Under Agenda item 3, we address a core, fundamental human right- the right to self determination of people, the right of peoples to determine their destiny, to choose the dispensation under which they would live their lives. The right to self-determination is a bedrock principle of the international order. And, it is a principle that is enshrined in the foundational documents of the international community- ranging from the UN Charter, to the two International Covenants, and VDPA.
Indeed, it is justly said that this is one of the first rights- for without the right to self determination it is not possible for people to meaningfully exercise other political, economic and social rights.
The people of Kashmir were promised the right to self determination by repeated UN resolutions, notably UN Security Council resolutions 47, 80, 91, 98, 122 and 96. The Kashmiri people were promised that they would be able to decide upon their final status through a free and fair plebiscite. India accepted this decision of the international community. But keeping with the tradition of all occupying powers, it brazenly reneged on its solemn commitment to the Kashmiri people.
And since then, the full might of the Indian States has been unleashed on a people who refuse to surrender their most basic right- the right to self determination.
The raw brutality of the Indian State has led to an unending tragedy for the Kashmiri people. In the past seven decades, more than 90,000 Kashmiris have been killed by Indian security forces. In the latest phase of repression, since July 2016, 160 people have lost their lives, 18,000 have been injured, over 10,000 detained and tortured.
A fresh chapter of barbarity unfolded with the shooting of peaceful demonstrators and innocent bystanders with pellet guns, resulting in over 150 persons permanently blinded and many more left visually impaired. The Guardian was constraint to it the “the world’s first mass blinding”.
The unrestrained state terror has been accompanied by draconian laws denying basic rights of assembly, of expression, and exercise of religion. There are curbs on Friday prayers and even on the observance of the most important Muslim religious holiday- Eid. Widespread curfews have become a norm.
What exactly are the people of Indian occupied Kashmir being punished for? What is the grave crime they have committed for which they have to pay in blood?
The issue is very simply, that they have dared to demand their right to self determination. They have dared to persist in demanding this right. And they have dared to repeatedly draw the attention of the international community that they have been denied this right by a brutal occupying power.
It is essential that the international community stands resolutely with the Kashmiri people. That it clearly and forcefully calls for a stop to the atrocities being inflicted on the long suffering Kashmiri people. And that India honours the commitment made to the Kashmiri people that they will exercise their right to self determination.