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OIC envoys express solidarity with people of occupied Kashmir

New York: The envoys of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) from several countries expressed their solidarity with the people of occupied Kashmir (IoK) at a meeting organized at UN headquarters by Pakistan’s Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi.

Briefing OIC envoys on the current state of human rights in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, ambassador Lodhi said the plight of the long-suffering Kashmiri people has been brought into fresh spotlight by the 14 June report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ziad Ra’ad Al-Hussein.

“This is the first ever UN human rights report on the grim situation in the occupied territory and covers the period between June 2016 and April 2018”, she said.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres also endorsed the report on 12 July, she added.

In his statement the Secretary General noted that the ‘action’ of the High Commissioner represents the ‘voice’ of the UN on the issue, she said pointing out that this lends ownership by the entire UN system to the report.

She said that while the findings of the report are neither new, nor surprising, “they speak of a litany of systematic violations of the fundamental human rights of the Kashmiri people”.

Violation of Kashmiris’ rights:

Ambassador Lodhi highlighted key aspects of the report, especially the impunity with which human rights are being violated and the lack of access to justice.

She also referred to the Report’s mention of special laws in force including the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA), it says have created ‘structures’ that “obstruct the normal course of law, impede accountability and jeopardize the right to remedy for victims of human rights violations”.

The report, she said, also noted the resort to excessive force by occupation forces and their failure to adhere to applicable national and international standards on the use of force. One of the most lethal weapons used against innocent protesters, she stressed, was the pellet-firing shot-gun, which the Pakistani envoy said had led to the first mass blinding in human history.

Referring to the UN High Commissioner’s call to set up a Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive, independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations and abuses in Kashmir, Ambassador Lodhi urged OIC Ambassadors to endorse and support the move.

The briefing by Ambassador Lodhi was followed by an interactive dialogue. The OIC Ambassadors reiterated their support to the legitimate cause of the Kashmir people and expressed their readiness to work with Pakistan in implementation of the Report.

The meeting was attended by ambassadors and Deputy Permanent Representatives of Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Niger, Turkey, Iran, Algeria, Somalia, Sudan and the representative of the OIC to the UN.

Later, Ambassador Lodhi also held a meeting with representatives of various Kashmiri organizations based in the Tri-State Area and briefed them on the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

She said that after the UN Resolutions on Kashmir, this report was the first substantial document from the UN that lends support to the Kashmir cause, and acknowledges the long standing demand of Pakistan that an independent inquiry should be held on human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

The participants appreciated Ambassador Lodhi’s role in promoting the Kashmir issue in UN. She assured the Kashmiri representatives that the Pakistan Mission would continue to project the Kashmir issue at all available forums at the UN.

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