New York, NY: Stand with Kashmir joined a number of coalition groups to stage an unprecedented, historic demonstration outside the United Nations headquarters on Friday, September 27, 2019, to protest Narendra Modi’s right-wing Hindu nationalist government as well as demand an end to the Indian occupation of Kashmir and for the right to Kashmiri self-determination.
In the evening, the group led a vigil in Times Square, led by the Kashmiri diaspora.
Around 22,000 protesters attended the demonstration organised by a broad-based coalition of groups under the banner of “Friends of Kashmir.” Kashmiris in the diaspora, South Asian allies, faith leaders and varying solidarity groups came from across NYC as well as over 10 major cities throughout the East Coast, as well as around the country. This was the largest protest held in NYC for the Kashmir cause.
The protesters join a growing body of organizations and individuals who are condemning the slide towards authoritarianism, the rise of Hindu-nationalism, and the persecution of minorities, including Muslims, Christians and Dalits in India.
The crowds were also briefed by representatives of the Black Lives Matter movement, Code Pink, as well as various speeches by Kashmiri, Pakistani, South Asian, Muslim and interfaith groups.
A spokesperson for Stand with Kashmir said:
“India has turned into a fascist, authoritarian state and this single action and the thousands of people in attendance shows that the veil around Modi and farce of india as a democracy is lifting.
“We call on India to end the communications blockade, release detainees, remove its occupying forces, and give Kashmiris the right to self-determination.”
The Indian government has imposed a communications blackout in the region, disconnecting telephone and internet services, shutting down local media, restricting the movement of residents, arresting and detaining at least 3,000 people, some as young as 11 years old, and militarizing entire neighbourhoods.
Bernie Sander’s senior political advisor addressed the rally, describing the situation in Kashmir as “unacceptable”, calling for the restrictions on Kashmir to be lifted and communications restored immediately.
“I am deeply troubled by the situation we see today in Kashmir, where the Indian government unilaterally revoked Kashmiri autonomy, has cracked down on dissent, instituted a communications blackout, and blocked Kashmiris’ access to basic medical care.”
“Furthermore, I believe the United States must speak clearly in support of international humanitarian law and in support of a UN-backed peaceful resolution between India and Pakistan that respects the will of the Kashmiri people.”
Protesters reiterated Kashmiris’ right to self determination as promised by UN Resolution 47 and call for an end to the Indian occupation, the immediate restoration of communication, an end to human rights violations, and the complete demilitarization of the region.
The evening vigil was attended by hundreds of Kashmiris living outside of Kashmir, as well as their allies, and featured speeches, slogans, poetry, and performance art. Young Kashmiris stood silent, with a red tape over their mouth, holding up signs that spoke to the human rights abuses in Kashmir.
The protestors joined a growing number of American politicians, including Bernie Sanders, Beto O’ Rourke, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Andy Levin, Rep. Ted Lieu, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and Rep Don Beyer also issued statements expressing concern about the situation in Kashmir.
To date, between 70,000–100,000 people have been killed, 10,000 have disappeared, countless
Kashmiri women have been raped, more than 6,000 are believed to have been killed and buried in unmarked graves, and more than 80,000 children have been orphaned in occupied Kashmir.
These large scale human rights abuses by Indian occupation forces have gone unpunished.