Statement issued on 27 September 2019. NEW DELHI. NEW YORK
On 30 August 2019,the United Nations’ International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Parveena Ahangar, mother of Javaid, a 16 year old who was ‘disappeared’by paramilitary forces in Kashmir in 1990 mourned again. “Every year, the families of APDP (Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons) come together on 30 August. This is our way of reassuring each other that we are not alone in our grief. Yet this year we have been strangled, and there was no coming together because through its siege, India has denied us even the right to mourn.”
Kashmir under siege. Kashmir caged. Kashmir imprisoned. Analogies abound for of the Indian Government‘s actions of August 5, 2019 when it unilaterally terminated the semi-autonomous Constitutional status granted to the region as a condition of its accession to India, and bifurcated it into two directly ruled Union Territories. This action was preceded in the previous week by a military blockade, a state of undeclared emergency, and an unprecedented media and communications clampdown. An estimated 4,000 Kashmiris have been arbitrarily detained including politicians, business leaders, lawyers, human rights defenders, chartered accountants, journalists, teachers, and students. Some are being held without charges or trial, under administrative detention laws such as the Public Safety Act, 1978 while the grounds of detention and whereabouts of a large number, including children as young as ten, remain unknown. An unknown number of people have been moved to prisons outside the state of Jammu & Kashmir.The Indian government continues to declare that all is ‘normal’ in the face of credible and mounting evidence of a healthcare and humanitarian crisis, civilian deaths and blindings and other injuries in pellet gun attacks by Indian security forces, torture, molestations, and the severe curtailment of freedom of opinion, expression, and information; assembly and movement; and religious freedoms.
As the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addresses the UN General Assembly on 27 September and reasserts this claim of ‘normalcy’, we, the women of the world urge the global community to remember that 8 million Kashmiris will still be held hostage by close to 1 million Indian security personnel. Still stripped of their constitutional rights, fundamental freedoms and liberties. The promise of plebiscite given to them at the time of their accession to India, broken.. Their right to self-determination, throttled. Their control over their lands, shattered.
Like colonised peoples anywhere, the future of the Kashmiri people is deeply uncertain. Their imprisonment is strengthened by the silence of world leaders, international civil society, the near complete gag on the media, as well as Indians who have celebrated the constitutionalised annexation of Kashmir, and believed the narrative that this is being done for their own good. One particularly pernicious strand of this discourse has been that the move will benefit women, dalits and sexual minorities by granting them constitutional rights so far denied to them. Not only does this bolster the colonial tropes of a backward Muslim majority region whose women are in need of rescue by the civilisationally ‘superior’ people of India, it is based on outright falsehoods, misinformation, misrepresentations and false equivalences, that are being deliberately amplified, including by high state functionaries, despite being repeatedly debunked by experts and lawyers. The government’s concern for the women of Kashmir might have rung truer if members of the ruling party were not witnessed publicly gloating over their new found sexual access to Kashmiri women, now that Indian men can finally get “Kashmiri brides” as though Kashmiri women are spoils of war.
The Indian government claims Kashmir needs ‘development’, but its social development indices, including gender indicators such as maternal mortality, age of marriage, child sex ratio and female literacy are better than the Indian average. Land reforms enabled by Article 35A have reduced social and caste inequities and landlessness, and brought relative prosperity. While acknowledging that militarisation and militarised sexual impunity exacerbates both public and private patriarchy, we need to listen to Kashmiri women, when they say, as they did to a recent Fact Finding delegation from India: “We are capable of fighting our own battles. We don’t want our oppressors to claim to liberate us!”.
The women of Kashmir should know. As successive governments in Delhi have systematically violated all democratic norms in Kashmir, it is the women of Kashmir who have been at the forefront of the struggles for justice, truth and accountability for widespread human rights violations particularly sexual violence and enforced disappearances. They have stepped out in protest, been jailed, sexually assaulted, and still risen to make sure they are heard.
As feminists, women’s rights activists, peace, democratic and civil rights’ activists, lawyers, academics, students, journalists, scientists, artists, writers, etc., we raise our voice today in salute and solidarity with the women of Kashmir. About 500 individual women and women’s organisations from about 30 countries across the globe – ranging from South Asian nations to the U.S, Iran to Indonesia, Afghanistan to Argentina, Europe to Mexico, Israel, Palestine, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa – stand with them in this, their darkest moment.
· We condemn the actions of the Indian government and their dealing with a political problem as a territorial one.
· We call for an end to the culture of fear and terror, violence and assault that has been cultivated in the state for far too long.
· We speak out against the continued detention of countless people of the state and demand their immediate release.
· We seek an immediate end to the Internet shutdown, lift on all restrictions on movement and communications, and a restoration of real ‘normalcy’.
· We call for restrictions be lifted in order to allow the independent media in Kashmir to carry out its duty of reporting facts and informing the public, without fear or favour
· We urge the Indian government to step back from its current aggressions and stop the militarisation that has failed to solve the problem since independence.
· We seek a reinstatement of consultative processes with the people of Jammu and Kashmir on any action that concerns them, their lives and their community.
· We call for an end to the smokescreens of Kashmir being an ‘internal matter’ etc., to avoid meaningful dialogue. For that is the only way to evolve a long lasting peaceful solution to Kashmir.
Because like the women of Kashmir, we have also, all too often, been told that the violence and control we face in the home, family, community and nation is an ‘internal matter’, not to be exposed to the world. But we all have lived and learnt the reality, that it is only in breaking our silence that we break the shackles of our oppressions. And in that fight, we #StandWithKashmir, #StandWithTheWomenOfKashmir!
For as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King famously said “No one is free until we are all free.”
……. Statement issued and endorsed by:
Individuals - India
Individuals - International
Organisations – Indian/Global
1. Vasanth Kannabiran, Asmita Resource Centre, Hyderabad.
2. Devaki Jain, Economist, New Delhi.
3. Uma Chakravarti, Feminist historian & Filmmaker, New Delhi.
4. Syeda Hameed, writer, activist, Delhi
5. Roshmi Goswami, Researcher and human writer activist, Shillong.
6. Sarojini NB, Health activist, New Delhi
7. Annie Raja, NFIW.
8. Srilatha Batliwala, Independent gender/women’s rights consultant.
9. Flavia Agnes, Mumbai.
10. Lalita Ramdas, Feminist-Activist-Educator, PIPPFD, CNDP.
11. Meena Kandasamy, novelist, poet and activist
12. Nivedita Menon, JNU, New Delhi.
13. Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh, Lawyer and legal researcher, Delhi.
14. Farah Naqvi, Writer and Activist
15. Bishakha Datta, Film-maker/Writer, Mumbai
16. Govind Kelkar, Independent Gender consultant.
17. Nandini Sundar, University of Delhi.
18. Ritu Menon - Writer, Feminist publisher, New Delhi.
19. Imrana Qadeer, Distinguished Prof. Council for Social Development, New Delhi
20. Rosemary Dzuvichu, Ph.D - Advisor, Naga Mother’s Association, Kohima
21. Pratiksha Baxi, Academic, New Delhi
22. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships, New Delhi.
23. Mary E John, Academic, New Delhi.
24. Pamela Philipose, Journalist, Delhi
25. Farida Khan, Retd Professor, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi
26. Freny Manecksha, Independent Journalist, Mumbai.
27. Chhaya Datar, Mumbai
28. Kalpana Kannabiran - Council for Social Development, Hyderabad.
29. Dr Anita Ghai, New Delhi.
30. Dr Sagari R Ramdas, Secunderabad
31. Nalini Nayak, Trivandrum
32. Monisha Behal, New Delhi.
33. Ammu Joseph, Journalist, Bangalore
34. A. Mangai, Theatre person/academic/activist Chennai.
35. A.R Vasavi, Farmer’s Rights Activist, Delhi.
36. Aarthi Pai, Lawyer and activist, Bangalore
37. Abha Dev Habib, Miranda House, University of Delhi.
38. Ajitha G.S, publisher and editor, Bangalore.
39. Albertina Almeida, Goa.
40. Aleyamma Vijayan, Trivandrum Kerala
41. Amarinder Kaur, Visthar
42. Amla Pisharody, Independent Researcher, Bangalore
43. Amrita Gogoi - Researcher, Women & Conflict, Dibrugarh.
44. Anchita Ghatak, Kolkata.
45. Angela Rangad, Social activist, TUR, Shillong
46. Annie Thomas, Journalist, Delhi.
47. Anu Aaron, South India AIDS Action Programme, Chennai.
48. Anuradha Banerji, Independent Researcher, New Delhi.
49. Anuradha Chatterji, Women’s Rights Activist, New Delhi.
50. Anuradha Kapoor, Social Activist, Kolkata.
51. Anurag Modi, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan.
52. Anurita P Hazarika, woman activist, Guwahati.
53. Archana Dwivedi, Delhi
54. Archismita Choudhury, Mumbai
55. Arshia Sattar, Academic, Bangalore
56. Arshie Qureshi, New Delhi, India.
57. Aruna Burte
58. Arundhati Dhuru, National Alliance of People’s Movements.
59. Ashima Roy Chowdhury, feminist activist, New Delhi
60. Bharati Jagannathan, Delhi University.
61. Bharati, Feminist Activist, Jaipur.
62. Bhavna Jaimini, Architect, Mumbai
63. Bijoya Sawian - writer, educationist, Dehradun
64. Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Associate Professor, TISS Mumbai.
65. Bondita Acharya, Jorhat, Assam
66. Brinelle D’Souza, TISS, Mumbai..
67. Chitra Joshi.
68. D. W. Karuna, visiting faculty, Azim Premji University
69. Deepa V, Health Activist, Delhi
70. Deeptha Achar.
71. Deepti Sharma, queer feminist activist, Delhi
72. Dimple Oberoi Vahali, Delhi.
73. Dr Manasee (Nadi) Palshikar, author, Pune.
74. G. Arunima, Professor, Centre for Women's Studies, JNU
75. Gargi Sen, Film-maker, Delhi
76. Gaura Narayan
77. Gayatri Menon, Bangalore.
78. Geeta Seshu, Journalist, Mumbai.
79. Ghazala Jamil, JNU.
80. Gitanjali Mahadevan, Retired Doctor, Bengaluru
81. Gitanjali Rao, Film maker, Mumbai
82. Hamsila Samuel Rajan, Bengaluru.
83. Himanjali Sankar, Editorial Director, Simon & Schuster.
84. Huma Khan, Lucknow.
85. Indira Chakravarthi, Public Health Researcher, Delhi.
86. Indira N, Consultant R & D, Hyderabad.
87. Jabeen Merchant, Film Editor, Mumbai.
88. Jahanvi Pai.
89. Jalashaya, film maker, Mumbai
90. Jaya Sharma, Activist and Writer, New Delhi.
91. Jhelum Roy, Jadavpur University.
92. Jhuma Sen, Jindal Global Law School, New Delhi
93. Jyoti Punwani, journalist, Mumbai.
94. Jyotsna Murthy
95. Kaushiki Rao, Counsellor, Bangalore
96. Kavin Malar, Writer/Activist, Chennai.
97. Kavita Panjabi
98. Kavita Srivastav, PUCL, Jaipur.
99. Khairunnisa Nakathorige, Department of English, MANUU, Hyderabad.
100. Kirtana Kumar
101. Kochurani Abraham, Feminist Theologian, Indian Christian Women’s Movement (ICWM), Kerala
102. Krishna Roy, Women’s Rights Activist, AIPWA, Kolkata.
103. Lata Singh, New Delhi.
104. Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bengaluru.
105. Lubaina Suares, Teacher, Mumbai
106. Madhu Bhushan, writer/activist/researcher, Bangalore.
107. Madhu Sarin, Psychoanalyst, Delhi
108. Madhura Chakraborty
109. Malini Ghose, Educationist and researcher, New Delhi
110. Mallika Virdi, Maati, Uttarakhand.
111. Mamatha Karollil, Assistant Professor, New Delhi.
112. Manasi Asher, Researcher and Activist, Himachal Pradesh.
113. Manasi, Educator-Learner, Pathashaala, Tamil Nadu
114. Manorama Sharma - Retd. Prof. North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, and Academic Advisor, Assam School of Journalism, Guwahati.
115. Masooma Ranalvi, Delhi.
116. Meenakshi Kapoor, Researcher, Dharmshala.
117. Miriam Chandy Menacherry, Filmmaker
118. Monalisa Tiamerenla Changkija, Poet and Editor, Nagaland Page, Nagaland
119. Mubashira Zaidi, ISST, New Delhi.
120. Nandini Mazumder, Devleopment professional, Delhi
121. Nandini Rao, Women’s Rights Trainer, New Delhi.
122. Nandita Narain, Associate Professor, St Stephen’s College.
123. Nasir Tyabji, Former Director and Professor, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi.
124. Navaneetha Mokkil, Assistant Professor, Center for Women's Studies, JNU
125. Navsharan Singh, Activist and Researcher, New Delhi.
126. Nazreen Fazlbhoy.
127. Neha Gupta, Journalist, Delhi
128. Niloufer Bhagwat, Lawyer, Mumbai.
129. Nimi Ravindran, Writer/Theatre Director, Bangalore.
130. Nisha Abdulla, Theatre maker, and Artistic Director, Qabila, Bangalore
131. Nisha Biswas, Kolkata.
132. Nitasha Kaul
133. Nonibala Narengbam, Manipur.
134. Padma Velaskar, Retd professor, Mumbai.
135. Padmaja Shaw, Hyderabad.
136. Pallavi MD, Singer/Actor, Bangalore.
137. Payal Dhar, Author, New Delhi.
138. Ponni Arasu, Historian and Women’s Rights Activist.
139. Ponnuthai Sappani, President Kalanjium Women Farmers Association, India.
140. Praveena Kodoth, Trivandrum.
141. Priti Kodikal, Doctor, Bengaluru
142. Purnima Gupta, Delhi
143. Purwa Bharadwaj, Delhi
144. Radha Gopalan, Educator and Researcher on Social and Ecological Justice, Visiting Faculty, Azim Premji University, Thiruvananthapuram
145. Radhika Chitkara, Legal Researcher, New Delhi.
146. Radhika Khajuria.
147. Radhika Menon
148. Rajashri Dasgupta, Independent Journalist, Kolkata
149. Rashee Mehra, Senior Associate – IIHS, Delhi.
150. Rashmi Sawhney, Associate Professor, Christ University.
151. Ridhima Mehra, Delhi
152. Rinchin, India.
153. Rita Manchanda, Independent researcher and human rights activist, Pak-India Forum for Peace and Democracy.
154. Ritu Ghosh.
155. Rohini Hensman, Writer and Independent Scholar, Mumbai.
156. Roopa Ratnam
157. Roopashri Sinha, Freelancer researcher and K M consultant, Mumbai.
158. Runu Chakraborty, New Delhi.
159. Rupa Chinai, journalist and author, Mumbai.
160. Rupsa Malik, Women’s Rights Activist, New Delhi.
161. Rushda, NFIW, New Delhi.
162. Sabah Hasan, Artist, Mumbai.
163. Sabah Khan, Mumbai.
164. Sabeena Gadihoke
165. Sadhna Arya, Delhi University, New Delhi.
166. Sadhna Saxena.
167. Safina Nabi, independent journalist.
168. Sajaya Kakarla, Hyderabad Women and Transgender Organisations Joint Action Committee.
169. Sakina Kurawadwala, former Professor and current HR head, Mumbai
170. Sameera Khan, Journalist/Writer, Mumbai
171. Sandhya Srinivasan, Mumbai
172. Sanghamitra Malik, Singer & Activist.
173. Sangita Chatterji.
174. Sanjana Gaind, Women’s Rights Activist, Delhi/Calcutta.
175. Sarah Mathews
176. Satnam Kaur, feminist activist, New Delhi
177. Seema Baquer, Disability Rights Activist and Lawyer, New Delhi.
178. Sehba Taban, India.
179. Shabnam Hashmi, Social activist - ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy)
180. Shakun Doundiyakhed, Begaluru.
181. Shalini Singh, Women’s Rights Activist, New Delhi.
182. Shanta Gokhale, Writer, Mumbai.
183. Sharanya Nayak.
184. Sheba Chhachhi, Artist.
185. Sheba George, Ahmedabad.
186. Sheelu Francis, President, Women's Collective, Tamil Nadu.
187. Sheila Kumar, Author/Editor, Bangalore.
188. Sherin Balachandran, Architect, Bangalore
189. Shewli, Social activist
190. Shifa Haq, Delhi
191. Shipra Nigam, New Delhi.
192. Shiva Pathak, Artist , Bangalore
193. Shivani, activist
194. Shraddha Chickerur, University of Hyderabad.
195. Shweta Vachani, Editor and Web Developer, New Delhi.
196. Simona Sawhney, IIT Delhi.
197. Sister Leelamma N.T, Advocate, Kottayam, India.
198. Soma Marik, India.
199. Sonia Jabbar, Filmmaker
200. Srinidhi Raghavan, Gender and disability rights activist, Hyderabad
201. Stella Issac, President, Kalanjium Unorganized Workers Union.
202. Sudarsana Kundu, Social development professional, Hyderabad.
203. Sujata Patel, National Fellow, IIAS.
204. Sumi Krishna, writer, researcher, teacher, Bangalore
205. Sumitra Sunder, Curator/Artist, Bengaluru.
206. Sunanda Bhat, film-maker, Bangalore.
207. Sundari Perumal, Trustee, Tamilnadu Resource Team.
208. Sunita Vishwanathan.
209. Sushama Varma, Activist, Bangalore.
210. Susheela Mahadevan, Retired Teacher, Bengaluru
211. Sushma Veerappa
212. Sushobha Barve, Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation.
213. Svati Joshi, academic, Ahmedabad
214. Swathi Seshadri, Researcher, Bangalore
215. Swati Paranjape, Thane.
216. Uma Shankari Naren
217. Uma V Chandru, Bangalore.
218. Usha Raman, Department of Communication, University of Hyderabad
219. Vahida Nainar, PH.D scholar, Mumbai.
220. Vaishnavi K, gender and sexuality activist, New Delhi.
221. Vani Subramanian, Feminist activist and filmmaker, Delhi
222. Vijay Rukmini Rao, Social/feminist activist, Hyderabad.
223. Vineeta Bal, Scientist, Pune.
224. Virginia Saldanha, Secretary, Indian Women Theologians Forum, Goa.
225. Yasmeen Lukmani, University of Bombay, Mumbai
1. Rashida Manjoo - Professor University of Cape Town, South Africa, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women.
2. Charlotte Bunch - Distinguished Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey, USA.
3. Savitri Goonesekere - Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka and former member of UN CEDAW.
4. Shanthi Dairiam - Founder IWRAW-AP, Former UN CEDAW Committee member.
5. Sultana Kamal - Human rights activist, Chair, South Asians For Human Rights, Dhaka, Bangladesh
6. Kamala Chandrakirana - Human rights defender, Former Chair, UN Working Group on Discrimination Against Women in Law and Practice & Komnas Perempuan.