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Press Note On Whats Happening In Kashmir Meeting

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Between June 11 and August 8 this year, 51 civilians reportedly killed by the Indian military, paramilitary and police forces in Indian-administered Kashmir. Month long curfew had been lifted on the …

Between June 11 and August 8 this year, 51 civilians reportedly killed by the Indian military, paramilitary and police forces in Indian-administered Kashmir. Month long curfew had been lifted on the first week of August but it is imposed again since August 11, 2010. To know the actual situation in Kashmir, a hall meeting on the topic “What is happening in Kashmir?” was organized by Save Tamils Movement in Chennai.

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  • 1. “Long live the revolution of people in Eezham and in Kashmir and elsewhere in world” -Khurram Parvez Between June 11 and August 8 this year, 51 civilians reportedly killed by the Indian military, paramilitary and police forces in Indian-administered Kashmir. Month long curfew had been lifted on the first week of August but it is imposed again since August 11, 2010. To know the actual situation in Kashmir, a hall meeting on the topic “What is happening in Kashmir?” was organized by Save Tamils Movement in Chennai. Tamil poet Inqulab: Mr. Khurram Parvez, Program Coordinator of ‘Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society’ and Kashmir born Mr. Khalid Wasim from ‘Religio-Cultural dimension of Kashmiri Self-determination Movement’ addressed the audience on the history of Kashmiri freedom struggle and on the current situation in Kashmir. The meeting commenced with a silent mourning for 61 Tamil children killed by Sri Lankan army in Chencholai Student Welfare Centre on 14 August, 2006 and for 51 Kashmiris killed by Indian armed forces from June 11 to August 10, 2010 in Kashmir. Excerpts from the addressing note by Save Tamils Movement, In Kashmir, the struggle against state oppression is carried out for several years. In the recent months the form of the struggle has taken a new dimension. General public is
  • 2. under trauma due to the oppression of Indian armed forces. In Kashmir, the common people have come to the streets. Especially women protest against armed forces risking their lives. What made these people to get prepared for sacrificing their lives? It is nothing but the outburst to fight against oppression. In the past 20 years, 70,000 persons have been killed in Kashmir. Around 50 lacs Kashmiris are under the control of more than 6 lacs Indian armed forces. During May, 2009 when Eezham war – IV was on its final days, media in Tamil Nadu and India were hiding the facts on human catastrophe and the killings of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. Even now, after the verdict of International Permanent People’s Tribunal in Dublin and other independent voices for the investigation of war crimes committed by Sri Lankan State, local media in Tamil Nadu and India are silent about the thousands of civilians killed in Eezham. So, we could understand how the Indian media will report the ongoing struggle in Kashmir. The purpose of organizing this meeting is to bring out the truth on "What is really happening in Kashmir?" Also we would like to put forth few questions before you, 1. When there are protest and rallies in other parts of India, normally baton charge or water cannons shooting are used to disperse the people. But why such methods are bypassed and ‘Bullets’ are fired at the heads of the Kashmiris? 2. Why struggle of the common people is projected as an act of terrorism? 3. Are Indians concerned about the Kashmir people or just the Kashmir territory? Following the address note, first speaker veteran poet Inqulab gave a clear picture on the history of Kashmir struggle and criticized the oppressive nature of Indian government over the Kashmiris and other nationalities fighting for their right to self-determination in India. He added, “Democracy means people’s right to raise question. Warning and oppressing people when they raise any question is not democracy, it is dictatorship and that is what happening in India now”. He cited the recent arrest of Naam Thamizhar party chief Seeman, as an undemocratic act. He also condemned for its complicity in the killing of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka during the final months of the war, which ended in May 2009. Khalid Wasim, a Kashmiri, who is presently a student of ISEC Bangalore, spoke at the meeting on the various myths perpetrated by the Indian state and media to distort the facts about the Kashmiri freedom struggle. Questioning the legitimacy of the accession of Kashmir with India, he said that the King, who did not enjoy the support of the people of Kashmir, did not have a legitimate right to sign the instrument of accession. He also mentioned that the accession was conditional and was contingent upon the people voting in favor of the accession in a plebiscite. As no
  • 3. such plebiscite has even been conducted in Indian occupied Kashmir, the agreement loses its legal value. He also mentioned that there is a tendency among the Indian experts to see the present uprising as an expression of frustration over lack of development. Even though Kashmiris are in need to demand for their right to better infrastructure, schools and hospitals as well as jobs, they primarily aspire for freedom. Condemning India for blatantly lying that Kashmir was an Condemning India for blatantly lying that Kashmir was an internal matter, he questioned why then there existed 18 resolutions regarding the Kashmir dispute in UN and also why both the Tashkent agreement and the Simla pact with Pakistan mentioned Kashmir. He mentioned that the issue of Kashmir involves primarily Kashmiris and no going forward is possible until the will of the Kashmiris is recognized and their right to self determination is guaranteed. Quoting a recent incident of a chief army personal from Israel meeting with an Indian army official and discussing on how to deal with the separatist movements, he insisted that, since oppressors in the world are trying to unite, oppressed people in the world also should unite to fight oppression. The people movements should be united, whether it is Azadi Kashmir or Nagaland in North east or Tamil Eezham in Sri Lanka or Free Tibet in China. Language of these people may vary, their history may vary but our common stand for justice is one, he ended. Finally Khurram Parvez, Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies, Srinagar in his speech, He thanked the protestors from Coalition Against Inter-State Oppression who got arrested in Chennai on 13th August, 2010 for demanding Indian State to demilitarize Kashmir. He said that Kashmiris are aware of what is happening in Sri Lanka and are keenly following up for the last many years. Movement for Eezham is one of the inspirations for people in Kashmir. Kashmiris have got deep sympathy for whatever has happened with the Tamils in Sri Lanka. He added that Sri Lanka can kill Prabakaran and they can kill thousands of Prabakaran but they cannot kill the dream of the Tamil people for a free Eezham. This is true with Kashmiri people also. India has got people to kill Kashmiris but India has not got people to kill the dream of Kashmiris for a free Kashmir. Their resistance is basically their existence. Till time they exist as Kashmiris or as Tamils, the dream for the freedom lives. Oppressors had not yet invented any bomb or bullet to kill the dreams of oppressed. He said, “Long live the revolution of people in Eezham and in Kashmir and elsewhere in world” He further narrated on what is happening in Kashmir. His speech as follows:
  • 4. In Jammu and Kashmir since 1990, over 70,000 people have been killed; over 8,000 have been disappeared. The majority of the 671,000 military, paramilitary, and police stationed in Indian-administered Kashmir are used to control the Kashmiri population inside the Valley and not the border zones. Today, armed forces are present at educational institutions, hospitals, shopping complexes, cafes and hotels, sporting events, playgrounds, and bazaars. Real violence in the present -- bullets, torture, landmines, injuries, arrests, human shields, molestations, sexualized violence, forced labor, detentions, disappearances, murder -- is virtually monopolized by the military and paramilitary in Kashmir. The list of perpetrators is long. Since January 2004 to November 2008 (till the attacks in Mumbai), unfortunately, 6588 people were killed. This is the period during which both the states trumpeted peace process. The number of killings looks colossal in times of war let alone in a time of peace. Ironically 6588 people were killed even when India and Pakistan were talking peace. Rhetoric of peace process has unfortunately been used to cover the sustained patterns of impunity over the years in Jammu and Kashmir. Killing of people in response to people’s resistance has continued unabated, irrespective of the forms of resistance. People of Jammu and Kashmir have been responsive to the larger global and regional geo-political realties in their modes of resistance. In the changed global scenario mass protests in Kashmir emerged as the dominant expression against Indian oppression but these peaceful unarmed demonstrations were responded to by use of state force, resulting in loss of life, injuries and continued trauma. The state of India has shown indiscriminate mercilessness in its responses to both violent and non-violent forms of people’s resistance, thus choking all the spaces for expressions of dissent. Transition from armed militancy to mass protests as the popular expression of dissent has been disregarded by the Indian state and met with brutal response, which is also reflective of the state’s approach towards conflict transformation. The recent protests in Kashmir do not evidence dissent to the present events alone but are indicative of civilian sentiments and responses to the sustained confinement of civil society by Indian military and paramilitary forces since 1989, the attendant cycles of violence, and the suppression of local demands for the right to self-determination since 1947.
  • 5. The Government of India has recently called for "creative solutions" to resolve the "Kashmir problem." If we map the events of the past, the approach of the Indian state is aggressively militaristic. The political approach of the Indian state is absent and there are no such engagements with civil society or with the pro-freedom leadership. There is no acknowledgement of peoples’ insistent demand for the right to self-determination. Indian state claims to be willing to talk about “all the issues” but is still unwilling to accept the issue of right of self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Indian-administered Kashmir is not a "problem" but a conflict zone. India's militarization is aimed at territorial control of Kashmir, and control over key economic and environmental resources in the region. Institutions of democracy - the judiciary, educational institutions, and media - are neutralized by the Indian state. India must be proud that at least one institution is delivering to its best capabilities; the Indian army. Kashmir continues to be part of India because Indian army delivers on the orders of Indian political leadership, which my dear friends are elected by you. Armed forces collaborate with Hindu nationalists in instituting “self-defense” campaigns and militias, such as forming the 100 Village Defense Committees announced in May 2010, promoting militarized and xenophobic Hindu nationalism to religionize the issue. Zero Tolerance for Civil and Political rights Human rights violations in Kashmir are a means of maintaining military governance. The Indian Government has repeatedly promised "zero tolerance" for human rights violations. But what we have witnessed is "zero tolerance" for nonviolent civil society dissent, as Indian forces brutalize people on the streets chanting "Go India; Go back," chanting "India, Quit Kashmir." On June 24, 2010, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah stated that pro-freedom leaders were instigating youth to violence, following which Indian forces ensued repression on political leaders calling for peaceful protests. People marching on streets, protesting and mourning the deaths of the killed by the paramilitary have always been met with force. Condoning and rationalizing the deplorable actions of the CRPF and police, the Home Secretary of India, Mr. G. K. Pillai, characterized civilians fired upon by security personnel as people who were culpable as they violated curfew and attacked police posts. This further evidences the patronage that the Indian forces enjoy from highly placed government officials, and emphasizes the state's view that civil society resistance to militaristic governance is criminal behavior. From the actions and statements of Indian forces and politicians in power, it appears that all civil disobedience is being defined as anti-national, as equivalent to "terrorism." Peaceable protests are fired upon, as security personnel repress women and men participating in them. Stone pelting, a means of dissent in Kashmir; is termed violent. Stone pelting is an expression of rage by a subjugated people whose political means of
  • 6. expression and demands are systematically limited. Stone pelting cannot be compared to the brutish techniques of domination used by the state. Pro-freedom leaders have been placed under innumerable house arrests and preventive detentions. Even elected officials are prevented from staging public protests, such as an MLA and his with approximately 100 co-workers, who were stopped from protesting during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Srinagar, when he was reiterating his promise of zero tolerance against human rights violations. In 2008, the Indian Prime Minister had stated that elections in Kashmir would render separatist leaders irrelevant, as elected officials would speak for the people. There appears to be no governmental interest in acknowledging and responding to the actions of the military and paramilitary. People, including minors, and political leaders that participate in resistance are booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Undeclared curfews permit security forces to operate without noting cause or prior warning. In November 2009, Lt General, B.S. Jaswal, characterized civil disobedience in response to calls given by dissenting political leaders as "agitational terrorism" prompted by "terrorists." During the pacific resistance of 2008 and 2009, protests had also turned lethal as security personnel fired into crowds. Cyber resistance then was termed "cyber terrorism," and monitored. There are no accurate counts of detentions and arrests of activists, lawyers, intellectuals, pro-freedom leaders, and of the arrests and detentions of minors. Police have engaged in extortion and demanded bribes from those in custody and those seeking to free the imprisoned. Detentions and arrests, based on uncorroborated suspicion, are being undertaken in large numbers to intimidate, threaten, and silence a cross-section of civil society that resists subjugation to the state and its military, paramilitary, and police forces. On July 7, 2010, Advocate Mian Qayoom, President, Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, and a human rights defender, was arrested under the PSA. The PSA is a preventive detention law that authorizes incarceration for up to two years on grounds of uncorroborated suspicion, if authorities feel that the detainee may impede peace and order or threaten the security of the state. Advocate Qayoom was targeted because of his long-standing work in defense of human rights, in particular, because of his legal advocacy for the detained and disappeared in Kashmir, his offer of legal counsel to dissenters against the Indian state, his arguments against the indiscriminate use of the PSA, his investigations into the actions of the Indian military, paramilitary, and police when they have induced harm, his articulation of Kashmir as a disputed territory, and his support of self-determination. On July 18, 2010, Advocate Ghulam Nabi Shaheen, General Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Srinagar, and a human rights defender, was arrested under the PSA.
  • 7. Unabated Civilian Killings Between January-August 2010, 89 civilians have been killed - 71 of whom were killed by Indian armed forces – WE WILL STILL BE BLAMED OF VIOLENCE and INDIAN ARMY SYMBOLS OF NON-VIOLENT INDIA. Military Governance? The Indian state does not define the present as a time of conflict inside Kashmir. Yet, the Armed Forces have become increasingly more powerful and entrenched in Indian- administered Kashmir. Indian state appears unwilling, or unable, to control the military and paramilitary. On the one hand Indian state claims that the Indian Armed Forces are in Kashmir to protect citizens and on the other hand justify civilian killings as necessary for safeguarding the interests of the Indian state. Our “protectors” are strange. They consider each one of us as potential enemies – gun less terrorists. Military suppression of Kashmiris is understood as crucial to defending India. The PSA, the Disturbed Areas Act, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) are security related legislation in contravention of international humanitarian laws that guarantee immunity to army and paramilitary forces. On February 26, 2009, soon after assuming office, Chief Minister Abdullah stated that AFSPA should be revoked. The armed forces challenged his authority, declaring such intent as "regressive," stating "any move to revoke AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir would be detrimental to the security of the Valley and would provide a boost to the terrorists." Dialogue with the Indian state and Kashmiri pro-freedom leaders regarding autonomy and the revocation of AFSPA were electoral promises made by the current Chief Minister. To revoke AFSPA would be to interrupt not only legal, but political, impunity. Kashmiris are now being told that it is better for their security to amend, not revoke, AFSPA. ================= Final Words: Kashmir is a laboratory of violent experiments conducted by Indian military and state institutions. The sustained militarization in Kashmir is not called "military rule" by the Indian state and international community. India's militarization in Jammu and Kashmir is portrayed as an "internal" matter, refusing transparency, international scrutiny, and adherence to international humanitarian law of conflict and war. In the face of the Indian state's violations of international humanitarian law, of protocols and conventions, and perpetration of crimes against humanity, there is a deafening silence on the part of the international community. The Kashmir conflict, like other international conflicts, requires urgent attention and resolution. There is, at present,
  • 8. no monitoring, no sustained visibility, no engagement that can produce ethical and viable results. That Kashmiris must be an integral part of any resolution repeatedly escapes the international community, and India and Pakistan. If the current situation continues, and nonviolent dissent is systemically brutalized, the Government of India will perhaps force Kashmiri civilians to perhaps take up armed militancy once again, continuing the cycle of violence. The meeting ended with an hour long question and answer session, which cleared wrong thoughts and attitude about Kashmir struggle and Kashmiri people, which propagated by Indian media. The answers were also informative to the attendees over the nature of the oppressive states and the way to confront them. Videos: Poet Inqulab speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI5Ch8aef9A Mr. Kurram Parvez speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcEpAFtWsHo Mr. Kalid wasim speech http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_mOwqTpnMo Question and answer session: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADYRqm9wEP4