Draconian Laws Must be Immediately Repealed in Kashmir: KAC

Washington, DC, August 29, 2011. The Board of Directors, Kashmiri American Council (KAC), is appalled at the recent gruesome report of 2,700 bodies. This blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life is just another reminder of the tremendous sacrifices the people of Kashmir are enduring.  The Board calls on the International community to condemn these atrocities upon the innocent Kashmiri people, organize a UN tribunal to ascertain the gravity of the tyranny and allow the will of the people of Jammu & Kashmir to be ascertained in a free and fair plebiscite to decide their future.

The situation in Indian occupied Kashmir has become increasingly deadly with human rights abuses ongoing unabated.  Recently, anIndian police team, operating under the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), completed their report that verified the horrific discovery of 2700 mass graves. This eye-opening report confirms, despite claims by other Indian officials that graves contain bodies of ‘Pakistani militants’, that 574 bodies have been identified as disappeared locals.  Moreover, 17 bodies have already been exhumed and returned to mourning family members.

Furthermore, this latest report concludes that there is “every probability” that the remaining unidentified graves, of over 2,100 bodies, ‘may contain the dead bodies of [persons subject to] enforced disappearances.’ And, if India does not allow the DNA profiles of the bodies to be examined, then “it has to be assumed/ presumed that [the] State wants to remain silent deliberately to hide the Human Rights violations.”

The Board requests Mr. Jeremy Sarkin (South Africa), Chairperson-Rapporteur ‘United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances’ to conduct an independent investigation.

In Indian occupied Kashmir, the inalienable right for freedom of opinion is as grotesquely violated as the people. The indigenous Kashmiri leadership including Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Masarat Alam Butt, Ghulam Nabi Sumjhi, Ashraf Sahrayee, Aasiya Andrabi and others are the victims of the atrocities committed by the Indian armed forces.  Sadly, as of yet, they are under house arrest and or languishing in jails. To carry out their terror, the Indian government has enforced many draconian laws that have been used from time to time to suppress the Kashmiri movement for right to self-determination.

Those barbaric laws include the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which provides wide powers to the occupying Indian forces allowing them to arrest, torture and kill any person at their sweet will. Another draconian law is the Jammu Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978 (JKPSA) amended in 1987 and 1990. This law empowers the state government to detain a person without trial for two years under the pretext of maintenance of public order. No civilized society on earth should tolerate this monstrosity, particularly from a nation that swaggers while proclaiming itself a ‘superpower’ and ‘the world’s largest democracy.’ The United States, Department of State, in its 2010 Country Report on Human Rights Practices issued on April 8, 2011 says, “The Public Safety Act (PSA), which applies only in Jammu and Kashmir, permits state authorities to detain persons without charge or judicial review for as long as two years. During this time family members do not have access to detainees, and detainees do not have access to legal counsel. ”The Board insists that both these draconian laws be immediately repealed.

The KAC is committed to finding a just and lasting peace to the disputed territory of Kashmir.  It reminds the world powers in general and India & Pakistan in particular of the pledge which they have given at the United Nations, Security Council to the people of Kashmir i.e. the right of self-determination. It fully endorses the beginning of tripartite talks and a Kashmir Peace Process, including India, Pakistan and Kashmiri leadership, to resolve this longstanding dispute.  It urges the international community to intervene on humanitarian grounds to ease the suffering of the innocent and unarmed Kashmiri population.

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