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Kashmir has right to self-determination, says ex-Catalan leader Puigdemont

World

Fri, Jul 17, 2020
"If the right to self-determination is recognised as a right in any kind of negotiation, only than will it be possible to protect the concept of right to self determination," Former Catalan president and MEP Carles Puigdemont said. —AFP/Pau Barrena/Files

BRUSSELS: Kashmir deserves the right to self-determination, former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said Thursday, while emphasising that it was a basic human right.

Speaking to The News following a conference on Kashmir at the Press Club Brussels Europe, Puigdemont — also a member of the European Parliament (MEP) — said human rights could not be defined without including the fundamental right to self-determination.

The MEP — who lives in exile in Belgium and is currently being sought by the Spanish judiciary for playing a part in Catalonia's failed attempt at independence — said: "Europe has a double standard on human rights.

"The bottom line is that if you respect human rights, then you have to respect the right to self-determination," he said, adding that the will of the people formed the basis of democracy and consultation.

"If the right to self-determination is recognised as a right in any kind of negotiation, only than will it be possible to protect the concept of right to self determination," Puigdemont noted.

On the other hand, Manuela Ripa — who has been elected an MEP for the fourth time — said she was saddened to learn that for years, the Kashmiri people have been waiting for a referendum in Europe on their right to self-determination.

However, she told The News that she has also come to know that India had a strong stance in this regard and did not want a referendum.

As an MEP, she would try to bring the parties together on this issue, said Ripa, who is set to replace Germany's Dr Klaus Buchner — a sympathiser of the Kashmir issue.

Organisation of Kashmir Coalition (OKC) leader Barrister Abdul Majid Tramboo responded to the conclusions made in the 15th EU-India Summit, which was held on July 15, saying they were "regrettable".

In the virtual summit, the European leaders did not raise human rights issues as strongly as we had expected them to, Tramboo noted, adding that that was part of the event's main agenda within the framework of a dialogue on human rights.

Responding to a question on human rights in the continent, Kashmir Council-Europe (KC-EU) Chairperson Ali Raza Syed said: "There are double standards."