OIC HR body expresses concern over HR abuses in IOK

Jeddah, October 04 (KMS): The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (OIC-IPHRC) has expressed serious concern over the violations of the right to life, right to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of religion, freedoms of peaceful assembly and association as well as other fundamental human rights of the people of occupied Kashmir guaranteed by international human rights law.

The OIC-IPHRC has released a report after the recent visit to Azad Jammu and Kashmir of its fact-finding delegation to assess the human rights situation in occupied Kashmir. The delegation was led by the IPHRC Chairperson, Med Kaggwa, and comprised its members Dr Rashid Al Balushi, Dr Raihanah Binti Abdullah, Ambassador Abdul Wahab, Dr Ergin Ergul, Prof Saleh Al Khathlan and Dr Oumar Abbou Abba. The 43rd OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) through its resolutions had requested the IPHRC to undertake a fact finding visit to occupied Kashmir to ascertain the human rights situation and report its findings to the OIC CFM.

The report said that in the backdrop of these developments, the OIC-IPHRC delegation undertook a three-day visit to Islamabad and AJK from 27-29 March 2017. It said that while the Government of Pakistan took the initiative to invite the OIC-IPHRC to visit AJK and meet with the refugees from IOK and other stakeholders of the dispute but India disallowed it to visit occupied Kashmir.

The report said, Jammu and Kashmir is one of the oldest internationally recognized disputes on the agendas of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the UN Security Council (UNSC). It said that the OIC-IPHRC was mandated to assess the human rights and humanitarian situation in occupied Kashmir in the light of prevailing international laws and standards, to investigate and report upon the allegations of human rights abuses by Indian forces in the territory and to make recommendations to protect the fundamental human rights of the Kashmiris.

The Commission said, reports of widespread use of torture including rape and molestation of women at the hands of Indian forces are particularly condemnable. There are reports of widespread curfews and curbs on religious congregations for fear of protests and people have legitimate security concerns regarding protection of their right to life and dignity, it added.

“The Commission contends that the Kashmir dispute is not merely a question over territorial jurisdiction between India and Pakistan but it concerns about the future of millions of people who wish to exercise their inherent and inalienable right to self-determination,” the report said.

The Commission said that the use of draconian laws such as AFSPA was contrary to the international human rights standards. These laws grant sweeping powers to the Indian forces to detain, torture and even kill suspects without any fear of investigation hence has led to a culture of impunity, which violates fundamental human rights, it said.

The Commission expressed serious concerns over the denial by India of the fundamental right to self-determination of Kashmiri people, well recognized by the relevant UNSC resolutions, and equating their legitimate freedom struggle with terrorism. The Commission has noted that the people of Kashmir have high hopes and expectations from the United Nations, OIC and IPHRC and international community to undertake substantive measures towards realization of their right to self-determination and protection of their basic human rights.

The Commission urged the UN to protect and promote the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir enabling them to exercise their right to self-determination. It urged the World Body to impress upon India to put an end to the ongoing human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, facilitate holding of an independent investigation to all human rights violations, repeal black law, and implement the UN resolutions to allow the Kashmiris to exercise their right to self-determination in a free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspices. It appealed to the UN to condemn and block the attempts of the Indian government to change the demographic status of Jammu and Kashmir through establishment of illegal settlements for non-residents and encourage and facilitate both Pakistan and India to resume the dialogue process for peacefully resolving all outstanding issues particularly the core issue of the Jammu and Kashmir. It also asked the UN Human Rights Council to consider appointing a Special Rapporteur with a specific mandate to investigate human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.

The Commission asked the Government of Pakistan to continue to provide moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris and highlight the issue at all forums including the UN to create awareness over the human rights violations and garner support to protect the human rights of the Kashmiris.

The Commission demanded of the Indian Government to bring an end to the gross and systematic human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, allow free access to international media and independent human rights organizations to carry out investigations into human rights violations, repeal all draconian laws to allow the Kashmiris appropriate access to justice, free trial and freedom of movement, allow access to the humanitarian organizations to provide much needed medical support to the victims of the violence in particular recent cases of blindness by the pellet gun injuries.

The Commission suggested the OIC to continue to insist and endeavor to prevail upon the Government of India to agree to receive the OIC and IPHRC Fact Finding Missions to IOK to investigate and report upon the allegations of human rights violations, consider organizing an international conference/symposium on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva involving academics, policy makers from UN and OIC Member States and human rights experts to propose ways and means to secure the human rights of the Kashmiris, coordinate with the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir to meet regularly on the sidelines of session of the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council as well as the OIC Ministerial meetings to forge a consensus position for presentation at the international fora and urge the Government of India to remove travel restrictions imposed upon the Kashmiri leadership to facilitate their free movement abroad. “In case the Government of India continues to violate the human rights of Kashmiris, OIC Member States may be urged to consider using the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement against India to pressurise it to meet its human rights obligations,” it said.

The report said that the delegation, during its three-day visit met with President and Prime Minister of AJK, Minister of Government of Pakistan for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Foreign Affairs, Hurriyat Conference representatives, relevant government officials, Kashmiri refugees from IOK, victims, witnesses and their families as well as victims of Indian shelling and firing living on the AJK side of the Line of Control (LoC), media and civil society. The Commission appreciated the unfettered, open and transparent access provided by the Governments of Pakistan and AJK to undertake its mandated task with objectivity and neutrality.

The report quoting the data issued by Kashmir Media Service said that Indian troops in their continued acts of state terrorism martyred 125 innocent Kashmiris during the ongoing mass uprising since the extrajudicial killing of popular youth leader, Burhan Wani, on 8th July, 2016 till 31st March, 2017. It said that 16,325 people were injured due to the firing of bullets, pellets and teargas shells on peaceful protesters by Indian troops and police personnel during the period. It said that 7,485 people including women and children received pellet injuries. It pointed out that of those injured by the pellets, 55 have been totally blinded. The report said that 10,450 people including Hurriyat leaders and activists were arrested and 750 of them were booked under draconian law, Public Safety Act (PSA), during the period. The IPHRC report said that the troops in their unabated acts of state terrorism martyred 94,644 innocent Kashmiris during this period. The report said that the killing by Indian troops rendered 22,834 women widowed and 107,607 children orphaned during the period.

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