The vice president of the European Parliament and its 15 other members on Friday wrote a letter to the European Commission regarding the “alarming human rights and humanitarian situation in Jammu and Kashmir”, urging the European Union to raise its voice on the issue and take action.
Fabio Massimo Castaldo shared the letter on Twitter.
Togheter with 15 colleagues of the #EP I sent a letter to Ursula #VonDerLeyen and Josep #Borrell regarding the worning humanitarian and human rights situation in #Kashmir. #EU can't back down. pic.twitter.com/LMmqF66RSR
— Fabio Massimo Castaldo (@FMCastaldo) July 30, 2021
“Together with 15 colleagues of the European Parliament, I sent a letter to Ursula Von Der Leyen and Josep Borrell regarding the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation in Kashmir,” he wrote. “EU can’t back down.”
Addressed to the European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and Vice President Josep Borrell, the letter said, “As a champion of universal human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule-based international order, the EU must raise its voice against the violations of human rights affecting the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We believe that the EU should use all its leverage and tools to cooperate with our Indian and Pakistani partners to honour the pledge made to the Kashmiris by the international community and create an environment conducive to the implementation of the United Nations (UN) resolutions.”
The lawmakers vouched to continue their engagements with the Parliaments of India and Pakistan as well as the Kashmiri leaders “to impress upon them the urgent need to foster a climate of peace and dialogue in the region”.
The letter noted that it was “extremely important” for Kashmiris to be heard and granted the opportunity to decide their own future.
The lawmakers called on Von Der Leyen and Josep Borrell to carry out the following actions on behalf of the European Union:
1) Convey their grave concern at the “violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir” to the Indian government
2) Take urgent action to address the “alarming human rights situation” in the region
3) Contribute to the peace and stability of the region by enhancing dialogue between India, Pakistan and the representatives of Kashmiri people, making use of “our special relationships with both India and Pakistan” to facilitate engagement and dialogue between the two neighbours and resolve the dispute through peaceful means and in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir.
“We hope in your strong support for this cause,” the letter read.
It pointed out that the “miseries of the people of Jammu and Kashmir” had been amply documented in the International Human Rights Watch World Report 2021 and reports by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2018 and 2019.
The lawmakers noted that the region had already suffered a debilitating lockdown since the revocation of its special status on August 5, 2019, and that the restraints on the rights to movement, access to information, healthcare, education and free speech have been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Journalists and human rights defenders have been increasingly targeted for raising their voice in support of the Kashmiri people and [denouncing] their situation. Arbitrary detentions continue, public assembly is still prohibited under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC) and hundreds, including minors and several elected legislators of Jammu and Kashmir, remain under preventive detention,” the letter read.
It added that a number of laws introduced by the Indian government over the years to “prevent terrorism and separatism”, including the Special Powers Act (SPA), the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) had instead often been misused against the Kashmiri population.
“In addition to being a humanitarian crisis, the long-standing dispute over Jammu and Kashmir in South Asia also poses a major threat to peace, stability, and security in the region, being a flashpoint between two nuclear-armed countries and we are worried that any miscalculation can lead to unwarranted consequences,” the letter added.
The parliamentarians noted that the region’s delicate security situation has further deteriorated as the local population is continuously protesting the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and the controvert Indian Citizenship Amendment Act, creating unrest and strife within the valley adding to the “volatility and tension” between the militaries of India and Pakistan.