PAKISTAN AND INDIA MUST GIVE ACCESS TO UN LED ENQUIRY
18 August 2016
On 17 August 2016, on the 40th day of the State siege of Jammu and Kashmir, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, principal human rights official of the UN, in a public statement expressed concern of the UN, and in effect the international community, for the ongoing violence in Jammu and Kashmir. The High Commissioner while noting the seriousness of allegations of excessive use of force and “state sponsorship of violence” regretted the failure of Indian and Pakistani authorities to allow a UN team access to Jammu and Kashmir to carry out an independent analysis of the situation.
41 days of State violence has resulted in 70+ killings, 8000+ injured including 100+ partially or totally blinded by pellet shotguns. But, the violence is escalating with incoming reports of the State seeking to further choke the people of Jammu and Kashmir by shutting down supplies of essential commodities.
Thus far, no action has been taken against any of the State forces responsible for the violence over the last 41 days, and petitions before the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Indian Supreme Court, have yet to lead to any definitive proceedings against the State even in individual cases. A feature of State sponsored violence, including in the past, has been total impunity for State forces. The State response to Jammu and Kashmir is best symbolized by the recent police action in Bengaluru, Karnataka, against Amnesty International India for the holding a program on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. The filing of an FIR against a reputed international organization for holding a peaceful program on questions of justice must draw urgent attention to the critical situation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir who continue to be denied all basic fundamental rights. Any attempt to protest is met with violence with the intent to kill or seriously injure.
The UN and international community must resist the recent denial of Government of India to allow access to Jammu and Kashmir. The UN High Commissioner in his public statement rightly noted that without access the UN could only fear the worst. With India to be subjected to its Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council in 2017, pressure must be mounted on Government of India to immediately allow the intervention of the UN human rights bodies. An independent UN fact-finding must be the necessary first step. Refusal by India to allow access must lead to a special session of the UN Human Rights Council on Jammu and Kashmir as a part of its regular session in September, 2016.
On its part, Government of Pakistan must immediately review its position and invite the UN High Commissioner and his team to visit parts of Jammu and Kashmir under Pakistani administration.
The present political and humanitarian crisis in Jammu and Kashmir cannot be solved by repressive State measures of violence and isolation. It is time for an immediate intervention of UN human rights bodies in Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society