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April 8, 2020

Pakistan welcomes statement by 6 rights bodies on IOK

Top Story

April 8, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday welcomed the joint statement by six international human rights organisations, calling on India to immediately release all arbitrarily detained prisoners and restore full high speed internet in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

According to reports from IOK, five more persons were tested positive with coronavirus, raising the number of such patients in the entire occupied territory to 128.

“The joint statement rightly underlines that measures to combat the COVD-19 must respect human rights of every individual. Urgent release of political prisoners, human rights defenders and all those arrested in IOK after August 5, 2019 is therefore imperative,” said the spokesperson at the Foreign Office.

Earlier, the United Nations and six other global rights bodies expressed serious concern over the plight of the Kashmiri detainees languishing in different jails of the territory and India.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters in Washington that the UN chief believes that any political solution must take into consideration the issue of human rights.

“He said that already on March 25, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also called on the international community to protect prisoners from the pandemic by releasing vulnerable ones,” he said.

Six international human rights organisations in a recent joint statement in Geneva have already said, the fate of hundreds of arbitrarily detained Kashmiri prisoners hangs in the balance as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in India passes the 4,000 mark.

These organisations include Amnesty International, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights and World Organisation Against Torture.

They stressed that under international law, India had an obligation to ensure the physical and mental health and well-being of inmates.

“Expressing concern on isolation of inmates from outside due to communication blackout and ban on prison visits, the statement underscores that allegations of torture against Kashmiri prisoners as part of a decades-long pattern of abuses have been repeatedly denounced by Human right and UN bodies”, added the spokesperson at the Foreign Office.

The global human rights watchdogs expressed the apprehension that various state governments in India had begun releasing detainees, but there was a concern that hundreds of Kashmiri youth, journalists, political leaders, human rights defenders and others arbitrarily arrested would not be among those benefiting from the measure.

The statement said, as entire India is in a lockdown and a ban on prison visits for the duration of the outbreak imposed, inmates are more isolated from the outside world than ever. They added that the phenomenon was even more alarming in view of the huge number of custodial deaths due to torture and ill-treatment in Indian prisons.

Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Youth Social Forum Umar Aadil Dar in a statement in Srinagar welcomed the joint statement by the six human rights bodies over IOK’s grim human rights situation. He appealed to the United Nations and other international human rights organisations to prevail upon India to shun excessive use of force against the peace-loving people of IOK.

Hurriyat leaders Farooq Ahmad Tawheedi and Khawaja Firdous in their statements denounced India for playing with the lives of Kashmiri prisoners in the face of fast spreading coronavirus. They rejected the introduction of new domicile law by India in IOK and asked the Kashmiri people to pay heed to the call of the Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Gilani, that they must not sell their properties to non-state residents.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated statement, the Foreign Office spokesperson rejected what she said was the “officially-inspired reports appearing in the Indian media seeking to link Pakistan with the terrorist attack on a Gurdwara in Kabul on 25 March 2020.”

This reaction from the Foreign Office came at a time when the Indian media has largely reported about the role of two Indian members of Daesh who were involved in this condemnable attack.

Pakistan says it is confident that such Indian ploys will not succeed in misleading the world community.

“This attempt is highly mischievous and condemnable. Pakistan has already strongly condemned the dastardly terrorist attack on the Gurdwara, in which so many precious lives were lost. Places of worship are sacrosanct and their sanctity must be respected at all times. The perpetrators of this heinous crime must be brought to justice,” said the spokesperson.

She pointed out that Pakistan was a country that has suffered the most from and has fought resolutely against the scourge of terrorism, including state-sponsored terrorism emanating from across the border.

“Pakistan firmly believes that such despicable terrorist acts have no political, religious or moral justification,” she added.

She pointed out that the motivated reports in the Indian media, these are patently designed to malign Pakistan.

“India’s overall smear campaign against Pakistan is well-known. Seeking to implicate Pakistan in this terrorist attack is part of the desperate attempts India is making to divert attention from its own unacceptable actions and state-terrorism in Indian Occupied Kashmir,” she said.