Geneva: Speakers at a seminar in Geneva while referring to the ruthless suppression of dissent in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir said that the freedom of expression remains totally suppressed in the territory.
The seminar was organized by World Muslim Congress (WMC) on the sidelines of the 53rd session of United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The seminar titled, “Why Freedom of Speech is Important”, was attended and addressed by rights activists, law experts, journalists and academicians hailing from different parts of the world. It was chaired and moderated by Altaf Hussain Wani, the permanent representative of World Muslim Congress at Geneva, UN.
The speakers said that the freedom of expression, a fundamental human right guaranteed under various international covenants including the UDHR, remained critically suppressed in the region. “The right to freedom of speech and expression no longer existed in Kashmir”, they said, adding that the level of suppression in Kashmir could be gauged by the fact that no one in Kashmir dares to express his/her convictions and opinions freely.
They said that since 5th August 2019, crackdown on independent journalists in Kashmir rapidly increased. “Journalists who reported critically against the Modi government’s muscular policies towards Kashmiris have faced intimidation, harassment and long investigations”. They pointed out that local and foreign journalists were not allowed to perform their duties, because of fear of coverage focusing on inhuman siege, crackdowns on Kashmiris and human rights violations taking place in the region.
In order to enable complete silence in Kashmir, they said that thousands of Kashmiris including politicians, human rights defenders, traders and intelligentsia and members of the civil society were booked under notorious laws and thrown behind the bars.
The speakers added that a special media policy was introduced to clip the wings of free media and curtail the right to freedom of opinion and expression. They maintained that raids on media houses, journalists and human rights activists was yet another tactic to create an environment of fear so that nobody dares to speak against the government policies.
Seeking world attention towards the dire human rights situation in IIOJK, the speakers said that it was high time that the world should take notice of the draconian policies of the Modi government which is depriving people of their right to freedom of opinion and expression.
APHC-AJK leader Syed Faiz Naqashbandi, TV anchor Ms Naila Altaf Kiani, human rights lawyer Ms. Sabba Mousade, Ms Varn Turn and others spoke on the occasion.
Meanwhile, Kashmiri delegation led by Altaf Hussain Wani urged the world human rights bodies in particular the UN to play their due role to steer Kashmiris out of uncertainty and chaos that reign supreme in the region since India’s apartheid regime stripped it of its special status.
In their separate meetings with several diplomats, UN officials and representatives of NGOs, the Kashmiri delegates said the human rights situation in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir has alarmingly deteriorated since Hindu supremacist regime’s illegal actions taken on and after 5 August 2029. “Bloodshed and violence continues unabated”, they said, adding that social, political and economic life in the occupied territory remained critically suppressed.
Of those who were part of the delegation besides Altaf Hussain Wani included Syed Faiz Naqashbandi, Sardar Amjad yousaf, Mrs Shamim Shawl, Hassan Bana , Advocate Parvez Shah, Prof. Shugafta and Naila Altaf Kiani.
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