The United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNHCHR) has issued its Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Kashmir. The report underscored that Impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. And that Impunity for enforced or involuntary disappearances in Kashmir continues as there has been little movement towards credibly investigating complaints including into alleged sites of mass graves in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu region.
Many international NGOs have suggested that Kashmir was the largest army concentration anywhere in the world. The report noted that Civil society and media often cite the figure of 500,000 to 700,000 troops which would make Kashmir one of the most militarized zones in the world.
As we know that during the latest phase of uprising , virtually the whole population of Kashmir turned on the streets to demand the right of self-determination to be given to the people of the territory. The report underlines this fact by stating; While Indian-Administered Kashmir has experienced waves of protests in the pastin the late 1980s to early 1990s, 2008 and 2010this current round of protests appears to involve more people than the past, and the profile of protesters has also shifted to include more young, middle-class Kashmiris, including females who do not appear to have been participating in the past.
It is a fact that bilateral talks between India and Pakistan have failed because they sought to by-pass the leadership of the people of Kashmir, which is the primary party to the dispute. This fact has been recognized in the report which clearly says, There remains an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and to deliver justice for all people in Kashmir who have been suffering seven decades of conflict. Any resolution to the political situation in Kashmir should entail a commitment to ending the cycles of violence and accountability for past and current human rights violations and abuses committed by all parties and redress for victims. Such a resolution can only be brought about by meaningful dialogue that includes the people of Kashmir.
The Indian human rights organizations and NGOs including The Peoples Union of Civil Liberties, and others sent out teams to Kashmir to study specific allegations of human rights abuses including torture and publish reports on their findings, which are often highly critical of government authorities. The United Nations report validates these finding by suggesting that [As a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits torture under any circumstances (Article 7), India is obliged to ensure that no person is subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. There have long been persistent claims of torture by security forces in Kashmir.]
The United Nations report makes the following recommendation to the UN Human Rights Council to, Consider the findings of this report, including the possible establishment of a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.
The report also makes 17 recommendations to the Government of India so as to bring these atrocities to an end.
It is our hope that the United Nations report will mobilize the policy makers of the members states of the UN Human Rights Council to do everything in their constitutional power to stop the killings in Kashmir. It is further our hope that the policy makers of these member countries will look to solving the root cause of the problem the unfulfilled promise of self-determination as guaranteed by successive United Nations Security Council resolutions.
We believe that history is not predestined, and it is up to us to make peace its destiny in Kashmir through all of our energies, goodwill, wisdom, and compassion for the tragic afflictions of that once glorious land.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
World Kashmir Awareness Forum
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