TORONTO, CANADA: Hundreds of Canadians from all walks of life gathered in Toronto to observe Kashmir Black Day.
Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought and Convener of the Friends of Kashmir Canada ZafarBangash on the occasion said, “Jammu and Kashmir has never been part of India and the people’s struggle there shows it never will be.”
He went on to say, “Despite deploying over 700,000 heavily armed troops in Kashmir, India has failed to crush the people’s aspirations for freedom in almost 70 years. Instead, people have become more determined to rid themselves of the ruthless occupiers.”
Ken Stone, member of the Canadian Peace Alliance, drew parallels between the Zionist occupation of Palestine and Indian occupation of Kashmir and expressed regret that the plight of the Kashmiris is not as well known as that of the Palestinians.
He called for mobilizing Canadian public opinion against the illegal occupation and suggested that from now on, at public rallies the slogan, “From Kashmir to Palestine, Occupation is a crime” should be popularized.
Speakers also shed light on the current situation in Kashmir with FaizaKhawaja, a young student originally from Kashmir, giving details of the latest uprising in the aftermath of the extrajudicial killing of the young Kashmir freedom fighter BurhanWani on July 8.
Canadian author Eric Walberg touched on the regional and global dimensions of the Kashmir dispute.
He pointed out that India’s heightened belligerence is not only due to the realization that it has lost Kashmir but that Pakistan’s strategic importance has increased with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Phil Taylor, who presents the Taylor Report on CIUT Radio in Toronto, pointed to the fact that colonialism had been replaced by neo-colonialism and that Western powers continued to manipulate other societies to advance their own agendas.
Kashmir was the victim of this phenomenon but he stressed that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have already had their referendum with their feet by coming out in such massive numbers on the streets and refusing to surrender to the occupation forces.
The message of the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan were presented by the Pakistani Consul General in General in Toronto, Imran Ahmed Siddiqui following which ZafarBangash presented a resolution that was unanimously adopted by the conference participants.
The resolution recalled the ongoing human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, in particular since the latest round of killings began on July 8, 2016 after extra-judicial execution of a young Kashmiri freedom fighter, BurhanWani. It also recalled the UN Human Rights Council’s call on India to provide free and unfettered access to Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir to make an independent determination of the situation the offer of the United Nations Secretary General to help resolve the long-festering problem of Jammu and Kashmir through dialogue.
The resolution stressed the importance of the United Nations Security Council resolutions that call for a free and impartial plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir to determine its future.
It reminded India of the repeated pledges made at the highest level to allow them to decide their future through a plebiscite, in particular, the statements by Prime Minister Nehru in October 1947 and 1951, in which he stated that India had declared that the fate of Kashmir was ultimately to be decided by the people.
He expressed concern at the escalating tensions between Pakistan and India on the Line of Control and recalled UN Security Council resolution No.1172 (June 6, 1998) which encourages them to find mutually acceptable solutions that address the root causes of those tensions, including Kashmir.
It said that the human rights situation in Jammu continues to deteriorate and egregious crimes are being perpetrated against defenceless civilians, particularly women, more than 10,000 of whom have been gang raped.
The resolution called on India to cease forthwith all human rights violations against the people of Kashmir and abolish culture of impunity in the territory.
The government of India has been asked to allow UN observers to monitor the human rights situation, to establish responsibility and determine appropriate punishment for the perpetrators of such heinous crimes that are against International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law.
It urged India to withdraw all its troops from Jammu and Kashmir, particularly from cities, towns and villages so that the people can resume normal life and abide by all United Nations Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir so that the people can determine their own future free from threats or coercion;
The resolution also appealed to the United Nations to assume its responsibility of organizing a referendum by appointing international monitors to arrange, facilitate and conduct such a referendum.
It also called upon the OIC Secretary General to compile a report on human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir.