Speech Made at a Sideline Event of the 54th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva (virtual attendance)
By Tazeen Hasan
September 15th, 2023
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished delegates, and esteemed participants, allow me to introduce myself; I am Tazeen Hasan, serving as the Advocacy Manager for Justice For All Canada. It is an immense privilege to address this gathering during the 54th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the organizers, namely the Universal Human Rights Council Kashmir Institute of international relations and the World Muslim Congress, for extending this invaluable opportunity to me. It is rather a coincidence that the 54th session commences on the heels of the G20 meeting, which concluded merely a day ago, wherein the world's most influential and geopolitically potent nations converged to deliberate upon the future of our planet. Delhi G20 Declaration emphasized the importance of all states acting in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter in its entirety.
Unfortunately some of these influential nations are, regrettably, prominent examples of transgressors against international standards of fair trial. Our topic of discussion today. I am specifically referring to India, and China in this regard.
Regrettably, time constraints prevent me from delving deeply into the extensive transgressions of these nations. Nevertheless, in my capacity as the Advocacy Manager for Justice For All Canada and as the overseer of the JFA Prisoners of Conscience campaign, I have diligently observed the legal proceedings and the prison experiences of select individuals of conscience. Furthermore, I maintain close connections with the families of some of these detainees, their lawyers, and some former Kashmiri prisoners, local journalists and human rights defenders. Today, I aim to highlight the blatant violations of the right to a fair trial endured by Kashmiri detainees and sufferings of their families through the ordeal of a single Kashmiri prisoner Shabir Shah who has already endured 37 years in prison without trial. I also wish to remind the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of their responsibilities toward these often-overlooked detainees, whose arbitrary incarcerations are as glaring as the noonday sun.
Ladies and gentlemen, it might astonish many of you to learn that Shabir Shah, a distinguished Kashmiri leader and the very first Prisoner of Conscience supported by Justice For All, has endured a staggering 37 years in custody. These years were marked by non-consecutive detentions, all devoid of any convictions. The sheer scale of this imprisonment is nothing short of significant; Shabir Shah was first apprehended at the tender age of 14, and today, at the age of 70, he continues to languish behind bars.
The last time Shah was arrested was in August 2017. His trial began after five years in detention.
I want to remind this esteemed session that prolonged detention without trial is a violation of fair trial standards and the detention is considered arbitrary in customary international law.
Time and again, Shah has been subjected to detention without the formal charges being brought against him. Ironically, this practice is sanctioned by Indian laws like PSA (Public Safety Act) and the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). Under the PSA, individuals can be whisked away into custody based on vague and nebulous allegations of "acting harmfully against the security of the state or the maintenance of public order."
These laws grant Indian authorities the power to detain individuals without the possibility of bail, systematically denying their right to a fair trial. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have labeled these laws as unlawful. In essence, this amounts to a grotesque mockery of the foundational principles of the rule of law.
Imagine, if you will, the anguish and despair that befalls someone who finds themselves imprisoned for the crime of merely standing accused, without the benefit of due process or a fair trial. This is a grave injustice that cries out for the attention and action from the UN Human Rights Council.
Indian law enforcement agencies in Kashmir justify their actions by stating, "We have to keep them out of circulation." It is crucial to recognize that keeping entire Kashmiri political and civil leadership out of circulation is a colonial necessity of the Indian colonial regime.. To maintain public order, or more precisely, to perpetuate colonialism, the entire Kashmir region has witnessed the disenfranchisement of political figures such as Shabir Shah, Yasin Malik, Altaf Shah, Syed Ali Geelani, Qasim Faktu, Ashraf Seharai, human rights defenders like Khurram Pervez, and journalists like Asif Sultan, Fahad Shah, and Sajjad Gul. The Indian regime has not even spared women in their quest to maintain colonial rule, as demonstrated by the unjust six-year detention of women leaders like Asiya Andrabi, a blatant violation of their right to a fair trial.
On August 5, 2019, when this colonial project underwent a transformation into a settler colonial project, even trade union leaders were not spared. Four years have elapsed, and the majority of them still find themselves languishing in jails located outside of Kashmir, hundreds and thousands of kilometers away from their homes. Due to the nature of their detention being preventive, they are unable to secure bail. The Indian government continues to systematically deny the right to a fair trial to individuals who are not criminals.
And these arbitrary detentions, conducted in inhumane conditions under unlawful laws, are not confined solely to civil and political leadership. Hundreds of Kashmiri young men were detained prior to the G20 summit in Srinagar, ostensibly to preempt any peaceful protests. Journalists have been subjected to harassment through these arbitrary detentions to such an extent that they are compelled to erase their online presence.
Protection from arbitrary detention is a fundamental principle enshrined in international human rights law. This crucial safeguard serves as a cornerstone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It underscores the importance of preventing individuals from being detained arbitrarily, without legal justification, or due process.
The substantiation and validation of the arbitrary nature of detentions under these laws, coupled with the violation of the right to a fair trial, are underscored by revelations from A. S. Dulat, the former head of one of India's premier intelligence agencies. In his memoirs, he candidly acknowledges that Kashmiri leaders, upon reaching the maximum period of detention permitted under the PSA, were immediately re-arrested at the prison gate upon their release. Such practices unequivocally constitute a grave infringement upon the principles of justice and a blatant disregard for the right to a fair trial.
When we talk about international law at these forums like the human rights council, we use terms like fair trial, arbitrary detention, we often ignore the humanitarian aspects. While we talk about the technicalities of the laws, we often overlook the sufferings of the mothers, wives and children of the victims of arbitrary detention. Though international law explicitly deals with them.
Imagine the disappointment and agony of the family members of the victim of arbitrary detention, when they wait outside the prison gates to celebrate the release of their father but their father is arrested again in front of their eyes, on charges under PSA.
I will elaborate more on the issue of fair trial. Under international law, fair trial does not begin with the trial. It begins with the time of arrest, The detainee has to be informed of the charges.
Shah, now 70 is suffering from heart disease, diabetes, kidney problem, arthritis and many other ailments.
I will persist in narrating Shah's ordeal to underscore the suffering experienced by the entire Kashmiri civil and political leadership when they are unjustly deprived of their right to a fair trial.
The violation of Shah's right to a fair trial is nothing short of heart-wrenching. His charge sheet remains withheld for five long years after his initial arrest, a blatant injustice. Further anguish is inflicted by placing him a staggering 700 kilometers away from his family in Srinagar, denying him the warmth of home. The injustice continues as he is deprived of adequate medical care, his family denied access to vital medical reports, and his right to seek a second opinion from chosen doctors and surgeons is stripped away. These are the fundamental rights enshrined in international fair trial standards, cruelly denied by the Iranian regime.
To add to this injustice, Shah's daughter must visit him through a glass barrier, unable to embrace her father. His ordeal is exacerbated by solitary confinement, a ruthless attempt to break him mentally and physically, all in the name of forcing him to bow before the oppressive Indian settler colonial regime. This is a tragic tale of fair trial denied and human dignity trampled upon.
This denial of the right to a fair trial extends far beyond Shabir Shah; it is the cruel fate of every Kashmiri who falls victim to arbitrary detention by the Indian authorities in their pursuit of maintaining a settler colonialism project that seeks to mute and disenfranchise Kashmir.
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished members of the Human Rights Council and esteemed sponsors of this session, I implore you to take action. Initiate a comprehensive investigation into these grave human rights violations committed against Kashmiri prisoners. Let us also collaborate with other UN bodies to take concrete action in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
As we stand here today, let us reflect upon the enduring principles of justice, fairness, and human rights, which must always remain inviolable. It is our collective responsibility to illuminate the injustices faced not only by the Kashmiri people but by all individuals worldwide who are unjustly detained, regardless of their nationality or affiliation.
We must tirelessly work towards a future where the fair trial rights of every individual are not just recognized but vigorously protected, where their voices are heard and their dignity upheld.
Thank you for your unwavering commitment to the cause of justice and human rights.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers stage a protest demanding information about missing girls and women in Jammu and Kashmir, in Srinagar. Source @aapkamuddasir
Author: Tazeen Hasan
In the shadowed valleys of Kashmir, a deeply unsettling crisis has unfolded, hidden from the world's gaze for far too long. Startling statistics, disclosed by the Indian government in Rajya Sabha, have laid bare a harrowing truth: between 2019 and 2021, a staggering 9,765 women and girls disappeared from their homes in the region.   This alarming figure marks a nearly three-fold increase compared to the preceding three years, underscoring an ominous trend that beckons for immediate international awareness and resolute action. One of the perplexing questions that demand answers are not just about these numbers but also about why the abductions remained concealed from global scrutiny for four long years. In this exploration, we delve into the harrowing reality of Kashmiri girls' abductions and the shroud of silence that enveloped them.
The suppression of information and the stifling of voices in the region, often perpetuated through strict control of media and communication channels, created a veil of silence around these distressing incidents. The veil of silence shrouding the escalating abduction of Kashmiri girls for about four years can be attributed to a confluence of factors that have systematically silenced voices in the region since the revocation of autonomy. Kashmiris have been rendered utterly disenfranchised in the wake of this significant political shift.
Journalists, integral to the dissemination of news, have been subjected to arbitrary detention under the draconian Public Security Act (PSA), a law that callously allows for detention without formal charges. Prominent journalists such as Fahad Shah, Asif Sultan, and Sajjad Gul have fallen victim to this oppressive measure, while others have been harassed to such an extent that they are compelled to erase their online presence.
Silenced Voices on Social Media Surveillance and UAPA
The heightened atmosphere of social media surveillance and the oppressive reach of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) have emerged as critical factors stifling citizens' ability to report the abductions. The escalation of social media surveillance has cast a chilling effect on the freedom of Kashmiris to express their views and disseminate accurate information about the situation. Under the ambiguously worded UAPA, even the slightest expression of dissent can swiftly lead to imprisonment, making it a powerful tool of repression. In this climate, any semblance of dissent can be construed as a threat, potentially resulting in the confiscation or demolition of a dissenter's home. These circumstances create an immensely challenging environment in which to speak out against the abduction of girls in the valley, further highlighting the urgent need for international intervention and advocacy.
"This clampdown extends to human rights defenders who now face increasing challenges in documenting violations. Khurram Pervez, the head of the Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies, an organization that was documenting HR violations in Kashmir, has been arbitrarily detained for two years. Moreover, international scrutiny has been actively rebuffed, with Amnesty International expelled from India due to foreign funding regulations, the denial of entry to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and even the restriction of a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sana Matto from attending an award ceremony in the US. These tactics employed by the Indian regime have collectively disenfranchised Kashmir, thus concealing the distressing reality of the three-fold increase in the disappearances of Kashmiri girls in the valley over the past four years.
As we unveil the shroud of silence that veiled the abduction crisis of Kashmiri girls for four long years, it becomes increasingly evident that the international community must act swiftly and decisively. The Canadian government, with its commitment to human rights and global justice, has a pivotal role to play. It is incumbent upon Canada to collaborate with the United Nations in initiating a comprehensive investigation into the grave human rights violations transpiring in the disputed region of Kashmir. Furthermore, Canada should fervently urge the Indian government to grant access to respected human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) within Kashmir. This access will empower these organizations to independently document and report on the ground, shedding light on the realities faced by the Kashmiri people and ensuring that those responsible for these atrocities are held accountable. The time to act is now, for justice, accountability, and the safeguarding of fundamental human rights in Kashmir.
 "10,000 Women Have Gone Missing in Jammu and Kashmir From 2019 to 2021: Centre." Kashmir Observer, 28 July 2023, Link.
 "Amnesty International Halts Work in India, Citing Witch Hunt by Government." NPR, 29 September 2020, Link.
 "India's Crackdown on Kashmir: What You Need to Know." BBC News, Link.
 "India, U.S. Sign Military Agreement Amid China Tensions." Reuters, Link.
 "Nearly 10K Women, Girls Go Missing in Kashmir, Sparking Alarm." VOA News, Link.
 "India Sends Thousands More Troops to Restive Kashmir." VOA News, Link.
 "J&K High Court Quashes Detention of Journalist Fahad Shah, Orders Set at Liberty." Outlook India, Link.
 "Journalists Arrested in Indian-Administered Kashmir." The New York Times, 16 April 2022, Link.
 "Opinion | India's Assault on Press Freedom in Kashmir." The New York Times, 8 March 2023, Link.
In an eye-opening analysis, Tazeen Hasan delves into the motivations behind the warm welcome of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in China and highlights the urgent need for global scrutiny and accountability regarding China's treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, recently concluded a successful four-day state visit to China in mid-June. The visit was marked by a warm reception from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who emphasized the strong friendship and partnership between China and Palestine. In a significant development, both nations issued a joint statement officially declaring the establishment of a "strategic partnership" between them. This move highlights the growing ties and cooperation between China and Palestine.
However, China's recent efforts to establish a "strategic partnership" with Palestine and other Muslim countries in the region must not distract the world from the egregious crimes against humanity being committed by the Chinese government. By courting Palestine and Muslim-majority nations, China aims to whitewash its own record of religious persecution and genocide against Uyghur and other Turkic-speaking minorities in Xinjiang.
While it may seem odd for China, a major global power, to seek such a partnership with a small and impoverished state like Palestine, it is essential to understand China's broader geopolitical strategy. China has been actively cultivating relationships with the Global South, particularly Arab and Muslim countries, in an attempt to gain support and influence in international affairs. By championing Palestinian rights, China seeks to portray itself as an anti-colonial voice and a friend of the Arab/Muslim world.
China's rhetoric in support of Palestine is seemingly commendable, but the stark reality is that its actions tell a different story. China has strong political and economic ties with Israel and will not risk endangering those relationships by genuinely supporting the Palestinian cause. In fact, China's trade with Israel is nearly 100 times greater than its trade with Palestine. It is clear that China's support for Palestine is more about optics and self-interest rather than genuine concern for the Palestinian people.
The "strategic partnership" agreement between China and Palestine includes commitments to support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and to maintain the historical status quo of religious sites in Jerusalem. However, these commitments are not conditional on Israeli agreement or adherence to international law. This implies that China will not stand against Israeli actions that violate Palestinian rights, such as annexation of the West Bank or the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes.
China's silence on potential Israeli violations reveals its true intentions. It is willing to turn a blind eye to Israeli aggression to maintain its economic and political interests. If China genuinely cared about the plight of the Palestinian people, it would take a firm stance against Israeli injustices. Instead, China's support for Palestine serves as a convenient cover to divert attention from its own horrific human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
In Xinjiang, over a million Muslims, primarily Uyghurs, have been detained in internment camps. Reports of forced labor, cultural assimilation, and religious persecution paint a bleak picture of the atrocities being committed by the Chinese government. Those who have been released from the camps are often forced into labor camps, further perpetuating their exploitation. China fears that Muslim-majority countries will rally in support of Uyghurs and Turkic-speaking Muslims, exposing its crimes to the world. By cultivating alliances with Muslim nations, China hopes to isolate the Uyghur cause and prevent international support for their struggle.
China's strategic partnership with Palestine is not based on genuine solidarity but on self-interest and geopolitical maneuvering. It seeks to bolster its image as a global power and secure support for its controversial policies, such as the "one China" policy and its opposition to foreign interference in its internal affairs. Moreover, it allows China to undermine the influence of Western countries, particularly the United States.
While China's partnership with Palestine may shift the dynamics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is imperative not to lose sight of the larger picture. China's actions in Xinjiang cannot be overshadowed or excused by its support for Palestine. The international community must remain vigilant and hold China accountable for its crimes against humanity. Genuine support for Palestine should be based on principles of justice, human rights, and respect for international law, not on geopolitical calculations or attempts to divert attention from one's own misdeeds.
#Uyghurs #SaveUyghur #Palestine #Israel
Through the Lens of Hope: The Remarkable but unrecognized Journey of Rohingya Refugee Photographer Jamal Arakani
In a powerful personal narrative, Tazeen Hasan captures the extraordinary journey of Jamal Arakani, a Rohingya refugee photographer, as he defies the odds and pursues his passion amidst adversity. From the confines of a refugee camp, Jamal's unwavering determination and unwritten dreams take center stage.
My name is Jamal, and I am a Rohingya refugee photographer. I was born and raised in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh. From the moment I came into this world, I have never known anything other than life as a refugee. My motherland, Arakan, remains a distant dream, controlled by Myanmar while I am confined to the boundaries of the camp.
The world often sees us refugees as a mass of people trapped in desperate conditions, living in abject poverty. Seldom do they recognize the dreams and creativity that reside within us. But even in the midst of such challenging circumstances, I refused to let go of my aspirations. From a young age, I nurtured a burning desire to become a journalist, to tell the stories of my people and shed light on the injustices we face.
Unfortunately, as a refugee, pursuing my dreams seemed like an impossible task. I didn't have access to high-end cameras or sophisticated equipment. I didn't even possess the basic documentation or identity papers that would allow me to move freely. But that didn't stop me from dreaming or striving for my goals.
With determination and resourcefulness, I began taking photographs with my friend's mobile phone. I would capture the daily life in the camp, the struggles and the moments of resilience. I started sharing these pictures on social media, hoping to give voice to the plight of my people. One day, out of the blue, I received a message on Twitter from someone who wanted to use my pictures. I agreed, and although I was not credited for my images, they generously gifted me some money. With that small amount, I purchased a second-hand smartphone from a neighbor and began taking photographs daily, using my own equipment.
In 2017, when the October crisis erupted in Rakhine state, an overwhelming number of Rohingya people fled from Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh. I was there, with my camera in hand, documenting the heart-wrenching scenes before me. I captured the pain, the fear, and the resilience of my people as they navigated through the chaos. I sent my photographs and video footage to various international media outlets, hoping that the world would bear witness to our struggle.
Over time, my work started to gain recognition. Images I had captured made their way to prestigious publications such as The Guardian, Reuters, Paris Match, Al Jazeera, BBC News Bangla, Tempo English, CNN Voice of America, Head On Photo Festival, Peoples Dispatch, and more. It was a bittersweet feeling because, as a refugee, I lacked the necessary identity papers to claim credit for my work. I had no bank account to receive payment or formal recognition. But despite this, I found solace and joy in knowing that my creative work had made it to the eyes of the world through these renowned channels.
Being a refugee comes with its share of limitations and struggles, but it does not define us solely by our circumstances. It does not strip us of our dreams or our creative spirit. I am Jamal, a Rohingya refugee photographer, and I am determined to continue capturing the stories of my people, even if I remain nameless and unrecognized. Through my lens, I hope to bring attention to the resilience, strength, and humanity that exists within the refugee community.
This is a story of personal resilience and determination of a born refugee
The recent visit of former Israeli Prime Minister Neftali Bennett to Canada has sparked controversy and raised questions about potential violations of Canadian law. Canadian lawyers have taken action by filing a court case against him, alleging his involvement in the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. This case sheds light on what constitutes a crime against humanity in Canadian law, as this series of articles explores the legal aspects surrounding Bennett's visit and delves into why it should have been banned according to Canadian law.
Neftali Bennett served as prime minister in a coalition government for a little over a year between June 2021 and June 2022. During his tenure, he made voluntary and significant contributions to the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, which are in direct violation of Canadian law. Justice For All Canada stands in solidarity with Khaled Mouammar, a former national president of the Canadian Arab Federation and Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Palestinian and Jewish Unity, Just Peace Advocates, and the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute, who have submitted a court file urging Canadian Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino to deny Bennetts entry into Canada.
The Allegations and Legal Basis:
The court filing, submitted by these reputable NGOs, alleges that Bennett has committed war crimes in violation of both international and Canadian law. It argues that Bennett's actions fall within the scope of 6(1)(c) and 6(1.1) of Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, which pertain to voluntary and significant contributions to the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Golan Heights. According to Canada's laws, the transfer of parts of an occupying power's civilian population into occupied territory is explicitly designated as a war crime.
The court filings further assert that Minister Mendicino has the authority to declare Bennett inadmissible to Canada under sections 35(1)(a) and (b) of the Immigration Refugee Protection Act. The request contends that Bennett should be denied entry to Canada pursuant to these sections.
Bennett's involvement in the expansion of Israeli settlements not only violates international law but also undermines the rights and well-being of Palestinian children, who have been suffering from the consequences of occupation for decades. It is imperative that Canadian law is upheld to ensure justice and accountability for potential crimes against humanity.
The allegations surrounding Neftali Bennett's actions during his time as the Israeli prime minister raise important legal questions regarding crimes against humanity in Canadian law. The series of articles below aims to examine the legal aspects surrounding his visit and shed light on why he should have been banned according to Canadian law. By exploring the connection between Bennett's alleged involvement in the expansion of Israeli settlements and the principles of Canadian law, we emphasize the need for a thorough examination of the events and the adherence to justice, human rights, and the rule of law.
Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (S.C. 2000, c. 24), act current to 2023-05-29, last amended on 2019-09-19. Available at: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-45.9/fulltext.html
Shanmugathas, Pitasanna. "Canada: NGOs request federal court block former Israel PM’s visit." Jurist Legal News and Commentary, 3 June 2023. Accessed 17 June 2023. https://www.jurist.org/news/2023/06/canada-ngos-request-federal-court-block-former-israel-pms-visit/
Barrera, Jorge. "Groups file court application over whether Canada's laws allow entry of former Israeli PM." CBC News, 2 June 2023. Accessed 17 June 2023. Available at: [https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/naftali-bennett-court-action-entry-to-canada-1.6862843].
Tazeen Hasan sheds light on Israeli atrocities towards children in the West Bank and Gaza and the need for Canada to devise a just foreign policy.
Mohammed al-Tamimi, a 2.5-year-old toddler, became the youngest victim in the series of tragic deaths among Palestinian children this year. Shot in the head by Israeli forces, his young life was cut short, with his brain vessels ruptured beyond repair. This heart-wrenching incident occurred in Gaza and the West Bank, territories that have been heavily impacted by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mohammed's story is just one example of the ongoing violence and loss of life that Palestinian children endure daily. Regrettably, he is not the only child who has fallen victim to such tragic circumstances. His death marks the 27th case of a Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces in 2023 alone. The constant killing of Palestinian children, including toddlers and infants, using live ammunition by Israeli soldiers, is a grave violation of human rights and humanitarian principles. International law clearly states that the use of lethal force should only be employed as a last resort, when there is an imminent threat to life. However, the repeated incidents of children being targeted suggest a systemic failure to protect the most vulnerable individuals in this conflict.
Every child, regardless of their nationality, place of residence or ethnicity, is entitled to the right to life, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The loss of innocent lives and the resulting trauma inflicted upon Palestinian children not only obstructs the path to a peaceful resolution but also fuels an unending cycle of violence and revenge.
Despite its reputation as a champion of human rights, Canada has been disappointingly indifferent to the plight of Palestine. The Canadian government's lack of action in addressing the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies is concerning. It is crucial for Canadian policymakers to recognize their role in influencing change and promoting justice in the region.
Canada's support for the Israeli government's policies, including military cooperation and economic ties, cannot be disregarded. By continuing these associations, Canada indirectly sustains an oppressive regime that perpetuates human rights abuses and denies Palestinians their basic rights, including the right to self-determination.
To rectify this situation, Canadian policymakers must take immediate action to halt their support for the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime. By doing so, Canada can contribute to ending the cycle of violence and fostering a just and lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Furthermore, Canadian citizens must hold their representatives accountable and demand a shift in policy. Grassroots movements and civil society organizations have a vital role to play in raising awareness, educating the public, and advocating for change. It is imperative to mobilize public opinion and urge policymakers to take a principled stance against the violations of Palestinian rights.
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Tazeen Hasan exposes the persistent hatred that Kashmiris face within Indian society under Indian domination. The discrimination and hatred perpetuated by the Hindutva leadership are pushing towards the full-scale genocide of Kashmiris and Indian Muslims.
In October 2021, a shocking display of prejudice occurred when an Indian politician belonging to the ruling BJP party brazenly declared that Kashmiris should be skinned alive, suggesting that Pakistani blood runs through their veins. This statement was made in response to the arrest of three Kashmiri engineering students in Agra, Uttar Pradesh province of India, who were accused of celebrating Pakistan's victory in an Indo-Pak cricket match. This incident serves as a glaring example of the discrimination and hatred faced by Kashmiris in India, shedding light on a distressing reality that cannot be ignored.
The trio was apprehended under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, including charges of promoting enmity between different groups and "cyber terrorism." The discrimination and hatred didn't end there. The local bar associations in Agra refused to represent them, and on one occasion, the students were physically assaulted within the premises of the Agra court. Even when the court eventually granted them bail in March 2022, not a single person from Agra was willing to come forward as their surety. The students endured a grueling six months in detention, facing harsh bail conditions before finally securing their release.
The question arises: How did such discrimination occur in the largest ‘democracy’ in the world? The answer lies in their religio-ethnic background; the students were Kashmiris and Muslims. Kashmiris have long been subjected to harassment and discrimination in India, despite India's insistence that they are Indian citizens. They are often targets of systemic bias solely based on their Kashmiri identity, which denies them access to housing and infringes on their basic rights, perpetuating a sense of exclusion and marginalization within society.
Renowned author Basharat Peer's personal experiences further shed light on the existence of an apartheid-like situation faced by Kashmiris. His accounts of struggling to find rental accommodation in Delhi and witnessing Indian passengers refusing to offer seats to Kashmiri army troops highlights the unique dynamics of the military-civilian relationship in Kashmir. This observation suggests that Kashmiris often feel compelled to comply with the demands of Indian army personnel, reflecting deep-rooted prejudices resembling an apartheid-like situation, even in the early 1990s.
Discrimination against Kashmiris extends beyond daily life experiences and permeates the realm of imprisonment. Kashmiri prisoners held outside of Kashmir are frequently labeled as terrorists and face hatred and mistreatment from fellow inmates, prison guards, and even jail health care staff. Instances of dehumanization, harassment, and denial of basic rights are distressingly common, as vividly described by Sehar Shah, the daughter of Kashmiri politician Shabir Shah, who recounts her recurring ordeals with the guards of Tihar Jail during her visits to her father. The accounts of discrimination and humiliation suffered by Kashmiri prisoners paint a harrowing picture.
It is crucial to acknowledge that these injustices are inflicted upon the Kashmiri people despite promises made by India's founding father, Jawaharlal Nehru, to grant them a plebiscite for self-determination. Moreover, 17 United Nations Security Council resolutions recognize the right of self-determination for Kashmiris. However, the ongoing discrimination against them exposes a tragic reality.
Kashmiris face discrimination in India because they are not perceived as Indians. The recent statement by the BJP politician calling for the skinning alive of Kashmiris is a testament to the underlying and heavily problematic mindset that views Kashmiris as inferior outsiders. This discriminatory treatment parallels the dark history of settler colonialism, where land was desired, but indigenous people were marginalized or eliminated. Kashmiris find themselves caught in a similar struggle as India seeks control over the region while completely disregarding the rights and well-being of its people. The world must pay attention and take action against this flagrant injustice, ensuring that the discrimination faced by Kashmiris is unequivocally addressed and rectified.
Tazeen Hasan produced this personal narrative on behalf of Sehar Shah based on her one-to-one communication with Shah. Shah's postings on Facebook and Twitter have also been used for details.
My name is Sehar Shabir Shah, and I am the daughter of the renowned "Prisoner of Conscience," Shabir Ahmad Shah, who has endured a staggering 36 years of his life behind bars. Our lives have been marked by constant struggles and challenges, but nothing could have prepared us for the events that unfolded ahead of the G20 summit.
It was a seemingly ordinary day when chaos erupted. Troops, comprising the army, Special Forces, and black cat commandos, descended upon our peaceful abode around 6:00 p.m. Their presence was overwhelming, as armored vehicles blocked off the bypass and effectively isolated our entire neighborhood.
In the midst of it all, our helper sought solace in her room, completely unaware of the impending intrusion. The troops forcefully smashed down the gate of our kitchen garden, hopping over walls, and brazenly entering our home through that very same entrance.
At the time, my mother was engaged in the evening Asr prayer. The sound of the doorbell interrupted her devotions, but she was unable to immediately attend to it. With each passing minute, the clamor outside intensified. By the time she reached the gate, roughly 20 to 25 heavily armed men had already breached our house's defenses. Scaling walls and jumping inside, they instilled fear with their imposing presence.
The troops began shouting at my mother as she cautiously opened the lobby door, demanding to know who else was present in the house. Despite her assurances that she was alone, they persisted, barking their questions and demanding more information. Eventually, they barged inside, their boots resounding against the floors, meticulously scouring every nook and cranny, leaving a trail of disorder in their wake.
My mother accompanied a few soldiers who ascended to the top level of our house, while the rest scoured the ground floor and other rooms. It was heart-wrenching to witness the destruction they wrought upon our once-serene dining room. Furnishings were ruthlessly dismantled, and possessions were callously scattered, rendering the room unrecognizable.
The aftermath of their search left our rooms in utter disarray. Every wardrobe lay open, and belongings were carelessly strewn about. The sight of the chaos and devastation was deeply unsettling. My sense of disgust grew as I surveyed the wreckage that now plagued our home.
Before departing, the troops made their intentions clear. They intimidated my mother with threats of a return visit, leaving her shaken and unsettled. Fortunately, we had installed CCTV cameras throughout our residence, capturing every moment of this harrowing ordeal. Determined to document the full extent of their intrusion, I meticulously photographed the rooms and the mess they left behind.
The attached CCTV footage and images serve as a testament to the violation we endured on that fateful day. They bear witness to the destruction inflicted upon our home, forever etching this traumatic experience into our collective memory.
Through sharing our story, I hope to shed light on the immense challenges faced by families like ours, who bear the burden of political persecution. It is my fervent desire that justice prevails, that those responsible for the raid are held accountable, and that no other family must endure the same anguish that has befallen ours.
For 36 long years, my father has been unjustly held in arbitrary detention imposed by the Indian government, without ever facing conviction in a single case. Every passing day, my heart aches as I wait for the day when I can embrace my aging and gravely ill father once more.
The raid on our home, with its brutal intrusion and wanton destruction, only adds to the weight of my longing. It is a painful reminder of the injustice that has plagued our lives for far too long. As I pick up the shattered remnants of our belongings, I can't help but feel the weight of uncertainty pressing upon me. How much longer must I endure this separation from my beloved father?
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