Kashmiris from across the political spectrum Sunday held a rally in front of Indian embassy in Washington in protest against New Delhi’s reign of repression in Kashmir valley and demanded an end to Indian occupation of their terrirory.
Carrying banners and placards, around 150 protestors including Kashmiri community leaders, political and social activists gathered on Massachusetts Avenue and condemned Indian forces’ unabated killing of Kashmiri youth in the occupied valley in a brutal campaign to stife their voice for freedom.
The banners demanded Kashmiris’ right to life, peace and justice like all other human beings and said the Line of Control dividing the disputed territory is not acceptable. The demonstrators also demanded their inalienable right to self-determination as vowed by the world community in UN Security Council resolutions.
A large banner reminded US President Barack Obama of his October 2008 election campaign pledge on making efforts toward resolving the longstnding Kashmir conflict and appealed to him to appoint a special envoy to fulfill that promise. “India stop state terrorism in occupied Kashmir,” cried another banner, as protestors drew the world powers’ attention to the urgent need to end decades-old sufferings of the Kashmiri people through a fair resolution of the UN-recognized dispute.
“The Kashmiris must get their right, nobody can deny them these right – the ongoing struggle by the Kashmiri youth is indigenous and is for their internationally occcepted rights,” Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, head of Washington-based Kashmiri-American Council, said. The protest took place at a time when Kashmir is gaining renewed international focus in the face of continued pro-freeodom demonstrations in the occupied valley and Indian forces’ flagrant firing of bullets against stone-throwing young people.
Experts on South Asia believe the lingering Kashmir dispute has not only bedevilled relations between India and Pakistan but added a further layer of complexity to Afghanistan war and a resolution of the issue is seen as imperative for bringing peace to one fifth of humanity living in South Asia.
The political parties represented from the strategic Himalayan region at the rally included Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference, Jammu Kashmir Peoples Muslim League, Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party, Peoples Party Pakistan, AJK, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Jammu Kashmir Jamaat-e-Islami, Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front, Kashmir Mission, New York and World Kashmir Freedom Movement, Dr Fai said.
“India should not get away with its suppression and blatant disregard for human rights, the real face of India is evident truly in Kashmir where the Indian Army during the past 20 years has killed over 100,000 men, women and children, tortured and maimed tens of thousands because the people of Kashmir demand an end to the military occupation of their land by India,” a message distributed by participants said.