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European Parliament members voice grave concern over alarming human rights situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir

BRUSSELS, Belgium: The member of the European Parliament has stressed upon the European Union to take urgent action to address the alarming human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), and persuade nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to initiate the dialogue process to resolve the long-standing Kashmir dispute to ensure lasting peace and stability in South Asia.

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In a letter dated July 30 and addressed to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the Vice President of the European Commission/High Representative Josep Borrell, 16 members of the European Union sought the EU’s attention to the appalling human rights situation in IIOJK.

The latter stated that “The miseries of the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been amply documented in the International Human Rights Watch World Report 2021 as well as the reports of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2018 and 2019.

This Indian-administered region had already suffered a debilitating lockdown since the revocation of its special status in 2019, and the restraints on the rights to movement, access to information, health care, education as well as free speech have been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Journalists and human rights defenders have been increasingly targeted for raising their voice in support of the Kashmiri people and denounce their situation. Arbitrary detentions continue, public assembly is still prohibited under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC) and hundreds including minors and several elected legislators of Jammu and Kashmir remain under preventive detention.

Unfortunately, a number of legislations introduced by the Indian governments over the years to prevent terrorism and separatism including the Special Powers Act (SPA), the Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA), and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), have been often misused against the Kashmiri population.

In addition to being a humanitarian crisis, the long-standing dispute over Jammu and Kashmir in South Asia also poses a major threat to peace, stability, and security in the region, being a flash point between two nuclear-armed Countries and we are worried that any miscalculation can lead to unwarranted consequences.

The delicate security situation has further deteriorated as the local population is continuously protesting the revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and the controvert Indian Citizenship Amendment Act, causing unrest and strife within the valley adding to the volatility and tensions between the militaries of India and Pakistan.

As a champion of universal human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule-based international order, the EU must raise its voice against the violations of human rights affecting the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We believe that the EU should use all its leverage and tools to cooperate with our Indian and Pakistani partners to honour the pledge made to the Kashmiris by the international community and create an environment conducive to implementation of the United Nations (UN) resolutions.

As members of European Parliament, we vouch to continue our engagements with the Parliaments of India and Pakistan as well as the Kashmiri leaders to impress upon them the urgent need to foster a climate of peace and dialogue in the region. It is extremely important that the voices of Kashmiri people are heard, their aspirations are responded to and they are granted the opportunity to decide their own future.”

In the letter, members of the European Union called upon the European Commission President and the Vice President/High Representative to convey their grave concerns at the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the IIOJK to the Indian government.

They also asked the European Commission’s top officials to take urgent action to address the alarming human rights situation in the region.

The EU members also asked them to contribute to the peace and stability of the region enhancing dialogues with India, Pakistan and the representatives of Kashmiri people, making use of our special relationships with both India and Pakistan to facilitate engagement and dialogue between the two neighbours and resolve the dispute through peaceful means and in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir.

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