India Using Rape As A Weapon of Occupation: George Galloway

Geneva, Switzerland. June 9, 2011. British parliamentarian George Galloway a veteran campaigner on Kashmir spoke to the seminar at the UN in Geneva, entitled, “Defending the Democratic Processes.” The seminar was a parallel activity, organized by International Educational Development and co-sponsored by IIFSO, IHRAAM and WMC. The seminar presented the views of persons involved in some of the situations where the will of the people has prevailed, as well as persons involved in situations where the will of the people has been frustrated.

Galloway sketched the role of "Perfidious Albion" the British Empire in the creation of the Kashmiri suffering and compared it to the situation in Palestine, another British crime.

Except said Galloway the suffering of the Kashmiris was even greater. Eighty thousand had died in the more than twenty year freedom struggle, uncountable numbers had been wounded and maimed, mass imprisonment and exile and even the use of rape as a tool of occupation had been the lot of the Kashmiris said Galloway. And yet he said the only demand of the occupied people of Kashmir was for the right to vote. The same right the west claims to support in the Arab Spring, for the Libyans and the Syrians for example.

All Kashmiris want is what was promised to them by the UN he said. A simple plebiscite. Recalling the promise made by the great Indian Prime Minister Mr. Nehru to abide by this UN resolution, Galloway called on what he described as the great India to solve this issue by keeping Mr. Nehru’s promise.

Galloway hailed Arundhati Roy who was visiting London whilst he was in Geneva and her powerful messages to India on the issue of Kashmir. Listen to one of your greatest daughters, he said. She is not a Kashmiri and she is not a Muslim. She is though a jewel in the crown of India. She too is crying out for justice for the people of occupied Kashmir. And she too is saying that Kashmir was never the part of India.

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council Kashmir Center said that 2011 has proved to be one of the most dramatic periods in recent history, and it is only half finished. The citizens in a number of countries (Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen) have protested long-entrenched oppressive regimes and have toppled them to restore democracy and governance of the will of the people. Citizen participation and engagement has also increased in established democracies, as people demand fair labor standards, transparency, and basic rights. There are several current struggles against oppressive regimes that are still ongoing, with varying levels of international action.

Fai said that there are several situations where protest against long-standing occupation and oppression remains frustrated in spite of the rights inherent with the right to self-determination and the will of the people as the basis of political power. A major case of this is the situation in Kashmir, where the citizenry has protested peacefully against the occupying Indian forces to no avail, in spite of UN Security Council resolutions giving them the right to a plebiscite under UN auspices.

Dr. Fai warned that some nations have exploited the war against global terrorism to deny democratic processes and democratic values to its people.  The global campaign against terrorism should not have lead us into a war to defend the tyrant regimes and dictatorial governments. Yet, that is exactly what is happening.  Many countries are misusing their support to the United States in her war against global terrorism by persecuting human rights defenders, and by terrorizing human rights activists.  One such example is that of India in Occupied Kashmir.

Dr. Fai quoted President Obama who said in the Indian Parliament on November 10, 2010 that India should not shy away from taking a hard position on human rights violations in Myanmar . But unfortunately, President Obama did shy away from taking a hard position on human rights violations in Kashmir, despite the fact that the United States was the principle sponsor of the resolution 47 which was adopted by the United Nations Security Council on April 21, 1948. This resolution clearly states that the future of Kashmir must be ascertained in accordance with the wishes and the will of the people.

Fai highlighted the duplicity of the world powers by saying Dr. Fai reiterated that on one hand, the world powers denounced Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait as it was against the norms and the principles of international relations.  But they are silent over the occupation of Kashmir by India which is a share violation of international norms and United Nations Security Council resolutions. If Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait was not justified and did not stand, similarly the India’s occupation of Kashmir is not justified and should not stand, Fai added.

Kashmir issue cannot  and must not be resolved militarily. It is a political issue and needs to be resolved only through peaceful political means.  So, the first step is that there has to be a cease-fire from all sides that must be followed by negotiations.  Negotiations cannot and should not be carried out at a time when parties are killing each other.   Kashmir must be demilitarized, on the one hand, and de-terrorized on the other, Fai said.

Dr. Karen Parker, IED delegate to the United Nations said that  The United Nations determined many years ago that the Kashmiri people have the right to self-determination and set up a plan for realizing this right and resolving what was then a political and military crisis between India and Pakistan over the disposition of Kashmir. However, this plan was not implemented and the Kashmiri right to self-determine is as yet unrealized. India and Pakistan have continued to fight over Kashmir -- a fight that has generated several wars and many military skirmishes between them. Kashmir situation continues to haunt the world, especially now that both India and Pakistan are declared nuclear powers. The Kashmiri people continue to suffer from serious human rights and humanitarian law violations in the course of India’s military actions against them.

Parker said unfortunately, review of the current situation of the Kashmiri peoples’ right to self-determination shows that it has been reduced to political rhetoric or is even absent from discussion. However, ignoring the right cannot annul it. Further, it should be patently obvious that the crisis in and over Kashmir will not be resolved without renewed acknowledgment and commitment of the world powers to realize the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Then and only then can a peace plan go forward that has potential to succeed.

“Restoration of the right to self-determination to its proper status in discussions and actions to resolve the crisis and achieve a final disposition of Kashmir will not be easy, but there is no alternative: without the Kashmiri people deciding for themselves as promised by the United Nations this crisis will continue ad infinitum. As a minimum, both India and Pakistan would have to allow the Kashmiri people to make their choice -- politically difficult for both India and Pakistan and perhaps for the Kashmiri people themselves. For this to occur at all, the international community must return to the original plan with firm resolve and active leadership. Discussions should focus on how to establish conditions for the plebiscite and then on actually organizing it. At all stages the Kashmiri people and their leadership should be involved.

Mr. Altaf Wani, Representative of the All Parties Hurriyet Conference said that the principles of democracy and self-determination are related on more than just a philosophical level. The practice of self-determination usually requires a democratic process to determine the choice of a people when exercising that right.

Wani emphasized that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were given the right ot self-determination by no less an authority than the United Nations Security Council. The denial of the right to self-determination has led to a regime of human rights violations, rape, torture, enforced disappearances and arbitary arrests are every day affair in Indian occupied Kashmir. And India has maintained the policy of repression and subjugation and intimidation.

“The conspiracy of silence over gross affronts to Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir itself violates still binding United Nations Security Council resolutions. The silence of world powers has emboldened India to a chilling campaign of human rights atrocities against innocent Kashmir's” Wani concluded.

Dr. Marjan Lucas, Global Affairs expert from Netherlands said, that "Well aware of India’s stance on Kashmir, international diplomats and politicians hesitate to engage in direct talks with Kashmiri leadership and limit themselves to Pakistani or Indian politicians and diplomats, or at the most to the moderate Kashmiri acceptable by them. They fear that talking to the Kashmiri themselves means to risk very promising trade relations and close military cooperation with India (which stands for a gigantic economic market) and Pakistan (a crucial ally in the fight in Afghanistan)"

"To my opinion this is a serious mistake:   I think genuine civil society actors ‘on the ground’  are crucial to be acknowledged in their role in triggering socio-political transition.  The Arab Spring shows how important it is that people in the streets feel a sense of ownership in  the revolutionary  process.  I fear that If now the International Community chooses to furthermore merely address and negotiate with the usual elite,  the promising  Spring will soon turn into a sad Autumn and the people in the streets who risked their lives and were the main victims of deadly violence, will turn their back to the process and seek their own road maps to an uncertain future" Lucas added.

Dr. Suaad Alfitouri, Libyab expert from Britain said over the last 42 years, Libyan people have been living under one of the most brutal and oppressive regimes in the world, headed by Colonal Gaddafi who came to power through a military coup.

She said that Gaddafi's rule over these decades was one of misery, sufferings and oppression of his own people, examples of which are too many to count. Self obsessed and intoxicated with power, he didn't hesitate from using fatal weapons and bombs against peaceful demonstrations. He bombed even houses and mosques killing thousands of people including children, women and elderly people.

Alfitouri pleaded to the world community that revolutionaries are in dire need of their support and help. These brave people of Libya are fighting courageously against the most tyrant regime of our time. Lack of support by the world is increasing their misery as more than 50,000 people have died so far and thousands are missing. People of Tripoli are under siege and have been made hostages while people of Zawia, Mistrata and Zintan are under direct attack. This situation demands immediate action by the world community as any delaying tactics could further harm our struggle and can strengthen Gaddaffi’s forces.

She said Libyans do not support any negotiation with Gaddafi regime as they have committed crimes against humanity.

Ms. Khanien Latif of Iraq could not attend due to the delay in her flight. However, her statement which was read by Taimoor Alliassi read that over the 90 years of the Iraqi Government's rule, Kurdistan has always bee the center of conflicts and political - military struggle with the central government in Baghdad. The population of Kurdistan has been subjected to policies of genocide and mass destruction. There is no guarantee that mass murder and genocide will not be committed against Kurds again. Obviously, these events have had negative impact on the progress of the democratic transition in the region.

The statement of Ms. Latif furthers read that the women equality, freedom of expression, civil rights are only provided when people feel safe in a stable country. However, what is happening in Iraq goes against this will. Under pretext of fear, people have been deprived from many of their rights. The seminar concluded after a lively question and answer session.

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