India is committing human rights abuses in Kashmir - Boris Johnson has a duty to act
Two weeks on from the revocation of Kashmir's special status shadow Foreign Office Minister Khalid Mahmood MP argues that the UK Government has a duty to intervene in Kashmir.
Human rights abuses are not an internal or bilateral matter. They are the concern of the whole world.
The Indian Government continues to act with impunity, whilst the Kashmiri people continue suffer evermore abuses of their human rights.
The situation in Kashmir has been escalated exponentially into the complete suppression of the freedoms and civil liberties of its people. Despite this, Kashmir is receiving relatively little news coverage and political attention. This effectively indicates that the UK, EU and other Western countries champion democracy and human rights with partiality.
The focus on the current situation in Hong Kong - where there is wall to wall media coverage and scrutiny about a potential change to one law - lays bare the complacency that the international community is exhibiting towards Kashmir.
UN resolutions promised the Kashmiris a plebiscite to determine their own future – a promise that has been disregarded for over 70 years. India continues to inflict human rights abuses on the Kashmiri people and has now arbitrarily revoked Kashmir’s Special Status.
By revoking Articles 370 and 35a (without any attempt at consultation) the Indian Government have stripped the people of Kashmir of their democratic rights, their legislature and their territorial exclusivity protection. The proposals to sell land, held for generations by Kashmiri Muslim farmers, in order to settle Hindu nationalists loyal to the current Government, is nothing short of ethnic cleansing and will inevitably lead to conflict.
This revocation effectively renders the majority Muslim population subject to the vagaries and whims of Indian Governments.
The leaders of the mainstream Kashmiri political parties face arbitrary detention and ordinary Kashmiri’s live under stringent restrictions to their freedom of movement and communication. These actions risk regional peace in what is the most militarised area in the world. Kashmir has been described as effectively being one big prison camp.
The Indian Government’s actions are in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution no. 47 and will further exacerbate the human rights breaches that the people of Kashmir have suffered for over 70 years.
Whilst the Indian Government may claim that this is an internal or bilateral (with Pakistan) matter, the history of the region, the flagrant disregard for the human rights of the Kashmiri people and the implications of the current situation mean that international intervention is urgently required.
The UK, having been the architect of the geo-political arrangements at the time of Partition, has a particular responsibility to the Kashmiri people to act. Moreover, more than 1 million British citizens of Kashmiri descent anxiously await our Prime Minister’s response.
The choice is simple: whether he offers his support to the voiceless, subjugated people of Kashmir or instead stays silent about the illegal, inhumane and undemocratic actions of the current Indian Government. Without co-ordinated and decisive intervention, I fear that the situation will have far reaching implications for the region and beyond.
Khalid Mahmood MP is Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Member of Parliament for Birmingham Perry Barr.