Jeddah, November 29 (KMS): The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has strongly condemned the continued human violations in occupied Kashmir.

The IPHRC during its recently concluded 16th session in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, held an open meeting to review the worsening human rights situation in occupied Kashmir, which was attended by all the members of the Commission and a large number of the representatives of the OIC Member and Observer States.

A statement issued after the session said that the IPHRC was appalled to note that the Indian government, in an attempt to suppress the Kashmiris’ struggle for right to self-determination, had resorted to relentless political, economic and communications blockade in the occupied territory, which had completed more than 115 days with no sign of letting up in sight.

The statement said that since 5th August 2019, the Indian government had deployed more than half a million forces’ personnel to contain the backlash against its illegal measures, which had practically turned the IOK into the biggest open prison in the world. “There are credible reports of inflicting collective punishment in the form of gang rapes, house-to-house searches, stripping of young men and women, closure of businesses and schools, shutting down of internet and landlines and detention and torture of politicians, journalists and human rights activists by the Indian Security forces. However, the infamous laws of Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act, enable Indian security forces to trample human rights of innocent Kashmiris with absolute impunity, the Commission added.

The Commission reiterated that the India’s move to abrogate Kashmir’s special status and divide it into two union territories was illegal and void as it was aimed at changing the demographic composition of Kashmir. This is a clear violation of the relevant human rights treaties and conventions and Articles 27 and 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, its Additional Protocol, which clearly declare any illicit transfer of population in conflict zones or disputed territory as illegal,” it added.

It also strongly condemned the continued use of pellet guns that had resulted in killing and maiming of innocent and unarmed civilians, use of arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings, as well as targeting of both the religious and political leadership of Kashmiri Muslims including peaceful protestors, under fabricated charges.

The Commission stressed that the systematic and systemic human rights violations had a well-defined pattern that tantamount to ethnic cleansing and genocide of Kashmiris. It reiterated its endorsement of the recommendation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a Commission of Inquiry under the UN auspices to comprehensively investigate all the allegations of human rights violations by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir.

The OIC Member States highlighted that Kashmir remained one of the oldest unresolved disputes at the UN and OIC agendas, final settlement of which had to be made in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.

The Commission assailed the Indian government for not allowing a fact-finding visit to the IOK despite repeated requests by the IPHRC, OIC and UN-OHCHR at different times. “In the absence of any positive response from the Government of India, the Commission, in principle, has agreed to undertake a visit to Azad Jammu and Kashmir to meet the refugees, political parties and other civil society representatives from the IOK to ascertain the situation on ground, update its earlier report of 2017 of the subject and share its findings with the Council of Foreign Ministers,” the statement said.

It also agreed to conduct an independent case study on the ‘use of pellet guns in IOK by the Indian forces against peaceful protestors including women and children’. The purpose of the study would be to raise awareness about the illegality of its use and to help set standards for its prohibition against peaceful protestors anywhere in the world.

The Commission demanded an immediate end to the ongoing human rights violations in IOK and restoration of all fundamental rights of Kashmiris.

Finally, the Commission urged the UN and the international community to put pressure on India to take early and concrete steps in this regard.

The President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Sardar Masood Khan, also participated and briefed the meeting on the ongoing grave human rights situation in IOK and drew attention of the international community to act in earnest to avert an impending genocide and humanitarian crisis.

Commenting on the current fiasco of the Indian government in occupied Kashmir, he opined that it was driven by the ‘neo-fascist’ doctrine of religious exclusivism, discrimination and xenophobia, which propagated that Muslims were impure.

He also welcomed the objective and principled pronouncements of the OIC and IPHRC on the plight of Kashmiri Muslims in IOK and invited the Commission to undertake another visit to the AJK to update the findings of its earlier report of 2017 on the subject.

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