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The Occupation of Kasmir

Submitted by on 06 Oct 2011 – 15:15

Kashmir Countryside Rana Nazir, Chair, British Kashmiri Women Council

The reason I founded the British Kashmiri Women Council was to raise the awareness for the human rights violations in Kashmir.

As a British Kashmiri woman, I am trying, along with many others hoping to generate a wider public interest in Kashmir and help develop an educated and informed solidarity for the people of Kashmir. We are only able to achieve this if we have the support and dedication towards this cause in numbers and stand united in order to strengthen voices. I want to add my voice and make this cause stronger. I am fortunate that God has given me the ability and the passion to help others, and I know we all have that ability in us.

I and many others have come forward to help try make a difference in lives of the weak and oppressed to help them become stronger, for their betterment. I am very grateful to  MP Anne Underwood and Guy Hordern from the Conservative party who heard my plea and after only one meeting with them, we got the motion for the Kashmir issue passed by Birmingham Council House, which means that at least the human rights violations were recognised locally. However this issue needs to be taken on a local level to help build community cohesion, as this is not just a Kashmiri Muslim issue, there are Sikhs and Nagas too. There have been a few meetings which I have attended at the House of Parliament, chaired by Lord Ahmed who has been very vocal as has Amnesty International to the cause. In September there was a debate in the House of Commons and was supported by all parties after 16 years.

Kashmir – known as paradise on earth has been under brutal occupation since 1988. Indian forces have been waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kashmiri people. Houses are being burnt, people arrested, tortured, raped and killed. According to Kashmiri sources this has resulted in the deaths of over 100, 000 civilians at the hands of the Indian army and paramilitary forces.  The numbers continue to rise as the Indian forces are using increasingly brutal methods to repress the Kashmiri freedom struggle. All they want is for India to end the brutal occupation of Kashmir, their homeland. A country such as India, which was founded by a non-violent movement by Mahatma Ghandi, has been turned to the total opposite becoming destructive and oppresive, causing violence, mass killings and genocide. These cowardly, brutal attacks have taken the lives of innocent men, women and children; they have indulged in abduction, rape, murder, arson, extortion and looting. For more than half a century Kashmir, or Paradise on Earth as it is called, has suffered due to the extremely brutal Indian occupation.

The events in Kashmir over the past decades cause great pain. Time and time again we share the grief, the sorrow and the sense of loss of every mother, every father, and every child in Kashmir.  We can’t even bring ourselves to feel the pain and understand the anger and frustration that is bringing young people out on to the streets of Kashmir. Many of them have seen nothing but violence and conflict in their lives and have been scarred by the suffering.

My father, who like his father and many others, have spent their lives in this struggle for the justice for Kashmir. Today I want to share with you my sense of hope for the people of Kashmir…the hope that I have long nurtured. I remember as a child hearing about the horrific killings, mothers crying for their sons and I used make banners for my father to march on these protests, thinking that it would help end all this fighting. For decades now, they have spoke about it, taken part in the struggle, the mass rallies, conventions, meetings, speeches and so on…….and they  have tried to fight this calculated and ruthless attack on the innocent, all in the name of an illusionary “independence,” that is the ultimate negation of the human rights of the people of Kashmir.

No words can bring solace to the suffering of the Kashmiri people. I feel deeply grieved and feel a duty to stand up and at least try and do what I can, involving more women and youths, trying to educate and raise awareness. We formed The British Kashmiri Women Council, so that we can help support the cause of Kashmir, as well as local issues.

It is now widely accepted that while women seldom create or initiate conflict, they – along with children and the elderly – are often its chief victims and sufferers. Nowhere is this more true than in Kashmir. Yet, despite this, women’s suffering has, until recently, barely been acknowledged. The Kashmir conflict, for example, has generated a vast amount of analytical and historical literature; very little of it actually mentions women. Yet today, in Kashmir, there are large numbers of women who are identified as ‘half widows’ (women whose husbands are assumed dead but there is no proof to show they actually are), widows, mothers who have lost their sons, or those whose daughters have been raped, young women who dare not step out of the house, women who have been pushed out of employment by the fear and uncertainty created by this conflict.

I feel strongly that women have not been involved, but when men are arrested, it’s the women who have to pick up the pieces, be strong for their children. The occupation army targets women. Women have been in the forefront of this struggle.

Given the evidence from the Human Rights Groups, such Amnesty International about the grave situation about these women, I strongly feel as men and women we need to acquaint ourselves with the full range and scope of the violence and rape by the Indian forces against Kashmiri women, men and children and to take concrete steps to support the victims, urge the UN, the European Union, and the British Government and other support groups to put a stop to the injustice.

To bring back humanity, equality, peace and justice in Kashmir, I am convinced that the only way forward in Kashmir is along the path of being united with each other, in joining hands, hearts and minds, along the path of dialogue and reconciliation for the self determination of Kashmir. I want to see a peaceful resolution, so that we can join hands with India as a neighbour. I don’t see colour or creed, all I see is humans and the only way forward is to forgive and love God’s creation and to share knowledge and help one another progress. To be united with the rest of the world and create love and peace.