Kashmiris demonstrate near Indian embassy in Washington, events held in South Africa
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Braving freezing temperatures, a large number of Kashmiris, Pakistanis and their allies Saturday staged a demonstration in front of the Indian embassy here at which speakers drew attention to the grave situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir and urged the world community to implement the UN-pledged right to self-determination to the Kashmiri people.
Wrapped up in woolies, the participants raised vociferous and waved placards reading: “We Demand Human Rights”, “Wake up, wake up — UN — wake up”, “Indian army out of Kashmir” and “India: free Kashmir.”
The protest, marking Kashmir Solidarity Day, was organized by World Kashmir Awareness Forum, an advocacy group, and the Council for Social Justice of ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America).
The speakers urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to persuade India to rescind the Domicile Law designed to change Kashmir’s demography; release all political prisoners, including Yasin Malik, Khurram Parvez, Shabir Shah, Aasia Andrabi, Masarat Alam; repeal all special repressive laws; restore fundamental rights and freedoms, and create condition to allow the Kashmiri people to exercise their right to self-determination.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, the forum’s chairman, said that a series of draconian laws enacted by the Indian government in Kashmir provide an enabling environment that encourages and even rewards human rights abuses by its military and paramilitary forces.
Despite the growing international awareness about India’s heinous crimes, New Delhi has kept on killing and torturing innocent civilians in Kashmir, and UN reports and those various international NGO’s testify the ongoing murderous campaign.
“UN Secretary-General Guterres – the custodian of human rights – cannot simply stand by and allow India to continue to kill, torture and maim the people of Kashmir in this way,” Fai said. “This must not stand,” he added.
Fai said it was also incumbent upon the United States to take a leadership role in resolving the Kashmir conflict, adding Washington was in a position to resolve it.
Dr. Zahid Bukhari, Executive Director of the ICNA/Council for Social Justice said that his organization had always supported the Kashmiri struggle for freedom against Indian occupation, and will continue to do so.
Kashmir, he said, was more than a human right issue — it’s a freedom struggle for 23 million of Kashmiris.
Professor Imtiaz Khan of World Kashmir Awareness Forum said that Indian army had massacred more than 100,000 Kashmiri civilians engaged in peaceful demonstrations against Indian occupation, with thousands of Kashmiri women having been gang-raped. Over 10,000 missing persons and mass graves have been identified.
“These atrocities have been intensified manifold after August 5, 2019, when article 35 A and 370, which gave Kashmir a special status, was abrogated by Indian parliament,” Prof. Khan said, adding that Indian army was bludgeoning Kashmiris into submission so that they cannot even whisper the words: Right of self-determination.
He said that the Indian government was also changing the demographic character of Kashmir by bring in hooligans into the disputed territory Hindus, with long-term designs to restrict local Muslim population in ghettos and snatch their livelihood.
Kashmir has been converted into a concentration camp, Dr Khan said. Any voice of dissent is met by long-term imprisonment or even death, and it was exigent for the diaspora to make the world aware of these atrocious stories.
Among other speakers were: Kashmiri activist Saleem Qadri; Sardar Imtiaz Khan (from New Jersey); Ziaul Hussain, Tariq Bhatti, Mazhar Chugtai; Ms. Aisha Khan; Sardar Ashiq Khan; Sardar Zubair Khan; Sardar Aftab Roshan Khan; Naeem Butt; Akram Butt; Khurram Zulfiqar Khan; Gul Sher Sahi; Asva Nazim; Ali Raza, Malik Hamid; Sardar Zarif Khan, and Sardar Shoaib Irshad, the co-organizer of the rally.
A digital advertisement campaign was also launched in New York and Washington DC and Houston during which digital trucks displayed banners in support of the oppressed Kashmiris and to highlight the plight of Kashmiris suffering at the hands of Indian occupation forces in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Banners were also mounted atop taxis in all the five boroughs of New York. While participants took part in webinars. Events including a photo exhibition were held to mark the Kashmir Solidarity Day at the Pakistan embassy and the four consulates.
Activities were also organised in South Africa to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day. Twelve pole boards were displayed in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Pakistani diaspora and locals participated in events to highlight the Kashmir issue. In support of Kashmiris, a demonstration was held in the Northern Cape province of South Africa while a car rally was arranged in Pretoria.