KCAC Hold Candlelight Vigil on Kashmir Solidarity Day

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Brussels, 5 February 2013- European Kashmiris with a crowd of peaceful supporters held a candlelight vigil outside the residence of the Prime Minister of Belgium. The Vigil, on the Global Kashmir Solidarity Day, is a peaceful and solemn event to remember the people of Indian Held Kashmir and those that have lost their lives in their struggle for their right to self-determination.

The crowd observed the vigil in serene silence holding flickering candles to signify the hope that the people of Kashmir have in seeing this issue resolved. Kashmir solidarity day, observed all over Europe as well as in Indian Held Kashmir and the rest of South Asia, is much more than an annual gathering of people that are in solidarity with the Kashmiri cause. It shows the moral support for the legitimate claim to self-determination as recognised by the UN, government representatives of its member states and the individuals who commemorate this day in Brussels, Paris, Berlin, Dublin, Den Hague and other cities all over the world.

In a written statement Barrister A. Majid Tramboo, who is on his way to Cairo to attend the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Head of State’s Summit together with Prof. Nazir Shawl, stressed the need for the countries, people and governments of the European Union and the Kingdom of Belgium to stand in solidarity with the people of Jammu & Kashmir in realising their right to self-determination pursuant to the United Nations resolutions. He stressed that the route to this is through a reduction in human rights abuses by Indian forces coupled with dialogue that necessarily includes Kashmiris.

Professor Shamim Shawl, Chairperson of the Kashmiri Women’s Forum, leading the candlelight vigil together with Raja Zaheer, Coordinator of the Kashmir Community Advisory Council; addressing the crowd stated that in time we have witnessed human rights abuse on a massive scale perpetrated with internal and international impunity, tens of thousands Kashmiris have been raped and tortured, victims of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial execution and more.

She added that we stand here to show our unwavering commitment to achieving peace in Kashmir and achieving emancipation for those who still live under the Indian occupation. As demonstrations take place in all of the major cities of the world it is this solidarity that will carry the people of Kashmir in the direction of a just and peaceful settlement, a settlement that they have peacefully sought for over six decades.

Prof. Shawl recalled that on the global stage India bills itself as the largest democracy yet continues to occupy a whole nation of people against their will. At this time the European Union is negotiating a free trade agreement with India that is bereft with setbacks and problems. Of the multitude of problems plaguing the Indian political psyque and the Indian nation Kashmir is at the very top. They still enforce a caste system, a system of endemic systematic racism, that is centuries behind the true democracies of this world. Their police are out of control and using brutality with impunity nationwide; these problems are magnified in Kashmir. Despite their other problems they are yet to begin to face the greatest embarrassment of all; they are yet to address the Kashmir issue. Until they have addressed this, how can Indians have true legitimacy as a democratic nation on the international stage.

She declared that with such issues so clear how can India expect to ever achieve a coveted permanent seat on the UN Security Council? The international community has asked that they get their house in order before they are even given serious consideration. We say to India, begin with Kashmir.

Among others who participated in the demonstration included HajiWaseem Akhtar - President (PPP Belgium), Haji Pervaiz Iqbal - President (PML-N), Raja Tahir Mehmood , Youssof Akhtar, Rana Mussarraf, Sohail Kahloon, Khaled Mehmood, Mohammed Nawaz Butt, Atthar Balti and Javed Choudhary (PPP-Belgium), Choudhry Iftikhar Warrach (Chairman, Pak-Belgie Welfare Association), Mian Rafiq - General Secretary (PPP-Italy), Nasir Ahmed Choudhary - Coordinator (PM-AJK), Sayed Hassnat Shah Bukhari (Imam, Minhajulquran Mosque), Maqsood Ahmed Jarral - President (PML-N AJK), Zafar Mehmood Choudhary (PPP-AJK), and many other members of the community including the host community.

As the observers walked down Rue Belliard and the vigil concluded a memorandum was delivered to the Prime Minister of Belgium, H.E. Elio Di Rupo, on behalf of the people of Kashmir the text of which is reproduced below:

MEMORANDUM

Presented to Prime Minister of Belgium on the 5th of February, 2013 in Brussels:

His Excellency Elio Di Rupo
Prime Minister of Belgium

We humbly and respectfully request that your offices, uniquely positioned at the heart of the EU, take note of the ongoing conflict in Jammu & Kashmir and the inherent denial of human rights therein.

International Council for Human Rights - Kashmir Project (ICHR) represents no government or government agency; we work on behalf of the oppressed people of Kashmir with the intention of raising awareness, increasing respect for human rights, and achieving self-determination for the people of Kashmir.

The government of Belgium and its relevant institutions to work with ICHR - Kashmir Project.

Therefore, on this the Kashmir Solidarity day we, the European representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, expatriates and our sympathizers, wish the people of India well, but we want them to know that the people of Kashmir also want their Right to Self-Determination. Therefore,

Recalling all of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council for upholding the right to self- determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir;

Recalling all of the resolutions passed by the OIC in Casablanca in 1993;

Recalling the report adopted by the European Parliament on 24 May 2007 in which the European Parliament upheld the Kashmiris right to self-determination;

Recalling the urgency resolution of the European Parliament on Kashmir’s nameless and mass graves;

Recalling the urgency resolution of the European Parliament on “Violence against women in India” adopted on 17th of January 2013.

Rejecting any other mechanism, elections or acts of constituent assembly imposed by the occupying power as an alternative to the right to self-determination;

Condemning the unabated serious crimes, torture, extra-judicial killings, custodial deaths and disappearances, fake encounters, arbitrary detentions, destruction of houses, shops and villages, and rape as instruments of suppression by the Indian Government through its military, paramilitary forces and its mercenaries;

Now Calling upon the Prime Minister H.E. Di Rupo to stress upon the Government of India the need to:

to implement the United Nations Security Council resolutions on the right to self- determination of the Kashmiri people;
to withdraw the forces from the territory of Jammu and Kashmir;
to uphold the European Parliaments resolution on mass graves in Kashmir and allow a thorough and impartial investigation;
to put an end to the consistent suppression of human rights through practices such as arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and summary or arbitrary execution and so on;
to hold an independent and impartial investigation into the mass gang rapes perpetrated by the Indian Rashtriya Rifles at Konan Poshpora on 23rd Feb 1991, the Shopian Two (29 May 2009) and many other rapes and gang rapes;
to release all political prisoners and detainees;
to respect international human rights norms and the treaties to which India is a signatory including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Barrister A. Majid Tramboo
Chairman
ICHR, Kashmir Project