The people of Jammu and Kashmir have been facing repression at the hands of Indian occupation forces right from the day they landed in Srinagar in October 1947 after the British withdrew from Indian subcontinent and divided it into two states: the Muslim majority state of Pakistan and the Hindu majority state of India. Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim majority region, was forcibly annexed by Indian troops against the principles of partition, self-determination and natural justice. Our right to self-determination has also been endorsed by the United Nations, which has passed many resolutions asking for a plebiscite to determine people’s choice, which India has been continuously refusing.
Since then the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been relentlessly struggling to free themselves from this Indian Military grip using all means. In response to our struggle for freedom India has deployed more than half a million armed forces to crush and control less than 10 million people of this occupied region turning it effectively into a huge prison with the densest military concentration anywhere in the world as reported by many international organizations including European Union.
So far the occupation forces have killed more than one lakh people in Kashmir region and around five lakh people in Jammu region, enforcedly disappeared about ten thousand, maimed thousands, imprisoned and tortured lakhs in their torture centers and used rape and molestation as a war weapon to demoralize the population. This situation has not only destroyed the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir but has jeopardized world peace and resulted in three wars and numerous confrontations between, now nuclear-armed, India and Pakistan; two populous and poor countries, whose meager resources are being eaten up by an endless and fruitless arms race.
Last week, when the people were still busy celebrating the Muslim festival of Eid, a new wave of state terror was unleashed by the Indian armed forces killing dozens and maiming hundreds of unarmed protesters, utilizing bullets and lethal pellet-guns aimed to kill and maim. People had started proceeding for the funeral procession of Commander Burhan Wani, a popular resistance commander, and the Indian armed forces used extreme violent means to prevent people from mourning and participating in the funeral of the slain commander. In this new spree of state violence Indian forces killed more than 40 people so far, injured more than 3500 ranging from kids as old as 4 year to 80 year old, and damaged eyes of more than a 100 people, firing pellet guns rendering at least 35 people completely blind in both eyes.
Curfew and severe restrictions have been imposed besieging the already imprisoned population further. Pro freedom leadership has been either imprisoned or placed under house arrest. The killing spree continues and an enraged population is getting desperate. This state of affairs can spiral out of control and trigger a fresh confrontation in the region, which will result in further destruction of life, resources and property, which needs to be avoided.
In this situation, international community and especially the influential states like members of UNSC, EU Countries and OIC members have a special responsibility to intervene in order to challenge the behavior of the Indian State in Jammu and Kashmir to stop this reign of terror and take measures to build confidence among the people of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir and to create an atmosphere conducive for the resolution of the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir as per the principle of Right to Self Determination and as enshrined in the various UN Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.
As India continues to institutionally perpetrate violence in Jammu and Kashmir, and has ensured so far that no armed forces personnel involved in heinous war crimes to be prosecuted by its own judicial mechanism, leading to an absolute impunity, therefore we urge the international community to pave way for an International inquiry led by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). This inquiry is not unprecedented. Recently the OHCHR instituted an inquiry into the crimes perpetrated by the Srilankan government.
We believe a good beginning could be made to create an atmosphere conducive for peace and resolution if you use your good offices to urge India to take the following few Confidence Building Measures (CBMs):
Accept the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir and announce the acceptance of the people’s Right to Self Determination.
Announce rapid demilitarization process of population centers.
Repeal draconian laws like AFSPA and Public Safety Act that facilitate the arbitrary and irresponsible behavior of an already hostile army and that provides them with the legal immunity against heinous crimes like extra-judicial killings, rape, torture and arson committed against a defenseless local population.
Release all the political prisoners from prisons, detention centers and house arrest and restore their right to free political activity.
Allow UN Special Rapporteurs and all international human rights and humanitarian organisations to work in Jammu and Kashmir, so that the iron curtain of the occupation is lifted.
Announce and ensure free political space for all the parties to the disputed Jammu and Kashmir, particularly those advocating the Right to Self Determination for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
These steps if taken with a sense of urgency and responsibility can help restore calm and peace in an agitated population and pave way for the processes required for the final and just resolution of the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, thereby disperse the perpetual clouds of war and conflict that threatens global peace.
It is an earnest appeal from the people of Jammu and Kashmir to intervene through the good offices of your person and institutions to inform the change in the approach of the Indian state in Jammu and Kashmir in the interests of global peace, justice, progress and development.
Syed Ali Geelani
All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference