Washington, D.C. October 27th, 2011. The Board of Directors of the Kashmiri American Council (KAC) made an imperative appeal to the international community to come forward and demand India to allow a free and impartial referendum which will grant the people of Kashmir their inalienable right of self-determination. All those who believe in an inclusive, pluralistic global village that recognizes spaces for individual expression must seize the moment and petition for a referendum in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Commenting on the observance of the Kashmiri ‘Day of Occupation’ the Board stated ‘the foreign occupation forces entered Kashmir on October 27th, 1947, thereby beginning what is locally referred to as the day of occupation. Kashmiris, across the globe, are following the call of their leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, and will solemnly commit to raising awareness of the tragic plight of their people.’
Moreover, the Board declares India as a flagrant violator of international law, in particular reference to the mass graves, rapes, murder, forcible confinement of Kashmiri leaders, imprisonment, coercion and fear. The entire Hurriyet leadership, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq as well as Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah and Naeem Ahmed Khan and others are often put under house arrest in violation of Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Board warned that India may be the largest democracy but its policy towards Kashmir has been uniformly brutal and deceitful. India initially championed, fashioned, and expressly accepted United Nations Security Council resolutions of August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949 mandating a plebiscite in Kashmir administered by the United Nations. India soon dishonored its obligation when it perceived the people of Kashmir would never vote accession to Indian sovereignty in a free and fair election. It unilaterally proclaimed Kashmir had fallen into its territorial universe irrespective of international law and the contrary insistence of the United Nations. Indeed Indian Government in 1964 ( fully 17 years after British India ceased to exist) proceeded to replace the offices of ‘Prime Minister & President’ of Jammu & Kashmir by that of ‘Chief Minister & Governor’ in an attempt to formalize the occupation & make Jammu & Kashmir to sound like a state of India.
The Board reiterated that the people of Kashmir ask neither more nor less than what has been afforded to Namibia, the East Timor, Montenegro and Southern Sudan: a self-determination vote conducted and monitored by the United Nations and international observers. Self-determination is both a legal and moral entitlement. To believe anything less than self-determination would end the frightening strife that has blazed for 64 years is to believe in fairy tales.
The Board concluded by advising that peace in South Asia in general and Kashmir in particular is too important to be left to two rivals alone with their own self-interests guiding their maneuvering. The Board urged both India and Pakistan to include the accredited leadership of Jammu & Kashmir in all future negotiations. Any Kashmir solution that fails to command the consensus of the 17 million people of Kashmir is doomed to shipwreck moments after its launch. The Board however, emphasized that with Kashmiri participation, anything is possible. Without it, nothing is.