Skip to main content

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”
Seeking Pompeo's intervention, Jayapal and McGovern, writing on "behalf of our constituents and those of many of our colleagues who have informed us that they are unable to contact their loved ones on the ground”, argue, “As the world's largest democracy, India shares a unique and important relationship with the United States,” one reason why “it is incumbent upon us to speak out when our shared democratic principles are being undermined.”
Both Democrats, while Jayapal, born in Chennai, immigrated to US in 1982 when she was 16, and has headed a pro-immigrants advocacy group, McGovern, an international human rights advocate, is known as one of the most liberals members of the Congress.
Pressing upon Pompeo to tell the Indian government "to immediately lift the communications blackout and adhere to international human rights standards in Jammu & Kashmir”, they give instances of how amidst communications blackout there are "increasingly disturbing reports of human rights abuses."

Text:

We write to raise significant concerns about the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir. In particular. we are concerned about credible reports from journalists and advocates on the ground that the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.
We also write on behalf of our constituents and those of many of our colleagues who have Informed us that they are unable to contact their loved ones on the ground.
As the world's largest democracy, India shares a unique and important relationship with the United States. While we have deep regard for that relationship. it is incumbent upon us to speak out when our shared democratic principles are being undermined.
Regardless of the complexity of any situation, we firmly believe that democratic principles of due process and human rights must apply. For this reason, we urge you to press the Indian government to immediately lift the communications blackout and adhere to international human rights standards to Jammu & Kashmir.
The communications blackout persists even as increasingly disturbing reports of human rights abuses have emerged from a range of credible sources. Multiple reports indicate that over 3,000 people have been indefinitely detained by Indian authorities without any charges. some as young as 11 years old. Those jailed have included elected officials. lawyers, business executives, religious leaders and doctors.
McGovern
Reports also indicate that the Indian government has severely curtailed access to life-saving medical care for the Kashmiri people. The largest hospitals in the capital city of Srinagar and across Jammu & Kashmir have apparently run out of life-saving medication while people in dire need are restricted from traveling to doctors and pharmacies.
Further reports indicate that Indian authorities have arrested doctors for speaking out about these shortages. Moreover, international media outlets have documented multiple instances of medical examiners being pressured to withhold the causes of death for their patients in order to avoid blaming Indian authorities.
Alongside these reports, we are concerned about the surge in attacks against religious minorities throughout India. Both the signatories of this letter did raise similar concerns directly to Prime Minister Modi during a Congressional delegation to India in early 2017 and urged the Prime Minister to speak out against such religious extremism.
We urge you to work across the Administration to press the Indian government to immediately expedite the process of reviewing and releasing individuals "preventatively" detained
Unfortunately, these kinds of attacks have continued, with horrifying reports of lynchings by Hindu nationalists targeting Muslims, Christians and lower-caste Hindus. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has repeatedly condemned these attacks and criticized the Indian government for its "allowance and encouragement of mob violence against religious minorities?"
Most recently, we are disturbed to hear reports that Muslims in Kashmir have been prohibited from observing communal worship and celebrating their most significant religious holiday of the year.
We appreciate the communications we have received from representatives of the Indian government refuting some of these reports. However, the most credible way to refute these reports would be for the Indian government to allow independent media and international human rights observers access to the region in order to properly investigate them.
With the near-total blackout of communications in Jammu & Kashmir, independent verification has been impossible. Instead, there are continuing reports that both local and international journalists face serious restrictions including outright physical assault from Indian authorities.
We urge you to work across the Administration to press the Indian government to immediately end its communications blackout of Kashmir, expedite the process of reviewing and releasing individuals "preventatively" detained, ensure hospitals have access to life-saving medicine and protect the rights of the Kashmiri people to freedom of assembly and worship.
Furthermore, international media and independent human rights observers must immediately be allowed into Jammu & Kashmir to investigate reports of abuse. We also urge the Indian Government at its highest levels to make it clear that religious tolerance -- long a principal of Indian history and democracy -- must be upheld.
UN experts have already spoken out forcefully to condemn India's actions and potential abuse of human rights in Kashmir. At this month's meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, we urge the United States delegation to push for immediate action on these issues. The United States must send a clear message that democracy requires transparency. due process and freedom of assembly and speech, even in the most complex of situations.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Kashmir is the internal matter of India. No external interference should and will be tolerated on this issue. Can US lawmakers give such permissions for any of its states?

TRENDING

Lip-service on World Environment Day vs 'watered-down' eco-safeguards

By Shankar Sharma*  Just a few days ago, the world remembered the routinely forgotten global environment on the occasion of World Environment Day, briefly though, maybe just for the day. There were reports of a few high profile ceremonies in different parts of the country, including a few in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly asked the people of our country to plant one tree per each person as a mark of respect/ gratitude for our mothers.

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

Pellet gun fire severely injures Dalit worker off Bangladesh border

By Kirity Roy*  This is regarding an incident of firing pellets by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel attached with Panchadoji Border Outpost of ‘E’ Company of 90 BSF Battalion on a Schedule Caste youth of village Parmananda under Dinhata Police Station of Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. The victim was severely injured and one portion of his face became disfigured due to pellet firing by the BSF.

Moving towards sustainable development? Social, environmental implications of HCES data

By Dr Vandana Sehgal, Dr Amandeep Kaur*  Sustainable development, the high time agenda, encompasses economic, social, and environmental dimensions, aiming for a balance between all these aspects to ensure long-term well-being and prosperity for all. One of the crucial aspects of sustainable development is consumption patterns. Consumption patterns refer to the way individuals, households, and societies use resources and goods. Sustainable consumption patterns entail using resources efficiently, minimizing waste, and considering the environmental and social impacts of consumption choices.

Sanction to persecute Arundhati Roy under UAPA politically motivated: PUCL

Counterview Network  Top human rights group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has demanded that the authorities should immediately withdraw the prosecution against top author Arundhati Roy and Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmir academic, under the " unconstitutional"  Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  (UAPA), calling the Delhi  Lieutenant-Governor nod for the Delhi police move "politically motivated".

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.