• 69 human rights activists & organisations write to PM Modi on situation in J&K

    Press Release

    August 17, 2019

    Dear Prime Minister Modi,

    We, the undersigned civil society activists and organizations, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, and academics from around the globe, write to express our deep concern regarding the recent actions your government has taken over the past week in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

    The state’s unilateral repeal of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir, the reconfiguration of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, and the process through which these legislative changes were imposed in the midst of a complete lock-down of the region, are egregious. These actions violate the people of Jammu & Kashmir’s fundamental right to self-determination under international law and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives. Further, these actions have sent shock waves of fear and uncertainty among the people of Jammu & Kashmir and contravene both domestic and international law.

    Beyond the questionable legality of your actions with regard to the Constitution, we are concerned over reports that over 500 people have been arbitrarily arrested or placed under house arrest in Jammu & Kashmir over the past days and such treatment appears to be continuing. We understand that some of these may include activists, academics, and opponents, who have been detained under the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) of 1978 or the Jammu & Kashmir Preventive Detention Act of 1964.

    We recall that the PSA has been widely criticized for violating international human rights law, as it operates outside normal judicial safeguards and oversight and thus denies due process to individuals arrested under it. Concerns regarding abuse of the PSA, as well as the Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Powers Act of 1990 and the Disturbed Areas Act, have been raised repeatedly over the years by local and international civil society organizations, as well as the United Nations. Regrettably, your government has continued to abuse these laws and has taken no action to align the above laws with India’s international human rights obligations.

    We are extremely worried about the ongoing curfews and curfew-like conditions and the shut-down of communications inside Jammu & Kashmir. The violations of rights to freedom of expression and freedom of movement that these restrictions entail create conditions of psychosocial trauma. These curbs constitute severe violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which India ratified in 1979, and under no circumstances can be justified in the guise of public order.

    We strongly believe that for India to be able to continue to define itself as a democracy it must allow public discourse and debate on these issues. This includes ensuring that the people of Jammu & Kashmir are able to exercise their right to take part as primary stakeholders in the critical decisions regarding their future. This certainly cannot be achieved by blocking communications, detaining political leaders and civil society activists, and restricting movements within Jammu & Kashmir.

    In line with these concerns, we respectfully request that your government take the following measures with the utmost urgency:

    • Immediately revoke the curfew and its attendant conditions and reinstate communications in and out of Jammu & Kashmir; 
    • Immediately and unconditionally release from detention all those who have been arbitrarily detained or arrested under the PSA or other legislation over the past several days;
    • Immediately and unconditionally restore the status of Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution of India; and
    • Implement in full the recommendations made in 2018 and again in 2019 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights with regards to Jammu & Kashmir, including respecting the right to self-determination, and guaranteeing fundamental freedoms.

    We hope that you will heed these recommendations.

    Please note that this letter will be made public.

    Yours sincerely,

    Bondita Acharya
    Human Rights Activist, Assam, India

    Advocacy Forum – Nepal

    Emmanuel Amistad
    Executive Director, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

    Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)

    Professor Paola Bacchetta
    Gender and Women’s Studies, University of California, Berkeley

    Vineeta Bal
    Pune, India

    Daniel Bastard
    Asia-Pacific Director, Reporters Without Borders

    Anjuman Ara Begum
    Human Rights Activist, Guwahati, Assam, India

    Bytes For All, Pakistan

    Sr. Celia
    National Alliance for People’s Movement, Karanataka

    Uma Chakravarti

    Professor Indrani Chatterjee
    University of Texas at Austin

    Professor Partha Chatterjee
    Columbia University

    Professor Angana P. Chatterji
    Co-chair, Political Conflict, Gender and People’s Rights, Center for Race and Gender, University of California, Berkeley

    Dimitris Christopoulos
    President, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

    Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)

    Karuna D. W.
    Academic, Chennai

    Sejal Dand

    Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND)

    A Devaneyan
    Social Activist

    Arundhati Dhuru

    DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights

    Jose Marie Faustino
    Secretary General, Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)

    Brito Fenando
    Families of the Disappeared

    Ruki Fernando
    INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Colombo

    Focus on the Global South

    Bryan Ezra Gonzales
    President, National Society of Parliamentarians (Philippines)

    Roshmi Goswami
    Feminist, Social Activist

    Christian Gultia
    President, Youth for Human Rights and Democracy (Philippines)

    Hinna Hamid

    Ifat Hamid

    Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)

    International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

    Guissou Jahangiri
    Executive Director, Armanshahr/OPEN ASIA

    Amina Masood Janjua
    Defence for Human Rights Pakistan

    Professor Abdul R JanMohamed
    University of California, Berkeley

    Dr. M.H. Jawahirullah
    President, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi

    Hina Jilani
    Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan & Human Rights Activist

    SiddharthK J
    Independent Researcher, Bengaluru

    Mamatha Karollil
    New Delhi

    Dr. Sylvia Karpagam
    Public Health Doctor and Researcher

    Poonam Kaushik 
    General Secretary, Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan Delhi

    Adilur Rahman Khan 
    Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh; Secretary, Odhikar

    Komite Independen Pemantau Pemilu (KIPP – Indonesia)

    Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections (NICFEC – Cambodia)

    Michael Non
    National Co-Convenor, Koalisyon ng Kabataan Para sa Karapatang Pantao (Youth Coalition for Human Rights – Philippines)

    Nonviolence International Canada

    Odhikar (Bangladesh)

    People’s Action for Free & Fair Elections (PAFFREL – Sri Lanka)

    People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE)

    Judge Dr. Navanethem Pillay
    Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2008-2014)

    Manjula Pradeep
    Chairperson, WAYVE Foundation

    Professor Jyoti Puri
    Simmons University

    Dr Sagari R Ramdas
    Food Sovereignty Alliance, India

    Arundhati Roy

    K.P. Sasi
    Filmmaker, Write & Cartoonist

    Swathi Seshadri

    Geeta Seshu 
    Journalist & Co-Founder, Free Speech Collective, Mumbai, India

    Nilda L. Sevilla
    Secretary General, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)

    Gopal Krishna Siwakoti
    President, INHURED International

    Debbie Stothard
    Coordinator, ALTSEAN-Burma

    Aijaz Zaka Syed
    Journalist & Columnist

    Ambika Tandon
    Researcher, New Delhi

    The Commission for The Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)

    Henri Tiphagne
    Executive Director, People’s Watch

    Professor A K M Wahiduzzaman

    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

    [New Signatures as of 13 August 2019]

    Dr. Haley Duschinski
    Ohio University

    Professor Ruchira Gupta
    New York University & Founder President, Apne Aap Women Worldwide

    Kerry Kennedy
    President, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

    Harsh Mander
    Activist and Public Intellectual

    Dr. Goldie Osuri
    University of Warwick

    Professor Nandini Sundar
    Delhi University

    Anna George

    Radwan Ziadeh
    Director, Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies

    Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF)

    Shawan Jabarin
    General Director, Al-Haq


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