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UN Council presses India for repeal of Black Laws in IOK

Over one hundred NGOs, HR groups slam the brutalities of Indian Forces in Occupied Kashmir | Draconian AFSPA law under fired worldwide as brutalities continue to swell in IOK

From Our Correspondent

Guwahati (India) – United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) has strongly asked India to repeal the highly controversial and draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and suggested that Indian Forces should be "clearly" instructed to respect the works, rights and fundamental freedom of human rights defenders in the occupied Kashmir.

UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Margaret Sekaggya's latest report on India said Manipur, where AFSPA is still in force along with occupied Jammu and Kashmir, is the worst-hit by "militarization" with more than "half a dozen" human rights groups having been branded as "terrorists" due to their "self-determination" advocacy work.

HRC made an observation that India’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 10 years did not visit Irom Sharmila, who has been on hunger strike for repeal of AFSPA since 2000, despite repeated requests by human rights defenders.

It may be added here that the first round of battle between the Centre and state over the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been won by IOK Chief Minister Omar Abdullah after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) openly endorsed the CM’s stand on the revocation of “draconian laws”.

The UNHRC, based on a report by United Nations’ special rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya on the situation of human rights defenders in the country, has asked New Delhi to repeal “draconian” laws like AFSPA and J&K Public Safety Act along with the National Security Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Chhattisgarh Public Safety Act.

“She (Sekaggya) is encouraged by the announcement made by Kashmir chief minister in October 2011, stating that the gradual improvement in the security scenario and restoration of peace has paved the way for revocation of AFSPA in peaceful areas of the state”, the UNHRC report reads.

The report has been made public this month, more than a year after Sekaggya visited IOK, West Bengal, Assam, Orissa and Gujarat.

The report noted Sekaggya was “deeply disturbed by the large number of cases brought to her attention during the course of her visit by defenders who claimed to have been targeted by the police and security forces under counter-terrorism legislation such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act…AFSPA and the J&K Public Safety Act”.

Under AFSPA, an official of the armed forces can shoot anybody if he is of the opinion that he is acting against law. Under PSA police can arrest without trial or bail for a maximum of two years.

On the other side, over 100 NGOs and Human Rights activist groups have from all over the world have also passed a revelution against the HR abuses by occupying Indian Forces in IOK and have expressed immense solidarity with Irom Sharmila who is on 10-year hunger strike in IOK.

In the resolution, these NGO and HR groups from all over the world say “We, the undersigned 107 human rights NGOs, human rights defenders, and women human rights defenders from all over the world, celebrate Ms. Irom Chanu Sharmila’s unwavering courage for standing as a voice for thousands of voiceless people demanding to repeal the Armed Forced Special Powers Act of 1958 (AFSPA). Her 10-year fasting symbolizes the journey of the people of Manipur and other areas of Northeast India for genuine peace and freedom from violence.

The direct cause for the hunger strike of Ms. Irom Sharmila is the Malom massacre in 2 November 2000 which had claimed lives of 10 civilians, including women and children, by the Indian security forces. Ms. Irom Sharmila took an indomitable stand that she will only end her fast when the Government of India repeals the AFSPA. Ironically, the Government of India responded to this act of peaceful protest by arresting her several times on charges of attempted suicide which is unlawful under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. The cycle of arrests of Ms. Irom Sharmila has continued for the past 10 years.

Ms. Irom Sharmila has been recognized internationally for her work on the issues of women’s empowerment, peace and human rights, and her non-violent means of fighting for human rights. In 2007, Ms. Irom Sharmila has been awarded the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights and in 2010, the Rabindranath Tagore Peace Prize. Despite the international community’s recognition of Ms. Irom Sharmila’s work, the Indian government insists on keeping her under judicial custody in the Security Ward of the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital in Imphal, Manipur, and forcibly feeding her through nasogastric intubations.

The AFSPA was initially introduced in 1958 and was enforced in Manipur in 1980, initially intended to be in effect for only 6 months in order to maintain public order in areas deemed to be “disturbed” by the Indian government. However, the AFSPA is still being implemented in Manipur until now. The Act allows wider discretionary power to an officer of the armed forces to arrest without a warrant, and with the use of necessary force, anyone who has committed certain offenses or is suspected of having done so. Moreover, the Act also grants officers of the armed forces to fire upon or otherwise use force, even if this causes death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law or order as well as to enter and search without warrant any premises to make arrests. The Act further stipulates that any officer of the armed forces may only be prosecuted upon the permission of the central government, a provision that further entrenches the culture of impunity”.

The repeal of the AFSPA has been demanded over the years by the international community including the AFSPA Review Committee which was formed by the Government of India as well as many human rights defenders in India and all over the world. In fact, in 2009, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, during her visit to India in March 2009, said that the Act breached "contemporary international human rights standards." The European Parliament, in 14 June 2010, also raised the demand for the repeal of the AFSPA. In 2007, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Government of India to repeal AFSPA and replace it with a more humane Act within one year. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women also asked the Indian Government to “provide information on the steps being taken to abolish or reform AFSPA.”

The criminalization of Ms. Irom Sharmila’s peaceful protest against the AFSPA violates Article 1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which guarantees the right of human rights defenders and women human rights defenders to promote and protect the realisation of human rights. Moreover, restriction imposed on Ms. Sharmila depriving her access with public media, human rights defenders and other people is in violation with said Declaration which ensure freedom of assembly and the right to communicate (Art. 5) and the right to access and disseminate human rights information and to draw public attention to human rights issues (Art. 6).

Last 2 November 2010, Irom Sharmila as well as the people of Northeast India, marked a decade of hunger not only for fundamental human rights but also for truth on the foundations of Indian democracy. We join the collective message that we do not want another year of celebration of Ms. Irom Sharmila’s hunger strike and we do not want another year of the AFSPA’s enforcement in India.

We, human rights defenders and women human rights defenders, stand as one in demanding that the AFSPA should be repealed immediately and that the hunger strike of Ms. Irom Sharmila must end now.

The following groups and individuals endorse this statement:

Organisations:

Adhwana Kerala Forum of Partners in Sustainable Development, India

All India Network of Individuals and Organizations Working with National Human Rights Institutions (AiNNI), India

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)

Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), Bangladesh

BAOBAB For Women's Human Rights

Centre for Organization Research & Education (CORE), India

Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL)

Common Concern, India

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Community Self-Reliance Center (CSRC), Nepal

Dalit Foundation, India

Darshan, India

Development Education and Environment Protection Society (DEEPS), India

EMPOWER, India

Equitable Tourism Options (EQUATIONS), India

Forum Against War on People (Punjab), India

Front Line International

Globe International, Mongolia

Human Rights Defenders Alert-India (HRDA), India

Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB), Burma/Thailand

Human Rights Home Nepal, Nepal

Human Rights Initiative (HRI), India

Imparsial, the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor, Indonesia

Indonesia Human Rights Committee (IHRC), New Zealand

INFORM, Sri Lanka

Informal Sector Service (INSEC), Nepal

Institute of Human Rights Education India (IHRE), India

Integrated Rural Workers Organization (IRWO), India

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Jananeethi & Jananeethi Institute, India

MADRE

Migrante International

Madurai Multipurpose Social Service Society (MMSSS)

National Alliance on Testimonial Therapy (NATT), India

National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Pakistan

Non-Violence International Southeast Asia

North East Network (NEN), India

Odhikar, Bangladesh

People's Action For Rural Awakening, India

People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), South Korea

People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), India

People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), India

People’s Watch (PW), India

RIGHTS, India

Sakshi Human Rights Watch, India

SASVIKA, India

Singapore Democrats Party (SDP), Singapore

Society for Community Organization Trust (SOCO Trust), India

South India for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), India

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Malaysia

Sudhanthra (Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Domestic Violence and

Torture), India

Tanggol Kalikasan, Philippines

The Asian Indigenous Women's Network (AIWN)

The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Cambodia

The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and

Racism (IMADR)

Think Centre, Singapore

UP Grameen Evam Khetihar Mazdoor Union, India

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)

World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)

Individuals:

Aloysius Irudayam, India

Ambarish Rai, India

Angana Chatterji, the United States

Angela CH Ralte, India

Annakili, India

Azusa Yamashita, Japan

B.Parthasaraathy, India

Biplab Mukherjee, India

Buta Singh, India

Celia Umi, India

Drik India, India

Florence Amiesimaka, Nigeria

G Ravi, India

George Mutholil, India

Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, Nepal

Govi Lenin, India

Govindasamy Thirunavukkarasu, India

Jyoti Punwani

L Pankajakshan, India

Lena Ganesh, India

Madhu Bhaduri, India

Maja Daruwala, India

Malliga, India

Mallika Sarabhai, India

Manasi Pingle

Mandakini Mallaram, India

Meher Engineer, India

M.H.Jawahirullah, India

Nattapat Lertprapotekul, Thailand

Nisha BIswas, India

Pushkar Raj, India

Ram Krishna

Ritu Datta

Rohini Hensman

S. Mazumdar, India

Sadanand Patwardhan, India

Shabnam Hashmi, India

Sheelu, India

100. Shraddha Chickerur

101. Sundaru, India

102. SP Raju, India

103. Stan Swamy, India

104. V.P.Sarathi, India

105. Vasanthi Devi, India

106. Veena Shankar, India

107. Vithal Rajan, India

Indian survey on IOK youth termed mischievous, misleading

DM Monitoring

ISLAMABAD – The recently-conducted survey by the IRIIS, which was sponsored by Indian Home Ministry on the youth in Indian Occupied Kashmir "ultimately ends up as a mischievous attempt to concoct a half-baked picture about the reality in Kashmir in the name of scientific profiling of a select number of youth," writes a Srinagar and Jammu-based English daily in its editorial.

The survey does not reveal many things, for instance how the Kashmiri feel about India's political and economic policies, how they view the Indian media and the Indian civil society, says the Kashmir Times in its editorial, Kashmir Media Service reported.

"It doesn't reveal the political aspirations of the people, their views regarding the future of Jammu and Kashmir, political, social and economic. Human rights abuse does even figure as an important discourse in any part of the report so far made public."

"It doesn't reveal at all what the anger of the youth is all about. Such surveys by elitist intellectuals based solely on a select group of urban youth cannot educate anyone, much less a government that is extremely distanced from the masses in Kashmir. What it can do is only add to the confusion and result in more complacency and inaction in New Delhi, as far as Kashmir problem is concerned".

The editorial maintains that the survey "cannot lead to any informed debate about how a vast chunk of the youth perceives the Kashmir dispute."

"A random survey, sampling just about 1300 youth, cannot be expected to offer any accurate insights. Random surveys can be misleading, as they may not represent the aspirations and perceptions of the entire youth, and more often than not are based on pick and choose. Second, the manner in which the survey has been projected in the media, adds to the inaccuracy factor."

Criticising the selection of words in the survey, the editorial says, "The survey has revealed a massive disconnect between youth and rest of India, which is a rather mild word for the kind of anger one actually sees in the Valley against the establishment and political leadership in New Delhi."

" Nor does it emphasise much on why this `disconnect' occurs. While dwelling on the reliance on media", it calls for a scope for Indian media, purely on the basis of poor circulations of some of the local newspapers but says little about the skepticism youth have in the Indian media, which "always dwarfs news about their sufferings."

"Besides, it only samples 1300 youth, probably picked and chosen, to manufacture a conclusion about media in the Valley..," the editorial added.

Fazl seeks world help for end

to brutal killings in IOK

ISLAMABAD – Chairman Special Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday urged the world community to play its role in stoping brutal killings by Indian Forces in Occupied valley.

Appreciating the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights Margaret Sekaggya's report, he appealed to the international community and the United Nations to play their role for ending the barbarism being committed against the Kashmiri people.

He also urged for resolving the Kashmir dispute according to the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people, said a news release issued here.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman said UN's Rapporteur's report confirmed the Indian brutalities and criticised Indian Army on violating human rights in war-torn Kashmir valley, adding that the fundamental human rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir are being denied since 1947.

He said India should fulfil its promise for the effective exercise of Kashmiri's rights, as envisaged in the relevant United Nations' resolutions.

He said concepts of talks, mediation and military strategies should be defined on the dialogue table and added that the Kashmir valley can play the role of a bridge for endorsing peace between two South Asian nuclear neighbors.

"We support the Kashmiri's cause but don't support terrorism in the region," he said.

He said that according to international laws Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed terrority but Balochistan is a integral part of the Pakistan and debate on Balochistan in US senate is absolutely wrong.

He said this is an internal matter of Pakistan and any interference into it is illegal and not fair, adding that Pakistan is a free country and its people would not bear this negative move by the US.

Fazulur Rehman said other countries should stop interfering into affairs of Balochistan and termed the case registerd against Ghulam Nabi Fai by US meant to please India.

He said Ghulam Nabi Fai was highlighting the issue of Kashmir in US and that was why he was implicated in a case.

Chairman Kashmir Committee said UN report on Kashmir is a test case, adding that the report of UN experts is an authentic document, so the UN and the International community should utilize their influence to stop brutalities being committed by Indian forces in occupied Kashmir.

 
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