UK asks India to respect international standards of human rights
LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said Britain has asked the Indian government to respect international standards of human rights, respect rights of Kashmiris and end lockdown of Kashmir, which has now entered the second month.
Speaking in the House of Commons to give policy statement of the British government, Dominic Raab expressed alarm at the worsening human rights situation in Kashmir as a result of the draconian clampdown on Kashmiris following the revocation of Article 370. The foreign secretary revealed that Britain has asked the Indian government that reports of human rights abuses of Kashmiri people must be dealtwith transparently, thoroughly and rigorously and international human rights standards must be respected.
He told the parliament that Britain has raised the issue of communications blackout and lockdown in Kashmir with the Indian government. He said the Indian government has assured Britain that these measures are “temporary” and Britain would hold India to these “promises”.
Raab said he has spoken to Indian Foreign Minister Jai Shankar to express Britain’s worry over the situation in IHK. “We are concerned about the human rights situation in Kashmir. I spoke to Jai Shaknar on August 7. We want reduction in tensions in Kashmir, respect for internationally accepted human rights” and we want “all sides to rebuild confidence”.
In a stern statement, the foreign secretary told the Indian government that the issue of human rights is “an international issue and it’s not a bilateral issue” and Britain expects that “these rights should be complied with as per international standards”.
The foreign secretary spoke after dozens of parliamentarians wrote to the Tory government asking it to end its silence and take a clear stand on Kashmir. He added: “The reality is we have raised issues around human rights.”
The Foreign Secretary was asked questions by MPs about the lockdown in IHK which had paralysed more than seven million Kashmiris. He stressed that India must ensure that human rights are respected fully and outstanding issues should be resolved “through constructive dialogue”.
Earlier, thousands, mostly Kashmiris, marched here in Britain’s capital to show solidarity with the oppressed people of Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) as the curfew and media and communication blackout in the valley entered the 30th consecutive day.
By all counts, the #KashmirFreedomMarch rally on Tuesday was bigger than the massive protest on August 15 when nearly 15,000 had gathered outside Indian High Commission after Narendra Modi’s government revoked Article 370.
The protestors arrived on public and private buses from all over the United Kingdom and started gathering at 12:00pm at the Parliament Square, opposite the Palace of Westminster. The organisers were expecting the number of participants to be at around 2,000 but expectations were defied when men, women and young and old came on their own for the march. Besides Pakistanis, and AJK citizens, the Sikh community members also participated in the protest.
The solidarity march started from London’s Parliament Square and proceeded to the Indian High Commission to express solidarity with oppressed folks in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region and demand India to lift curfew and end the human rights violations.
The call for Kashmir march was generated by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and supported by all Kashmiri and Pakistani groups including Kashmir chapters of PTI, PML-N, PPP, JI and a number of Kashmiri nationalist and human rights groups — all united in anger and hatred against Indian government, BJP, RSS and Narendra Modi. As part of the code of conduct, no politician leader was allowed to make speeches. No flags of any political party were allowed and Kashmiri flags were visible all around.
Chants of “We want freedom”, “Freedom is right of Kashmir,” “India leave Kashmir, “Terrorist, terrorist – Modi is a terrorist,” “save Kashmir from BJP, RSS,” and “Kashmiris need justice” rang out in the crowd, with protesters also calling out international organisations for not doing enough to free Kashmiris from India’s violence. The protestors carried cards equating Modi with Hitler and Nazi ideology.
Speaking to The News, the protestors said that they had come out to tell the oppressed people of IHK that they were not alone in their struggle against India. They said that Modi regime has enforced a crippling lockdown in the occupied region since revoking its special status.
After the marchers arrived at the Indian High Commission, dozens of police officers cordoned off the path outside India House from all sides. Protestors threw shoes, eggs, tomatoes and water bottles at the gate of Indian High Commission to express their anger at the actions of Indian government against the people of Kashmir who are currently cut off from the rest of the world due to clampdown. The protestors stayed there for more than two hours and then dispersed peacefully. Some protesters handed the AJK flag to the statue of Gandhi.
The Indian government had imposed a strict lockdown and communications blackout in IHK just before it repealed Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5. The lockdown and communications blackout is still in place after one month, but the Indian government has claimed of having eased some restrictions — a claim rejected by independent observers and international media.
Britain is home to more than one million Kashmiris most of whom originate from Azad Kashmir and are known for relentlessly campaigning for freedom of Kashmir. At Tuesday’s protest as well as protest on August 15, most of the people who attended anti-India protests have never been seen before at any protest. It’s understood that Article 370 revocation turned around the issue of Kashmir in terms of internationalising the issue as gory details of Indian oppression of Kashmiris have made their way into western media