MONITORING DESK: The New Delhi regime has started a crackdown on independent journalists living in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) who are already facing waves after waves of subjugation.
The reason for the crackdown is the wrath of the New Delhi regime because it believes reports of international human rights organizations criticizing Human Rights violations in IIOJK are due to the reporting of Kashmiri journalists.
Talking to Eurasian News with a request of withholding their identity, seven journalists from Indian Occupied Kashmir stated that New Delhi believed the recent Human Rights Council Session of UN was the result of photos and news released by Kashmiri journalists from the valley through different means.
On August 4, 2020, 18 UN independent human rights experts issued a joint press release underscoring that since August 5 last year, “the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been in free fall”. These experts called for “urgent action to address the alarming human rights situation in the occupied territory”.
These experts expressed particular concern over “the October 2019 closure of the Jammu & Kashmir State Human Rights Commission” since it was also “investigating hundreds of suspected enforced disappearances dating as far back as 1989”.
The joint press release also noted that “allegations regarding thousands of unmarked and some mass grave sites have also not yet been properly investigated”.
The experts also raised concerns over the lack of response from India, though three of the four communications sent since last August about alleged arbitrary detention; torture; criminalization of Kashmiri journalists, and detention of a high profile human rights lawyer, Mr. Mian Abdul Qayyom in IIOJK.
They also noted that “while India had extended an open invitation in 2011 to Special Rapporteurs to visit but several of these requests were still pending”. They ”called on India to schedule pending visits urgently, particularly of the experts dealing with torture and disappearances”.
This press release was widely covered by international media, in part due to its amplification by tweets from official handles of the UN Office in Geneva and UN Special Procedures. Two of the Special Rapporteurs- on torture and human rights defenders- re-tweeted the press release from their personal accounts.
The Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, also tweeted the press release, reiterating call on India to meet its international human rights obligations in IIOJK and receive visits of Special Rapporteurs.
International human rights organizations also echoed similar concerns as well. The Amnesty International published a detailed report and a 20-minute documentary covering the human rights landscape in IIOJK since August 2019. They were both tweeted as well.
The Amnesty report, as well as the video, was based on testimonies from Kashmiri journalists and human rights activists, thereby amplifying India’s grave human rights abuses, especially clampdown on journalists, political and human rights activists, arbitrary detentions and reprisals against them.
The Amnesty highlighted the adverse impact of protracted digital restrictions on access to healthcare, education, and justice in Indian Occupied Kashmir amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
It demanded India to release arbitrarily detained political leaders, journalists, and activists; restore 4G mobile internet services, and conduct an independent investigation into attacks on journalists.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a press statement on August 4, 2020, expressing serious concerns over the persistent arbitrary restrictions, imposed by India since last August, on Kashmiri people’s rights to free speech, access to information, health care, and education.
It noted with dismay that ‘the Indian government claims that it was determined to improve Kashmiri lives ring hollow’. as authorities have intensified ‘stifling restraints on Kashmiris in violation of their basic rights’, even amidst the COVID pandemic.
It also called on India to release political detainees, uphold Kashmiri people’s freedom of speech, withdraw cases against journalists and activists, restore full internet access; and hold to account officials responsible for human rights violations in IIOJ&K.
The HRW Executive Director, Mr. Kenneth Roth, tweeted the press statement. In another tweet, he also drew attention towards Indian unlawful measures taken to militarily impose a demographic apa1theid in IIOJK through issuing domicile certificates to foreigners and allowing them to buy lands/properties in the occupied territory.
The Global Network Initiative (GNI), an umbrella NGO comprising of human rights and press freedom groups, investors, and academic institutions, through a public statement and a tweet on August 6, reiterated its long-standing concerns over internet disruptions in IIOJ&K since last August and its adverse impact on Kashmiri people’s basic rights, especially during the COVID pandemic.
It called on India to fully restore internet access in the disputed territory in compliance with its international human rights obligations.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP) in its feature published online on August 4, 2020 drew attention towards India’s strict clampdown on local Kashmiri media.
It recounted how, through well-documented cases of detentions, legal cases, ongoing restrictions on movement and communications, direct and indirect intimidation, and dwindling advertisement revenues, the Indian occupation regime had placed unprecedented pressure on the Kashmiri media in a desperate attempt to control the post-of August narrative.
The UN Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are together known as the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. They are the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights System. They are authorized by the Human Rights Council to carry out independent fact-finding and monitoring of human rights situations in the world. They work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are also independent of any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
Journalists from Indian Occupied Kashmir stated that these developments have made New Delhi furious against journalists because New Delhi believes that Kashmiri journalists are using social media, particularly photojournalists are sending information and photos representing what is going on inside Indian Kashmir with Muslims.