A Kashmir Symposium was held on Wednesday 18 September at the Australian Parliament in Canberra, attended by a number of parliamentarians, representatives of ‘Australian Forum for Kashmir’, community and interfaith leaders, raising concern for the current human rights situation in Kashmir under total lockdown by the Indian military, and calling for the self-determination of the indigenous people of Kashmir.
The forum was addressed by  Craig Kelly MP, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Senator Deborah Oneill, Senator Richard di Natale, Former Senator Lee Rhiannon and other community leaders and activists.
Mr Rab Nawaz, Coordinator of the Australian Forum for Kashmir (AFK) passionately described the plight of the Kashmiri people in the valley of Kashmir under strict curfew since Monday 5 August with all communication lines blocked and total curtailment of freedom of expression and freedom of movement for the civilian population.
The Parliamentarians showed their full support and assured those present that they will raise the concerns regarding the Kashmir issue during the upcoming sessions of the parliament urge the Australian government to call on the Indian government to respect the human rights of Kashmiri people.

Earlier in September, Senator Mehreen Faruqi and Senator Richard Di Natale tried to move a motion urging the Indian Government to withdraw military forces, end the mass lockdown and respect the human rights of Kashmiris and their right to self-determination. The Government did not allow them to move it, but the Greens stand by the text, given below.

Text of the motion:

  1. Notes with deep concern that:
  2. In August the Indian Government decided to revoke Kashmir’s special status and its relative autonomy under India’s constitution, further eroding Kashmiris’ right to self-determination;
  3. The Indian Government shut down phone and internet connections, arbitrarily detained political leaders, evacuated tourists, restricted freedom of movement and oversaw an influx of tens of thousands of additional troops to Kashmir;
  4. These actions risk a dangerous escalation of violence in the world’s most militarised region.
  5. Expresses solidarity with the many Australian Kashmiris who have been deeply worried about their loved ones in Kashmir.
  6. Further notes that, in response to the three wars between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, the UN has unequivocally called for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.
  7. Urges the Australian Government to call on the Indian Government to respect the human rights of the people in Kashmir, withdraw military forces, end the mass lockdown and respect the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.
Senator Faruqi took the first opportunity after Parliament returned from its Winter break earlier in September to speak in support of self-determination for the Kashmiri people.
A video of her speech can be viewed here:

The transcript of Senator Faruqi’s full speech prepared by AMUST is given below:

Too rarely do we hear the voices of Kashmiris they were not allowed to determine their fate when the British drew the borders and they have no been allowed to do so ever since self-interest and nationalistic rhetoric will never deliver justice to the people of Kashmir who have suffered long enough self-determination by the Kashmiri people is the only answer.

Imagine seven million people in a landlocked Valley confined to their homes their phone’s dead and the internet blocked they’re up against the nationalist government of mighty power it’s army and it’s media imagine that and you get a small sense of the crushing injustice of the situation in Kashmir the crushing helplessness the frightening reality there is everyday life for Kashmiris.

It is now over a month since the Indian government unilaterally revoked Kashmir autonomy and plunged Jammu and Kashmir into complete darkness blocking all access to the outside world Indian Prime Minister Modi’s intervention goes against India’s own constitutional guarantee and promises to the people of Kashmir it’s a travesty come October Jammu and Kashmir are set to come under the control of the government in New Delhi and the people of Kashmir have had no say in that.

They have arrived to determine their own future they have an absolute right to self-determination let’s be clear. The Kashmiris have never submitted to Indian sovereignty the government of India has effectively instituted a mass detention of Kashmir ease by rushing in troops to join the half a million already stationed there some media outlets would have you believe that everything is fine but if everything is fine why is Kashmir crawling with troops and subjected to one of the strictest curfews the valley has ever seen why have thousands of Kashmiri being detained.

Sadly, this is not new to Kashmiris who have lived under oppression for decades and who now live in fear it should frighten all of us when one of the world’s largest democracies is prepared to suppress all dissent from minorities crucially under the nationalist BJP government the dissolution of Kashmiri as a state means the rights that empowered autonomy of the Kashmiri legislature in administrative matters including defining permanent residents who could buy property and work in the region are now gone.

This poses a grave threat to Kashmiri the only Muslim majority state in India. Indian author and activist Arundhati Roy writes the new territories are open for business already India’s richest industrialist Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries has promised several announcements what this might mean to the fragile Himalayan ecology of Ladakh and Kashmir the land of vast glaciers high-altitude lakes and five major rivers barely bears consideration being often open for business.
It must be clarified can also include Israeli style settlements and Tibet style population transfers the settler-colonial attitude of India towards Kashmir has drawn many comparisons with Palestine.

Nationalist politicians from the far right in India have been encouraging their followers to buy land and settle in Kashmir in a despicable display of misogyny some have been encouraging men to bring Kashmiri girls home. It is Kashmiri women who have born the brunt of this violence including sexual violence in the valley.

It is Kashmiri women who have suffered under the repressive colonial-styled military regime that has been imposed on the region it is Kashmiri women who have lost their sons, brother, fathers and husbands to militancy and violence.

Kashmir has been a flashpoint for Pakistan and India since the British rule arbitrary borders before they were finally forced out of their colonial hold on South Asia. An entire generation of young Kashmiri has grown up knowing nothing but this conflict Amnesty International reports that there have been more than 50,000 lives lost since 1989. The UN last year pointed two decades of staggering unpunished human rights abuses recent reporting shows ongoing lockdown violence against civilians and growing unrest.

Too rarely do we hear the voices of Kashmiris they were not allowed to determine their fate when the British drew the borders and they have not been allowed to do so ever since self-interest and nationalistic rhetoric will never deliver justice to the people of Kashmir who have suffered long enough self-determination by the Kashmiri people is the only answer I urge the Australian government to speak out and call on the Indian to withdraw their troops to end this mass lockdown to respect the human rights of Kashmiris and their right to self-determination.