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:
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
Development Education and Environment Protection Society (DEEPS), 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
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
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
Sakshi Human Rights Watch, 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
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
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)
Aloysius Irudayam, India
Ambarish Rai, India
Angana Chatterji, the United States
Angela CH Ralte, India
Azusa Yamashita, Japan
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
L Pankajakshan, India
Lena Ganesh, India
Madhu Bhaduri, India
Maja Daruwala, India
Mallika Sarabhai, India
Mandakini Mallaram, India
Meher Engineer, India
Nattapat Lertprapotekul, Thailand
Nisha BIswas, India
Pushkar Raj, India
S. Mazumdar, India
Sadanand Patwardhan, India
Shabnam Hashmi, 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
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.