On the side lines of the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) organised a panel discussion entitled “Democratic Despotism and Crimes Violations of Self-Determination”.
In a lively interaction, the panellists detailed the conflicts of Kashmir, Alaska and Hawaii, referencing other cases in the world where the right of self-determination is denied and suppressed, when in fact it could be used as a conflict prevention strategy.
Prof Alfred de Zayas, First UN Independent Expert for the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, said that in 2013, he presented a report to the UN General Assembly discussing issues of self-determination including, among others, that of Jammu & Kashmir, and the matter should be taken seriously and that they should adopt appropriate resolutions and send the case to the international court of justice for an advisory opinion. He referred to and endorsed the reports of the UN High Commissioner For Human Rights situation in Kashmir, saying that there is an urgent need to address the past and ongoing human rights violations and to deliver justice for all people in Kashmir who have been suffering 7 decades of conflict. Prof De Zayas concluded by endorsing the right of self-determination of various peoples around the globe, as specified in his report to the United Nations General Assembly, commonly known as 69(n), assessing that the source of the problem is in the violation of that right, emphasising that realisation of self-determination is a conflict prevention strategy.
Ambassador Ronald Barnes of Alaska (IPNC) further elaborated and discussed the legal and technical facets of the right to self-determination for nations including Alaska. He described the role of the United States in suppressing indigenous voices of the Alaskan people and the legal demands of those seeking the right of self- determination.
Mrs Shamim Shawl, International Muslim Women Union and Executive Member of Organisation of Kashmir Coalition (OKC) evaluated India’s action in Kashmir since the 5th of August 2019 and offer her analysis on future strategies to best illicit international response to India’s continued occupation and aggression on Kashmir as well as their disregard to International laws.
Mr Leon K Siu (Foreign Minister) of the Hawaiian Kingdom gave a historical account of Hawaii’s sovereignty before the take over by the United States of America (USA) and narrated various proofs of Hawaii’s history preceding the formation of (USA). He further discussed the evolution of Hawaii’s cause and the symbiosis of the new generations passion with the old guard’s wisdom yet maintaining their hospitable nature and peaceful character in their advocacy and struggle to regain their sovereignty.
Ms Shaista Safi, Journalist and TV anchor expressed the need to emphasize on personal stories of Kashmiri victims as well as lobbyist who advocate for them. She gave the examples of Faiz Naqsbandi (Convenor APHC) who was informed of his mother’s demise whilst in a UN session in Geneva. She further referred to Barrister Tramboo’s exile and the cruelty India has meted out to him and his family.
Advocate Pervaz Shah, Representative APHC questioned the illegal annexation of Indian Occupied Kashmir on 5th of August and expressed his concerns of India’s plan to change Kashmir’s demography by ushering in illegal land reforms after the abrogation of article 370. He stated that there is an impending economic crisis in Kashmir and that the Indian judicial system has proved to be not only a failure, but corrupt as they bend to the whims of the BJP government. He ended by reminding the audience of Kashmiri prisoners including leaders and suggested a campaign to demand the early release of all political leaders.
Kashmiri journalist Latif Ahmed Bhat expressed his concerns about the Journalists of Kashmir who have been unable to report freely post August 5th and lamented India’s action by clamping down on the media in Kashmir and placing hundreds of journalists on Exit control list.
Barrister A Majid Tramboo, IHRAAM Permanent Representative to United Nations and Executive Member of OKC concluded the event by re-emphasizing crucial terminologies that must be used to accurately reflect the actions of India in Indian Occupied Kashmir such as: Genocide, demographic change, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. He further added his pursuit of Kashmir’s cause at the ICC and ICJ, stating that no stone will be left unturned in seeking and delivering justice, peace and freedom for the oppressed and subjugated people of Indian occupied Kashmir.