Jeddah 5th August 2020: Today, the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) joins the international community in condemning the year-long inhuman, illegal and the most reprehensible security lockdown and communications blackout in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoJ&K). Despite ongoing public health emergency due to Covid-19 pandemic and persistent global condemnation by the UN, OIC and other human rights bodies, the Government of India, continues to pursue systematic persecution of Kashmiri Muslims through ongoing vicious political, economic and communication blockade even during the festive periods such as Eid ul Adha. Worst still, there is no respite in sight.
Since 5th August 2019, the IOJ&K is turned into the world’s largest prison with severe human rights and humanitarian repercussions for the innocent Kashmiri population. The entire Kashmiri political leadership was incarcerated without any legal recourse, and journalists and human rights activists are being prosecuted on false charges. Violence, rape, and molestation of women are widely used as a method of collective punishment by the Indian security forces, who continue to enjoy the blanket protection of the draconian laws of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act (PSA) to trample human rights of innocent Kashmiris.
The latest report by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons for the period January-June 2020 has reported killings of 229 innocent Kashmiris, 48 cases of destruction of properties, 107 cordons and search operations, 55 instances of internet blockade and illegal detention of 450 people under PSA. The worsening humanitarian situation arising due to the inhuman lockdown and closure of economic and social activities has also caused an economic loss of over $2.4 billion to Kashmiri economy besides severe hardships for the infirm to gain access to healthcare during the ongoing pandemic. Such reprehensible restrictions constitute collective punishment of the populace. These deplorable and blatant violations of Kashmiris’ fundamental human rights including the right to life, right to freedom of expression, right to peaceful protest and assembly are also contrary to international human rights law and violative of India’s international human rights obligations.
Furthermore, India is mischievously using the opportunity to illegally alter the demographic composition of the Muslim majority in IoJ&K by enacting ‘Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020’ causing ‘demographic flooding’ of non-natives in the IoJ&K. An estimated 30,000 people have already been given domicile, and there are reports that 1.74 million, i.e., 14% of the population, could acquire domicile to convert the Muslim majority in Kashmir into a minority. This is a manifest violation of the well codified international human rights treaties, including Articles 27 and 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which clearly prohibit any illicit transfer of population in conflict zones or disputed territory, the Commission added. The manifestation of these blatant human rights violations under an exclusionary ideology of Hindutva reflects an obvious State bias, which has led to the issuance of genocide alerts by international human rights organizations.
The Commission recommends that the international community, particularly the OIC countries, must take practical measures on multilateral and bilateral levels to pressurize India to: (a) immediately halt its gross and systematic human rights violations; (b) release all political prisoners and restore Kashmiris’ fundamental freedoms; (c) refrain from altering the geographic and demographic status of IOJ&K; (d) provide access to UN/OIC fact-finding missions and cooperate in the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry under UN auspices, and (d) let Kashmiris exercise their legitimate right to self-determination in line with the relevant UN Security Council and OIC resolutions.