SRINAGAR: International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) and Consejo Indio De SudAmerica (CISA) on Friday held a side event entitled ‘Self determination recommendations by independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order – a review and way forward’ at the 37th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The conference began with the Expert Session moderated by Ambassador Ronald Barnes, UN Representative of CISA, who expressed appreciation of Prof Alfred de Zayas’s boldness and willingness to promote and uphold the UN Charter and unrepresented peoples and nations’ right to self determination.
Prof Nazir Ahmed Shawl, Chairman of South Asia Centre for Peace and Human Rights (SACFPHR), paid tribute to Professor de Zayas’s work but lamented the miseries of Kashmiris in getting their right to self-determination enforced and realised, the statement said. He compared the Kashmir situation with the erstwhile cold war as South Asia’s developing cold war.
Prof Shawl emphasised that Kashmir has to be settled in accordance with the Kashmiri people’s aspirations to secure both regional and international peace.
Rania Madi, UN Legal Consultant BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian for Human Rights, reminded the audience about the 8 million Palestinian refugees and IDPs who are living without the right to self-determination, even though the United Nations resolutions support the demand. She drew close comparisons between the Kashmiris right to self-determination and that of Palestine.
Mohammad Ali Arkoukou, Representative of Western Sahara, explained that the International Court of Justice confirmed the legality of right to self-determination “yet occupiers continue to block media, plunder natural resources and create demographic change by building new settlement in Western Sahara as Indians do in Kashmir”.
Dr Astrid Stuckleberger, Representative of The Society for Psychological Studies of Social Issues, identified the lack of academic studies researching the trauma caused to individuals due to the denial of the rights to self-determination.
Barrister A Majid Tramboo moderated the ‘Plenary Session’ and appreciated Prof de Zaya’s proposal to reintroduce the right to self-determination as an agenda item in the Human Rights Council work and to conduct a follow-up study on the modalities of achieving self-determination of indigenous and unrepresented peoples and nations.
Barrister Tramboo described himself as a native of Kashmir, reminding the participants that “the UN promised Kashmiris right to self-determination through 1947/48 resolutions – 70 years on, but none have been enforced till date”.
“In the name of security, Kashmiris in the Indian held Kashmir are subjected to gross human rights violations including the use of pellet guns through which Kashmiri youth is killed, maimed and blinded,” he said. Dr Iqtidar Cheema, Member of United Nations Advisory Committee, in his address stated that more than 100 countries were formed under the Right to Self Determination mandated by the UN between 1943 and 1972.
He said the legitimate armed struggle should not be misinterpreted or misrepresented as terrorism. “India is a state sponsor of terror as they violate human rights and international law and the bloom of dead eyes is a prime example.”
Chairman of his faction of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, paid respectful tribute to Prof de Zayas’s iconic contribution to the concept of self-determination.
Speaking on behalf of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “I would express my gratitude to Prof Alfred De Zayas for giving hope to people living in conflict situations.”
Mirwaiz expounded the idea that for avoiding violence, granting self-determination is the best conflict preventing strategy. He said the people of Jammu and Kashmir are caught in a conflict since past seven decades.
“Presently the situation in Kashmir is grossly critical. We are experiencing the absence of all the fundamental freedoms and basic rights. From the bloom of dead eyes to everyday mayhem is a challenge for international conscience. We hope our quest for self determination will be supported by sane voices like Prof Alfred De Zayas,” he said.
The final speaker of the day was Prof Alferd De Zayas, Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, who promised not to waiver in his support for the Kashmir cause, or any other just movement for right to self determination. He added that the Kashmiris claim is an old claim, yet a strong one.
The event concluded with Barrister Tramboo, Professor Shawl and Shameem Shawl presenting a traditional Kashmiri Pashmina shawl to Prof Alfred de Zayas as a momento.