Early this afternoon at the Geneva Press Club, a panel of esteemed Kashmir rights activists from across the United Kingdom and Europe spoke as part of the Voice of Peace conference aimed at both addressing the oppression faced by Kashmiris and other minorities as well as demanding freedom for Kashmir.
At the beginning of August, Articles 370 and 35A—which protected Kashmir’s controversial special status—were revoked. Revoking Articles 370 and 35A came as a shock to those living in and holding ties to the Kashmir Valley. But the abrogation of the discriminatory provisions and the protective measures taken in the aftermath may be exactly what is needed to secure a more rights-forward agenda for all people living in Kashmir, including those living in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).
Kashmiris across Europe and the UK have repeatedly asserted their desire for freedom of the Kashmiri people from Pakistan. For this reason, the Voice of Peace panelists have committed to continuously share their experiences in elevating the voices of their Kashmiri brothers and sisters until suitable, actionable solution is developed and implemented.
The international community must recognise that this movement to fully restore the rights of the Kashmiri people is not going anywhere. The global community must understand that all Kashmiris, including those who live across the UK and Europe, demand full and complete freedom for Kashmir.
Pakistan has a lengthy history of not meeting human rights demands. Islamabad faced even further scrutiny recently; the country was blacklisted during a review meeting in Canberra, Australia on 22-23 August by Global Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) regional sub-group APG (Asia-Pacific Group) for refusing to comply with anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing efforts.
The panelists, who travelled to Geneva from across the UK, Europe, and Kashmir, stated that the Kashmiri people—like the whole of humanity—are one body, scattered across the world. If one part of that body suffers, the whole body suffers.
In the same way, if one part of society suffers, the whole society suffers. As some of the most notable gatekeepers of one unified international community, the UN, the European Parliament and Commission, and the UK Parliament do not have the luxury of continuing to ignore the plight of the Kashmiri people while Pakistan continues unabated in its terrorist campaigns. In the words of the panelists and attendees gathered at the Voice of Peace conference: the time to act is now.