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Philippine human rights defenders alarmed at developments in Jammu and Kashmir

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) express serious concerns over alarming developments in the India-occupied region of Jammu and Kashmir. This month India’s government has repealed the Constitutional provision providing special status to Jammu and Kashmir amidst media and communications blockade and the deployment of more than 30,000 paramilitary troops. On the ground reports of arbitrary detention and house arrest of more than 500 human rights defenders have also jeopardized fundamental civil liberties and the freedom of expression.

For decades the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) of 1978 or the Jammu & Kashmir Preventive Detention Act of 1964 abrogated the exercise of the people’s right to self-determination and have been used to justify the perpetuation of political repression and gross human rights violations in the region. Ongoing curfews and restrictions over people’s movements continue to undermine the participation of the people in the crucial processes of crafting their future.

PAHRA and iDEFEND consider these arbitrary measures as part of the Indian government’s plans to repress reaction against the changing of the status of Jammu and Kashmir, stripping it of its autonomy and threatening to make occupation permanent.

Moreover, these developments are likely to increase the India-Pakistan strain, both of whom possess potential nuclear threats to the entire Asian region. Pakistan earlier said it would expel India’s ambassador and recall its own envoy from India as the Jammu and Kashmir crisis escalated.

PAHRA and iDEFEND thus join the international community in calling for a de-escalation of the tension in the region, and stand with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in calling for the immediate lifting of curfew and communications black-out, releasing of all political detainees, restoration of the status of Jammu and Kashmir under article 370 of the Indian Constitution and full compliance to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ recommendations relating to fundamental freedoms and the right to self-determination.

On August 15, 2019 India celebrates its 73rd Independence Day. Since its independence India has participated in and gained from global progress as one of Asia’s largest democracies. PAHRA and iDEFEND hope that the people of Jammu and Kashmir can also reap the benefits of a free and democratic environment in their society. The government of India has a primary obligation to make this happen.

In the spirit of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the Philippine human rights community supports the pursuit of “the right to peace” in all corners of the world.


Photo Credit: Times of Islamabad