Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Human Rights Council Branch - Complaint Procedure Unit
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United Nations Office at Geneva
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Formal Complaint to the Human Rights Commission United Nations
Human Rights Violations in Jammu-Kashmir [Indian Occupied Kashmir]
Date: 3rd May 2017
Written and submitted by Dr Rita Pal, former psychiatrist, UK medical whistleblower, medical journalist.
In consultation with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and other worldwide petition signatories via KashmirHumanRights.
This application is accompanied by two public petitions signed by the people of Kashmir, as well as other countries around the world.
Note: Peaceful campaigns and collections of signatures has been obstructed by the Indian government who have persistently censored the URLs to these petitions, hashtags we have used etc. Moreover, repeated internet censorship and the shut downs of multiple Facebook accounts belonging to social media activists has hampered circulation of these petitions.
We have though done our best for 12 months to obtain an indication of the wishes of the civilians in Kashmir. The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary UK etc has have been acutely aware of these serious obstructions in peaceful activism but there has been no active assistance or solutions forthcoming.
The best evidence based indication of the disenchantment by Kashmir’s civilian population is the recent 2 percent voter turnout for Indian rule. [Hindustan Times] . It is abundantly clear that the civilian population would like the Indian government to be held to account for the human rights violations committed and they would like the United Nations to mediate a Referendum.
Declared conflicts: I have no political or financial conflicts. I have had no financial remuneration for articles written on the Huffington Post on Human Rights Abuses in Kashmir. I am not associated with India or Pakistan. My role in Kashmir was to simply encourage peaceful activism via social media.
This is a formal complaint made against the Government of India and its policing authorities [Indian Forces]. Their actions in the state of Indian Occupied Kashmir [ Jammu-Kashmir] has been the subject of investigation by various independent human rights groups over many decades. A useful aide memoir of the timeline of the conflict can be found here.
These include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Asian Human Rights Commission, Asian Centre for Human Rights, Physicians For Human Rights etc. Kashmir Human Rights Council has documented their view of the current situation locally [http://jkchr.com/]. Video reports can be found here by VideoVolunteers].
Numerous groups have been heavily critical of the serious human rights violations that have taken place. Moreover, human rights defenders have been harassed in the past for attempting to raise awareness of the gross violations of civil liberties taking place. Recommendations made by each human rights organisation have not been considered or implemented by the Government of India. There has been no accountability for these atrocities. It appears that the Indian Government believes it is above the law. Moreover, it fails to acknowledge, respect or uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This catastrophic breakdown of the systems of accountability has resulted in a rogue government who believe they can effectively do anything to the Kashmiri people and conceal their activities behind the curtain of media propaganda. In 2015, a report called Structures of Violence in Jammu and Kashmir accused India of covering up abuses.
The lives of innocent civilians has been adversely affected by a very oppressive occupation. Moreover, basic human and democratic rights appear to be eroded. The people of Kashmir are denied national or international remedies to the serious violations of human rights they have been subjected to. India has successfully created a large open air prison where civilians have no basic civil rights. During the various uprisings over the years, India appears to have mismanaged the situation with carelessness, recklessness and maliciousness. Each uprising has led to numerous probes that have never resulted in any kind of accountability. Fact finding missions have been sent to Kashmir and their recommendations never followed up. The Indian Government appears to indulge in closed door meetings with a reckless disregard of the rules of democracy. There is no honesty or transparency within these discussions. According to human rights reports, the government machinery clearly engages in propaganda in defaming the kashmiri people and labeling them as terrorists when this is blatantly untrue.
As the UNHRC is aware, the Government of India unilaterally refused them entry into Kashmir last year without consultation with Parliament. To date, there has been a absence in the use of the tools of democracy available to the Indian Government. There is a complete failure to consult with Parliament on any matter relating to Kashmir. The recent catastrophic result of a 2% voter turnout has not been discussed by way of potential solutions via a Referendum. In conclusion, this behaviour demonstrates a complete breakdown in processes and procedures leading to the deaths of innocent civilians and the rise of militancy. Civilians believe they are trapped and imprisoned by a regime with no alternative left.
The types of abuses against civilians ongoing since the 1990s include: mass killings, forced disappearances, torture, rape as a war crime [Kunan Poshpora], sexual abuse, political repression and suppression of free speech, unlawful imprisonments and now systematic blinding and maiming the people irrespective of their age or sex. Those accused are the Indian Central Reserve Police Force, Indian Army, Border Security Force. In 2010, the UK's Guardian newspapers described dispatches obtained by Wiki-Leaks. US officials had evidence of widespread torture by the Indian police and security forces. US diplomats in Delhi were briefed in 2005 by the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC] about the use of electrocution, beatings and sexual humiliation against hundreds of detainees. In 2010, the Times of India wrote:
"Defence Minister AK Antony said last month that hasty decisions could not be taken regarding the withdrawal of the Act since infiltration from across the Line of Control (LoC) had increased. The Defence Ministry and the Army have been strongly opposing withdrawal of the AFSPA from the state, saying that such a step could adversely impact the security architecture in the region".
Human Rights Watch has produced some vital reports regarding the human rights abuses meted out on the people of Kashmir since the early 1990s. Their 1996 report "Human Rights Watch, India's Secret Army in Kashmir: New Patterns of Abuse Emerge in the Conflict, and 1 May 1996" is a harrowing read. Their report Human Rights Crisis in Kashmir can be downloaded here. Asian Watch and Physicians for Human Rights have also reported their findings, stating:
"Indian forces in Kashmir have engaged in massive human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, rape, torture and deliberate assaults on health care workers. Armed insurgent groups have murdered Hindu and Muslim civilians, summarily executed persons in their custody and have committed rape, assault, kidnapping and indiscriminate attacks which have injured and killed civilians". A summary of Human Rights Reports is listed here.
When inquiries have been ordered into these allegations of abuses, the investigations are frequently never conducted and the findings not made public. The Indian government has been largely dismissive of many of the allegations raised. The report Rape in Kashmir was equally critical.
The cumulative result is a community struggling from day to day under oppressive circumstances. Kashmir has one of the highest rates of psychiatric morbidity in the world summarised by the report from Doctors Without Borders.
A report in BBC World News, dated 6th December 2012, summarises the contents of the recently released report constructed by the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice . The document, entitled "Perpetrators - Stories of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir at a press conference on Thursday, December 06, 2012", analysed 214 cases of abuse and highlighted the various roles of officials. Evidence includes official documentation as well as witnesses. During the release of the report in Srinagar, Mr Kartik Murukutla, a human rights lawyer and one of the authors of the report, said India's priority in Kashmir was to control the territory not to pursue justice.
"For the victims, the wait for proper justice seems perpetual. In its approach to justice, the Indian state has not moved beyond cash relief or the promise of re-investigation. The stage has wilfully lowered the standard of justice as well as the crimes perpetrated."
The group stated:
"Cases presented in this report reveal that there is a policy not to genuinely investigate or prosecute the armed forces for human rights violations. There is an occasional willingness to order compensatory relief, but not to bring the perpetrators to justice. On the contrary, alleged perpetrators of crimes are awarded, rewarded and promoted by the State."
According to the Guardian newspapers report on Mass Graves in Kashmir is an eye opener for many.
The Machil case was an unusual conviction of the Indian Army for the murder of innocent labourers. Ghost of Machil details this disturbing case.
"The army asked villagers in Sonapindi to bury the three men and added them to the tally of 40 “unidentified foreign militants” — fighters from Pakistan — killed in 468 infiltration attempts that year. The deaths were also added to another grim statistic: the thousands of anonymous graves found all over the hills along the LOC. The International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice has documented 2,943 such graves in three border districts of Kashmir. The area is the front line in the long-running conflict over territory between India and Pakistan and ground zero of an armed Kashmiri separatist insurgency.But the bodies buried at Machil did not remain anonymous. Three Kashmiri families claimed the men as their sons, laborers, they said, who had nothing to do with Pakistan".
Despite the oppression, the threats, the unlawful killings and the mass incarceration of dissidents and protesters, Kashmir continued to bravely demonstrate against the tyrannical Indian rule. There were various uprisings in 2008, 2010, 2016 and now 2017. These have resulted in huge casualties. A fact finding report into the 2010 uprising can be read in the report here. The mass detentions of political prisoners is a munch neglected issue and the blatant long term violation of the rights of juveniles was examined in the critical report “Unequal Before the Law”. Human Rights Watch has been severely critical of the unlawful detentions in Kashmir.
Each uprising appears to be triggered by the death of a civilian or a person Kashmir perceives as a freedom fighter. The 2016 uprising was provoked by the killing of Militant leader Burhan Wani.
Most notably, the Indian policing authorities have used the Public Safety Act to incarcerate thousands of protesters. Moreover, they have used pellet guns to injure [Scars of Pellet Gun], blind and disable thousands of young people. In 2016, the Guardian Reported this as the World’s First Mass Blinding with the New York Times referring to it as an "Epidemic of Dead Eyes". The forces admitted to using 1.3 million pellets on young protesters. The 2016 uprising was summarised by the local human rights group who released a review in 2017. It detailed 383 killed, more than 10,000 illegal detentions of protesters. “During the unrest, there was the extrajudicial execution of more than 100 civilians; more than 15,000 persons got injured in the State forces action with 4500+ injuries by the use of pellet shotguns with 1000+ civilians receiving eye damage fully or partially. Concerns were raised by Lord Ahmed with yourselves and the UN. This particularly concerned his concern about the killing of minors. [Appendix A]
In 2017, the uprising saw a different turn with a move to student protesters particularly women, taking to the streets and demonstrating their resistance and objection to Indian rule by throwing stones. The 2017 movement was driven by social media activism and ignited following an ambush into an college by the Indian forces and the resultant killing of a civilian while injuring many more. A government inquiry confirmed trespass into the college. Various videos of the day to day harassment faced by civilians in Kashmir were made vital. One particular event involved the use of a human shield. This constitutes a war crime and was reported as such in the international media. Human Rights Watch believes that no one should justify the use of a human shield. In these instances, the Indian government’s reaction was to shut of social media. Having spent a great deal of 2016 closing down thousands Facebook accounts, they took the step of closing off the access to social media, leaving Kashmir isolated. It is clear, this was done to prevent the further disclosure of atrocities committed by India on a daily basis. Kashmiris have had to tolerate these brutalities in silence. This resulted in some minor attention from Professor David Kaye Freedom of Expression Rapporteur United Nations.
In summary, despite the high death toll of civilians during the period of Indian occupation as detailed here [http://www.kmsnews.org/news/] there does not appear to be any constructive action taken by the Indian government or international authorities to prevent these atrocities. There has been endless books and articles written but no plan for a way forward to prevent civilian killings and injuries. The Indian Government is broadly reluctant to address the much needed Referendum in Kashmir. The people of Kashmir quite rightly feel aggrieved that promises made to them by the founding fathers of Indian “democracy” have been put by the wayside and effectively ignored. Due to the sheer reluctance to bring this matter to the Indian Parliament, an application has been submitted to the public petition committee requesting a Parliamentary Debate on the Kashmir Referendum. [Appendix B]
My colleagues in the forum of social media activism and I hope the UNHRC will at least prescribe a way forward for the people of Kashmir. The reasons for this is to prevent further deaths and injuries and to uphold international law. If nothing is done, the high profile state of Kashmir will be a bad precedent for other governments and countries. The Indian government is well known to be associated with fascist policies. Its right arm [RSS] supported Nazi Germany. What is described above is no different from the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. The UNHRC was created to prevent another Nazi Germany from evolving and flourishing. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that the UNHRC is able to uphold the civil liberties and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If it cannot do so in the case of Kashmir, there is no hope left for anyone in the world. That is not a precedent that the UNHRC should be responsible for as the leading human rights body setting an example to all of us. The UNHRC must conduct a remote investigation if it is blocked from visiting Kashmir. In doing so, it must hold the Indian Government to account and provide the people of Kashmir some protection by highlighting their plight and ensuring robust constructive solutions are recommended for the Indian Government to follow in order to adhere to international standards set by the United Nations.
Dr Rita Pal