MP calls for UK to speak up to help end ‘abuses’ in Kashmir
Britain must act on the world stage to help end human rights abuses by a “brutal occupying military force” in Kashmir MPs have heard.
Imran Hussain, Labour MP for Bradford East, said he expected the Government to suggest disputes in the region should be resolved bilaterally.
But Mr Hussain, in a passionate speech which was critical of India, said the UK and other countries needed to speak up.
For over 70 years they have had their rights eroded, had their freedoms stripped away and has their self-determination denied
Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, which claim the region in full but rule only parts.
Rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989.
Speaking during a debate on human rights in Kashmir, Mr Hussain told the House of Commons: “For over 70 years, the sons and daughters of Kashmir have been subjected to persecution, oppression, injustice in the most brutal manner.
“For over 70 years they have been butchered, maimed and killed at the hands of an occupying Indian military operating under the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
“And for over 70 years they have had their rights eroded, had their freedoms stripped away and has their self-determination denied.”
Mr Hussain argued human rights and the right to self-determination are “international issues” before noting: “We raise these issues time and time again but Kashmiris are still subjected to appalling human rights abuses at the hands of a brutal occupying military force.
“If the UK and the rest of the international community continues to remain silent and continues to refuse uphold UN resolutions, and the right-wing Modi government continues to actively ignore them and unilaterally quash the Kashmiri struggle, then what is the point of us talking here?”
He added: “This is a time that we must start demanding and forcing real action of our government and of the international community.”
Mr Hussain concluded: “My final comments, as a proud British Kashmiri, will be this – and let me be absolutely crystal clear about this – the Kashmiris are not begging the international community, the Kashmiris do not bow before the international community, the Kashmiris around the world unite to demand our birth right to self-determination and to determine our own destiny.”
Conservative former minister Theresa Villiers earlier said the dispute over Kashmir is “one clearly for India and Pakistan to resolve”, noting this has been the position of successive UK governments.
She added: “We should also keep in mind that the whole of Kashmir acceded to India when the country gained its independence in 1947, even if part of the area was subsequently seized and occupied by Pakistan.”
Ms Villiers said she believed India’s courts and institutions are “well capable of properly investigating alleged human rights abuses”.
Labour MP Tahir Ali (Birmingham Hall Green) called for the Indian high commissioner to the UK to be “barred” from Parliament “pending an end to the military occupation of Kashmir”.
Foreign Office minister Amanda Milling said: “The Government takes the situation in Kashmir very seriously but it’s for India and Pakistan to find a lasting political solution, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people.”
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