To commemorate Kashmir Solidarity Day, a Seminar/Webinar titled “A Case of Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir” was held at Pakistan High Commission, Canberra on 05 February 2021.
2. The distinguished Speakers included, former Foreign Secretary, Mr. Salman Bashir, former Senator Lee Rhiannon, Mr. David Shoebridge, Member of the Legislative Council in the New South Wales Parliament, Dr. Claude Rakisits, Hon. Associate Professor ANU, Professor Samina Yasmin, Director and founder of the Centre for Muslim States and Societies and High Commissioner for Pakistan, Mr. Babar Amin.
3. The Speakers highlighted the grave human rights situation in Indian Occupied and Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) especially in the wake of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 which were against the UNSC resolutions and international law. The Speakers agreed that there was an urgent need for the resolution of IIOJK dispute as per the UNSC resolutions and aspirations of the people of Kashmir.
4. Senator Lee Rhiannon in her remarks stated that the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir were facing a grave humanitarian crisis and were being denied basic human rights, including the freedom of movement, communication, and basic essential needs such as food and medicine. She stated that the communication blockade by India during the Covid-19 pandemic was a ‘death sentence’ for the people of IIOJK. She added that there was little awareness that India was committing crimes against humanity in IIOJK. She urged Australian government and the international community to call on India for the immediate cessation of the lockdown in IIOJK and to bring normalcy to the lives of the Kashmiri people.
5. Mr. David Shoebridge, MLC highlighted the human rights violations in Kashmir and stressed on the need for resolution of the Kashmir dispute on the principle of right to self-determination. He expressed concern on the indifference of the international community including Australia, to the plight of the Kashmiris. He, however, added that there was hope as the issue was being raised by international human rights organizations, media groups and parliamentarians around the world.
6. Dr. Claude Rakisits in his remarks stated that the situation in IIOJK was grave due to the continued clampdown in IIOJK. He added that India’s actions of 5 August 2019 were a violation of international laws. Kashmir had become an open-air jail where people were being denied their fundamental rights. He appreciated the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s remarks on 3 February 2021 in which he called for the resolution of IIOJK issue in accordance with the UNSC resolutions. Dr. Rakists further stated that people of Jammu and Kashmir should be allowed to choose their own fate.—PR