert burial reveals once again how removed the occupiers are from reality”, the former president said.

He further added that in Geneva, "we reached out to the members' states of the Human Rights Council and human rights movement to sensitise them to the precarious situation in IIOJK leading to erasure of a people. "I am sure that your presence in Geneva ensures the continuity of that effort."

He said that the international civil society should know that the civil rights of Kashmiris are their rights too. "Either human rights are universal or they are not. And if they are and in fact they are, every Kashmiri killed in IIOJK is their responsibility too. They should call out India and restore the state of justice in the occupied territory," he further said.

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