14 July 2003

Original: ENGLISH
English only
Sub-Commission on the Promotion
and Protection of Human Rights
Fifty-fifth session
Item 2 of the provisional agenda


Written statement* submitted by International Educational Development, Inc,
a non-governmental organization on the Roster

The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31.
[4 July 2003]

Human rights in Kashmir

1. It has been thirteen years since International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project prepared a written statement (U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1990/NGO/26) on the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir. In 1990 humanitarian law violations at the hands of the military forces in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir were very grave, and the people of Jammu and Kashmir were determined to have the UN-mandated plebiscite as soon as possible. United Nations Security Council Resolution 39 of 20 January 1948 established a Security Council Commission (later named the United Nations Commission on India and Pakistan) to resolve the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir at the end of the colonial rule of the United Kingdom. Both the Commission and the Security Council as a whole subsequently decided that the future of Jammu and Kashmir would be decided by a plebiscite of the people in that area. See, for example, Resolution of the United Nations Commission of India and Pakistan, adopted 5 January 1949, reprinted in United Nations Document S/1196 of 10 January 1949. The Security Council, in its resolution 80 (1950), set up a number of steps, as yet unfulfilled, "for the expeditious determination of the future of the State [of Jammu and Kashmir] in accordance with the freely expressed will of the inhabitants." In 1949 the Security Council had established a "line of control" (the LOC) between the part of Kashmir forcibly seized by India in 1948 and the part of Kashmir under Pakistani influence (Azad Kashmir). The United Nations Military Operations Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was established in 1949 and still is in place along the LOC. We note that from the beginning of the "Kashmir crisis" in 1948, the United Nations determined that, consonant with the principle of self-determination, the Kashmiri people have the right to determine their own political future. We also note that the Security Council has rejected the notion that elections held unilaterally in Jammu and Kashmir (or in "Azad Kashmir" for that matter) are the equivalent of the plebiscite, holding instead that only a plebiscite administered by the United Nations would qualify as the "UN-mandated" plebiscite. Security council resolution 122 of 24 January 1957,

2. Since our first statement at the Sub-Commission there has still been no action by either the Sub-Commission or the Commission on Human Rights regarding this on-going crisis, in spite of a dramatic deterioration of the situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir is essentially under a continual state of siege. India's military forces include the Indian Army, the Border Security Forces, the Rashtriya Rifles, the Special Operation Groups and nearly 80,000 state police. Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions have occurred with alarming frequency: assassination of political leadership, disappearances, murder and torture of POWs, torture (including rapes) and custodial deaths of civilians, military attacks on the civilian population, attacks on hospitals and medical aid providers, restriction on medical aid and the like. Refugees continue to flee. The United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding the plebiscite remain unimplemented.

3. States that could play a vital role in resolving this situation and achieving the necessary conditions to carry out the plebiscite hide behind the false analysis that this is a "bilateral" problem between India and Pakistan. But this issue is an international issue in which both the will and ability to implement Security Council resolutions are at stake.

4. The Kashmir situation is made even more volatile by the Indian government's constant repetition of the term "Islamic terrorist" as if it were synonymous with "Kashmiri." Yet even under India's description of the legal status of Kashmir, that government cannot be considered "excused" for either Geneva Convention violations or violations of human rights. India remains liable for all violations of the Geneva Conventions and human rights instruments that have occurred in the course of its long occupation of Kashmir. While India constantly emphasizes the religion of the Kashmiris, it is not their religion that is the issue but their denial of the plebiscite. The vast majority of the Kashmiri people want the plebiscite not because they are Muslim but because they are Kashmiri and were promised this plebiscite by the United Nations Security Council.

5. States that could play a positive role in implementing the Security Council resolutions instead criticize the victims -- the Kashmiri people and their representatives -- for even daring to present their plight here. Criticism is laced with racist innuendo or even outright racism that if employed with other groups and situations would be severely chastised. We believe that Kashmiri concerns should be respected and the plea of the Kashmiri people to implement the UN's own plebiscite plan should be honored.

6. The risk of another war between India and Pakistan will remain high as long as the Kashmir question is unresolved. At this time there is tension between India and Pakistan along the LOC. Both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons in their arsenals and either side could be sufficiently provoked to use them. If either side uses these weapons, the whole world will suffer nuclear fallout. A further concern is that we believe remnants of Al Qaeda groups have been infiltrating into Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, playing on the restlessness of Kashmiri youth. While all the participant parties and groups in the All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC - the main multi-party coalition in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir) renounce Al Qaeda, we believe that there are some Kashmiri groups that are increasingly vulnerable to pressures from Al Qaeda. This is occurring in spite of the vastly different cultural and religious practices between typical members of Al Qaeda and the predominantly Sufi Kashmiris. These two elements alone, out of the many factors in the overall situation, make Jammu and Kashmir one of the greatest threats to stability, peace and security in the world.

7. We urge the Sub-Commission to address this issue under agenda item 2 as a matter of overwhelming urgency. Such action could include requesting the Security Council to undertake renewed efforts to bring about the plebiscite. We especially urge the Sub-Commission to stress the importance of the participation of the Kashmiri people, through the leadership of the APHC, in any action undertaken to afford them the right to vote regarding their political future and indeed in any discussions or consultations regarding Jammu and Kashmir. We also urge the Sub-Commission to condemn the humanitarian and human rights violations that have occurred in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.


*This written statement is issued, unedited, in the language(s) received from the submitting non-governmental organization(s).


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Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
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