On Thursday, November 14th, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission is hosting a delegation of expert witnesses including Kashmiri-Americans who will speak about human rights abuses that have been committed at the hands of Indian armed forces in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (“Kashmir”). They will address human rights violations that have occurred since the Indian government-imposed blockade on August 5, 2019 and violations that have preceded the blockade. Also covered in the hearing will be the rise of ethnonationalism and the ensuing public violence against religious minorities in India leading to lynchings of Christians and the revocation of the autonomous status of the state of Muslim-majority Kashmir.
Stand With Kashmir (SWK) has been tracking and documenting human rights violations in the past 100 days. These include: torture; communications blockades; denial of the freedom of expression including speech, religious exercise and political processes; arbitrary arrests and detention of civilians especially minor children; and the unchecked actions of Indian military personnel against the local Kashmiri populace. From the complete shutdown of internet and telecommunications access, the deliberate blackout of international media and independent observers, to the restrictions imposed on U.S. diplomats like Senator Van Hollen as they sought entry to Kashmir, there has been a dearth of transparency and accountability that would allow for investigations into allegations of human rights abuses.
Prior to and since August 5, the Indian government has deployed over 900,000 troops making Kashmir the most militarized place on earth. 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 Kashmir. These large-scale human rights abuses by the Indian military have gone unpunished.
Expert speakers on the panels include:
Haley Duschinski- Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Law, Justice and Culture, Ohio University. Ms. Duchinski is a legal and political anthropologist with research specializations in violence, war, and power; law and society; human rights, militarization and impunity; and law and memory in Kashmir.
Sehla Ashai- Kashmiri American attorney and human rights activist, with a special focus on immigration, racial/religious discrimination, and women’s rights. Ms. Ashai received the Henry Bates and Clara Belfield Fellowship from the University of Michigan Law School in 2005 to study the state subjects law of Kashmir.
Yousra Fazili – Kashmiri American human rights attorney and a special policy advisor on the Middle East and North Africa to various U.S. government agencies in Washington, DC. Ms. Fazili is an independent consultant to organizations as diverse as the US Institute for Peace, Stanford Design School, and the United Nations.
Arjun S. Sethi – Civil rights lawyer and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law. Mr. Sethi works closely with Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Sikh communities and is an expert in policing, the war on terror, and racial and religious profiling.
John Sifton – Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch. Mr. Sifton works on South and Southeast Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, and East Africa.
“This hearing will cast a bright light on the secretive and shadowy actions that the Indian government has undertaken in Kashmir since August 5 to effect demographic change and accelerate ethnic cleansing of indigenous Kashmiris” said a spokesperson for SWK.
“As one of America’s most important trade partners and the world’s largest democracy, it is critical that our elected officials stand up for America’s commitment to human rights and the rule of law, which India is blatantly violating as widely reported by credible media reports while ignoring calls for accountability and justice for the people of Kashmir.”
Stand with Kashmir is a Kashmiri diaspora-led international solidarity movement that seeks to end the Indian occupation and support the right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir.