Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Only a Solution in Kashmir Will Bring Peace and Security to All of South Asia

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Only a Solution in Kashmir Will Bring Peace and Security to All of South Asia

Article excerpt

Only a Solution in Kashmir Will Bring Peace and Security to All of South Asia

India's human rights violations in Kashmir are systematic, deliberate, and officially sanctioned. India has never prosecuted even one of its 700,000 military and paramilitary personnel there for human rights abuses, and its laws grant legal immunity for any actions aimed at suppressing Kashmiri dissent or support for self-determination.

Information compiled by the London-based Amnesty International, New York-based Asia Watch, Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights and other human rights and humanitarian organizations establish the following:

A massive campaign of brutal oppression has been launched by the Indian army since January 1990. Various estimates are given of the death toll of civilians so far. Making due allowance for unintended exaggerations, the figure runs into tens of thousands. Countless individuals have been maimed and thousands of women molested and assaulted. Despite a faint murmur of protest in the international press, India has felt no pressure whatsoever to desist from its semi-genocidal campaign. Not a word of condemnation has been uttered at the United Nations; not even a call on India to cease and desist from committing its atrocities. This is not merely a case of passivity and inaction; in practical effect, it amounts to abetment and encouragement of murderous tyranny.

The most baffling phenomenon regarding this situation is that it has been allowed to arise and to persist in a territory which, under international law, does not belong to any member state of the United Nations and whose status is yet to be decided by the people of that land. It is interesting to note that when the Kashmir dispute erupted in 1947-48, the United States championed the stand that the future status of Kashmir must be determined by the will of the people of the territory and that their wishes must be ascertained under the supervision and control of the United Nations. The U.S. was a principal sponsor of the resolution which was adopted by the Security Council on April 21, 1948 and which was based on that unchallenged principle. The basic formula for settlement was incorporated in the later resolutions. These are not resolutions in the routine sense of the term. Their provisions were negotiated in detail by the U.N. Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP), and it was only after the consent of both India and Pakistan was explicitly obtained that they were endorsed by the Security Council.

Words can only cheapen the acute grief and afflictions experienced by the entire Kashmiri population. And their pain is compounded by the silence and indifference of the international community, especially from the United States, that beacon of human rights and civil liberties. If the silence persists, there would seem two equally squalid explanations: a Kashmiri life is viewed as less worthy than other lives, a repugnant racism; or, nuclear powers sporting tempting economic markets enjoy immunity from human rights criticisms and sanctions.

Far from seeking to rectify its atrocious human rights record, India has legalized its state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir. It has given its occupation forces powers to shoot to kill and the license to abuse the people of Kashmir in whatever ways they like in order to suppress the popular movement for basic human rights and human dignity.

All available evidence of India's military activities in Kashmir indicates one thing: that the Indian forces are systematically targeting innocent people in Kashmir -- men, women and children. They beat up the elderly, rape and defile women and young girls, raze villages, destroy families and murder young boys. These tactics have no military purpose whatsoever. Their only imaginable purpose is to terrorize a people into submission.

The abuses reach every man, woman and child in the Valley of Kashmir, who live under the constant threat of abuse. …

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