Islamabad, December 28, 2019 (PPI-OT): At the conclusion of their three-week visit to Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the delegation of Canadian human rights activists vowed to intensify their efforts on behalf of the suffering people of Indian Occupied Kashmir.
Led by Mr. Zafar Bangash of Friends of Kashmir Canada and Director Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, the delegation has identified several specific areas where they intend to work. These include:
1: Lobbying Canadian government officials and parliamentarians to help lift the lockdown to which the 8 million Kashmiris have been subjected since August 5;
2: Work with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to facilitate contact between the thousands of Kashmiri youth taken into custody, and their parents;
3: Work with Amnesty International to secure the release of Kashmiri political prisoners and prisoners of conscience;
4: Urge the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to speak out on behalf of Kashmiri journalists that have been detained and are prevented from doing their work;
5: Intensify efforts in Canada to further highlight the plight of the Kashmiri people.
6: A BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign should be launched against India because of its atrocious conduct in IOK.
A letter is being drafted to be sent to the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging him to personally intervene on behalf of the Kashmiri people that repose great hopes in him.
“I was surprised to learn how highly the people of Pakistan and Kashmir view the Canadian prime minister,” said Mrs. Karen Rodman, Director of Just Peace Advocates and a member of the Canadian delegation. “Canada has a legal, political and moral obligation to help facilitate the holding of a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir,” she added. “Canada was instrumental in drafting the original UN Security Council resolution in 1948 that called for a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Mrs. Rodman.
As a first step toward the realization of this objective, Mrs. Rodman suggested that Canadian peace-keeping troops should be deployed in Kashmir to prevent the greatly feared genocide of the people of Kashmir by the 900,000 Indian occupational troops.
Ms. Michaela Lavis, another member of the delegation who is doing a Masters degree in Kashmir studies at York University in Toronto, suggested that Canada should impose economic sanctions against India. “There is a Canadian law that calls for economic sanctions against any country guilty of gross human rights violations,” said Ms. Lavis. “Canada should also lead the way in blocking all arms sales to India,” she added.
While in Islamabad, the Canadian delegation contacted the ICRC as well as Amnesty International offices but most of their staff was away due to Christmas holidays. The delegation members intend to contact their representatives in Canada urging them to fulfill their mandated responsibilities vis-a-vis the people of IOK.
Delegation members also met staff at the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad and briefed them about the plight of Kashmiri refugees in camps in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The High Commission staff welcomed the briefing and requested that they be kept informed of any other information that would help them better assess the situation.
Efforts are underway to help arrange for publication of articles in the Canadian media following the delegation’s visit to Pakistan and AJK. These articles will highlight what the delegation witnessed first-hand in the refugee camps as well as what needs to be done to help resolve this long-festering problem of IOK that has become more acute following additional oppressive measures imposed by the Modi regime since August 5.
Briefings for other Canadian human rights activists are also being planned so that they can join the campaign on behalf of the long-suffering people of Jammu and Kashmir.
In addition to Mr. Zafar Bangash, Mrs. Karen Rodman and Ms. Michaela Lavis, the delegation also included Dr Jonathan Kuttab, an International Human Rights lawyer. Plans are underway for Mrs. Rodman and Dr. Kuttab to visit Geneva in March when the UN Human Rights Council will hold hearings. They will present the findings of their visit regarding the people of Jammu and Kashmir to the UNHRC.
For more information, contact:
Kashmir Media Service
Phone: +92-51-4435548, +92-51-4435549