Since 1947, Jammu and Kashmir has been under the forceful occupation of India, but from the beginning, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have never surrendered to the brutality of Indian forces. The government of India tried very hard to control and suppress the voices of the people, but despite many violations, it failed to change the anti-India mindset of the people. India went to great lengths to discredit Kashmir’s legitimate freedom struggle and label its participants as terrorists. Various resolutions were passed by the UN to hold a plebiscite and to let the people of Kashmir decide their future. India also accepted those resolutions, and her prominent leaders repeatedly promised to hold a plebiscite.
Human Rights Day is observed annually worldwide on December 10th to honour the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation. In Paris, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the declaration on December 10th, 1948, known as General Assembly Resolution 217A.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a historical document considered a milestone for humanity. This document is pointed out as a common standard of achievement for all nations and all peoples of the world, and it sets out that human rights must be universally protected. Today, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is as relevant as in 1948. It is a global yardstick through which we can measure right and wrong. The UDHR urges signatory members to promote and safeguard humanity across the world. However, it is deplorable that human rights violations still occur despite having such a golden document.
People are subjugated against their wishes and sentiments, even by the UDHR signatories. Instead of strengthening the document, they discriminatorily ignore human rights violations by mighty states against the depressed and oppressed.
In this regard, Kashmir is one of the chronic examples. Massive human rights violations have been going on in IIOJK since 1989. Indian occupational forces have been carrying on a ruthless campaign of terror against the people of Kashmir, who are fighting for their right to self-determination. Human rights violations range from mass killings, youth killings, torture, rapes, enforced disappearances, and sexual abuses to political suppression and repression of fundamental rights.
Lack of access to justice and impunity for human rights violations are major challenges to human rights in IIOJK. The black laws which are in force in IOJK, like the Public Safety Act (1978) and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (1990), give unlimited powers to the Indian Armed Forces and have made the lives of the people of Kashmir more miserable, as they cannot raise their voice for the right of self-determination. More than eight thousand people have disappeared since 1989. More than seven thousand unknown, unmarked, and mass graves are found in IOJK. The total number of Indian troops deployed in occupied Jammu and Kashmir was 150,000 in 1990, but now there are nine lakh troops.
Human rights activists who attempt to draw international attention to human rights violations in the IIOJK face retaliation and journalists are denied access to the IOJK and have been arrested and detained under the PSA. IOJK is a highly unsafe place for journalists. Since 1990, Indian forces have made journalism a particularly hazardous profession by assaulting, intimidating, abducting, and killing journalists. Many journalists have been killed in target killings or cross firing since the 1990s.
However, over time, India resiled from their promises and strengthened its control through atrocities by their occupational forces and the implementation of draconian laws. In response, Kashmiris always show tolerance against brutality and continue their freedom struggle. The people of Kashmir have never bowed their heads in front of India. Kashmiris are sacrificing their lives and standing before brutal forces to face bullets for their sacred cause. People in Kashmir always protest and want to see the international community’s response, particularly that of UDHR signatories, to human rights violations, brutality, and cruelty committed by Indian security forces against innocent people. However, unfortunately, all-powerful states, the international community and particularly the UN, have forgotten the golden document of the universal declaration of human rights. Without paying any attention, they have turned deaf and dumb towards severe human issues in IOJK.
There is an urgent need to address the ongoing human rights violations and deliver justice to the people of IOJK. The international community, particularly the UN, must come forward and commit to end the cycles of violence and focus on accountability for all human rights violations and abuses committed by Indian armed forces. The most important thing that needs to be done by the United Nations is to repeal black laws in IOJK. Human rights organisations must play a role in insisting and forcing India to stop human rights violations and abuses in Kashmir, as crushing the pro-resolution movement in IOJK is not the solution. International media should be given access to play an active role. A global campaign should be launched on human rights violations by IOJK. Restrictions on journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society organisations must be lifted, and they must be given free access to IOJK. That would be a significant step towards transparency in IOJK.