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Toronto, Canada: Kashmiri Protest at Consulate General of USA

Punjab Newsline Network, 26 September 2010

TORONTO:Under the banners of Friends of Kashmir, World Kashmiri Diaspora Alliance and Anti War Coalition, people of all walks of life full of emotion and zeal gathered in front of the Consulate General of USA in Toronto to express their anger over the killings of innocent Kashmiris in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The protestors were carrying banners and vocalizing “Indian army out of Kashmir”, “We do not want to see gross human rights violations in Kashmir”, and “Stop the brutal killing of our children.” It began at 12:00 PM and concluded in approximately three hours.

The protesters were angered by continued and unabated reports of killing of unarmed protestors, torture, and rape being used as a weapon to break the ‘will’ of the Kashmiris as documented by Amnesty International (AI), Asia Watch and various NGOs (Non-governmental organizations).

Farooq Papa the head of World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance called on the Canadian Government to take cognizance of how Indian democracy has in the past and at present responded to the peaceful unarmed protests of the Kashmiri masses. He further stated that Indian democracy has failed miserably as a democratic country to reach the minimum standards of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which India is a signatory.

Allowing India to get away with impunity for its human right records in Kashmir will embolden the ill conceived model of using state terror as a means of governance and stifling the peaceful protest of millions of Kashmiris, who are within their right to demand self determination and freedom from Indian occupation, properly recognized by the international community as a state whose political future is to be decided by an impartial referendum.

Farooq Papa said that while India is preparing for holding the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, the Kashmiri civilian population is being traumatized, and cities and towns in Kashmir are being converted into garrisons. Due to extreme repressive measures being used by the Indian forces, a humanitarian crisis is fast developing in Jammu and Kashmir, with an unprecedented day and night curfew, acute shortage of medicine, milk, and even baby food, obstruction in the movement of ambulances, doctors and medical staff, shortage of blood and life saving drugs in hospitals, disruption in water and electricity supplies and telephone and internet services, banning of SMS services, clamping down on local media and beating of media persons, and nocturnal raids to harass people.

Dr. Azrab Khan, of Friends of Kashmir strongly condemned the use of indiscriminate force against the peaceful protesters who demanded immediate withdrawal of draconian black law of PSA (provincial security agency), and Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). These laws give the security forces the right to kill with impunity. Such powers are in contravention to the international law and violate the basic tenets of human rights. These gruesome acts and violations of human right are shielded by the pro-governments of states, he added.

Mr. Khawaja Rafiq of Friends of Kashmir noted that India forgets that no military force has ever quelled popular movements; as such, the military occupation is unjustified. It is well known that Indian intelligence agencies have had a big role in shaping phony political parties and politicians having no roots in the masses, holding fraudulent elections and installing puppet regimes detested by the people and using armed personnel in filling the ballot boxes in the so-called ‘undemocratic elections to look like democratic’. Such processes are to rig the elections by undemocratic means, that is, too, under gun points and intimidation of the alleged Indian democracy.

Mr. Zahid Khan of Friends of Kashmir stated that since 1989, the Indian force has mercilessly killed 107,324 innocent Kashmiris, 9870 women and girls raped, 755 students burnt alive, 10,3440 arrested, 120,989 orphan children and 105,929 homes destroyed.

Mr. M. A. Qureshi, Zarar Siddiqi, Aftab Malik, Asif Sherazi, Sajjad Hyder, and Asad Afaqui asserted if India could not suppress the voice of Kashmiris in 63 years, it would never be able to do so.

Ms Marlene Obeid, spokesperson for the Anti War Coalition condemned the atrocities done against the Kashmiris by the Indian Government and promised that their group will keep working to stop the cruelty.

Habib Yousafzai of World Kashmiri Diaspora Alliance stated that the solution of the Kashmir problem, which has persisted chronically for over sixty three years, is uncomplicated and that is, to allow the Kashmiri people to decide in a UN supervised plebiscite about their future. The United Nations has to follow the situation of ‘Two’ referenda employed by the Government of Canada, under the leaderships of Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Right Honourable John Chretien, a few years ago for the people of the Province of Quebec. Both times, the people of the province of Canada gave their verdict to remain a part of Canada.

The second example is of the people of Puerto Rico, when the United States Congress said it is up to the people of Puerto Rico to decide whether they wish to live independently or would like to be a part of the United States. During the elections, the people of Puerto Rico made it crystal clear to the United States that they would be like to be governed by the United States. The UN should follow the referenda conducted by the Governments of Canada and the United States of America. Under no circumstance and as long the plebiscite is not conducted, India must understand that the people oppressed in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir are not the ‘integral’ part of Hindu-Brahmin India.