ICHR Kashmir Centre.EU Celebrated: Human Rights Day 2012 - Human Rights in Flames

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Brussels, Wednesday, 5 December 2012 - The International Council for Human Rights (ICHR) and Kashmir Centre.EU (KCEU) in association with International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) today hosted a luncheon seminar entitled Human Rights in Flames close to the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The event discussed all aspects of human rights with a focus on the status of human rights in conflict areas such as Kashmir and Palestine.

Speakers included Barrister A. Majid Tramboo, Chairman of the ICHR Kashmir Centre.EU, Ricardo Espinosa NGO Liason Officer from the United Nations Office, Phil Bennion MEP, Member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Nicole Sinclaire MEP, Member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Zofija Kukovic MEP, Member of Delegation for relations with India, Slavi Binev MEP, Member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Krisztina Morvia MEP, Member of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, Salim Wadia, the Political Advisor of the Palestinian Authority, Senator Jahanjir Badar, the Secretary General to the PPP, Prof. Nazir A. Shawl, Chairman of Kashmir Centre London, David Bow, Former MEP and South Asia Expert, Prof. Melissa Rancourt, Head of faculty of Boston University, Prof. Satvinder Juss, Human Rights Expert from King’s College, Prof. Elvira Dominguez Redondo, Human Rights Expert from Middlesex University, Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad, Human Right Expert from Oxford University, and P.J. Mir, South Asia Expert. The event was moderated by Mr. Frank Schwalba-Hoth, Former MEP and political strategist.

In his opening remarks Barrister Tramboo, outlined the path that had been taken in pursuance of a global human rights mechanism since the signing of the Universal Declaration on December the 10th, 1948. He discussed how in recent years numerous examples of human rights problems that still need to be solved. He went on to outline the work that is undertaken by ICHR, IHRAAM & Kashmir Centre.EU and stated that the people of Kashmir, and their representatives at the European Kashmir Centres, would not waver in their commitment to the struggle until such a time as human rights are respected in Indian Held Kashmir and the people there are granted their right to self-determination.

In his introductory remarks on the importance of the Human Rights Day, Mr. Ricardo Espinosa said that human rights are and must continue to be the heart of the United Nations and its charter, as without advocacy for human rights, the UN cannot succeed completely in any other endeavors. He emphasized that the time to work together to put out the “Human Rights Flames” has already begun and the United Nations has put in place all mechanism, and at the end, progress comes down to the people, and their efforts count.

Prof. Nazir Shawl thanked ICHR Kashmir Centre.EU for organising this event and for its continuous work and efforts to raise the cause of Kashmir. He argued that an ostrich like approach does not solve problems and it is about the time that the international community acknowledges the gravity of the Kashmir dispute as it continues to perpetrate the South Asian regional cold war, where the international community and all well-wishers of peace would like to avert another war. He added that the Kashmir dispute has not been yet settled by the United Nations, but he expressed his firm belief that it will never be settled without the Unitted Nations, and settlement does not mean a hollow truce or a patchwork arrangement, but a comprehensive agreement which can be called the realisation of self-determination by the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

Advisor Salim Wadia explained that Israeli reaction to last week’s vote recognising the Palestinian territories as a “nonmember observer state” led to withholding more than $100 million every month in tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority by the Israelis since they decided to go to the UN bid in 2011. He also deplored that the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave the green light to build more than 3000 illegal houses in Jerusalem in the most sensitive area E1, which will make the two states solution near impossible to be implemented.

Senator Jahanjir Badar made a strong plea to the international community to take notice of gross human rights violations in Indian Held Jammu & Kashmir. He added that the international community should facilitate an honorable and just solution of the Kashmir dispute according to the aspiration of the Kashmiri people, and one of the important needs for real regional peace in South Asia requires implementation of UN resolutions which have been adopted by the UN Security Council more than 60 years ago.

Phil Bennion MEP has warned that India's continued use of the Public Safety Act to lock up political opponents is a block to a Kashmir peace process as well as gross abuse of human rights. He highlighted the continued use by India of the Public Safety Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to detain politicians, lawyers and others who challenge the status quo by peaceful dissent. He condemned the use of the Public Safety Act in Jammu & Kashmir and urged the European Parliament to crack it down and to make very strong statements about it to India.

Slavi Binev MEP said that it was unfortunate that at such celebrations we are forced to discuss the areas in which positive progress may still remain illusive but that in discussing those issues we can make the required progress. He also stressed on the importance of freedom of speech as a fundamental right to achieve a real democracy, and criticized the role of the media in misinforming the public. He concluded that “there is no freedom after the freedom of speech”.

Zofija Kukovic MEP explained that human rights' challenges are all around us. The situation concerning human rights differs from one country to another and from one continent to another. Unfortunately for many people around the globe human rights are still a distant and intangible illusion. She concluded that the world is facing different, new and old challenges when it comes to human rights. For all of these reasons there is still a lot to be done in her country, at EU level and around the globe.

Nicole Sinclaire MEP questioned why in 2012 the world is still learning of murder, torture, and “disappearances” in Jammu and Kashmir, and why violence against women and children is rising, and mass graves are still being discovered. She also expressed her concern about President Obama having reneged his promise to deal with the Kashmir issue. She expressed her disappointment on President Obama ruling out the possibility of outside influence being brought to bear on India or Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue.

She Concluded that without outside scrutiny and pressure, there is little incentive to curb human rights abuses in Indian Held Kashmir.

Krisztina Morvai MEP said that in order to engage on understanding human rights, it’s important to listen and to be on the ground. She raised the problem of domestic violence against women in conflict areas, and urged to eradicate the violence against women and children, and make a serious attempt to establish a peaceful world.

Former MEP David Bowe explained that the main problem in Indian Held Kashmir is the huge presence of the Indian military and its impact on the human rights of the Kashmiri people. He urged the members of the European Parliament to put more pressure on India in order to make progress by starting to ask the right questions in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). He emphasized that India will react and respond to pressure if it was practiced by the MEPs.

Prof. Satvinder Juss said that the Judiciary system and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) are the biggest violators of human rights in Indian Held Kashmir. He expressed his dismay about the current stalemate on Palestine.

Prof. Elvira Dominguez Redondo criticized the use of armed forces in conflict areas on the minimum standards of human rights related to torture, rape and disappearance. She also expressed her optimism on the improvements that have been done in the field of human rights in the western states of the world.

Prof. Melissa Rancourt highlighted the importance of debating human rights in our day to day life and how it can help having better understanding. She gave examples of how small steps can make a big difference in the human rights field.

P.J. Mir said that International organisations should be on board with KCEU and not give credits to union and self propelled organisations who act only for their personal egos rather than the cause of Kashmir.

Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed said that entire contest in the world is between civilization and barbarism, the former is reflected in the international fundamental rights and its ideals as well as various institutions, conventions and protocols of the UN. The later, is denoted by Israeli approach towards palestinians and Indian policy in Kashmir. He also said that Human rights violations in occupied palestine and the disputed Kashmir are only a contemn of the non-resolution of the two principle lingering disputes confronting the muslims’ world.

The seminar concluded by paying tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt in respect of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which remains a guiding principle on human rights around the world.