Activists, academics condemn military suppression in IOK » Kashmir Media Service

New Delhi, August 16 (KMS): Prominent activists of South Asia expressing solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir have condemned the inhuman clampdown they are being subjected to.

More than 250 journalists, academics, scholars, artists, activists of South Asian and those who work on South Asia, including Veena Das, Partha Chatterjee, A.S. Panneerselvan, Ayesha Jalal, Shahidul Alam, Kul Chandra Gautam, Gyanendra Pandey, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, M.V. Ramana, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Zia Mian, Sofia Karim, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Martha Nussbaum and Sheldon Pollock issued a statement also condemned New Delhi’s move to repeal Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

“We are deeply concerned by recent political developments in Jammu and Kashmir. We are distraught that the people of this beleaguered land, who have lived with violence and political disempowerment for decades, have now been subjected to a further erosion of their rights under the intensified military suppression for the last ten days,” the signatories said.

The statement said that on 5 August 2019, Article 370 abrogated, bringing Jammu and Kashmir under New Delhi’s direct rule. “The manner in which this abrogation was accomplished, through executive order and in the absence of a state legislature, is a betrayal of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, whose elected representatives were never consulted. This is a sharp departure from democratic governance, and the constitutional validity of these decisions has been rightfully challenged,” it said.

“We condemn the curtailment of civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir: the blackout of telecommunications and internet services; the severe restrictions on media and on the freedoms of movement, peaceful assembly, and protest; and the violent suppression of demonstrations. These are all violations of international human rights obligations, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which India ratified in 1979,” the signatories said.

“We are alarmed by credible media reports of security forces having opened fire on peaceful protestors and disturbed by the denials issued by the authorities, who have gone on to accuse journalists of fabrication. We are gravely concerned by the Government of India’s silencing of voices of dissent, and detention of social activists, lawyers, journalists, and human rights defenders. We condemn the Government of India’s use of majoritarian populism to perpetuate a climate of fear across the country,” they added.

The statement said, these actions of the Government of India exhibit a complete lack of respect for constitutionalism, secularism, and democratic values. “This does not bode well for India’s people, who have, uniquely in South Asia, benefited from decades of democratic rule. We are apprehensive of India’s future as a democracy and the implications that this degeneration will have on its population of 1.2 billion as well as on the rest of the subcontinent,” it maintained.

We urge the Government of India to immediately end the inhuman clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir, to restore civil liberties as well as the flow of information, to immediately release all political detainees and prisoners, and to enter into dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the signatories said.

“In the middle of August, when we are meant to celebrate independence from colonialism, we condemn this regression towards despotic rule. We stand in solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and with people across India and South Asia who aspire to peace, prosperity, and fundamental freedoms,” the statement concluded.

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