Protest rallies were organised in Canberra and Sydney, on Sunday 24 July, against the killing of more than 50 Kashmiris and almost 1500 injured by the Indian military in the valley of Kashmir.
The fragile peace in Kashmir broke down when the Special Operation Group (SOG) of Kashmir Police, known for targeted civilian killings in the form of encounters, murdered 21 year Burhan Wani, the son of a local school principal on 8 July while Burhan and his two associates had been spending time with their family after Eid.
Wani was a militant social media activist with no record of violence but was considered a wanted militant by the Indian security forces who blamed him for inciting youth calling for liberation of Kashmir from Indian military rule.
Wani’s body was handed over to his family at Tral in South Kashmir at 3 am on 9 July. From that time people had started moving towards his home town in thousands to pay condolences to the family.
The funeral of Wani next day was attended by tens of thousands of Kashmiris despite imposed restrictions and mobilisation of security forces who tried to stop people’s movement for Burhan’s funeral at the Eid prayer grounds.
People at the funeral protested against the killing of Wani and his associates where women participated by singing folk songs praising the martyrs of Kashmir and youths shouted pro-Wani, pro-Freedom and anti-India slogans.
Indian security forces responded with brutal force, shooting with pellet guns on crowds that resulted in the killing of more than 50 people and injuring of more than 1500 at the funeral and subsequent protests over the next few days.
Children as young as 4 years old as well as a number of women were killed by the security forces who imposed an indefinite curfew in the valley and cut off the people of Kashmir by disconnecting internet and telephone services.
Human right activists gathered at 1 pm at Martin Place Sydney on Sunday 24 July to protest against the ongoing killing in Indian occupied Kashmir. India has used all sorts of brutal force against the people of Kashmir during its occupation.
People of diverse background and faiths attended the Sydney rally. Father David of Lakemba Church spoke on the ongoing brutality against unarmed people of Kashmir by the Indian security forces. Hanif Bismi urged all Australians to see Kashmir as a humanitarian crisis and called for an end to the ongoing atrocities by the Indian security forces.
Ms Bushra Salam, Vice Consul of Pakistan in Sydney pledged that the Pakistani government would make every effort to bring the Kashmir issue on every international platform including the UN.
Mr Masood Malik, a Kashmiri from the Valley briefed the protesters on the current situation in Kashmir. Mr Irfan Bhatt asked the people of Australia to come forward in support of the people of Kashmir. Pakistan Australia Association President Mr Rana Abbas the main driver behind the protest thanked the NSW Police and the Sydney City Council for supporting the protest as well as the people who attended the rally.
The Sydney protest rally ended with the protesters marching towards the UN offices passing a petition seeking a UN resolution to intervene in Kashmir on behalf of the international community.
The Canberra rally organised by the Kashmir Solidarity Council outside the ACT Legislative Assembly Building signed a Petition calling the Australian Government to play its role in stopping violation of Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir.
The ongoing grave human rights situation in Jammu & Kashmir pursuant to the killing of a popular Kashmiri leader, Burhan Wani on 8 July, 2016, is a source of concern to everyone, particularly we the Australians who believe in justice and respect of human rights of all. We wish to convey our disgust and anguish over the brutalities and human rights violations of Kashmiri people by the Indian security forces.
Due to indiscriminate use of force against Kashmiri protestors, around 50 civilians have been killed and more than 1500 have been injured. Many of them have lost their eye sights due to pallet injuries. The doctors have reported that most of the injured sustained injuries above the waist line as the security forces are pursuing a policy of shoot to kill. The Indian Security Forces are also preventing ambulances to reach to the injured and doctors from treating them. The imposition of curfew and suspension of mobile and internet services and postponement of school & university exams have badly affected the lives of people in Kashmir valley.
The UN Secretary General has taken a note of the current situation in the valley. His spokesperson has mentioned that the Secretary General is closely following the recent clashes in Kashmir and has regretted loss of lives and injuries to many people. To avoid further violations, he has asked all the parties to exercise maximum restraint. Other countries have also expressed concerns at the violations.
Australia cannot remain passive to the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Australia has been engaged in finding a solution to the Kashmir dispute since its beginning.
The United Nations Security Council had also appointed Sir Owen Dixon, Sixth Chief Justice of Australia on 14March, 1950 as UN Representative to organize plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. Australia has a special responsibility as a candidate for United Nations Human Rights Council for 2018-2020 and as an advocate of human rights for protection of human rights of the Kashmiris. The current situation in Jammu and Kashmir is the result of continued denial of right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people through a free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspices that was assured by the United Nations Security Council in its various resolutions. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council.
We as Australians urge our leadership to call upon Indian authorities to:
a) Immediately stop violence against innocent civilians and cease repressive policies and human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.
b) Stop firing at the peaceful protestors; branding them as terrorists which is nothing but a distortion of the reality in Kashmir.
c) Allow a fair and impartial inquiry.
d) Comply with their international obligations and safeguard the human rights of the people of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.