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

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

VHP doesn't represent all Hindus, Sunni Waqf Board all Muslims: NAPM on SC ruling

Counterview Desk
India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as describing the Supreme Court's Ayodhya judgement unjust, has said, it is an "assault on the secular fabric of the Constitution". In a statement signed by top social workers and activists, NAPM said, "The judgement conveys an impression to Muslims that, despite being equal citizens of the country, their rights are not equal before the law."

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”