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Allow right to self-determination, free and fair referendum: Kashmiri diaspora group

Counterview Desk

The World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a Washington DC-based group, claiming to represent Kashmiri diaspora organizations, even as demanding to immediately lift what it calls “the year-long military siege”, has sought restoration of all internet connectivity and communications links, and release of all political prisoners including underage children, journalists, and civil society members.
In a statement, the group has also demanded “unfettered access to monitor and report on human rights violations by credible international bodies, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organization Against Torture (WOAT), Doctors without Borders, Physicians for Human Rights, and UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other UN thematic rapporteurs.”

Text:

On August 5, 2019, the Government of India laid bare its naked ambition extant since partition in 1947 to brutally colonize the territories of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). On that date, it threw away any pretense of acknowledging the J&K’s right to self-determination as outlined by the United Nations’ Security Council and agreed to at that time by the Government of India 72 years earlier.
The events of August 5, 2019 are consistent with the ruthless occupation and suppression the people of Kashmir have suffered under the unpopular Indian rule. As is widely acknowledged and documented internationally, this brutal occupation has led to 150,000 civilian deaths, more than 8000 individuals missing or disappeared, and thousands of Kashmiri women raped. This does not even begin to account for the tens of thousands tortured, maimed, and permanently injured men, women and children by the Indian security forces during their 72-year reign of terror.
But despite this persistent and pernicious tyranny, the people of Kashmir never have nor ever will give up their right to be free. It is based on this internationally recognized, and principled stand the Kashmiri diaspora and its allies worldwide stand in solidarity with J&K's people.
We stand in support of their unyielding struggle to resist occupation and achieve their right to self-determination. We stand with them in their struggle to stop the Indian government from dehumanizing them and completing their settler-colonial project to remove them culturally, politically, and ethnically from the face of the earth.
Since, August 5, 2019, the Indian government, in order to crush any resistance to their illegal occupation, has instituted new draconian measures. First, they unilaterally removed any relics of initial recognition of their occupation by abrogating Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution, imposed a total military lockdown and complete communication blockade in anticipation of the protest and resistance these measures would inevitably cause. In a ruthless campaign they imprisoned politicians, journalists, and civil society members, to intimidate and suppress any form of dissent.
Since then, they have unleashed a well-designed imperialist plan that seeks to forever change the political nature of the Kashmir dispute through demographic changes, political maneuverings, and administrate machinations. 
Indian rulers have sought unilateral changes to the UN-recognized international dispute's status, which is a clear violation of International Law
These alterations to J&K's disputed nature were recently capped by new domicile laws that would entitle people from outside of J&K to obtain domicile certificates as a first step toward granting them the right to buy land and compete for local jobs. The Indian rulers have sought to shamelessly disregard that these unilateral changes made to the UN-recognized international dispute's status are a clear violation of International Law.
The consequences of these actions have been dire with the people of J&K being essentially forced to be locked in their homes, terrorized by the Indian military and paramilitary forces with no recourse against this oppression. 
According to a recent report -- spanning first six months of 2020 -- prepared by the J&K Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), the army action has resulted in 229 killings, including three (3) underage children and two (2) women. During the brutal Cordon and Destroy Operations (CADOs), the occupying forces have destroyed hundreds of civilian dwellings, rendering their occupants homeless. 
Amnesty International has reported that disappearances, torture, and rape against Kashmiri Muslims are frequent. Genocide Watch has identified the actions of the Government of India as precursor to a likely genocide of the Kashmiri people.
It is with this in mind that we appeal to all peoples of conscience and the international community to raise their voices against the brutal oppression the people of Jammu and Kashmiri are suffering under the occupying forces of the Government of India. We urge them to demand that India:
  1. Immediately lift the year-long military siege, restore all internet connectivity and communications links, and release all political prisoners including underage children, journalists, and civil society members.
  2. Allow unfettered access to monitor and report on human rights violations by credible international bodies including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organization Against Torture (WOAT), Doctors without Borders, Physicians for Human Rights, and, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other UN thematic rapporteurs. 
  3. Halt and rescind all laws, such as the Domicile Laws, that have been instituted to speed the demographic changes and promote the ethnic, cultural, and political cleansing of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 
  4. Disarm and withdraw all Indian military and paramilitary personnel from the occupied territories so that all the people in Jammu & Kashmir can exercise their unfettered right of self-determination through a free and fair referendum as agreed to by both the Governments of India and Pakistan as well as the United Nations Security Council as early as 1948.

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