The speakers in an online conference in London highlighted human rights violations by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir.
The online conference of the British parliamentarians on the current situation and gross rights abuses amidst COVID-19 in the territory was organized by Tehreek-e-Kashmir, UK.
Chief guest of the conference, President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Masood Khan during his address said that Indian was massacring Kashmiris and by changing Domicile Law, India wants to change the demographics of Muslim majority territory into Hindu majority, which is against International Law. India has closed all democratic avenues for Kashmiris to raise voice for the right to self-determination, he added.
Masood Khan said that bilateral talks had failed and the world must intervene now. A peaceful solution must be found or the clouds of nuclear war will continue to hover over South Asia, he feared.
He said that Modi’s behaviour had proved that he could take any step for Akhand Baharat with his extremist ideology. “The world must immediately devise a strategy to resolve the Kashmir issue through UN resolutions and save the region from war,” he maintained.
Andrew Gwynne, MP and Chairman, Labour Friends of Kashmir, said that India and Pakistan had to talk to one another but there could be no decisions about Kashmir without the involvement of the people of Kashmir.
He assured that they would seek to use their position in the House of Commons and House of Lords to ensure that those voices were heard in the British parliamentary system as well.
Stressing about putting an end to human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, he said, “We shall have to use our role on the international level to put an end to the gross human rights violations, but also have to look for the future of people of Kashmir, most basic fundamental human right to decide by whom they are governed and how they are governed.
He reiterated that there is a room for international leadership and whether or not that’s Britain that takes that role or the United Nations or some other third party.
Paul Bristow, MP and vice-chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir, said, “We need to do the soft lobbying with our own within our parties with our Partners to try and change attitudes of our frontbenchers and ministers on Kashmir dispute. While we need hard lobbying certain through debate through questions Etc.”
He said, “We will discuss Kashmir issue in Parliament with shreds of evidence, we all have seen images, and videos of suppression and brutality, and evidence will make our argument stronger.”
Alison Thewliss, MP, while supporting Kashmiris right to self-determination said that he would support Kashmir cause and assured President Masood Khan that they would assist and support in every way possible. She added that she had continuing concerns raised by her constituents who had family and friends and Kashmir, and they would keep Kashmir dispute in their agenda.
Richard Burgon, MP, said that Indian government revoked the special status of Kashmir and the territory had been under lockdown for 7 months, without internet now another 2 months lockdown due to COVID-19 while grave human rights violations and suppression of Kashmiris continued in this period.
He added, “We support Justice and self-determination as per United Nations resolutions for the Kashmir people given our historic involvement in that area of the world.”
Kate Hollern, MP, said that due to the lockdown and Internet suspension amidst COVID-19 outbreak doctors in Kashmir couldn’t have searched and download for the latest information about the pandemic, while students were barred from using online resources for studies.
While stressing on the UN intervention, she said that as the human rights are being violated, UN must step in to resolve the issue.
Steve Baker, MP, said, “We might need to say to the UN. What are you for? If not to pursue the resolutions that you’ve asked bring peace and fundamental rights around the world and in particular in Kashmir.
Jess Phillips, MP, said, “We should be able to push for some action from our government in this regard and whilst it’s vitally important that we keep on hearing about what is going on on the ground.”
James Daly, MP, said they have heard and seen evidence of human rights violations in IOK, also the repressive laws such as Public Safety Act (PSA) which enables Indian forces to detain anybody without charge for 2 years and repeat it once the period is near to end. “We must work through the United Nations to ensure that as per United Nations resolutions Kashmiris decide for their future,” he added.
Jonathan Gullis, MP, showing solidarity and defending Kashmiris right to self-determination as per UN resolutions, said, “The lockdown that we have felt in the UK whilst having to sacrifice a small amount of our freedom cannot even come close to that of the people of Jammu Kashmir who are facing human rights violations.” He also urged the British government to use the voice within the United Nations and the participant MPs to raise this issue loudly and clearly.
Rachel Hopkins, MP, said that despite being a new MP she had decided to represent her constituents who had friends and family in Kashmir, and were concerned about their well-being amidst COVID-19 and lockdown in Kashmir.
“I will continue to pursue Kashmir issue with others collectively and until we can see greater changes and the absolute right of the Kashmiri people for their self-determination in the future” she added.
Antony Higginbotham, MP, said this conference has shown us is that there is incredible cross-party consensus on this issue in the UK. “I do believe that the UK has a very powerful voice on the world stage. And as UK parliamentarians, we have a very clear role to make sure that the UK is using that to maximum effect because of the situation on the ground in Kashmir that is very awful, he added.
Marco Longhi, MP, said that the time had come to offer more than just solidarity and ‘I think in what we need to do is to speak up as loud as we can within our own Parliament and make sure that that very question that I believe my colleague Steve Baker mentioned earlier in this presentation, which is what is the point of the UN if the UN cannot intervene in these terrible circumstances.’
Tracy Brabink, MP, said COVID has been used as a bit of a smokescreen to continue the human rights abuses in Kashmir. “We were discussing the labour party’s position and unequivocally supporting the right for Kashmiri self-determination. Suppression and persecution of Muslims in India and Kashmir are heartbreaking. We need leadership to bring this issue on the table for a practical solution,” she added.
Ghulam Muhammad Safi, Convener, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir, said, Kashmir is under twin lockdown, and Kashmiris demand freedom as per United Nations resolutions and for peace and stability in South Asia it is of vital importance that Kashmir dispute is resolved as per the aspirations of the Kashmiris and UN resolutions.
Sara Britcliffe, MP, said that she along with Jim and Mike visited Kashmir and the Line of Control this year and saw firsthand the atrocities and ‘we were able to go on the ground and speak to families that are affected.’
The President of Jammu Kashmir Salvation Movement (JKSM), Altaf Ahmed Butt said that occupied Kashmir had been under lockdown since 1989.
Another lockdown started after fascist Modi repealed Kashmir’s special status and then lockdown due to the COVID-19. Kashmiris are being massacred under the guise of COVID-19, he deplored.
The JKSM President said that Kashmir was not a bilateral dispute and must be resolved as per the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and the UN resolutions.
The President of Tehreek-e-Kashmir, Fahim Kayani welcomed and thanked everyone for their participation and said that the world was fighting against coronavirus but India was killing innocent Kashmiris. “Now India is committing constitutional terrorism alongside state terrorism by amending the domicile law and abrogating the special status of Kashmir,” he added.
He said, in this situation the Tehreek-e-Kashmir, UK, decided that Indian efforts to change the demography of occupied Kashmir should not go unnoticed while India is using the cover of the coronavirus.