UN urges end to IOK lockdown amid genocide fears

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Shafaqna Pakistan: United Nations human rights experts on Thursday called on India to lift the lockdown and communication blockade it had imposed on Occupied Kashmir as a global advocacy group focusing on genocide issued an alert for the disputed region.

In a strongly-worded statement released by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the experts urged India to end what it termed a form of ‘collective punishment’ on Kashmiris.

“The shutdown of the internet and telecommunication networks, without justification from the government [of India], are inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality,” the statement quoted the experts as saying. “The blackout is a form of collective punishment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, without even a pretext of a precipitating offence.”

“We remind the Indian authorities that the restrictions imposed by the Indian Government are intrinsically disproportionate, because they preclude considerations of the specific circumstances of each proposed assembly,” the experts added.

The OHCHR statement also noted with extreme concern reports of arrests of political figures, journalists, human rights defenders, activists and others, and of use of excessive force against protesters.

“The experts said they were deeply concerned by reports that security forces were conducting night raids on private homes leading to the arrests of young people,” the statement read.

“Such detentions could constitute serious human rights violations. The allegations must be thoroughly investigated by the authorities, and, if confirmed, those responsible must be held accountable,” it quoted the experts as saying. “We are gravely concerned about allegations that the whereabouts of some of those detained is not known as well as the general heightened risk of enforced disappearances, which may proliferate against the backdrop of mass arrests and restricted access to the internet and other communications networks,” the experts added.

Regarding the use of excessive force and live ammunition against protesters, the experts said: “India has the responsibility to use the minimum force necessary when policing protests. This means that the use of deadly force is a measure permissible only as last resort and to protect life.”

Meanwhile, global advocacy group Genocide Watch issued an alert for Occupied Kashmir, calling on the UN to “warn India not to commit genocide in Kashmir”.

The independent watchdog, in its alert, listed “early warnings of a massacre” in the disputed region. It mentioned India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva ideology and the “authoritarian military rule by a minority military force (Hindus and Sikhs) over a majority Muslim population” as alarming factors that could act as triggers for genocide in Occupied Kashmir.

The group also noted that ten stages of the genocidal process also appear to be advanced in the disputed region. These were identified as:

Classification: Hindu and Sikh Indian Army ‘us’ versus Kashmiri Muslim civilian ‘them’.

Symbolisation: Muslims have Muslim names (on ID cards), Kashmiri language, dress, mosques.

Discrimination: Hindu pandits were economically dominant until 1990; BJP reasserted Hindu power.

Dehumanisation: Muslims are called ‘terrorists’, ‘separatists’, ‘criminals’ and ‘insurgents’.

Organisation: 600,000 heavily armed Indian Army troops and police dominate Kashmir.

Polarisation: Modi and the BJP incite anti-Muslim hatred; social media spread falsehoods.

Preparation: The Indian Army occupies Kashmir; BJP leaders speak of the “Final Solution” for Kashmir.

Persecution: Kashmiri Muslims are locked down, subject to arrest, torture, rape, and murder.

Extermination: Genocidal massacres occurred during Partition; since 1990, there have been at least 25 massacres with death tolls over 25.

Denial: Modi and BJP say their goals are to ‘bring prosperity’ and ‘end terrorism’; they deny any massacres. No Indian Army troops or police are ever tried for torture, rape or murder. Modi’s takeover is popular in India.

Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Imran Khan issued yet another call to the international community for efforts to prevent “an impending genocide of Kashmiris” in Occupied Kashmir.

In his message on the 1st International Day for Victims of Violence based on Religion or Belief, he drew the world’s attention to the “plight of millions of Kashmiris living under brutal Indian occupation, abuse and violence, deprived of all fundamental rights and freedom”.

“The Indian occupying forces have trampled upon the rights of Kashmiris to observe their religious practices, including Eidul Azha,” he added.