Digital advertising trucks in Washington flash messages: Free Yasin & Free Khurram
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The World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF), a Washington-based advocacy group, rented digital advertising trucks in Washington – demanding the release of Khurram Pervez, Yasin Malik and other political prisoners.
The electronic screens on the trucks carry messages such as: “Free Yasin Malik”; “Free Khurram Parvez”; “Khurram Parvez is not a terrorist. He is a human rights defender. Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur”; “Stop Genocide in Kashmir”; “Yasin Malik is pursuing the path of non-violence. Ambassador Kuldip Nayyar”, “India - Release all political prisoners unconditionally.”
Dr. Ghulam N. Mir, President, WKAF, condemned the continued detention of Khurram Parvez, the Coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society by the Indian National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Dr. Mir reminded that Khurram Parvez was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people of the world by US-based Time Magazine in 2022. He appealed the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights to intervene to release Khurram Parvez and other Kashmiri civil society leaders from prisons across Indian jails.
Dr. Mir also condemned the life imprisonment of Muhammad Yasin Malik, one of the most popular and highly regarded political leaders of Kashmir under fabricated charges without a credible due process of law. We demand that the UN institutions use their authority to intervene and have the Modi regime reverse the verdict and release Mr. Malik and allow him to rejoin with his family and political followers, Mir added.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary-General of the WKAF said "Our aim was to target the policy makers in Washington as well as the passersby to let them know that crimes against humanity are being committed in the so-called largest democracy – India - and the Biden Administration is giving preferential treatment to India because of her commercial market & alluring business dealings.
Fai added that Yasin Malik’s illegal arrest is yet another attack on freedom of expression & freedom of speech. The continuous illegal detention and life imprisonment by India’s kangaroo court of the most prominent leader – Yasin Malik – is flagrant disregard of international law.
Fai totally endorsed what Mushaal Mullick, the wife of Yasin Malik, has said, “They may take away his voice, they may mute his mic before the bench, and they may close his ears to debate between the lawyers. But one thing they can never steal is the twinkle in his eyes and the smile on his lips.”
Fai continued that for years, Khurram Parvez’s voice has been crucial in bringing light to the situation of human rights in Kashmir. The documentation work of Khurram was central to the first ever report issued by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights. The silencing of human rights defender, civil rights advocates, like Khurram Parvez is a travesty of justice. Time magazine mentioned that “It was not the first time that Parvez was forcibly silenced. The attacks against him speak volumes of the truth he represents at a time when the world’s largest democracy is being called out for its persecution of the more than 200 million Indian Muslims.”
Dr. Fai remembers Khurram Parvez saying at an international conference in New York on December 11, 2015, that “You cannot understand human rights if you don’t understand the context. Human rights abuses are taking place all around the world, in many places, including in India,’ he stated. ‘But the difference is these are happening because of aberrations, deficiencies in governance, and because people transgress the law. What is happening in Kashmir is not an aberration, it is part of an institutionalized policy of the Indian government. We believe there has to be a process, now in Kashmir, for improving human rights abuses on the pattern of special procedures. If it was done for Sri Lanka and Rwanda, why not for Kashmir?”
Dr. Imtiaz Khan of George Washington University said that Kashmiris condemn the farce trial of their leader Yasin Malik in which the kangaroo court of India has awarded him life imprisonment. He was not represented by lawyer and his plea against framed up charges were not heard by the judge. The ultimate goal of the fascist Indian government is to eliminate him in the notorious Tihar jail where he is lodged. World acknowledges that freedom struggle of Yasin Malik was peaceful, and he always preached his followers to adopt the path of nonviolence. On several occasions he was approached by Indian government for negotiations which was followed by meetings with highest echelons of the then administration, including then the prime minister of India.
Dr. Imtiaz added that six months ago, Indian government arrested world renowned human right activist Khurram Parvez who has received number of awards for his painstaking efforts to highlight gross human right violations. The fake charges against Khurram carries death sentence. It is obvious that government India wants to throttle the voices of freedom in Kashmir and do away with voices raised against unparalleled human right abuses. We fervently call upon these world bodies to approach India and put pressure on them to reverse these horrendous decisions. Unjustified conviction of Yasin Malik and incarceration of Khurram can push Kashmiris to wall that can have horrendous consequences.
Javaid Kausar, the main emcee of the rally thanked the participants for coming from distances despite the hot weather and possibility of a thunderstorm. He said this shows that we love our prophet, Muhammad more than anyone else. Javaid Kausar said on one hand we cannot ignore Muslims and minorities of India and at the same time, we cannot afford to ignore the crimes against humanity being committed against civilians in Kashmir.
Javaid Kausar added that digital advertising trucks proved to be the powerful way to disseminate the message as the brightly lit words on the screens catch attention of the people walking on the streets and those coming in and out of government and commercial buildings.
Dr. Zahid Bukhari of ICNA/Council on Social Justice urged the participants to get involved in educating the policy makers about the issues, be it local, religious or international. He said that Hindutva has become a problem not only for the Muslims of India but also for other minorities, including Christians and Dalits. Dr. Bukhari said that Kashmir cries for international intervention and we can make it happen provided we realize our responsibilities.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Noori, President, International Peace Mission said that Muhammad brought the message of peace for all humanity. We need to educate the fellow Americans the cases when Muhammad showed kindness not only to fellow Muslims but to the Jewish community of Medina. Dr. Noori said that we stand with our leader, Yasin Malik and demand his unconditionally release along with other political prisoners.
Sardar Zarif Khan, the organizer appealed to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to intervene in the cases of Yasin Malik, Khurram Parvez, Shabir Shah, Masarat Aalam, Aasia Andrabi and others.
Sardar Zarif asked: how many more must be jailed in Kashmir for the world powers to open their eyes? Zarif explained that the route of digital truck in Washington included: Major embassies including Indian Embassy; All federal buildings, including the State Department; the Capitol Hill; Library of Congress; The Washington Monument; The White House; various Museums; Lincoln Memorial; Washington National Cathedral; the World Bank and IMF, etc.
WKAF also participated in a rally along with the American Muslim community of Washington metropolitan area, in front of Indian Embassy in Washington, DC to register a peaceful protest over the blasphemous remarks of RSS/BJP led Modi government officials - Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal - against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The attendees also expressed solidarity with Muslims as well as other minorities of India. Lately, there have been a growing animosity and defamation of Islam in India and reported incidents of harassment of Muslim women as well as banning of Muslim girl students from wearing hijab in the State of Karnataka. Those who spoke at the rally included: Allama Ijaz Naqashbandi, Moulana Sayed Zaka Qadri, Moulana Sayed Ghulam Muhammad Qadri, Dr. Zafar Iqbal Noori, Javaid Kausar, Sardar Zarif Khan, Dr. Zahid Bukhari, Professor Imtiaz Khan, Aisha Khan, Saeed Khan, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai and others.