Emphasising the need for mass awareness regarding the right to self-determination, lawmakers, activists, professionals, and students on Wednesday reminded the British government of its responsibility on Kashmir.
During a roundtable hosted by Tehreek-e-Kashmir UK President Fahim Kayani in the British parliament to commemorate 76 years of illegal occupation of Kashmir by India, the participants discussed the highly militarised situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
Chaired by Shadow Minister Jess Phillips, the roundtable in “unequivocal terms extended its support to just cause of Kashmiris which is right to self-determination” as enshrined in various resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly and Security Council.
Notable participants at the roundtable included Debbie Abraham MP, Chair of APPG for Kashmir; Andrew Gwynne MP, Chair of Labour Friends of Kashmir; Kim Leadbeater MP; Yasmin Qureshi MP; Paul Blomfield MP; Muhammad Yasin MP; Rachel Hopkins MP; Lord Wajid Khan, and Simon Lightwood MP.
Muzzammil Ayyub Thakur and Shaista Safi presented testimonies of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by India in IIOJK. The duo are natives of IIOJK, currently living in exile.
India sent its forces to occupy Jammu and Kashmir on October 27, 1947, which sparked a mass mobilisation against New Delhi’s illegal military rule.
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The roundtable decried the grave human rights situation in IIOJK, especially after August 2019 when India re-annexed the UN-designated disputed territory and “is engaged in occupying military-backed settler colonialism.”
“It is incumbent upon the British lawmakers to press their government to stand up and stop the annihilation of Kashmiri life,” the participants agreed, regretting criminal silence by the international community.
Participants voiced their frustration over the suppression of local media in IIOJK, which has faced severe restrictions imposed by the Indian military regime.
Proposals made by Kayani on the occasion included urging the British government to “convince the United Nations to prevail upon India to repeal all draconian laws, including Unlawful Activity Prevention Act (UAPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) which are being used to forcibly silence the people into submission.”
The roundtable also called for the release of political prisoners, including Masarat Alam Bhat, Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Syedah Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi, Nahida Nasreen, Khurram Parvez, Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saifullah, Nayeem Khan, Zafar Akbar Bhat, and others. It urged the British government to support the establishment of an inquiry commission on human rights violations in Kashmir during the forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in February 2024.
Several other speakers at the event, including Mushtaq Lashari, Councillor Majid Hussain, Naila Azmat, and Councillor M Nazir, also expressed their solidarity with the people of IIOJK.