Kashmir, human rights and international law

An international tribunal should have been established years ago to try the security personnel guilty of crimes against humanity

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December. The date was chosen to honour the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights.

The formal establishment of Human Rights Day occurred at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, when the General Assembly declared resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and any other interested organisations to celebrate the day as they saw fit. Everyone knows that fundamental human rights are universal. That is the tacit assumption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration knows no religious, national, or political boundaries. And it is not hierarchical, like caste systems or monarchies. Everyone stands on the same plane when human rights are at issue. Even if all of its lofty provisions safeguarding fundamental human freedoms and liberties remain dishonoured in many parts of the globe, it stands as a moral reproach to wrongdoing nations that may facilitate reforms. Urgency of giving power to human rights is felt everywhere. On that count, the news is less auspicious. The United Nations should officially declare that under international law and human rights covenants, every government official is vulnerable to criminal prosecution in every nation in the world for either direct or indirect complicity in human rights violations that shock the international conscience as determined by the World Court. Every alleged victim of a human rights violation or his or her relatives should be entitled to sue the alleged official culprits in the World Court to determine whether the shock the conscience test has been satisfied. Its verdict would be binding on all countries. Any nation that refused either to prosecute or to assist in the prosecution of the human rights violators would be expelled from the United Nations General Assembly and its leaders could be held in contempt of court by the World Court.
The United Nations has been painfully ineffective. An initial example was and remains Kashmir. India’s international lawlessness has escaped United Nations sanctions or even moral reproach for more than 62 years. On 23 February 1991, a particularly serious incident occurred in the mountain village of Kunan Poshpura. More that 800 soldiers of the 4th Rajput Regiment surrounded the village. They rounded up the men outside and then broke into houses in search of arms. Many women were attacked. The delegation was told that somewhere between 23 and 60 women were raped in the course of that night. On 21 May 1990 Islamia College Hawal Massacre about 50 innocents are killed, Shopian rape and murder case, and Machil Fake Encounter cases are the latest.
The seeming conspiracy of silence over gross affronts is worrisome. That unheroic muteness has emboldened states to a chilling campaign of human rights atrocities against innocent people. Egregious human rights violations are commonplaces: involuntary disappearances, extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, plunder, abductions, mutilations, and arbitrary detentions. It is even a crime to salute implementation of the Security Council resolutions, a shocking affront to the Council itself.
If international law were applied in Kashmir, an international war crimes tribunal would have been established years ago to try the scores of security personnel guilty of crimes against humanity and aggression.
The Kashmir conflict is not about autonomy, nor about the transfer of power in Jammu and Kashmir. It is about honouring the political and human rights of the Kashmiri people in accord with international law, justice and morality. Dr. Manmohan Singh’s assertion that borders cannot be redrawn in Kashmir is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Kashmir. They know that the Line of Control is in fact the Line of Conflict. They have always revolted against the status quo and the status quo cannot be an option to resolve the Kashmir dispute. It should be emphasized that the gruesome status quo in Kashmir is both legally and morally unacceptable and militarily and economically frightening.
Author is the student of Law Student, University of Kashmir and can be mailed ataejub9265@gmail.com