By News Desk
ISLAMABAD — Politicians in Europe are joining the growing international chorus on Kashmir as pressure mounts on India for the actions committed by its occupation army in the disputed region. The latest European politician to speak on Indian brutalities in Kashmir is Julie Ward, Member of European Parliament from Britain.
Ms. Ward flew from London to Geneva to join Kashmir activists at the 34th session of UN Human Rights Council. Kashmir came into spotlight when the International Muslim Women’s Union organized a sideline event in the UN building where MEP Julie Ward was a key speaker.
Ward criticized India’s violent crackdown in Kashmir and offered her support to the families of innocent young men and women who were killed by Indian Army inside their houses and those killed during peaceful protests on the streets of the disputed region.
She recalled her visit to Indian-occupied Kashmir.
“In wars, like the one in Kashmir, women suffer and children are victimized because they lose their bread earners. I recall that during my visit I met with women who were humiliated and raped by soldiers of the Indian Army inside their homes and in front of their male relatives,” Ward said.
“That is why Kashmiris run away from their homeland and take refuge on other side of the ceasefire line,” she said, referring to Azad (Free) Jammu and Kashmir, the territory liberated from India by Kashmiris in 1947.
A group of European Parliament members are preparing a global campaign focused on the conditions of Kashmiri women and children. Nearly 200 Kashmiris, mostly teenagers and young men and women in their twenties, have lost their eyesight when targeted by Indian occupation soldiers using pellet guns. The New York Times called this an ‘an epidemic of dead eyes.
“We will start a campaign for these women not only in Europe but worldwide. I will take this matter to European parliamentarians so that a strong voice can be raised internationally. It is high time for all democratic forces to come forward and save humanity,” she said.
Mrs. Shamim Shawl, the General Secretary of Kashmir Tehreek Khawateen, or the Kashmir Movement for Women, said in her opening remarks that Kashmir is a flashpoint and urged world community and civil society to take note.
“Young boys and girls at the age of 6 and 10 will carry this pain of blindness and violence to the next generation and will continue to develop hatred for Indian rulers who have blinded them forever,” she said.
Mrs. Shawl represented women activists from Indian-occupied Kashmir. Prof. Shagufta Ashraf represented rights defenders from Azad (Free) Kashmir. She came from University of Management Sciences and Information Technology, at Kotli. Ashraf moderated the event and briefed the international civil society about the role of Indian army in creating a humanitarian crisis in Kashmir.
Rights defenders from Palestine, Middle East and Europe spoke at the event. This included Mary Liling from the International Council of Jewish Women, and Ana Leurinda from the Africal Commission for Health and Human Rights Promoters.
Those Kashmiri activists who could not attend the event due to Indian travel restrictions did so through Skype, like Tariq Ahmed Dar. He was recently released from illegal detention for 12 years from the notorious Indian Tihar Jail.
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.