BEUSSELS: Imran Chouhdary; A glorious example of persistence in struggle.
The institutionalization of an event, anywhere in the world, is never a small job. It is rarely achieved and when achieved, it is profoundly celebrated and jealously guarded. The European Parliament is even harder to achieve such status for an event. It is a place where best minds of the world, with huge amount of resources, compete for the influence on the people and forums that impact the fate of the humanity at large.
The annual Kashmir-EU Week in the European Parliament, however, is the achievement of International Council for Human Development (ICHD), which deserves double compliments as it is done with volunteer efforts of a small team of activists, writers, politicians, researchers and social leaders. With no institutional resources available, it is not less than a miracle in political terms. But then, this small team is pursuing a cause, which is so undeniably just and so justified in the light of all the norms of ethics and democratic values or human rights, justice, freedoms and equality.
In fact, this is the strength of the cause and the passion to change that helped assembling activists from all across the world. Indeed, this is the cause that attracted some of the most respected and influential Members of the European Parliament, Tunne KELAM , László TŐKÉS , Timothy KIRKHOPE , Baroness Sarah LUDFORD, MartinCALLANAN , Phil BENNION, Amelia ANDERSDOTTER, Edward McMILLAN-SCOTT, to endorse it and become the permanent strength of the ICHD team. Above all, it is Sajjad Haider Karim, the host of the event; the fourth of its kind in the European Parliament.
He voiced pride and satisfaction when he said that the Kashmir-EU Week has become institutionalized and now, it is beyond any individual or personality. A key figure in the European Union, he could understand the worth of its claims. He knew that many organizations with huge funding and governmental support are not able to enjoy such a reputed achievement. He said this being a part of an unprecedented panel addressing an unprecedented seminar.
The president of Azad Jamu and Kashmir, as chief guest, the presence of the ambassador of Pakistan to Belgium, the online address by Yasin Malik and Pervaiz Imroze, deliberations by Ali Raza Syed (ichd) and Farooq Siddiqui (wkda), moderation by Marjan Lucas and presentation by Jean Lambert (MEP) Laura Schuurmans and Shujaat Bukhari made the seminar of the week an unprecedented event in recent years.
Welcoming the guest, Ali Raza Syed paid rich tribute to Sajjad Haider Karim, Marjan Lucas and other friends who had been working tirelessly for the promotion of Kashmir cause. He thanked the guests especially the president of AJK, Sardar Farooq, Minister Farzana Yaqoob, Ms. Laura Schuurman, Shujaat Bukhari and Zouhour Wani. He mentioned the recently launched report titled, Impunity to the Perpetrators while saying that the report gave documentary proof of how Indian security forces enjoyed legal cover for the violation of human rights. He said ICHD had already achieved 430,000 signatures on its One-Million Signature Campaign.
Sajjad Karim Haider (MEP), welcomed the participants as the host of the event and said that the event had already become a respected and known event in the EU parliament. He said that highlighting Kashmir cause was primary to his duties and passions as a politician from UK. He mentioned the EU Pakistan trade relations greatly enhanced some days ago but, he said that there was no substantive improvement on the issue of Kashmir. He lamented the fact that even high profile leaders of the EU Commission failed to mention the horrendous hr abuses being committed by the Indian state in IHK. He advised the Kashmiri Diaspora that they should exert their political pressure on the politician seeking to fight the EU election next May (2014). He congratulated for the successful five years of organizing Kashmir-EU Week in EU parliament, which has been truly institutionalized.
Jean Lambert (MEP) agreed with Sajjad Karim that the EU parliament should give maximum focus on the question of Kashmir that the people of Kashmir have right to be heart for devising their future themselves. She mentioned numerous documentations that showed the atrocities committed on the people. She favored the demand of demilitarization, end of illegal detention and disappearance. She said that the future of the Kashmir should be reached by the people of the Kashmir. She said that people should be allowed to speak their minds freely. Talking about trade agreement between EU, India and Pakistan, she said that trade should be enhanced between India and Pakistan to enhance the good relationship between the two countries, which is a must to reach the political settlement.
Laura Schuurman said that introduced her report on her recently launched report on Kashmir. She said that the Kashmir issue normally was seen through the angels of bilateral relations between Indian and Pakistan, Human disasters and abuses but there are geo-strategic implications as well that effect Afghanistan and China, which are as concerned with the Kashmir issue. She said that Kashmiris were victims of great atrocities by the Indian state forces. She said that the people should be included in the process of dialogues and peace building efforts. She said that the peace in Afghanistan could not be achieved without resolution of Kashmir issue. She mentioned the East Teamor while saying that Kashmir issue could also be solved by the help of international community. She talked about the growing influence of China on the international issues. She mentioned the terrorist attack on China, which alleged the Islamic organizations. She said that if China could be criticized for its hr abused why India was not being criticizing for the same crimes in Kashmir.
Shujaat Bukhari said that they had succeeded in building a positive atmosphere but recently there was again deadlock between Indian state and people of Kashmir. He mentioned the process between Musharaf and Vajpae saying that many humanitarian issues were taken care of. For example, he said that 23000 people traveled on the bust that was started between two sides. He mentioned the LOC trade as well as a positive step. He pointed out the increasing tension between India and Pakistan in recent months. He agreed to the speakers that the hr situation in IHK was very grave. He said that the process for the resolution of Kashmir could not work in isolation as it should include internal and external dimensions. He said confidence building measures by both India and Pakistan were very important and Kashmiris always supported political dialogue. He said that the good relations between India and Pakistan were very important for Kashmiris as they were victims of their mutual tensions. He said that role of EU and other international forums could not be over emphasized. He said that unfortunately Kashmir campaigned had been linked to the International terrorist network after 9/11, which needed to be tackled.
On video link;
Yasmin Malik said that the historical perspective of Kashmir dispute is very well known. He said EU described Kashmir as the beautiful prison but after the trade deal with India, they stopped even talking about the Kashmir. He said after 2008, the people of Kashmir showed the trend towards non-violence movement but unfortunately Indian state responded with violence and killed hundreds of innocent people. He said the international community was showing criminal silence over such issues. He said that the business interests dominated the concerns over human rights violations. He asked the international community what kind of image it wanted to give to the Kashmir youth since they were betrayed by the international community after they were lured in throwing the arms and pursuing the non-violent democratic movement. He said they were disappointed as International community did not play any responsible role in Kashmir. He appealed the international community to support Kashmiris right to self determination according to the wishes of the people of Kashmir.
Pervaiz Imroze, renowned human rights activist of IHK, said that such conferences in Europe were highly important for the civil society of Kashmir. He said India claimed to be the biggest democracy of the world but it was treating Kashmiris with complete impunity to the 700,000 security forces victimizing innocent people. He said forces could kill, rape and disappear the innocent people with complete legal impunity. He mentioned the issue of mass graves and more than 8000 disappearances. He mentioned that Indians were refusing to conduct the DNA tests because there was connection between disappearances and mass graves and extrajudicial killings. He said militarization was affecting every aspect of the life. He talked about draconian laws such as Public Safety Act that have detained thousands of people against the norms of fair legal process. Talking about the recently launched report, he said that the government should prosecute the perpetrators but it was refusing to do so. He said that the global civil society should come forward to help the Kashmiris. He said apart from few voices of conscience, the majority of the civil society of India was silent over the crimes of their state in Kashmir. He said that international humanitarian intervention was much needed for the solution of Kashmir.
Zouhour Want, advocate from USA, talked about the black laws such as PSA. As a lawyer, he explained how such laws were against all the basic norms and principles of the fair trial. He said those laws facilitated state atrocities while rendering courts only puppets forums. He said almost every aspect of said laws was extrajudicial. He said PSA was a tool used for successive detention of the innocent people while giving no right to compensation. He said that 8000 to 20000 people had been detained under this law. He also explained the dark aspects of AFSPA; another black law enforced in IHK. He mentioned that these laws were against the Indian constitution and the Convention on the Civil and Political Rights. He said AFSPA was termed as “license to kill” and PSA was called “Law against law” by the international human rights organizations.
President AJK, Sardar Yaqoob appreciated Sajjad Karim and Ali Raza Syed for their great services for the cause of Kashmir. He said India should also understand that earliest solution of this issue was in the best interest of everybody. He hope that the tireless efforts shall bring fruit and international community shall come up with the just solution. He assured that his government was fully concentrated upon the issue of Kashmir.
AJK minister for social affair, Farzana Yaqoob said she wanted to give voice to the faceless women and children who were rendered half widows and half orphans since they don’t know about their husbands/fathers for so long as they are disappeared by the Indian state forces. She said PSA reminded her of Guantanamo Bay since it was totally against the notion of legality and justice. She mentioned Malala Yusafzai as saying that thousands of Kashmiri girls were raped and killed but nobody was ready to listen and acknowledge their sufferings. He appealed to the International community to wake up and keep on talking against the human rights abuses such as mass graves. She said the demand of plebiscite was not more than the demand of free and fair elections to let Kashmiris chose amongst India, Pakistan or freedom.
Altaf Wani said EU played vital role in shaping up economic, social and political landscape of the world but unfortunately human rights abuses such as Kashmir were ignored by EU. He said all the hr organizations had demanded the repeal of PSA and AFSPA but India refused to do so. He lamented the fact that no international forum criticized India. He mentioned the role of international human rights council that was silent on the Kashmir issue. He said solution of Kashmir issue was a prerequisite for the peace in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.
Ambassador of Pakistan to Belgium, Munnawar Saeed Bhatti congratulated Sajjad Karim and Ali Raza Syed for organizing such a grant event of Kashmir EU Week. He said that Kashmir was indeed the paradise on the face of the earth but this paradise was in chains and its inhabitants were suffering the inhuman treatment by the brutal Indian forces. He said both India and Pakistan had committed plebiscite for the Kashmiris but Indians refused to abide by the promises. He mentioned South Asia as one fifth of the human population, which is home to people with poverty, homelessness, illiteracy and hunger but this region is also the biggest importer of the arms. He hoped that the South Asian states shall revert back to sanity and shall work jointly towards peaceful solution of Kashmir issue. He explained the efforts of the present government to restart the peace dialogues with India. He said that international community including EU will have to play their role in South Asia. He said both India and Pakistan should resolve this issue on durable basis in the interest of their people and the entire world.
Concluding the seminar, Farooq Siddiqui said that it zqs astonishing to see that India resorted to violence and brutality despite having great humanist saints in their rich historic traditions. He mentioned the chain of lies and deceptions by the Indian leaders such as Manmohan Singh. He said Kashmiris should have self reliance for their struggle for Kashmir. He said there was a sense of hope during 2003-2008 that something good shall come out of the dialogues between India and Pakistan. He asked how the biggest democracy could deploy 700,000 army men in a small valley while spending huge capitals on arms. He mentioned the possible election of Narendar Moodi as prime minister of India saying that there was something wrong with that democracy.
The exhibition of peaceful cultural depth of Europe
The exhibition portrayed the cultural depth and innate intercultural and interfaith harmony of the culture of the Kashmir. The scenic beauty of Kashmir creates the feelings that the land itself must be an abode for the inner peace and outer cohesion. So is the case with Kashmir. The paradise on earth, Kashmir portrays the depth of mysticism that preached love and harmony amongst all the cultural, racial, ethnic and religious identities. The exhibition showed the reality that the struggle of the Kashmris is the struggle by a peace loving and peaceful nation.
While speaking to the inauguration ceremony of the exhibition, Sajjad Haider Karim welcomed the visitors on behalf of his party and European Union. He said they will continue promoting the Kashmir cause at all the levels of politics and culture.
Sardar Yaqoob, president AJK, said that it was an honor for him to inaugurate the exhibition showing the rich culture of Kashmir. He said that Kashmiris were very peaceful and peace loving people and no human rights problem existed in AJK. He hope that soon people from both sides of the Kashmir will meet each other since all the Kashmiri were united on one point agenda of freedom.
Mr. Timothy, MEP, said that he spoke to many Kashmiri diaspora groups recently to discuss the future of Kashmir. He said he visited Pakistan and everybody there wanted right to self determination for Kashmiris. He said bothINdia and Pakistan will have to work for the peace while plqying their positive role for demilitarizing the area. He said that Kashmir had a great economic strength that should be capitalize by both the countries. He said that the world community should ensure that in the long run the people of Kashmir should have their right to self determination.
Farzana Yaqoob, minister for social welfare of AJK said international community qnd regional powers should accept our demands. She said that international community should help them to protect their rich and pro peace arts and culture.
Farooq Siddiqui, president WKDA, said this exhibition enhanced the awareness about the rich culture of Kashmir. He said Kashmiris understood the national interests of India and Pakistan but it should not be pursued at the cost of the interests of Kishmiris. He said it was not democracy to hold a nation by force.