· On August 5, Indian Government announced its decision on revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution. This Article 3701 had allowed a special status to Jammu Kashmir.
· In the run up to its decision of 5 August 2019, India imposed a stringent clamp down on the people of Indian Occupied Kashmir. This included : deployment of 180,000 security personnel over and above the 800,000 already deployed there ; arrest of all political leadership ; suspension of internet and cellular phones, suspension of Shree Amnarnath Yatraand advice to public to store ration at homes.
Ali Shah Gillani tweet (3 August 2019):
· On August 3, Kashmiri leader Ali Shah Geelani tweeted his SOS call, saying, ‘Indians are about to launch the biggest genocide in the history of mankind’.
B. FACTS AND INTERNATIONAL REACTION:
a. UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (6 August 2019)2:
· The Indian Government’s decision to revoke part of the Constitution relating to the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir risks worsening of democratic freedoms there.
· Amid reports that “hardly any information at all” is emerging from the Indian-administered side of the long-disputed territory, spokesperson Rupert Colville cited a UN report alleging that authorities suppressed communication networks, conducted arbitrary detentions, and punished opponents.
· “We are seeing again blanket telecommunications restrictions – perhaps more blanket than we’ve ever seen before – the reported arbitrary detention of political leaders and restrictions on peaceful assembly”.
b. UN Secretary General’s Statement (8 August 2019):
· The Secretary-General has been following the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with concern and makes an appeal for maximum restraint.
· “The position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions. The Secretary-General also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Simla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations”.
· “The Secretary-General is also concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir, which could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir”.
c. United Nations Security Council Meeting (16 August 2019):
· On August 16 2019 United Nations Security Council, after a gap of some five decades, discussed Kashmir. While the meeting was held in closed doors and the discussions were not made public, the very convening of this meeting after a gap of decades debunked the myth of Indian propaganda of Kashmir being an internal issue of India.
d. UN Experts Statement (22 August 2019)3:
· The UN Experts quoted reports describing a near total communications blackout in Jammu and Kashmir since the evening of 4 August, with internet access, mobile phone networks, and cable and Kashmiri television channels cut off.
· “The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence.”
· The Government has also imposed a curfew across Jammu and Kashmir, with massive numbers of troops brought in to enforce movement and peaceful assembly restrictions, particularly in the Kashmir Valley. At the same time, information received suggests an increase in the arrest of political figures, journalists, human rights defenders, protesters and others.
· The experts expressed deep concern over reports that security forces were conducting night raids on private homes leading to the arrests of young people ; allegations that “the whereabouts of some of those detained is not known”, heightening the risk of enforced disappearances, “which may proliferate against the backdrop of mass arrests and restricted access to the internet and other communications networks”.
· Independent experts also raised the alarm over excessive force against protesters, including the use of live ammunition, which could amount to violations of the right to life.
Human Rights Watch:
a. Human Rights Watch Statement 4 (19 August 2019):
· While the authorities said on August 16 that landlines would be restored in Muslim majority areas, access to mobile phones and the internet is still denied in much of the region.”The Indian government can’t just claim to be lifting restrictions in Kashmir, but needs to ensure that everyone’s rights are respected,” Director South Asia at the HRW said.
· “There have been reports of sporadic protests in Kashmir since August 5, and of security forces using pellet shotguns that have led to about a dozen injuries. The use of pellet-firing shotguns as a crowd-control weapon in Kashmir has received widespread condemnation because of the large number of protester deaths and injuries”.
· “Instead of denying human rights violations, Indian authorities should draw lessons from past mistakes, ensure accountability, and act to prevent further abuses”. “Concerned governments and the United Nations should press India to implement the High Commissioner’s recommendations and to protect the human rights of all in Kashmir.”
b. Human Rights Watch Statement 5 (August 28, 2019):
· “The Indian government’s indefinite shutdown of phones and the internet in Kashmir is causing disproportionate harm and should be lifted immediately,”
· Instead of indefinite, blanket shutdowns and repressing peaceful dissent, authorities should use social media to provide transparent information that can discourage incitement to violence, and direct security forces to act according to international human rights standards”. HRW said that “The Indian government needs to address people’s concerns, not cut them off from being able to communicate properly and freely.”
c. Human Rights Watch Statement 6 (September 16, 2019):
· Indian authorities should immediately release detained Kashmiris who have not been charged with a recognizable offense. Several thousand Kashmiris, including politicians and opposition activists, have been held in preventive detention since August 5, 2019.
· “Anyone who has been detained in Kashmir without evidence of a crime should be immediately and unconditionally released,”. “It is essential for the authorities to allow every detainee access to lawyers and family members”.
· At the upcoming meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York, India’s international partners should put human rights concerns at the center of their engagement with Indian officials and press the government to uphold international human rights standards.
· “India is making a mockery of its human rights commitments by denying Kashmiris a voice in their future, jailing political leaders, and suspending basic freedoms”.
a. Let Kashmir Speak7 (4 September 2019):
· Right now, there are nearly 8 million people living in Kashmir who, since August 5, have been living through a telecommunications blackout. The government of India is restricting freedoms by shutting down their ability to communicate with each other and the rest of the world, and by imposing curfews or curfew like situations preventing people from leaving their homes.
· At a time when reports have been pouring in about raids, arrests, clashes and detentions, communications shut downs not only leave people stranded and add panic and unrest, they also effect the ability of doctors and humanitarian workers to carry out their work effectively. The world can only speculate on what grave human rights violations might be taking place right now in Kashmir.
b. Jammu and Kashmir: UN Security Council must uphold peace and security8 (16 August 2019) :
· Ahead of a closed-door consultation on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the UN Security Council today, Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International said that “the actions of the Indian government have thrown ordinary people’s lives into turmoil, subjecting them to unnecessary pain and distress on top of the years of human rights violations they have already endured. Secretary General Naidoo called upon the international community to come together to call for their human rights to be respected.
c. India: Detention of Kashmiri politician is ‘blatant abuse of the law’9 (17 September 2019) :
· Head of Amnesty International India Aakar Patel, referring to the arrest of Kashmiri politician Farooq Abdullah said that “the continued use of draconian laws against political dissidents, despite promises of change, signals the dishonest intent of the Indian government. Thousands of political leaders, activists and journalists continue to be silenced through administrative detention laws.
United Nations Human Rights Council:
a. Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human (9 September 2019)10:
· “I am deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the Government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris, including restrictions on internet communications and peaceful assembly, and the detention of local political leaders and activists.”
· “I have appealed particularly to India to ease the current lockdowns or curfews to ensure people’s access to basic services; and that all due process rights are respected for those who have been detained.”
· “It is important that the people of Kashmir are consulted and engaged in any decision-making processes that have an impact on their future.”
b. Joint statement delivered by Pakistan on behalf of over 50 countries at the Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (10 September 2019)11:
· The Joint statement delivered by Pakistan said that the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in Indian Administered Jammu & Kashmir, especially following decisions taken on August 5, 2019, requires urgent attention by the Human Rights Council and human rights mechanisms. We share the concern expressed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Michelle Bachelet regarding the impact of recent actions on the human rights of Kashmiris.
· UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UN Special Rapporteurs in their joint press release of 22 August 2019, civil society organizations and international media have repeatedly expressed serious concerns about the unprecedented restrictions and on the continuous curfew imposed since August 5, 2019, curbing of fundamental freedoms, communications blackout and reports of wide spread torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, molestation of women, and enforced disappearances.
· UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his statement of 8 August 2019 said that “the position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions”. This position of the UN Secretary-General has also been corroborated by OHCHR’s Kashmir Reports.
· The Statement asked for, inter-alia, immediate lifting of curfew, ending the communications shutdown and release of arbitrarily detained people and halt to the excessive use of force, especially the use of pellet guns; Access of human rights organizations and international media; Implementation of the recommendations of OHCHR’s Kashmir Reports including the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate egregious human rights violations; Regular reporting by the UN High Commissioner for human rights on Jammu and Kashmir and ; “We also support a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the implementation of the UNSC resolutions”.
Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC):
a. OIC calls on the international community to expedite assistance to the people of Jammu and Kashmir (September 25, 2019)12:
· The OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir held a ministerial meeting on 25 September 2019 on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
· The OIC called on the international community to accelerate its efforts to help the people of Jammu and Kashmir decisively achieve their legitimate rights. It stressed that “lasting and durable peace in South Asia rests with just and final settlement of the dispute, in line with UN Resolutions, and that dialogue is the only way forward”.
· In his statement at the meeting, the OIC Secretary General, Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, said that “The Contact Group held an emergency meeting, at the level of Permanent Representatives, in Jeddah, on 6 August 2019, following the unilateral actions of the Indian Government to revoke Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that guarantees special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Before that, the Indian authorities sent 45,000 troops into the territory and made a complete lock down of the Kashmiri people’s day-to-day lives.
· The Secretary General emphasized that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is among the most important agenda items for the Organization. The 14th Islamic Summit held in Makkah, last May, and the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting held in Abu Dhabi, last March, considered this issue.
European Union (EU):
Speech on behalf of the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the European Parliament plenary debate on the situation in Kashmir (18 September 2019)13:
European Parliament discussed Kashmir issue on 18 September.
· The tensions in the region have increased following the announcement by the Indian Government on 5 August of the revocation of Article 370 that grants a partial autonomy to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. This step has been accompanied by restrictions of fundamental rights and freedoms. While some of the restrictions are reportedly lifted, the situation has not returned to normalcy. There have been arrests of political leaders, activists and human rights defenders.
· We remain concerned about the situation on the ground, with its restrictions on fundamental freedoms. It is crucial that freedom of movement and means of communication are fully restored as well as access to all essential services.
· In a moment of rising tensions in different regions around the world, no one could afford another escalation in Kashmir. Regional cooperation in South Asia is now more essential than ever, and we will continue to encourage India and Pakistan to resume dialogue and find a peaceful solution for their disputes.
a. EU Statement at UN Human Rights Council (10 September 2019)14:
· “The EU has been following the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir closely. We therefore encourage the Indian government to continue to lift remaining restrictions temporarily imposed and to maintain the constitutional rights and freedoms of the affected population. With regard to the regional situation, the EU encourages Pakistan and India to avoid further tensions and to refrain from provocations at the line of control. We urge both parties to engage in direct dialogue, with a view to a peaceful solution in line with the UN resolutions and the bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan”.
11370. Temporary provisions with respect to the State of