Posts Tagged ‘Kjell Magne Bondevik’

Forgotten Kashmir: something has to be done

February 9, 2020

...After more than 70 years of terror, killings, torture, and disappearances, the international community must renew its efforts to end the conflict in Kashmir. In 2018 and 2019, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released reports that documented a wide range of abuses – including kidnappings, the killing of civilians, and sexual violence – perpetrated by both sides in the conflict. The UN needs to take the lead in stopping Kashmir’s torment. ……The conflict has consumed resources that should have been used for development; instead, they were channeled to arms purchases or a regional race to develop weapons of mass destruction. Everyone, regardless of age, religion, or ethnicity, has suffered, whether as a result of displacement, family separation, loss of property, the death or disappearance of friends and close relatives, grinding poverty, or simply the prospect of a future as bleak and constricted as the present.The international community has, at times, attempted to mediate between India and Pakistan. The UN has adopted resolutions demanding a referendum on Kashmir’s future status. But, even though it has long been evident that there is no military solution to the conflict – temporary ceasefire initiatives have never resulted in a lasting agreement – India to this day has resisted a plebiscite. In 2003, Pakistan’s then-president, Pervez Musharraf, formulated a four-step approach to a political solution. Without insisting on a referendum, India and Pakistan would begin a dialogue; recognize Kashmir as the main source of bilateral hostility; identify and eliminate what was unacceptable to each side; and strive for a solution acceptable to both countries – and especially to the people of Kashmir. Subsequently, a ceasefire was declared, and high-level meetings took place, but, following a terrorist attack, India terminated the talks. In 2012, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tried unsuccessfully to revive the process.

I have been personally engaged with the Kashmir issue for some time. Last year, I held meetings with senior politicians in Pakistan and India. I am well aware that India wants to treat the Kashmir conflict solely as a bilateral issue. But in that case, it should take the initiative in starting talks with Pakistan. If that does not happen, the international community must demand that the parties come together to negotiate a peaceful solution.

Again, it is not up to the UN or anyone else to impose a solution on the parties. The current situation is rooted in a highly complex mix of history and politics, and any viable settlement must reflect Kashmir’s unique circumstances. A major issue to be addressed is the “line of control” separating Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir, which hinders the free movement of people, divides families, and impedes business and trade. And, of course, Kashmir’s future status is the main question that must be resolved. During my last visit to Kashmir, I saw firsthand the level of violence and the severity of human-rights violations. Conditions have deteriorated further since India repealed Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in October 2019, dissolved it as a state, and reorganized it as two “union territories” – all enforced by the security forces with a wave of arrests, a ban on assembly, and an Internet and media blackout.At a time of war in Syria and Yemen, and heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, it is difficult to get the international community to focus on Kashmir. But it is crucial that the conflict not be allowed to spiral out of control, especially given that both countries are nuclear powers. Above all, the people of Kashmir deserve a ceasefire, reconciliation, and stability, and it is the duty of the UN to advance this goal. I urge the UN to appoint a special envoy to Kashmir. And I appeal to UN Secretary-General António Guterres to seize the initiative and help deliver a long-overdue and lasting peace to this region…

“The Indian government must immediately end all draconian restrictions on fundamental freedoms in Jammu & Kashmir, and fully reinstate communications”, FIDH and its member organization People’s Watch urged on 5 February 2020. In conjunction with its call, FIDH released a briefing note that highlights some of the human rights concerns that have remained unaddressed since 5 August 2019. For the past six months, the people of Jammu & Kashmir have been living under siege and denied their fundamental rights under the most draconian of measures. These grave violations of human rights must come to an end, and accountability must be established for the serious violations that have occurred since 5 August.Adilur Rahman Khan, FIDH Secretary-General
Since the evening of 4 August 2019, internet communications, and initially telephone lines, have been cut in Jammu & Kashmir, effectively isolating residents from the rest of the world. Although phone lines were gradually reinstated and internet access restored in certain places, personal internet connections are limited to 301 government-approved websites through a very slow 2G connection. Although accurate figures are unavailable, thousands of arbitrary detentions have been reported since 5 August 2019, including hundreds of detentions under the abusive 1978 Public Safety Act (PSA). Many detainees, particularly youth and low-ranking political activists, have been transferred to jails outside of Jammu & Kashmir, the location of which is unknown in many cases. There have also been numerous reports of excessive use of force by army and police forces, including reports of deaths and injuries as a result of the improper use of pellet guns and teargas. The reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir has also resulted in a number of measures that will have long-term implications for the human rights situation in the region, including the disbanding of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) of Jammu & Kashmir – one of the few avenues for justice available to local people – at the end of October 2019. More than 500 cases of alleged enforced disappearances were pending before the SHRC at the time of its disbandment. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/17/fidh-dares-to-publish-a-report-on-key-human-rights-issues-of-concern-in-kashmir/]

Human rights violations of the gravest nature are nothing new in Jammu & Kashmir, and have gone unpunished for decades. But taking away the little autonomy the state had will only make the situation worse, especially when the people most affected by these changes have been denied their right to express their opinions. added Henri Tiphagne, People’s Watch Executive Director

On 5 February the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requested an urgent intervention in the case of Mr. Miyan Abdul Qayoom, a human rights lawyer and President of Jammu & Kashmir High Court Bar Association. Mr. Qayoom, 70,  suffers from multiple health conditions, including diabetes, double vessel heart disease, and kidney problems.
According to the information received, during the evening of January 29, 2020, Mr. Qayoom’s family received a phone call from Agra Central Jail’s authorities, in Uttar Pradesh State, informing them that Mr. Qayoom had been transferred to Sarojini Naidu Medical College after complaining of chest pain, breathlessness and his pulse rate had significantly gone down to 44pm, and asking them to visit him. On January 30, 2020, upon reaching Agra Central Jail, Mr. Qayoom’s relatives discovered that Mr. Qayoom had been taken back to the jail’s dispensary, even though his health condition had not improved.  On February 3, 2020, Jammu & Kashmir High Court Srinagar bench, after hearing the final arguments, reserved its judgement regarding Mr. Qayoom’s habeas corpus request. The scheduled date of the judgement was not known as of the publication of this Urgent Appeal…..
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https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/united-nations-must-mediate-political-solution-in-kashmir-by-kjell-magne-bondevik-2020-02