Letter from MEPs concerning the situation in Jummu Kashmir

To the President of the Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen
To the Vice President of the Commission/High Representative Josep Borrell

Iftikhar Arain

The European Union action on the international scene is guided by principles of democracy, rule of law, universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. We pride ourselves of this and over the years the EU has led and supported peace talks around the world to facilitate solutions to conflicts worldwide and to uphold those same principles. Still, there are cases where it feels like we are not doing everything we can: this is the case of Kashmir, probably the world's longest running conflict. Kashmir is internationally recognised as one of the world's most militarized zones in the world 1 and a tremendously dangerous conflict flash point. Due to the continued tensions, the people of Jammu Kashmir have been subject to intolerable suppression of their freedom and fundamental rights over the past seven decades, as it is shown by the accounts of many human rights organisations and the 2018 and 2019 reports of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The struggle for control over the region has led to a great number of civilian deaths and displaced people, the numbers rising in recent years as shown by the report of the Srinagar-based Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society: generation after generation of Kashmiris have witnessed nothing but unending oppression. Fulfilling the promises of the 2019 election BJP’s electoral manifesto, Prime Minister Modi proceed to revoke Kashmir’s special status with a presidential decree on August 5, 2019. In the lead-up to the move, India sent thousands of additional troops to the region, imposed a crippling curfew, shut down telecommunications and internet and arrested political leaders, de facto imposing a 9 months long military lockdown thereby threatening the negotiation process. It is extremely regrettable that a country like India, that made so many steps towards a more inclusive and democratic society, has been inverting this trend under the impact of an ever-increasing Hindu nationalist grip on society and politics. In recent years, it appears more evident that India has abandoned any political approach to the insurgency in Kashmir and is managing the crisis with almost exclusively military means. We should look at this region with great concern and avoid at all cost an escalation of the conflict by strengthening our dialogue with India, Pakistan and the representatives of Kashmir