Separatist leaders in Kashmir criticize Obama's silence on rights violations
By Sana Altaf
KASHMIR, INDIA (Nov 9): Separatist leaders in Indian Kashmir Tuesday leveled criticism at President Barack Obama for not taking issue with human rights conditions in Kashmir.
The separatists said the U.S. President applied a double standard by citing India’s silence on human rights violations in Burma (Myanmar), while being silent himself about oppression in Kashmir.
“The U.S. president should have also criticized Indians for killing innocent and unarmed protesters in Kashmir,” said Javed Mir, a senior leader of the pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front.
Mir said that peaceful demonstrations have been met with brutal force in Kashmir.
Obama, who recently concluded a three-day visit to India, had chided India during his address to the Indian Parliament for having repeatedly “shied away” from condemning rights abuses in countries like Myanmar.
“When peaceful democratic movements are suppressed, as they have been in Burma (Myanmar), then the democracies of the world cannot remain silent,” Obama said. “For it is unacceptable to gun down peaceful protesters.”
Separatist leaders said Obama’s description could also apply to recent unrest in Indian Kashmir which saw 100 people killed in street protests — most of them shot dead by security forces.
“We are sad he chose to remain silent on grave human rights violations being committed by Indian troops in Kashmir,” said separatist politician Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Shabir Ahmad Shah, who was recently freed from jail after 20 years, said: “Like in Burma, political leaders here are jailed for raising their legitimate demands for their right to self-determination.”
Kashmir has been wracked by violence since 1989 when the freedom movement against Indian occupation began here. Over the past five months, demonstrations have frequently filled the streets with protests against alleged rights violation by Indian security forces.