I spoke at a number of events to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day. It is heartening to see that awareness of the Kashmiri struggle is growing. These are my notes on some of the issues I raised at these events.
This function to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day is part of a global movement for Kashmiri self determination. Each year on this occasion more people are involved and more events are held around the world.
I emphasis this because building broad public awareness of the human rights abuses in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir is critical to achieving self-determination.
History shows how important global support is for such campaigns. From fighting Apartheid in South Africa to winning independence for East Timor, a global voice for justice played a key outcome in those struggles.
In working to build global support for Kashmir we can draw lessons from a similar struggle – the global campaign for peace, justice and equality for all Palestinians.
This week there was a significant development not just for Palestinians but all those speaking up for human rights. The Amnesty International Report titled, “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians” was publicly released. The 300 page report concludes “that the State of Israel considers and treats Palestinians as an inferior non-Jewish racial group”.
I think we can take encouragement from this report. This is a 300 page report that gained considerable media coverage this week. For decades Palestinians, like Kashmiris, have struggled to have their voice heard. Over the years awareness and support has grown for Palestine, and it is for Kashmiris.
We need a report of similar standing to document the severity of human right abuses of Kashmiris – the enforced disappearances, torture, rape, mass killings and the attacks on journalists and political activists. And most importantly we need to talk about genocide in the context of India’s crimes in Kashmir.
The founder and president of Genocide Watch, Dr Gregory Stanton, has spoken about the very real threat of genocide in Indian Occupied Kashmir and Jammu. He said , “We believe that the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir have been an extreme case of persecution and could very well lead to genocide,” and also “Kashmir is under military rule and it is a very clear pre-genocidal situation …”. The Genocide Watch for India now covers Assam as well as Kashmir and the treatment of Muslims across the whole country.
Dr Stanton is an authority on genocide and ethnic cleansing. He drafted the United Nations Security Council resolutions that created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Burundi Commission of Inquiry.
His comments about Kashmir ring out a warning about what is happening in Kashmir and Jammu and serve as an urgent reminder of why we need to build a broad based global Kashmir solidarity movement.
Before leaving the topic of genocide I wanted to touch on the demographic changes being forced on Kashmir by the the imposition of mass permanent settlements of outsiders – similar to the Israeli settler occupation on Palestinian land. These outsiders are largely made up of Indian military personnel and their families. These actions of the Modi government fit under the legal definition of genocide issued by the Office of the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.
The crimes Modi’s BJP government is committing against Kashmiris are largely driven by the fact that Kashmiris are predominantly Muslim.
Last year the BBC reported that the BJP government rarely responds or condemns the unprovoked attacks on Muslims by Hindu mobs. This report noted that such attacks are now routine in India.
Amnesty International has linked the increase in Muslims being killed in public hate crimes to “a rising tide of Islamophobia” in India. That report was in 2017. In 2020 Amnesty India was forced to close its office after the government froze its bank accounts. Amnesty said this came after an “incessant witch-hunt” by the Modi forces.
These shocking killers highlight why our solidarity work needs to expand into a mighty global movement, similar to what the world achieved in the fight against Apartheid in South Africa.
Before I finish up I would like to speak about the armed struggle in Kashmir. In making these comments I wish to emphasise that I am not promoting armed struggle. However, we must note that the Kashmiris – like the Palestinians, like the Aborigines in Australia, like Jewish people who resisted in the Warsaw Ghetto, like the people who fought in the French revolution – have the legal right to resist occupation.
This is a legal right set out in the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the Fourth Geneva Convention and its subsequent protocols. The United Nations resolution 37/43, dated 3 December 1982, sets out this right.
It is deeply tragic that so many Kashmiris, particularly young men, as well as members of the India armed forces are dying in this proxy war. Kashmiris must be allowed to determine their own future.
We urgently need to build a global movement in support of self-determination for Kashmiris.