Brussels, July 31, 2021 (PPI-OT):Sixteen European parliamentarians have written a letter to the European Commission on the “humanitarian situation” in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, urging the European Union to raise its voice on the issue and take action.
The letter addressed to the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, and Vice President, Josep Borrell, has been written by Fabio Massimo Castaldo (NI), Dino Giarrusso, (NI), Javier Nart (Renew Europe), Chiara Maria Gemma, (NI), Salima Yenbou, (Greens/EFA), Carles Puigdemont I Casamajo, (NI), Antoni Comín I Oliveres, (NI), Clara Ponsatí Obiols, (NI), Brando Benifei, (S and D), Massimiliano Smeriglio, (S and D), Manuela Ripa, (Greens/EFA), Idoia Villanueva Ruiz, (GUE/NGL), Rosa D’amato, (Greens/EFA), Andrea Cozzolino, (S and D), Domènec Ruiz Devesa, (S and D), Helmut Scholz, (GUE/NGL).
They said that as a champion of universal human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule-based international order, the EU must raise its voice against the violations of human rights affecting the people of IIOJK.
In the letter the European parliamentarians said that they believe that the EU should use all its leverage and tools to cooperate with its Indian and Pakistani partners to honour the pledge made to the Kashmiris by the international community and create an environment conducive to the implementation of the United Nations resolutions.
The lawmakers expressed the resolve to continue their engagements with Pakistani and Indian lawmakers as well as Kashmiri leaders “to impress upon them the urgent need to foster a climate of peace and dialogue in the region.” The letter maintained that it was “extremely important” for Kashmiris to be heard and granted the opportunity to decide their own future.
The lawmakers called upon von der Leyen and Borrell to convey on the EU’s behalf the “grave concern” over the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in IIOJK to the Indian government, besides take urgent action to address the “alarming” human rights situation in the region. The lawmakers also urged European Commission President and Vice President to contribute to peace and stability in the region by enhancing dialogue between India, Pakistan and Kashmiri representatives through making use of EU’s special relationships with both India and Pakistan.
They expressed the hope that European Commission President and vice president will extend strong support for this cause. The letter pointed out that the “miseries of the people of Jammu and Kashmir” had been amply documented in the Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2021 and reports by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2018 and 2019.
The lawmakers noted that IIOJK was already under a lockdown since India revoked its special status on August 5, 2019, and there were restrictions on the rights to movement, information, healthcare, education and free speech.
In the letter, the EU parliamentarians underlined that journalists and human rights defenders have been increasingly targeted for raising their voice in support of the Kashmiri people and [denouncing] their situation. Arbitrary detentions continue, public assembly is still prohibited […] and hundreds, including minors and several elected legislators of Jammu and Kashmir, remain under preventive detention, they deplored.
The letter maintained that a number of laws introduced by the Indian government over the years had instead often been misused against the Kashmiris. The EU parliamentarians emphasised that apart from being a humanitarian crisis, the Kashmir dispute also posed a “major threat to peace, stability, and security in the region, being a flashpoint between two nuclear-armed countries and we are worried that any miscalculation can lead to unwarranted consequences”.
They noted that the region’s security situation was “delicate” and deteriorating due to the continuous Kashmiri protests against the revocation of IIOJK’s special status and the Indian Citizenship Amendment Bill. They said the frequency of the protests was creating unrest and strife in the valley which in turn were adding to “volatility and tension” between the Pakistani and Indian militaries.
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