Sub-Commission on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection
Agenda items 17, 18, 20
International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project has been concerned since the passage of Proposition 187 in California, USA, with a distinct rise in politically-motivated racism and violence against migrant workers. This racism and violence occurs not only against the vast majority of migrant workers who are lawfully in the United States, but also occurs against American citizens and legal residents of Latino origin. Proposition 187 purports to deny education, medical care, social services and other vital services to illegal immigrant. We have a special project with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) to document of abuse of migrant workers and immigrants. We regret to inform you that president of the Coalition recently received a death threat, a copy of which we annex to this statement. As can be seen, this threat includes a photo of the director with a gun target on her face and the words "open fire" written by the photograph. CHIRLA has also investigated 27 recent hate crimes against migrant workers, other lawful residents and citizens of the United States that took place in Los Angeles.
The governor of the State of California has been a strong supporter of Proposition 187 and has also joined with other right-wing politicians to create a climate of extreme tension in a number of California communities. As stated Special Rapporteur Maurice Glele-Ahanhanzo, Prop. 187 contains "discriminatory and unconstitutional provisions." Even though we are confident that the California and United States Supreme Courts must find this odious law unconstitutional, the damage done to citizens and legal residents is incalculable as is the sad rise of institutionally-approved racism. The back-lash created by this racial animosity also effects people seeking asylum or a safe haven from war-torn areas or from areas with gross violations of human rights. To quote one of our Los Angeles newspapers, California is now the State of Fear.
During war time, the Geneva Conventions as well as human rights instruments apply. Interference with freedom of movement in war- time can be viewed as a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions -- especially if protected persons are detained and then deported or transferred in contravention of Articles 45 or 49 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Such violations occurred in 1974, when 8 United States citizens and 1611 Cypriots were taken by Turkish forces never to be seen again. These persons were traveling legally, with proper visas and evidence of citizenship. They, as all other people, are entitled to freedom of movement. Yet since 1974, their whereabouts are unknown. Our organization urges the Sub- Commission to call on the Turkish authorities in Cyprus to investigate and report on these cases.
In Indian-occupied Kashmir, an ominous pattern of violations of the right to freedom of movement is taking place. As these are occurring in the course of an armed conflict in the exercise of the right to self-determination international scrutiny is imperative -- as in the situation in Cyprus, violations of the right to freedom of movement by the Indian forces can be characterized as breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in addition to breaches of international human rights law standards.
Here are a few examples of violations of the right to freedom of movement occurring now in Indian-occupied Kashmir:
(a) Jammu and Kashmir is one political and geographical entity divided artificially be a cease-fire line as a result of UN action due to the armed invasion by India beginning October 27, 1947. Now hundreds of thousands of Indian troops prevent ingress and egress of people. And, as a result of the reign of terror of the Indian army, more than 50,000 people have recently fled into Azad Kashmir, some under heavy fire. Displacement of people has also occurred as a result of fires deliberately set by Indian forces. Handwara, Sopore, Hiller Bahi, Anantnag, Kawdara, Lalchock, Batamaloo (in Srinagar) and, of course, Charar-e-Sharief have been reduced to shambles.
(b) Indian-occupied Kashmir continues to be under night curfew, although day curfews are lifted sporadically. The hardships on the people are incalculable. People have even had to secretly bury over 1500 people who dies of natural causes. Food, medicine and essentials for infants are scarce or unobtainable during curfews.
(c) Crackdowns add to violations of freedom of movement. During crackdowns, areas are cordoned off and house to house searches take place. Young men are rounded up and detained en masse, generally in an open place with no regard to extreme cold, heat, food, water, etc. An eyewitness gives this account: "I was among the people herded into an open space. An old man requested to be allowed to answer a call of nature which was refused. I tried to plead the case of the old man. The cop was furious. I was directed to remain standing which I did. I had to remain standing. My back ached because of the stress of being nearly 65 years old and a patient of arthritis. All others there requested me not to protest, as they feared that the police would open fire. Then the Indian media would report the next day that I had been killed in "cross-fire".
Normal movement in Kashmir is a great risk to life. The Kashmir Times reports on 28 July 1995 that two engineers, Shakeel Ahmad and Ghulam Nabi Lone, and one of their workers were killed by soldiers. Engineer Dr. Nazir Laway is the sole survivor of this shooting and he reports that while working on the survey for a mini-hydel project, they had recorded their names and purpose of the visit at Raithan. However, the Rashtriya Rifles-34 gunned down these civilians.
(d) Frequent road-blocks impede and embarrass the entire population, but are especially serious when medical and fire- fighting personnel are stopped. There have been eyewitnesses to outright murder of many people, including doctors and fire- fighters, killed outright during road blocks.
(e) Travel to hospitals also is impeded by Indian forces. Just over a year ago, Indian forces even fired of the out-patient department of Anantnag hospital. Mrs Jawahira, wife of Mahamad Ramzan Tantray of Hablish, Mohammad Tantray son of Shaban of Hablish and Mushtag Akhoon son of Ghulam Rasool of Mohallh Bafandan Anantnag were killed.
(f) Just after last year's Sub-Commission, Medical Doctor M.A.Daud was in his car marked with the Red Cross. The Indian forces fired on him at Court Road Anantnag and he was seriously wounded. He was transferred to Soura Medical Institute by ambulance, when the ambulance was detained and he nearly bled to death, Even if complaints are lodged, there is no let up. Last month in Lolab during one crackdown the entire population was beaten and forced to shout "Ram Ram." On old man (retired educator) was beaten to death.
(g) Passports are denied to leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. Our NGO has had a number of our intended delegates to United Nations human rights bodies denied visas and passports, even with duly authorized letters of invitation and credentials. Others are denied travel for medical purposes. Normal freedom of movement, as provided in international human rights law simply is not a reality in Kashmir where all suffer from their lack of freedoms.
IED urges the Sub-Commission to take decisive action regarding the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir. We urge particular attention to re-invoking the past UN plans that were established to seek and carry out a political solution based on the verified wishes of the people. The first step must be a process agreed upon by the leaders of Kashmir as well as the governments of both India and Pakistan.