April 20th, 2023
Written by Editorial Team
As grassroots activists, we cannot ignore the lack of Kashmiri representation as India-hosted G20 meetings began in Kashmir this week.
The G20 kicked off its Y20 youth meetings in Jammu, located in Indian-Occupied Kashmir. One glaring absence was any representation or input from local Kashmiri populations. This lack of representation is concerning—especially as Kashmir’s civil society remains impacted by ongoing human rights violations and numerous challenges in advocating for their rights on the international stage.
For instance, ongoing instability and internet shutdowns have hit the education system hard. Teachers struggle to maintain lessons or communicate with their students. India’s Hindu nationalist government has cracked down on dissent and independent voices in Kashmir, resulting in fear and uncertainty in the education system. Teachers are now afraid to discuss sensitive topics in the classroom.
The G20 is also a missed opportunity to raise the alarm on the mass detention of human rights defenders in Kashmir. Activists encounter threats, harassment, and intimidation simply for conducting peaceful advocacy. You don’t need to look further than Shabir Shah and Khurram Parvez—both prisoners of conscience and victims of free speech under India’s BJP government.
Government authorities also employ various measures to suppress their voices, like restricted movement. Kashmiri protesters risk frequent arrest and detention under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (1978), which allows administrative detention without charge or trial for up to two years.
The G20 presented an ideal opportunity for such concerns to be addressed.
As we conduct our advocacy work, we cannot imagine how helpless Kashmiris must feel without the ability to engage with international human rights organizations and have their voices heard on the G20’s global stage.
As we reflect on missed opportunities for Kashmiri representation, we shift our focus to the world's largest economies participating in the G20 summit this year.
It’s not enough for G20 members to focus on economic matters while ignoring the blatant inequalities and abuses in Kashmir. These countries have a legal and moral responsibility to demand Kashmiris be allowed to participate in global forums—especially meetings held directly on their lands.
As the G20 moves forward in 2023, we’ll learn which leaders prioritize human rights versus economic interests and which states don’t. Leaders who subscribe to international human rights norms are responsible for demanding Kashmiris have a seat at the G20 table.
Failure to do this sends a message that the realities and lived experiences of Kashmiris are not valued, and that they are not welcome in shared spaces meant for discourse and diplomacy.
Don’t Stop Now