Washington, October 19 (KMS): Ahead of a crucial US Congressional hearing on South Asia on Tuesday (October 22) which will focus on the Kashmir Valley, the Kashmiri Diaspora is briefing key rights activists about the prevailing situation in occupied Kashmir.

The Kashmir Human Rights Foundation (KHRF), a California-based not-for-profit organisation, recently held a briefing in Capitol Hill to share insight on the situation in occupied Kashmir.

The congressional hearing is being organised under the auspices of a Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives and the topic for discussion is human rights in South Asia.

The prominence being attached to the current grim situation in occupied Kashmir following the revocation of its special status was conveyed by the sub-committee’s chair, Congressman Brad Sherman.

In a statement issued to the press, he said: “The hearing will focus on the Kashmir Valley, where many political activists have been arrested and daily life, the Internet and telephone communications have been interrupted. The hearing will also review the humanitarian situation in Kashmir and whether Kashmiris have adequate supplies of food, medicine and other essentials.”

The US Assistant Secretary Alice Wells, who oversees all State Department policy towards South Asia, will testify at the hearing. Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, Scott Busby, who oversees human rights efforts in South Asia, will also testify. Several State Department officials and other private human rights activists too are expected to testify at the hearing.

The KHRF briefing had in its panel well-respected figures from a spectrum of professions, such as the eminent journalist, Victoria Schofield, who has written a best-selling book on Kashmir; Huma Dar, a professor at Berkeley University, who has done extensive research on Kashmir; and Kashmiri American lawyers Sehla Ashai and Sareer Fazili.

The KHRF briefing also saw the attendance of more than 130 congressional staff members. The panelists acquainted them with the Kashmir dispute, the demand of right to self-determination and human rights abuses being perpetrated by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir. The staff members were also briefed about the siege that millions of Kashmiris were undergoing for more than two months now.

Asif Mahmood, a popular democratic leader, speaking at the briefing, condemned India’s actions in the occupied territory. He urged India to immediately stop human rights violations in Kashmir.

Majid Butt, an American from Kashmir, opened the session at the briefing. Talking to media, he said, “The purpose of the briefing was to raise awareness about India’s atrocities in Kashmir. India has shackled every inch of Kashmir with its barbed wire and blocked every means of communications to suppress Kashmiris’ voices, but voices have been heard and ‘we are now gearing up for the upcoming congressional hearing.”


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