In Geneva, speakers have strongly denounced India’s ruthless suppression of dissent in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking at an event held on the sidelines of the 51st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the speakers said India’s apartheid regime has been misusing anti-terrorism laws to suppress the Kashmiris’ fundamental rights, in particular their right to freedom of speech and expression.
The event, organized by the World Muslim Congress (WMC), was attended and addressed by international law experts, academicians, rights activists, including Alfred De Zayas, Syed Faiz Naqshbandi, Barrister Nida Salam and Altaf Hussain Wani, whereas the event was moderated by Executive Director of Kashmir Institute of International Relations, Sardar Amjad Yousuf Khan.
Terming the right to freedom of expression and speech as one of the fundamental human rights, they said that the Indian government was not only violating the international law but also its own Constitution which guarantees citizens’ right to freedom of speech and expression.
Referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international laws, they said the fundamental right was not only protected under the international laws and treaties but Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution also states that all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression. They regrettably noted that the Indian government was brazenly violating these laws in the occupied territory where freedom of speech no longer exists.
“Since August 5, 2019 crackdown on independent journalists, rights defenders and members of the civil society in Kashmir has rapidly increased”, they said, adding that journalists who reported critically against the government policies have faced intimidation, harassment and long investigations.
Three years after India revoked Kashmir’s special status, they said, the situation in the occupied territory continues to remain highly fluid and fraught with uncertainty. While social, political and economic life remains critically suppressed, hapless Kashmiris are battling for life amid institutionalized insecurity and state-driven violence, they added.
The speakers said there has been no let up, whatsoever, in violence and bloodshed in the territory, human rights abuses continue unabated while fundamental freedoms remain suspended and a sense of perpetual fear and insecurity looms large over the region. —KMS