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Activists Call for ‘Global Spotlight’ on Plight of Kashmiris

The decades-long assault on the citizens of Kashmir by Indian occupying forces is most shameful in the harm of innocent children, and must be condemned, sanctioned and brought to an end.

Black Lives Matter, Palestinian, Uighur, Indigenous and Rohingya activists have come out in support of the people of Indian-administered Kashmir, calling for a “global spotlight on the suffering and their resistance”, in light of the one-year anniversary of the revocation of the region’s autonomy by India’s Hindu nationalist government.

On August 5, 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government abrogated Article 370 of India’s constitution that granted the Muslim-majority region a special status, with powers to make its own laws in all matters except finance, defence, foreign affairs and communications.

The region was placed under an unprecedented security lockdown and internet shutdown for months following the decision, drawing condemnation from rights organisations and the United Nations.

“I am sending this strong word of deep solidarity with my precious brothers and sisters in Kashmir facing a vicious Indian occupation generating levels of dominations, social misery and suffering,” said Harvard University Professor Cornel West in a video message released on Tuesday, Aug. 4 by the Stand with Kashmir group.

“Let’s cast a national global spotlight on both the suffering and the resistance.”

Days before the anniversary, thousands of Indian troops were ordered to impose a two-day curfew in Kashmir, blocking main roads with razor wire and steel barricades, citing intelligence reports of looming protests.

Kashmiris have called for the anniversary to be marked as a “black day”.

‘A brutal occupation’

About 7,000 people were taken into custody whereas hundreds remained under house arrest or behind bars without charge.

“This is a message to my Kashmiri brothers and sisters who are enduring a brutal occupation and being repressed by the most violent means,” Mariam Barghouti, a Palestinian activist and writer, said in the video message for the US-based Kashmiri diaspora group.

“I know that the plight for self-determination is difficult and oppressors rely on making their violence invisible and that they rely on making us invisible but your voices are heard and your shouts and screams as difficult as they are to utter are heard.”

A year on, life remains hard in Kashmir with several checkpoints still in place and half a million jobs lost in the region by the end of 2019, according to the Kashmir chamber of commerce.

Kashmiris fear New Delhi’s decision to allow Indians from other states to buy land and compete for local jobs are aimed at demographic change in the region of nearly eight million people.

Beyond sharp words from Malaysia, Turkey and UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, international reaction over the August 5 decision, has been largely muted.

“As a Rohingya, going through a process of what is called a genocide and living in fear of not being able to protect loved ones, I would never understand why the international community takes so long to respond,” Yasmin Ullah, a Rohingya activist, said.


Edited for Space