Geneva, 16 May 2023 (TDI): On Monday, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a statement containing a warning of Special Rapporteurs to G20 member states.
The Statement exposed the Indian plan of portraying the façade of normalcy in the Kashmir region to the world during the upcoming G20 meeting from 22 to 24 May. The statement also sheds light on the predicament of the Kashmiri People.
The statement of an independent UN expert reads, “Human rights violations have risen dramatically in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir since 2019 when the Government of India revoked the special status of the region.”
Similarly, the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Fernand de Varennes, alarmed the international community of the Indian plan of holding a meeting in an occupied territory. India is hosting the upcoming G20 meeting of the working group on tourism in Srinagar on 22-24 May.
The UN Special Rapporteur said in a statement, “The Government of India is seeking to normalize what some have described as a military occupation by instrumentalizing a G20 meeting and portray an international seal of approval”, despite what Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Human Rights Council a few weeks ago was a worrying human rights situation in the Kashmir region.
The Spokesperson of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, Mumtaz Zahra, vocalized the same concerns and tweeted, “By holding a G20 meeting of the working group on tourism on 22-24 May in #IIOJK, India is seeking to normalize a military #occupation by “instrumentalising a #G20 meeting”, #UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues.”
The human rights situation has worsened since the UN-independent experts raised the issue with the Government of India in 2021. They expressed grave concerns over the loss of political autonomy, the implementation of new Domicile Rules, and other legislation aimed at changing the demography of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir.
These legislations might result in political disenfranchisement, reducing the degree of political participation and representation of Kashmiris and other minorities. It might also “undermine linguistic, cultural, and religious rights” of the people of the region.
According to Varennes, G20 is unintentionally supporting fake normalcy shown by India. Currently, massive human rights violations, including suppression of free media, are undergoing in Kashmir. He called upon G20 to uphold international human rights obligations and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
He added, “The situation in Jammu and Kashmir should be decried and condemned, not pushed under the rug and ignored with the holding of this meeting.”
Indian Revocation of Article 370 and 35A
On 5 August 2019, the Hindu-Nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party-led (BJP) Government of India unilaterally revoked articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution without consulting the parliament of the state of Kashmir. These articles provided autonomy to the state. Moreover, it also gave special property ownership rights to the Kashmiri people.
Since then, the Government of India has locked down the whole of Kashmir, even barring media or any entity from outside from entering the state. International organizations such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed concerns over the human rights of Kashmiris and reported serious violations of those rights.
Indian unilateral revocation not only violated the various United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions but also violated its own constitution and Shimla Agreement. Moreover, the unilateral action by India is highly irresponsible given the fact that it is disputed between two nuclear-armed countries.
The international community should uphold the human rights norm. Therefore, they should subject India to accountability for its highly irresponsible decision threatening the peace of the region and world.