Probe into killings in Occupied Kashmir is a must: UN

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Human Rights Chief has said the deteriorating situation in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) has now made it crucial to establish an independent, impartial and international mission.

The UN human rights chief regretted India’s lack of response to his request for access to the disputed valley.

High Commissioner Zeid Raad Al-Hussein told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council that he received a letter from the government of Pakistan on September 9 formally inviting a team from his office to visit Azad Kashmir but only in tandem with a mission to the Indian side.

“I have yet to receive a formal letter from the government of India. I therefore request here and publicly, from the two governments, access that is unconditional to both sides of the line of control,” he said.

“Two months ago, I requested the agreement of the governments of India and Pakistan to invite teams from my office to visit both sides of the line of control: in other words the India-Administered Kashmir and Azad Jammu Kashmir,” Zeid Raad Al-Hussein said in remarks delivered on Tuesday at the opening session of HRC.

“I believe an independent, impartial and international mission is now needed crucially and that it should be given free and complete access to establish an objective assessment of the claims made by the two sides,” he said.

The top UN official also said that they continue receiving reports of Indian forces using force excessively against civilian population under its administration.

Clashes between Indian security forces and Kashmiri protestors erupted after a popular leader Burhan Wani was killed by Indian troops in July.

Despite brutal tactics used by Indian troops to crush the uprising, protests have continued for 66 days. More than 80 people have been killed, over a hundred blinded by deadly pellet guns and thousands more wounded in one of the bloodiest summers the region has witnessed in the last five years.

In spite of a lockdown, anti-India protesters have called for a march to the UN office in Srinagar. Tensions have been further heightened due to Eidul Azha, with heavy deployment of Indian troops across the valley even though there is a continuing ban on public assembly this year.

The opening statement of the UN high commissioner for human rights at the HRC focused on issues of access of the UN to troubled areas and the growing trend of an increasing number of countries to refuse to grant access to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and/or other human rights mechanisms to their countries or specific troubled regions.

Quoting the Vienna Declaration which states that “the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community”, he argued that human rights is not exclusively a national issue.


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