Transcription of address to Kashmiris and their supporters by former Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon on Saturday 17 August in Sydney over annexation of Kashmir by Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.
These are crimes against the Kashmiri people, and that’s why I stand with you tonight, because we need to raise the strongest voice in Australia, because at the moment our politicians have not spoken out.
As you know so well the Modi government has stripped the autonomy and will start pulling away the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
This has never happened before in India to any state. The crimes clearly will be stepped up. And at this moment, and I know this very clearly because exactly a year ago, I had the opportunity to go to Kashmir and inside Azad Kashmir to the line of control.
I met people at the refugee camps, met families who had been divided for decades and heard their story and came away with a very clear determination that we need to step up our voice for Kashmir’s right to their own self-determination.
Now the Indian government have taken it in another direction.
I thought it is very important tonight to actually identify what is going on with the Modi government so far.
So few people in Australia understand the links that the Modi government, Narendra Modi himself and his home affairs minister, Amit Shah, have with fascism. It is the RSS, the organization that the BJP party is linked to that is a really troubling organization.
They take their inspiration from the Black Shirts, the Mussolini Black Shirts. And this is a country that our Prime Minister Morrison just forks over because he wants to get more trade deals.
But we have to bring the right of the Kashmiris to the fore here, because there are real crimes being committed right now in Kashmir and particularly we need to emphasize the gendered aspect of the crimes.
When I was at the line of control at the refugee camps, meeting women and hearing about their stories, I heard a term I had never heard before, half-widows.
I didn’t know what that meant, but it was explained to me it’s where their husbands had disappeared, and they were left on their own to look after the family.
But they weren’t widows. They had no idea what their circumstances were with regard to their loved one, but they were in this shocking situation.
Thousands of thousands of women in that situation. Then there are the mass rapes, there is the abuse.
Right now, I’ve seen the advertisements for Indian men, now with the change in the status of Kashmir for Indian men can go and get a Kashmiri girl. Absolute shame.
And this is what I mean. The crimes to have been stepped up against the Kashmiri people is so alarming.
The other aspect that we need to be aware of and to get it across to Australians is the close links between Modi and Netanyahu. We are seeing this is a very ugly way that the Indian government is taking inspiration for its attacks on Kashmiri by learning how Netanyahu and Zionists the same to the Palestinians.
And again shameful. Why buying the weapon, some weapons from the Israeli government, they advertise a field-tested, field-tested, means-tested on Palestinians and they now want to take it to test it on Kashmiris.
Then there is the issue of the settlers. Six hundred thousand settlers are taking over Palestinian land. How do we know that this is already happening in Kashmir where retired Indian army personnel and their families are settling in Kashmir.
And now with a change to the constitution of Kashmir, changing the constitution of India. Kashmiri land can be sold to non-Kashmiris to change the demographics that this will allow them to speed up the takeover, the control of Kashmir, and just destroy the culture, the lives of so many indigenous Kashmiris.
So again to emphasize, I stand here with you lending my strongest support to stand with Kashmir.
I thank you very warmly for the invitation to speak to you tonight. And I am keen to work with you. I’m working with a number of other communities so we can help bring the voice of Kashmir to Australia and put pressure on the decision-makers here to stand with Kashmir and not allow the Indian exploitation and brutality to continue. Thank you very much.