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Kashmiris Call for Action on 'Disappearances' in Indian-Occupied Kashmir

Geneva, Switzerland, 14 November 1997. - Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director, Kashmiri American Council (KAC) and Abdul Majeed Banday, Leader, All Parties Hurriyet Conference called upon the U. N. Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances to pursue the cases of those who been listed as 'disappeared' persons by India. While forwarding this request at the Group's meeting in Geneva on November 14, 1997 whose agenda was a discussion on "The Question of Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances," they presented documentation for 20 'disappeared' persons. Dr. Fai pointed out that, "despite the iron curtain of secrecy imposed upon my land by India and the accompanying hardships of this ordeal, we have been able to document these twenty cases of disappearances in Jammu and Kashmir. These cases fulfil the criterion established by the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances for initiating action."

This is the first time that Kashmiris have been invited to address any Working Group of the United Nations. Dr. Fai thanked the Group on behalf of the 13 million people of Kashmir, for inviting them to address the issue of enforced and involuntary disappearances, "a situation that is commonplace in my homeland under the Indian occupation." The Executive Director cited the Human Rights Watch/Asia Report that noted 'disappearance' and subsequent killing in its issue of May 1996 {India's Secret Army in Kashmir Vol. 8, No. 4 (C)}. He said that while this Report will not bring the dead home, it has brought to light India's violations of the United Nations Charter in the hope that the world community will be moved to action.

The Report said that India had failed to fulfil its undertaking. "Like the Human Rights Watch, the people of Kashmir too wait for the world to fulfill its moral obligation toward the 13 million people whose right of self-determination is enshrined in successive Security Council resolutions," said Mr. Abdul Majeed Banday.

The Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances was established by UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 and since then it has dealt with some 35,000 individual cases in more than 58 countries. Dr. Fai said, "It was time that the people of Kashmir - who have been suffering under the Indian occupation since 1947 - were invited to tell their story of enforced and involuntary disappearances. Mr. Chairman, we stand here in the hope that this August body will do more than hear our tales of sufferings and deprivations."

Mr. Banday said that the Kashmiris, "fail to comprehend which section of the United Nations Charter or the UNCHR allows a nation to enforce laws such as those framed by India to terrorize not only the occupied peoples, like the people of Kashmir, but even its own citizen. The infamous Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) empowers India to arrest and detain any person up to one year without formal charge. This empowers the Indian-occupation authorities in Kashmir to detain any Kashmiri for twelve months without ever being obliged to say that he is in their custody. You can well imagine the stress that is experienced by the family. However, in most cases, the detainees end up as abandoned corpses left to rot on street corners or riverbanks."

Dr. Fai pointed out that 'disappearances' are going on despite the fact that the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances was adopted on December 18, 1992. Article 1 of this Declaration reads: "Any act of disappearance is an offense to human dignity. It is condemned as a denial of purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and as a grave and flagrant violation of the human rights fundamental proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed and developed in international instruments in this field." "Such noble intents notwithstanding, the people of Kashmir have yet to see the enactment of these articles by way of proper punishment to the perpetrators of the crime enforced or involuntary disappearances. Instead, India that has blatantly refused to implement the Security Council resolutions that call for a plebiscite in Kashmir, is being allowed a free hand to use enforced or involuntary disappearances as an integral components of its strategy to retain its hold on the territory," said Dr. Fai. He also cited the findings of Amnesty International.

Mr. Banday said the people of Kashmir ask what action the United Nations has taken to date to discipline India for committing such heinous crimes against humanity. Perhaps they fear that the United Nations has stopped counting the 13 million souls in Kashmir outside the realm of humanity. He reiterated that the people of Kashmir have a deep faith in the United Nations and harbor great hopes that this assembly of nations will fulfil its commitment given to them some 50 years ago. It is for this reason that the people of Kashmir have full faith in the All-Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC).

Dr. Fai said that the initiation of talks brought fresh hopes of peace to the people of Kashmir, when India accepted the invitation to enter into dialog with Pakistan. The Kashmiris, like others in the world community, had hoped that initiation of these talks would accompany the cessation of India's rampage against the people of Kashmir. Regrettably, our hopes have been shattered. "I report with full knowledge that India continues to escalate its terrorism against the people of Kashmir," declared Dr. Fai.

The Executive Director concluded, " my people have borne and are bearing utmost pain, sufferings and humiliation, keeping alive in the hope that the United Nations will fulfil its obligations in Kashmir. We appeal to you to pursue the cases we have presented here today and help save these lives at least."

Posted on 1999-01-01


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