In commemoration of International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2020, the Center of Pakistan and International Relations organized a Webinar title “Kashmir under the sanctity of UN Declaration of Human Rights: Challenges for the Kashmiri’s right to self-determination.”

Members of the International community, scholars, journalists, social activists, diplomats and academia graced the event with their participation for raising the voice of innocent Kashmiris against Human Rights violations by Indian occupational forces. This conference acted as a platform for the global movement on Kashmir. The panellist included Dr Tehseen Nisar, Dr Domenico Melidoro, Dr Fabio Balsamo, Dr Barbara Gallo, Syed Mehmood Kazmi, Prof. Angelo Santagostino, and Amna Malik President COPAIR. Awais Siddique and Dr Tehseen Nisar moderated the three-hour-long session.

President COPAIR Amna Malik commenced the session by highlighting the important role of the international community for advocating the human rights of citizens. She further highlighted the relevance of choosing international human rights day for this webinar-since the people of Kashmir are deprived of their rights, therefore it becomes a moral obligation to highlight their plight and draw the attention of the global community towards the protracted conflict. She also stressed that the spirit of their sacrifices and the persistent struggle for the cause of freedom. In addition to underlining the key challenges to the right of self-determination faced by Kashmiris, she also referred to the future strategic course of action and pronounced advocacy as an imperative element for the Kashmir crisis management. She emphasized exigencies of an inclusive framework to emulate, and raise voice to support this global movement and demanded the engagement of the international community to arbitrate in the matter to end the enduring sufferings of Kashmiris.

Dr Tehseen Nisar shared the findings of her research and shed light on the quintessential relevance of Kashmir within the debate of Universal Human Rights. She explained the peculiar similarity between Israel and India with reference to flagrant Human rights violations and briefed about the assimilated approach for desires of annexation. She was of the view that, through pursuing coherent deceitful agenda to change the demographical status of Kashmir, India breached its own constitution by abrogating Article 370 that entails the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions. She also indicated the aggressive suppression of the anti-CAA protests an evident example of human rights violations. In her opinion, Modi is spreading the agenda of hatred being a warmonger and fragmentation of Indian society. Along this, she mentioned the diplomatic triumph by Pakistan concerning OIC conference in Niger that unanimously supported the Kashmiri cause. Lastly, she emphasized on the need to engage foreign intellects, scholars and academia to work collaboratively to highlight the human rights violation in Indian occupied Kashmir.

Dr Domenico Melidoro talked about the “Issues of Multiculturalism between Minority Rights and Human Rights in Religiously Volatile Societies”. Dr Melidoro focused on the issue of Indian occupied Kashmir with reference to his topic of speech. He asserted that minority rights and Human Rights could not be segregated since their relevance is an evident phenomenon. He differentiated the struggle for a nation-state and the one for a multicultural state and highlighted that India itself is confused to pick the one. He stressed on the need to have a collective voice to recommend the high offices and human rights organizations to keep a check on India’s intentional efforts to change the demography of Kashmir. He also talked about the Hindutva ideology by India, which is actually inciting the non-Kashmiris to settle in their area and depriving them of their rights. Such deliberate efforts by India are to compel the people to compromise on their right to self-determination, especially the current human rights issues in IIOJK. He concluded that in order to deal with Diversity there is need to have a comprehensive theoretical classification of liberalism into comprehensive pro-autonomy, comprehensive pro-toleration, political pro-autonomy, and political pro-toleration. Through a dialectical method, the author offered a critical account of the most adequate system that allows genuine commitment to diversity on the part of liberal institutions and analyzed India’s religious pluralism in this context.

Dr Fabio Balsamo discussed the history of Human rights and focused on contemporary Human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir. While giving reference to the United Nations he stressed that the UN must respect Nations and their rights, irrespective of their status or disparity level. He highlighted the importance of Religious tolerance to implement Human rights in true sense. It also allows people to practice their religious obligations without any hesitation. He indicated that even a large number of people in India are facing the threat of statelessness, deportation, and prolonged detention. Nationwide protesters against the CAA, Article 370 and 35A have also been met with violent reprisal from the police and government-aligned groups like the RSS and clearly indicates India’s desire to change the demographics of Indian-Occupied Kashmir. He also added up the condition and suffering of the people of IOK amid covid 19, mentioning that the communication blackout has further worsened the situation. Right to information and freedom of expression is clearly breached in the valley by Indian authorities. Kashmiris are deprived of all the basic necessities of life. The epitome of all the Human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir is a common practice since long under prolonged Indian occupation.

Syed Mahmood Kazmi, a Kashmiri hailing from the USA, also shared his experiences of suffering and repression by the Indian occupational forces. He focused on the disruption of Kashmiri children’s right to education due to widespread lockdowns and fear of life. In his zealous speech, he recognized the loss of education due to school closures and the rise of mental fears in Kashmiri children. He said many of us around the globe are suffering to our rights, to liberated life and people of Kashmir can be said to be the most vulnerable ones. Unfortunately, in IIOJK children are suffering more than anyone else is because they are deprived of their right to attain education. He also requested world bodies to come forward in support of the people of Kashmir.

Dr Barbara Gallo, a journalist from Rome spoke about the denial of freedom of speech and communication blackout in Indian occupied Kashmir. She opinioned that the civil rights of the Kashmiris are being denied in the wake of India’s illegal revocation of Article 370 of its Constitution and a long military siege in the Indian occupied valley. She was of the view that one of the most dangerous weapons used by the incumbent BJP-led government is the blackout of communication in Kashmir. She added that such communication bans are collective punishment and it is against the standards of international human rights law to limit freedom of expression. She mentioned statement of Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, who asserted, “cutting all means of communication in Jammu and Kashmir prevents its journalists from doing their job and, above all, prevents its citizens from having access to independent news and information, which is absolutely decisive at such a crucial moment.” The communications blackout in Kashmir has been accompanied by a sudden deployment of more than 45,000 paramilitaries. She requested the international media to echo the voice of unarmed and innocent Kashmiris against the brutal Indian aggression.

Prof Angelo Santagostino shared his European perspective on the human rights question of Jammu and Kashmir by saying that it has been over a century since Kashmiris are suffering from human rights abuses. He said that the principle of self-determination is not followed probably in many parts of the world more particularly in Indian occupied Kashmir. He said that the Covid-19 pandemic represented a propitious opportunity to justify the adoption of further undue government restrictions on minorities and, in particular, the Islamic communities of Kashmir and Jammu. Even before this, the situation within the valley was never favourable for Kashmiris. They have never been able to practice their rights. In addition to all the other serious restrictions already imposed by the Indian government. Prof said that Modi’s regime is engaged in the centralization of power and moving towards cultural and religious intolerance. He concluded with saying that European integration and Franco-German détente could be replicated in case of Pakistan and India and this way Kashmiri’s suffering could be put to an end.

Ms Amna Malik – President Center of Pakistan and International Relations, Islamabad concluded the session by providing recommendations and invited the panellists to share their thoughts as well. She started by highlighting the significance of responsibility to protect doctrine which ensures to halt crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing etc and its transgression by India in IIOJK. She said that the global community must engage in compliance to the R2P doctrine to address the concerns of the humanitarian crisis in the disputed region. Secondly, revisiting our diplomatic policy and amplify our lobbying for Kashmir cause can help them achieve their basic rights. Thirdly, Pakistan can pursue Kashmir’s case before the UNSC, UN Human Rights Commission, ICJ and the International Criminal Court. Finally, she called for EU, Pakistani Diaspora, media, academia and global civil society to play their constructive role. Ms Amna also pledged to keep on advocating for the basic rights of Kashmiri people.

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