Roundtable in Brussels on victims’ evidence on HR violations

Brussels, February 23 (KMS): The European Union and South Asia Centre for Peace and Human Rights (SACFPHR) organised a roundtable on the victims’ evidence on gross human rights violations as articulated in the UN report and the formation of Europe-wide network of Kashmiri youth in the European Parliament.

The roundtable was organized under the sponsorship of MEP Julie Ward (Chair APKG) with the support of MEP Buchner, MEP Goerens and International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) and in association with International Council on Human Rights (ICHR) – Kashmir Union. MEP Julie Ward was joined among others by MEP Theresa Griffins.

The roundtable was a follow-up on the European Parliament’s Sub-Committee for Human Rights debate and discussion on the UN Report which was conducted under the chairmanship of MEP Panzari, Chair of the Committee.

Chairing the roundtable and in her opening remarks MEP Julies Ward declared it has been a crucial week for Kashmir in the European Parliament having now received the visibility which the Kashmir situation deserves. She welcomed the initiative and concept of the Kashmir Youth Assembly in Europe (KYA–EU) for becoming a vehicle of awareness not only in educational institutions but also with international organisations that are doing phenomenal work through the involvement of youth. She aptly cited an example of a Young Swedish girl in motivating and giving direction to the energies of youth worldwide. Julie Ward announced that she would extend all the possible help to KYA-EU to connect with other youth organisations.

MEP Griffins stated that youth is pivotal in advancing a legitimate cause. She felt it heartening that a good number of Kashmiri younger faces are determined to carry forward the vision and goals set by the old generation. She referred to the above sub-committee’s discussion as a step forward in ensuring that Kashmiris human rights are protected. This was followed by two victims oral evidence about the atrocities they suffered in occupied Kashmir.

Mrs Shamim Shawl described the brutal killing of her brother Ghulam Muhammed Mir in terms that his body was chopped into small pieces including his bones and that was simply horrific. She also evidenced the killing of her sister in-law Khadija Begum who was simply providing water to injured children when Indian armed gunmen emptied a burst of bullets (nearly 40 bullets) on her forehead and head killing her instantly.

Mrs Shawl concluded her evidence testifying that almost every single family has one way or other experienced torture or inhuman treatment or punishment or extra-judicial killings either within the four walls of detention or interrogation centres or on the streets of Kashmir. She claimed that every Kashmiri was stripped of their basic human rights in occupied Kashmir.

Muhammad Latif Butt, a journalist by profession and now residing in Belgium, testified that he was interrogated in the infamous papa 2 interrogation centre having kept him in a freezing temperature without clothes, food and water. He was kept standing in a small cell with no sleep. There were times when he was hanged upside down and beaten with rods. Latif Butt asked the human rights mechanism of the UN and the EU to come to the rescue of Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir as this is the situation of almost every Kashmiri household.

Undoubtedly everyone around the roundtable was stunned to hear the two witnesses and expressed utter anger and anguish. Abdul Wahab El Hani, a member of the UN Committee against Torture (CAT), having listened to the above witnesses expressed his deep sympathy with both of them. He emphasised CAT endeavours to eliminate torture which is why every effort is put in practice to ensure those countries that have not ratified the convention against Torture do so and that includes India. El Hani asked to use UN mechanism and procedure to pursue “torture” cases at the UN.

Professor Nazir Ahmed Shawl, Chair SACFHER and a veteran Kashmiri human rights defender, while appreciating the meaningful and expert opinion of El Hani, believed that reaffirms hope in the UN System. He asked El Hani to take the two victims’ cases to CAT for investigations.

Professor Shawl emphasised that Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination is their inalienable right which can never be compromised. He believes that Ajit Doval’s doctrine of utter violence against Kashmiris and no dialogue with the stakeholders will not weaken the resolve of Kashmiris. He said in fact the resilience demonstrated by the people of Kashmir is saluted, indeed the youth in occupied Kashmir have kept the flame of freedom movement alive.

Frank Schwalba–Hoth, a former MEP and founder German Greens, expressed satisfaction over the UN report that cited a variety of human rights violations backed with a number of recommendations which may change the situation in occupied Kashmir. He believes that the new generation of Kashmiri diaspora must create a Europe-wide network of Kashmiri youth so that Kashmir voice is even more vocal and this is one new element to have occurred.

Zubair Awan, Chairman of Kashmir Youth Assembly (KYA), welcoming everyone’s views on the Kashmir youth movement, sought to highlight the fact that Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint as it is surrounded by almost all the nuclear powers of the world. He insisted that youth, both Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri, have a major role in solving the Kashmiri issue for the youth have direct stake in the issue.

He announced the launch of Kashmir Youth Assembly-EU (KYA-EU) as Sardar Arshad Hussain its President; Yasir Burque General Secretary and Mr Gul Faraz Ahmed Coordinator.

A declaration issued on the occasion said, upon the launch of Kashmir Youth Assembly Europe at the European Parliament, Brussels, and upon, having fully debated and deliberated on the human rights violations committed against the Kashmiri, including youth, children and women, unanimously declares its intention to create a European-wide network of the Kashmiri Youth in the Diaspora.

This conference expresses its solidarity with all those suffering in the ongoing conflicts in the world. It calls upon all those people who believe in upholding and protecting fundamental human rights for all without discrimination, to support the victims of conflict particularly the youth of Kashmir, who are suffering on everyday basis, and help bring to an end the atrocities and human rights abuses committed on them by the occupation forces.

The conference commends the European Parliament’s initiative to discuss and deliberate, on 19 February 2019, on the recent Report by the Office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights highlighting the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir and calling for an urgent impartial inquiry. In that, the conference lauds the services of the victims’ genuine Kashmiri diaspora leadership for making it happen.

The conference welcomes the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s report on Kashmir and appeal the international community to endorse the fact-finding mission as desired in the report.

The conference further calls for the implementation of the EP and UN resolutions and resumption of an inclusive dialogue among the stakeholders to create a congenial environment for determining will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to end all forms of human rights violations in the territory.

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