Aussie Diplomats Upset At Govt Inaction On Unmarked Graves

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Srinagar – Visiting Australian diplomats on Wednesday met the State Human Rights Commission and members of the Coalition of Civil Societies (CCS) in Srinagar, expressing concern at the state government’s unwillingness to conduct DNA tests in unmarked graves, sources said.

Political Counsellor at the Australian high commission in New Delhi, Diana Nelson, and second secretary, Brendan Hodgson held separate meetings with the SHRC members and the leaders of the civil society group for briefings on the human rights situation in the state.

SHRC members Justice (retd) Javed Ahmad Kawoosa, and Rafiq Fida, and secretary Tariq Ahmad Banday briefed the diplomats about the Commission’s recommendations on complaints of human rights violations, and the extent to which the government and its agencies implemented them, sources said.

The SHRC also gave the diplomats an update of the current human rights situation in the state, and details of incidents occurring over the years.

“The commission investigates complaints from every angle and conducts hearing on judicial pattern,” the Commission told the diplomats.

The delegation inquired about the status of the investigations into unmarked graves, and asked why the government had not agreed to DNA profiling of bodies buried at the sites.

The Commission was learned to have referred to its restricted authority on enforcing the implementation of its recommendations and its role was strictly recommendatory.

In a statement to the press, the Commission said that the diplomats had expressed satisfaction at the functioning of the SHRC.

On their arrival yesterday, the diplomats had met members of the Coalition of Civil Societies, led by Parvez Imroz and Kartik Kumar.

In a detailed discussion, the CCS leaders asserted that the state government had shown lack of concern and seriousness in taking investigations of unmarked graves in North Kashmir to their logical conclusion.

The CCS gave the diplomats documentary and other evidence of human rights violations committed by government forces in the state over the past two decades.

According to Imroz, the delegation expressed concern at the state government’s unwillingness to to undertake DNA tests of bodies in unmarked graves.

They said that human rights in Kashmir were an issue of concern for the Australian government which picked it up regularly with Indian authorities. Observer News Service

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