Jeddah 19th June 2018: The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) welcomes the detailed report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released on 14th June, 2018 which has confirmed the atrocities and violence perpetrated by Indian security forces against innocent Kashmiri Muslims in the IoK in total disregard of their human rights obligations. The Commission appreciates the report as an earnest attempt to bring spot light on the grave human rights violations perpetrated against the innocent Kashmiri Muslims for past several decades.
The Commission notes that the main focus of the report is the worsening human rights situation in the IoK since July 2016 when the freedom struggle of the Kashmiri youth acquired a new impetus following the extra-judicial killing of the freedom fighter Burhan Wani. The report confirms that “Indian security forces used excessive force that led to unlawful killings and a very high number of injuries, citing civil society estimates that up to 145 civilians were killed by the security forces between mid-July 2016 and the end of March 2018”. The report further highlights that “one of the most dangerous weapons used against protesters in 2016 – and which is still being employed by security forces – was the pellet-firing shotgun. According to official figures, 17 people were killed by shotgun pellets between July 2016 and August 2017, and 6,221 people were injured by the metal pellets between 2016 and March 2017 – most of whom have been partially or completely blinded”.
These are deplorable and blatant violations of Kashmiris’ fundamental human rights including the right to life, right to freedom of expression, right to peaceful protest and assembly, which are granted to them by International human rights law and must be respected in all circumstances. However, these are not new revelations. For past several decades, many credible international human rights organizations including the OIC-IPHRC, relevant UN Special Procedures, independent media as well as Indian civil society have regularly reported upon the human rights abuses committed by the Indian forces with impunity.
Based on specific mandate from the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), the IPHRC wrote a detailed report in March 2017 on the human rights situation in the IOK, with concrete recommendations for actions by various stakeholders. The present UN report echoes the concerns and observations raised in the OIC-IPHRC report when it rightly identifies that “impunity for human rights violations and lack of access to justice are key human rights challenges in the state of Jammu and Kashmir”. It further identifies that the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978 (PSA) have “created structures that obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations.”. IPHRC in its report also highlighted that through discriminatory laws, Indian security forces have created an atmosphere of impunity and fear which has led to grave human rights abuses against unarmed demonstrators and protestors, women and children with little regard for the principles of proportionality and necessity.
The Commission also condemns the recent cold blooded killing of a well-known journalist Shujaat Bukhari, editor of Srinagar based newspaper Rising Kashmir, by unknown assailants on the day coinciding with the release of the UN Report. These repetitive, systematic and systemic human rights violations in IoK have a well-defined pattern and design of State collusion to silence the voice of reason and freedom.
The Commission sincerely hopes that the contents of the UN report and other similar reports will: a) persuade the Indian government to come out of its persistent denial of human rights of the Kashmiri Muslims and to amend its repressive policies; and b) galvanize international efforts to bring an end to the persistent human rights violations as part of a comprehensive and everlasting solution guaranteeing to Kashmiris their right to self-determination.
The Commission also welcomes the call of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish the Commission of Inquiry under UN auspices to comprehensively investigate the confirmed allegations of human rights violations, which echoes the OIC-IPHRC’s proposal for establishing such a Commission. It is hoped that the parties to the decades old conflict will fully cooperate with the UN in formation of the Commission and its proceedings.
While welcoming the recommendations made by the UN report the Commission reaffirms the pronouncements made by repeated CFMs concerning OIC’s principled position to support the people of Jammu and Kashmir in achieving their legitimate rights, including the right to self-determination and resolving the dispute through dialogue in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people.