New York: A large number of Kashmiri-Americans staged a demonstration in front of United Nations Headquarters to protest India’s decision to convene a meeting of G20 countries’ representatives in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), with prominent speakers asserting that the move was aimed at engineering a facade of normalcy in the restive UN-recognized disputed territory.
Rented digital trucks flashing a wide range of messages, including the right of Kashmiri people’s to self-determination, amplified the protestors’ outrage at the tourism meeting, the first such gathering since India unilaterally brought Kashmir under direct control in August 2019.
The messages included, “G20 risks legitimizing India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir”, “G20 in Kashmir violates UN resolutions”, “G20 in occupied Kashmir enables genocide”, “Say NO to G20 in Kashmir”, ”Modi: face of Fascism”, “End the Occupation: Free Kashmir”, “Demilitarize Kashmir”, “India: Release All Political Prisoners.”
A memorandum was submitted to the office of UN Secretary-General, demanding among other issues, the unconditional release of human rights defenders and political prisoners, including Khurram Parvez, Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Masarrat Aalam, Aaasia Andrabi and journalists like Irfan Mehraj, Asif Sultan, Sajjad Gul, Fahad Shah, Gowhar Gilani.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary-General of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a Washington-based advocacy group, said: “The G20 meeting in Kashmir contravened more than 16 resolutions, which were agreed by both India and Pakistan”.
By holding the G20 meeting in Kashmir, Fai stated that India intended to use the presence the representatives of the G20 countries as some kind of a seal of approval on the “reckless decision” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to annex Kashmir in violation of international law and UNSC resolutions.
He appealed to the G20 countries to listen to Professor Fernand de Vareness, the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, who had warned the G20 countries that India was seeking to “normalize what some have described as a military occupation.”
In this regard, Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also voiced concern in the UN Human Rights Council over the human rights situation in the Kashmir region
Sardar Sawar Khan, former Member of the Kashmir Council and the main organizer of the peaceful protest hoped that the G20 countries, as signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, and other International Human Rights instruments will adopt a definitive pro-people stance.
The credibility of G20 countries is on the line, he said: “Urging them to stand firm and refuse to be weaponized in the disempowerment and subjugation of a hapless people”.
Other speakers at the rally in which anti-India slogans were raised included, Raja Mukhtar of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front; Sardar Zarif Khan, Secretary-General of the Kashmir American Welfare Association.
Sardar Imtiaz Khan Garalvi, a Representative of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Azad Kashmir; and Kashmiri activists like Raja Razzak, Mirza Farooq, Sardar Sajid Sawar, Choudhary Muhammad Ishaq, Zahid Shahbaz, Sardar Mehmood, Ms. Aita Shahnaz and Choudhary Rashid Masud were also the speakers at the protest.
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