European MPs say Kashmir’s human rights situation ‘alarming’

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Sixteen members of the European Parliament have sought “urgent action to address the alarming human rights situation” in Kashmir and urged that it is “extremely important” that voices of the people of Kashmir “are heard”.

The sixteen parliamentarians expressed their concern in a letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, and the Vice-President and High Representative, Joseph Borrell.

“It is extremely important that the voices of Kashmiri people are heard, their aspirations are responded to and they are granted the opportunity to decide their own future,” the letter said.

The parliamentarians said the aim of the letter is to bring the attention of the European Commission to, what they described as the “alarming human rights and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“We call upon you … to convey our grave concerns at the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the India government,” the letter read.

It further urged the European Commission to “take urgent action to address the alarming human rights situation in the region” and to contribute to the peace and stability of the region by enhancing dialogue “between India, Pakistan and the representatives of Kashmiri people”.

The parliamentarians said that Kashmir had “already suffered a debilitating lockdown since the revocation of its special status in 2019, and the restraints on the rights to movement, access to information, healthcare, education as well as free speech have been intensified by the COVID19 pandemic”.

“In addition to being a humanitarian crisis, the long-standing dispute over Jammu and Kashmir in South Asia, also poses a major threat to peace, stability, and security in the region,” the letter read.

The parliamentarians described as “unfortunate” that a number of legislations introduced by the Indian governments over the years to prevent separatism and terrorism “have been misused against the Kashmiri population.”

The letter further read “that the journalists and human rights defenders have been increasingly targeted for raising their voice in support of the Kashmiri people and denounce their situation.”

“Arbitrary detentions continue, public assembly is still prohibited under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and hundreds, including minors and several elected legislators of Jammu and Kashmir, remain under preventive detention,” the letter noted.

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