On Monday 5 August 2019, BJP Modi government in India unilaterally altered the interim constitutional arrangement between Indian state and the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, pending implementation of UN Resolution dating back to 1948.
On the anniversary, Wednesday 5 August 2020, as the Indian state continues to erode rights and subject the Kashmiris to collective incarceration and change the demographic makeup of what is still muslim majority state, I seek your support once again in highlighting the issue of Kashmir to the wider muslim community and other fair minded people in Australia and globally.
Once you are aware of the true situation in Kashmir, you can feel appropriately informed and empowered to engage the wider community to counter or at least challenge the Indian narrative, created by India’s ruling Bharataya Janata Party (BJP) – a political arm of Hindu extremist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and actively being pushed globally by Indian media and state agencies.
Currently there’s international pressure building on India especially with regards to their anti-Muslim policies across India on a number of platforms. At this juncture it is important that we try to leverage international opinion and seek that Indian state puts an end to the torture and disenfranchising of the people of Kashmir and hopefully also resolve the long outstanding Kashmir issue.
I appeal for you to lend your voice to #StandWithKashmir.
We request the Muslim community in Australia:
- To dedicate Juma khutba on Friday 31 and and/or 7 August for Kashmir;
- On Friday 31 July and Saturday 1 August dedicate Eid Khutbah and remember Kashmiris in our Eid duas; and
- On 5 August join a Twitter storm to engage the Parliament on Kashmir using the hashtag #DeColonizeKashmir
We call on the Australian government to:
- Advocate to members of the Security Council to support resolutions that would facilitate self-determination for the people of Kashmir;
- Renegotiate trade agreements between Australia and India so that they include a human rights clause;
- Adopt travel sanctions against Indian army officers involved in human rights abuses in Kashmir; and
- Strongly urge the Indian Government to:
- Restore the human rights of Kashmiris including the freedom of speech and assembly, the right to communicate and to access education and health services;
- Remove military and paramilitary forces from where the civilian population lives;
- Withdraw its draconian emergency laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act that provide impunity to security forces;
- Release wrongfully detained Kashmiri children in distant jails of India;
- Stop any move to change the demographic structure of Kashmir;
- Engage in credible dialogue with Kashmiris and other related parties, in line with UN resolutions to bring the 73 year old issue to a peaceful settlement;
- Provide immediate, unimpeded access to Kashmir for local and international journalists, the United Nations, and other humanitarian actors; and
- Engage with the international community and introduce sustained dialogue with Kashmiris and other related parties, in line with the UN resolutions, to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution for all inhabitants of the region.
Talking Points on Kashmir
- Kashmiri Muslims have been peacefully struggling for freedom since 1935;
- Kashmir is a disputed territory according to the United Nations’ resolutions;
- Kashmiris have been demanding the right to self-determination since 1948, which Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the United Nations promised them via UN Resolution
- India currently maintains some 900,000 troops in Kashmir, making the disputed territory the most militarized space in the world;
- Since 2016, the Indian security forces have caused mass blinding by shooting metal pellets at Kashmiri protestors, leaving many, including toddlers blinded;
- On August 5, 2019, the government of India suspended Articles 370 and 35A of its constitution, thereby revoking the long-protected semi-autonomous status of Jammu & Kashmir without consultation with the Kashmiris;
- The Indian occupation has caused 100,000 Kashmiri deaths and suffering of the millions;
- India has ruled Kashmir through the illegal use of force and torture, as documented by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch;
- Indian army and paramilitary soldiers operate with absolute impunity and have never been punished for committing crimes against humanity in almost 30 years;
- The Indian government has imposed a communications ‘siege’ on the Kashmir Valley, and put into place other coercive measures to effectively imprison the whole population of Kashmir. Journalists are also arrested and harassed by police.
- Authorities in Indian-occupied Kashmir have last month issued a new law, under which the government has given itself absolutely infinite interpretative leeway to censor any journalism it does not like and to impose its own narrative.
- Indian state has introduced a new Domicile Law for Kashmir, to allow non-Kashmiri Indian settlers to settle as Permanent Residents of Kashmir, leading to settler-colonialism and demographic change in the region. This is illegal under international law.
- As suggested by Indian officials, “Israeli-like” settlements can now be introduced in J&K Demographic flooding of Indians could make the region’s Muslim-majority into second-class citizens, a demographic minority, & pave way for ethnic cleansing. And more importantly impact the results of a yet to be held plebiscite or referendum in India’s favor.
- Genocide Watch has issued a ‘Genocide Alert’ for the disputed territory of Kashmir;
- We stand in solidarity with the Kashmiris in their struggle for freedom, liberty and justice for all;
Anjum Rafiqi based in Sydney is the Spokesperson, Stand With Kashmir Inc.