Islamabad, November 25, 2020 (PPI-OT): Speakers at a seminar held under the aegis of Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR) in Islamabad on Wednesday urged the global community to stop use of sexual violence against women in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir as a weapon of war by Indian troops to suppress Kashmiris’ legitimate struggle for right to self-determination.
The seminar titled “Remembering the Women and Girl Victims of State Terrorism in Indian occupied Kashmir” was held to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against women. It was attended and addressed by rights activists, members of civil society, intellectuals, legal experts, University students and leaders hailing from both sides of the Line of Control.
The seminar was chaired by KIIR chief Altaf Wani while it was addressed by Parliamentary Secretary Rukhsana Naveed, Senator Sitra Ayaz, MNA Noorian Farooq, Abrahim Khan, MPA Abida Raja, Prof Atia Anwer Zoon, Shamim Shwal, Dr Saira Shah, Abdul Hameed Lone, BTM Chairperson Sumaria Farooq and APHC Convener Muhammad Hussain Khateeb and several others.
In his opening statement, the KIIR chairman while highlighting the plight of Kashmiri women said, “Sexual violence being leveraged as a weapon of war by the Indian forces in the region has been grossly overlooked at the international level”. Despite growing awareness of the urgent need to empower women in the conflict-hit areas he said that prolonged Indian military occupation and massive troop buildup in the region had created a fertile ground for violence against the women.
“Being a vulnerable part of the society, the Kashmiri women have been the worst victims of this long-drawn unresolved dispute that has left behind a harrowing legacy in the person of rape-victims, widows and half widows”, Wani said adding that the continued conflict, bloodshed and violence have shattered the life of women so much and so that today thirty-six percent of women in the troubled region suffer anxiety disorder. “Rape, outrage of modesty and other forms of violence by the occupation forces has inexpressibly shattered the lives of Kashmiri women living under a constant threat of assault from the Indian army”, he added.
Speakers on the occasion paid rich tributes to Kashmiri women for their resilience, courage and determination in the face of Indian brutality and state-repression. Expressing deepest concern over an alarming increase in levels of mental health disorders in the population of In Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir they said, “The massive troops’ concentration and fast spreading structures of violence continue to foster an environment of violence against women who have been caught in a whirlwind of violence and uncertainty”.
Voicing their concern over the absence of an independent and credible accountability frame-work in the region they said, “Owing to the lack of accountability the hapless women continue to be the primary victims of large-scale systematic sexual violence being unabashedly used by India as a war-tactic”.
The participants of the seminar expressed their complete solidarity with women and girl victims of Indian state-terrorism and half-widows whose husbands have been subjected to forced disappearances by the Indian army.
Recalling the international covenants the speakers demanded the international community to hold Indian army accountable for the war-crimes they had committed against women in Kashmiris. They stressed the need for empowering of Kashmiri women who continue to be the primary victims of large-scale systematic sexual violence being unabashedly used by India as a war-tactic.
Denouncing in strong terms the abrogation of article 370 and 35-A by the Modi led Indian fascist regime the speakers termed it as a flagrant violation of the UN resolutions that strongly prohibit the occupying state (India) from bringing any change in the status of the disputed territory unilaterally. About the induction of a series of new laws in the region the speakers said that these anti-Kashmiri laws were meant to change the demographic complexion of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
They also deplored the recent raids by NIA officials at Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) office, residence of veteran rights activists Khrum Parvez, APDP chairperson Parveena Ahanger, Great Kashmir and Kashmir Times office and ceasing of bank accounts and offices of Amnesty International. The seminar while flaying the continued detention of Hurriyat leaders said that Indian government was hell bent on choking every voice of dissent in the region.
The seminar appreciated the International human rights organizations, members of Indian civil society and international media for documenting HR violations in the region and raising the alarm on the growing humanitarian crisis in the Indian occupied Kashmir.
Stressing the need for an early and amicable solution of the Kashmir dispute they said, “A just settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions is imperative for a lasting peace and stability in the South Asian region”. Kashmiris’ legitimate and indigenous political struggle for right to self-determination they said could not be suppressed in the guise of so-called terrorism mantra being paddled by India.
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