By News Desk
UNITED NATIONS, Geneva—Kashmir Delegation to the 31st session of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) took the message of Nusrat Geelani, daughter of S. A. R. Geelani, the detained Kashmiri professor of Jawahar Lal Nehru University in New Delhi, to the world community as rights activists increase pressure for government accountability in India.
India’s detention of the Kashmiri professor came under spotlight when human rights defenders from Kashmir played a video message of professor’s daughter as part of a short film on her father’s case, which has become a test for India’s respect for freedom of expression.
“Human rights defenders worldwide must raise pressure on India,” said Andre Barc, a prominent journalist from Bulgaria as he addressed a special side panel on self-determination, adding, “I invite the media and journalists in the West to focus more on Indian actions in Kashmir.”
Western politicians, journalists and legal experts also spoke in the session where Prof. Geelani’s case came under discussion. They included a Member of Parliament in Belgium, Dr. Karen Parker, an expert from the United States on the legal right to self-determination, Ali Raza Syed, Executive Director of Kashmir Council EU, and Daniela Donges from Scales for Justice, besides Mr. Barc from Hungary.
“We need to challenge India’s line of argument,” Said Dr. Parker, who is widely respected within the UN system for her research and activism for the right of self-determination. She was referring to Indian government’s contention that rights activists like Prof. Geelani promote terrorism.
“Under international law, when you have the right to self-determination, you also have the right to defend this right of self-determination. To defend it is not terrorism,” Dr. Parker added.
German rights defender Daniela Donges offered a comparison between the situation in West Bank and Gaza and situation in Kashmir.
Rights activist Altaf Hussain Wani, who belongs to Srinagar in Indian-occupied Kashmir, chaired the session. He offered a somber reminder to the international community when he said that failure to protect peaceful human rights defenders like Prof. Geelani opens a door to violent resistance.
The eight-member Kashmir Delegation for UNHRC’s 31st session consists of Altaf Hussain Wani-Delegation leader and senior Kashmir freedom leader, senior APHC leader-Syed Faiz Naqshbandi and Ishtiyaq Hameed, senior Kashmir freedom leader Mir Tahir Masood, senior woman Kashmiri leader Mrs. Shamim Shawl, Ahmed Quraishi-Executive Director Youth Forum For Kashmir (YFK); an international Kashmir Lobbying Group, Prof. Shagufta Ashraf-human rights defender working with women & children and Zartasha Niazi-human rights defender.
Youth Forum For Kashmir (YFK) is Pakistan’s first pro-Kashmir, registered and nonpartisan International lobbying group led by young Kashmiris and Pakistanis working to ensure justice to Kashmiris living under Indian-military occupation.