South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional human rights organisation, observes with much distress the rapidly diminishing status of human rights in Kashmir. Since the killing of Burhan Wani, a leader of Hizbul Mujahideen on 8th July, there have been widespread public demonstrations across Kashmir and in a bid to curb these protests, the state has responded with extensive use of excessive and disproportionate force. The death toll of civilians has reportedly risen to 82 by 19 September and over 10,000 civilians have been injured. Grievous injuries have been inflicted by the use of pellet guns by security forces and police, which has caused blindness and partial blindness to many including children. There has also been a severe clampdown on basic freedoms, including blocking of internet, telephone communications, and even freedom of the press was infringed when newspapers in Kashmir were closed for 3 days in July. Till 19 September, the valley had suffered 73 consecutive days of curfew, leading to the closure of educational institutions, main markets, public transport and other business ventures disrupting daily civilian life.
Further, SAHR strongly condemns the action of the Indian authorities in preventing Khurram Parvez, a prominent Human Rights Defender and Programme Coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), from travelling to Geneva to attend the UN Human Rights Council meeting, and his present incarceration in preventive detention on trumped up charges.
SAHR also categorically condemns the Uri attack which left 17 Indian soldiers dead on 18 September. It urges both governments of India and Pakistan to act with restraint at this difficult moment. Escalation of violence will only cause further human suffering on both sides of the border.
SAHR advocates the need for sustained dialogue on the issue of Kashmir; emphasizes the protection of human rights defenders in Kashmir; calls upon India to immediately stop the use of pellet guns and other disproportionate and excessive use of force against civilian population and respect the human rights of the people of Kashmir. SAHR reiterates its appeal to the governments of Pakistan and India to ensure peace in the region.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights
Dr. Nimalka Fernando
- Kashmir unrest: Girl succumbs to injuries, death toll rises to 82, The Indian Express, 19 September, 2016, http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/kashmir-valley-unrest-death-toll-3039260/
- Injured youth succumbs in Kashmir, death toll rises to 80, the New Indian Express, 11 September, http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/Injured-youth-succumbs-in-Kashmir-death-toll-rises-to-80/2016/09/11/article3618782.ece
- Kashmir newspapers raided, printing banned for 3 days to ‘ensure peace’, Hindustan Times, 17 July 2016, http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/j-k-govt-bans-publication-of-newspapers-in-valley-for-3-days-to-ensure-peace/story-VbUcLgOQOScIxCMmHdYrgP.html
- Kashmir: Curfew clamped in Pulwama, Baramulla districts, The Indian Express, 19 September, http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/kashmir-shut-for-73rd-consecutive-day/