Skip to main content

J&K curbs 'violate' International Covenant on civil, political rights: Letter to Modi

Counterview Desk
The International Federation for Human Rights (IFDH), a Paris-based human rights NGO with global presence, has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the decision to “reconfigurate” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), remove its special status and impose a “complete lock-down of the region” violates Kashmiris’ “fundamental right to self-determination and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives.”
Federating 184 organisations from 112 countries, and aiming to “defend” civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights “as set out in the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, the IFDH letter, signed by 69 civil rights organizations and concerned individuals across the world, has been drafted by Dr Angana Chatterji of the University of California, Berkeley, and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights judge Navi Pillay.
The letter to Modi follows an earlier statement by IFDH asking the Government of India to “immediately reinstate fundamental freedoms in J&K” and lift “severe restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly imposed” in the state and “ensure that the human rights of all are guaranteed.”
FIDH vice-president Adilur Rahman Khan had said in the statement, “The people of J&K have long suffered violations of their fundamental rights. Delhi’s heavy handed approach to public order in J&K State must be immediately reversed and all its policies and actions must be respectful of India’s human rights obligations under international law.”
Taking strong exception to the deployment of thousands of additional troops to J&K, even as completely shutting down internet and mobile phone communications and house arrest of several political leaders, FIDH, in its statement released in coordination with People’s Watch, a member organization, had said, the “militarization” of the state posed “a threat for the local civilian population, who has been routinely targeted by Indian security forces.”
Recalling that “human rights violations” in J&K have been “rampant” over the past several decades, the statement had said the state has witnessed a “range from extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture, and frequent arbitrary arrests and detentions under repressive laws”.
In a fresh move, IFDH's letter to Modi demands implementation “in full the recommendations made in 2018 and again in 2019 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights with regards to J&K, including respecting the right to self-determination, and guaranteeing fundamental freedoms.”

Text of the letter to Modi:

We, the undersigned civil society activists and organizations, human rights defenders, lawyers, and academics from around the globe, write to express our deep concern regarding the recent actions your government has taken over the past week in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
The state’s unilateral repeal of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir, the reconfiguration of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, and the process through which these legislative changes were imposed in the midst of a complete lock-down of the region, are egregious.
Dr Angana Chatterji
These actions violate the people of Jammu & Kashmir’s fundamental right to self-determination and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives. Further, these actions have sent shock waves of fear and uncertainty among the people of Jammu & Kashmir and contravene both domestic and international law.
Beyond the questionable legality of your actions with regard to the Constitution, we are especially concerned over reports that over 500 people have been arbitrarily arrested in Jammu & Kashmir over the past days and such treatment appears to be continuing.
We understand that some of these may include activists, academics, and opponents, who have been detained under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) of 1978 or the Jammu & Kashmir Preventive Detention Act of 1964. 
We recall that the PSA has been widely criticized for violating international human rights law, as it operates outside normal judicial safeguards and oversight and thus denies due process to individuals arrested under it.
Concerns regarding abuse of the PSA, as well as the Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Powers Act of 1990 and the Disturbed Areas Act, have been raised repeatedly over the years by local and international civil society organisations, as well as the United Nations.
Regrettably, your government has continued to abuse these laws and has taken no action to align the above laws with India’s international human rights obligations.
Navi Pillay
We are extremely worried about the ongoing curfews and curfew-like conditions and the shut-down of communications inside Jammu & Kashmir. The violations of rights to freedom of expression and freedom of movement that these restrictions entail create conditions of psychosocial trauma. 
These curbs constitute severe violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which India ratified in 1979, and under no circumstances can be justified in the guise of public order.
We strongly believe that for India to be able to continue to define itself as a democracy it must allow public discourse and debate on these issues. This includes ensuring that the people of Jammu & Kashmir are able to exercise their right to take part as primary stakeholders in the critical decisions regarding their future.
This certainly cannot be achieved by blocking communications, detaining political leaders and civil society activists, and restricting movements within Jammu & Kashmir. In line with these concerns, we respectfully request that your government take the following measures with the utmost urgency:
  • Immediately revoke the curfew and its attendant conditions and reopen communications in and out of Jammu & Kashmir;
  • Immediately and unconditionally release from detention all those who have been arbitrarily detained or arrested under the PSA over the past several days; and 
  • Immediately and unconditionally restore the status of Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. 
  • Implement in full the recommendations made in 2018 and again in 2019 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights with regards to Jammu & Kashmir, including respecting the right to self-determination, and guaranteeing fundamental freedoms. 
We hope that you will heed these recommendations. Please note that this letter will be made public.
---
Click HERE for the list of signatories

Comments

TRENDING

ISKCON UK 'clarifies' after virus infects devotees, 5 die due to big temple meet

By Rajiv Shah
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), United Kingdom (UK), has admitted that at least 21 of its devotees were infected because of the spread of the coronavirus amongst the UK devotee community following the March 12 funeral and March 15 memorial of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president, in which about 1,000 people participated. Regretting that five of the devotees have passed away, the top Hindu religious in Britain body does not deny more may have been infected.

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.