7 October 2019
The MCB Legal Affairs Committee Calls on UK Lawyers to Take Action on Kashmir
The MCB’s Legal Affairs Committee last week called on the Bar Council and Law Society to lead the charge against the increasing and persistent human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir (“IoK“).
On 5 August 2019, India revoked Article 370 of its constitution – the Article giving IoK special status. Since then IoK has been subject to a state of lockdown and unprecedented restrictions have been put in place against the eight million men, women and children who remain prisoners in their own homes. The region is totally cut off from the world without any visibility or transparency of the situation. These violations have now entered their 63rd day, without any respite or sign of deescalation.
It is the case that in June, Amnesty International reported that the Indian government is widely misusing a law allowing for detention without trial in IoK, with now a reported 4,000 to 8,000 people being illegally detained in unknown locations across India, including political activists and dissidents. While another 13,000 young boys, some as young as 14, have been imprisoned with their families having to pay significant sums to have them released, according to a report by the National Federation of Indian Women.
The MCB has called on the Bar Council and Law Society to each:
1. Support a fact-finding mission of lawyers to the region; and
2. Collaborate with lawyers’ organisations to urge our Prime Minister to insist the Indian Government complies with the United Nations resolutions and to end the illegal curfew and detention of innocent civilians.
Ifath Nawaz, Chair of the MCB’s Legal Affairs Committee said ‘We are concerned that the actions in Kashmir bear all the hallmarks of the genocide in Bosnia. Genocide Watch has warned of ethnic, religious and racial cleansing of Kashmiri Muslims by the Indian military and paramilitary. Recent human history is replete with examples of how the instrument of mass detention of men and boys in occupied territories was used as a precursor to further and greater crimes.”
“We will not know the full extent of the situation until the curfew is lifted completely and it is imperative that UN observers are sent in. The MCB Legal Affairs Committee is seeking to work with other lawyers’ organisations to determine how we can further the cause of human rights in the region, and bring an end to the unlawful and egregious acts committed against the innocent people of Kashmir.”
Harun Khan, Secretary General of the MCB, added, “The British Government should urge India to completely lift the curfew imposed on eight million Kashmiri Muslims who are facing an increasing humanitarian crisis compounded by the curfew, a communication lockdown and shortage of essential supplies including medicines. The UK should work with the international community to set up a tribunal to investigate the human rights abuses which are taking place in the territory as a matter of urgency.”