Kashmir: The Narrative Of Occupation And Scope Of International Law
By Our Special Correspondent
Ankara, Turkey. December 14, 2022 – A three-days ‘International Kashmir Congress’ (IKC), organized by ‘Legal Forum for Kashmir’ & ‘Centre for Economic and Social Research’ (ESAM) was held at Ankara, Turkey. The theme of the Congress was ‘The Narrative of Occupation and Scope of International Law: A Preview of Occupied Kashmir.’
Prominent legal experts, scholars and academics, from the United States, Great Britain, Middle East and South Asia participated during the three days deliberations. A high-level delegation of Kashmiri experts and scholars were among the participants.
Advocate Nasir Qadri, main organizer of IKC, in his welcoming remarks said that the legal underpinning of Kashmir dispute has been restricted to territorial claim between India and Pakistan notwithstanding the issue having deep roots with prolonged Military occupation. Unlawful occupation is not merely a fact but fact relevant to international order since it triggers the applicability of number of international rules. The applicability of the law of occupation follows the fact of occupation, it is quite obsolete to establish that whether occupation was in violation of international law.
Advocate Qadri added that with Abrogation of autonomous character of Indian occupied Kashmir on August 5, 2019, the India’s relationship with the disputed region has been transitioned into fully settler colonial state. The framework applied by Prof Dr Richard Falk in context to Palestinian occupation is fit in the occupation of Kashmir as he rightly has enunciated, ‘An occupant state aiming to transform political and legal order of territory permanently for instance by supporting the proxy government (Such as LG in IOJK) or by pursuing of a territory, attracts state responsibility for serious violation of Jus cogens (Customary principles) norms of international law
Dr Ghulam N. Mir, President, World Kashmir Awareness Forum and Chairman, Kashmir Diaspora Coalition congratulated the leadership of the International Kashmir Congress held in Ankara, Turkey for a successful conference led by the Legal Forum for Kashmir to explore solutions under international legal framework. Kashmir as a distinct and historical entity has existed for many centuries. But trouble started when South Asia was decolonized by the British empire in 1947, granting the two emerging states India, and Pakistan freedom nearly two centuries of slavery. Unfortunately, having conveniently forgotten its own misery of slavery India turned around and plotted a several devious plots of expansionism.
It has since occupied a major portion of Kashmir. It has defied UNSC resolutions guaranteeing the People of Jammu and Kashmir their right to self-determination under UN supervision. 75 years have passed, many wars have been fought and hundreds of thousands of innocent Kashmiri civilians and hundreds of Indian and Pakistani soldiers killed in skirmishes and open warfare.
Dr Mir added that Indians have resorted to massive campaigns of genocide including the Jammu Genocide of October 1948, numerous selective civilian massacres of Kashmir of Kashmiri Muslims in 1990’s in which hundreds were murdered by nearly 900,000 Indian troops. Civilian atrocities, gang rapes, unexplained disappearances, unmarked mass graves, pillage and a variety of other crimes against humanity are still ongoing. We all as diaspora have been witness to the criminal and cruel behaviour of the occupation forces.
Since August 2019 an aggressive campaign of settler-colonialist project is being pursued by the Modi regime. A scrupulous legal team that can bring together reputable scholars of international law to render their legal expertise and advice has now been started in this conference. We are very optimist about the prospects of success in this campaign, Dr Mir concluded.
Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman, ‘World Forum for Peace & Justice’ highlighted the following facts during his intervention in the IKC. The people of Kashmir have not forgotten the promise of a plebiscite, given to them by the United Nations after seeking the consent from both India and Pakistan. Instead, pressure from the people of Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination has grown day after day. Each time Kashmiris have renewed their demands, Indian occupation forces have answered with prolonged repression. What started as isolated acts of violence by the Indian army target at Kashmiri leadership has now turned into a systemic reign of terror in the Valley of Kashmir – a natural paradise and breathtakingly beautiful Valley. All the features of severe political repression are evident — detention without trial, torture, execution, the torching of neighbourhoods and gang rapes by the Indian occupation army are common daily occurrences. Dr Gregory Stanton, Chairman, Genocide Watch says, “Kashmir is at the brink of genocide.” Kashmir has become the hell for the people of Kashmir, writes ‘The New York Times, August 10, 2019.
Dr. Fai added that many nations have been very firm and leading supporters of peacekeeping by the United Nations. The proposition is now generally accepted that mere peace keeping – which in the case of Kashmir has meant only the stationing of a ‘Military Observer Group’ – does not serve a long-term goal unless it is accompanied by a tangible peace process. No effort to negotiate a solution of a dispute which could take into account the rights of the people of Kashmir itself is being undertaken or has been undertaken for the last seven decades.
Fai explained that the people of Kashmir are dismayed by the total apathy on the part of the United Nations when governments, otherwise sympathetic to human rights situation make statement to the effect that India and Pakistan must resolve the issue by themselves, they disregard the rights and aspirations of the people of Kashmir itself. We recognize that such disregard is not deliberate. Nevertheless, it tells and encourages India in its policy of side-lining the United Nations and perpetuating its occupation of Kashmir by force. Time for intervention of UN Secretary General under Article 99 of UN Charter is now!
Ghulam Muhammad Safi, leader of All Parties Hurriyat Conference detailed the chain of broken promises of Government of India towards the people of Kashmir since 1947. He explained that India’s claim that Maharaja signed the ‘Instrument of Accession’ was a bogus because the original has never been found.
Second, India reneged on its Kashmir plebiscite pledges made by Indian delegate to the U.N. only when India realized that its people would never freely vote accession to India. India contrived excuse after excuse to frustrate a plebiscite promise.
Thirdly, at Simla, following the 1971 India-Pakistan war, promises were made by India to negotiate seriously over Kashmiri sovereignty. India’s design was simply to sideline the United Nations.
“The consequences of train of broken promises of India over Kashmir have been dangerous and momentous. India exerts an iron-fisted rule over Kashmir that would stir the heart of Genghis Khan. With approximately 900,000 military and paramilitary troops in the territory, gruesome human rights violations are perpetrated with impunity on a scale that makes East Timor under Suharto seem like a tea party,” concluded Mr. Safi.
Dr Mubeen Shah, President Kashmir House, Istanbul and Vice Chairman, ‘Kashmir Diaspora Coalition’ said that OIC countries must raise the Kashmir dispute, during their bilateral engagements with India, to advance a peaceful resolution in accordance with UNSC resolutions.
Dr Shah said that Kashmiri demand of ‘Right of Self Determination’ is non-negotiable. OIC should constitute a panel of international eminent personalities with a view to exploring legal, political and diplomatic avenues for peaceful settlement of Jammu and Kashmir dispute. OIC should pursue Ukraine model to put sanctions on India till it implements UN resolutions. The possibility of giving relief, jobs and scholarships to Kashmiris on the priority basis.
Dr Mubeen Shah warned that time is running out. If there is a delay in stopping India in its nefarious design, there will be Kashmir but without the people of Kashmir.
Dr Shah highlighted the case of Khurram Parvez, a leading global expert on human rights who has been detained under fabricated charges. He called for his unconditional release as was demanded by eight United Nations Special Rapporteurs including Mary Lawlor, UNSR on Human Rights Defenders.
Abdul Rasheed Turabi, Parliamentarian from Azad Kashmir highlighted the atrocities committed by Indian army in occupied Kashmir. He said that the nefarious design of Narendra Modi is a threat to peace and stability in the region of South Asia.
The Hindutva ideology threatens the very fabric of Indian public square, in including minorities, like Muslims, Christians and Sikhs.
Sheikh Turabi demanded that the political leaders, including Shabir Ahmed Shah, Muhammad Yasin Malik, Masarrat Aalam, Aasiya Andrabi and others should be released immediately.
Sheikh Turabi thanked ESAM for taking a leadership role in mobilizing the public opinion not only in Turkey but beyond.
Sheikh Abdul Mateen, Deputy Convenor, All Parties Hurriyat Conference said, that it’s been more than three years when the right-wing Hindutva-driven Prime Minister Narendra Modi government in India revoked the Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, thus treacherously abrogating the special status of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK) in sheer violation of United Nations resolutions and the international law.
Sheikh Mateen added that revocation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, IOJK stood independent to take any lawful course of action about its future. It was Article 370 that was the only link between India and Indian occupied Kashmir as that had the approval of the territory’s Legislative Assembly. So, it can be rightly said that on 5 August 2019, India through her massive presence of 900,000 troops, militarily reoccupied Jammu and Kashmir and clamped down a strict curfew that continued for months. All of this was done illegally to not only legalize the illegal move, but to change the demography of the occupied territory through conversion of Muslim majority status of IOJK into minority.
Sheikh Matten emphasized that changing IOJK’s demography in order to further its toxic Hindutva ideology and alter the demography of IOJK, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) left no stone unturned and issued over 300,000 domicile certificates to non-Kashmiri Hindus from various parts of India which is a grave violation of Fourth Geneva Convention Article (6).
Sheikh Mateen demanded that the international community play its much needed role to stop India from the brutalities and genocide of Kashmiris who only demand their birth right, the right to self-determination, the right to freedom from the unjust, forceful and illegal occupation of India.
Ms. Shamim Shawl, Representative of All Parties Hurriyat Conference highlighted the pain and suffering of the women of Kashmir, perpetrated upon them by the Indian occupation forces. She demanded an answer for the silence of the world powers upon the heinous crime that was committed in Kunun-Poshpura in early 1990’s.
Ms. Shawl became emotional while relating the case of an eight-year-old girl, Aasifa Bano of Kathua, Jammu who was abducted, gang-raped and subsequently murdered by Indian occupational forces in January 2018.
Shamim Shawl appealed to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to persuade the UN Human Rights Council to establish a “Commission of Enquiry” to assess the situation in Kashmir as recommended by his predecessor, Ms. Michele Bachelet.
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