Kashmiris around the world to hold vigils for human rights

Human rights violations are a daily occurrence in Indian occupied Kashmir.

The killing of six Kashmiri civilians in Indian-occupied Kashmir have moved Kashmiri communities around the world to organise a coordinated series of vigils on Friday April 22.

"These innocent civilians were murdered by the Indian armed forces during a protest march, after reports of a sexual assault on a minor girl by the Indian troops," said Anjun Rafiqi, one of the organisers of a candlelight vigil planned in Sydney.

"The troops fired on the protesters to kill them by shooting them in the head and upper body parts. A curfew was imposed in the area and mobile internet services suspended after the killings."

Kashmir is the most militarised zone in the world. One out of every six persons in Kashmir has been tortured according to Kashmir's renowned human rights lawyer, Parvez Imroz. Every person who is detained by the Indian forces in Kashmir is tortured.

Indian troops are protected by draconian Indian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and they cannot be prosecuted in civilian courts for any crimes against Kashmiri citizens.

Rafiqi said that the Kashmiri diaspora community is outraged and in an unprecedented effort will hold candlelight vigils on Friday, April 22 wherever they are.

"A young generation of the Kashmiri diaspora, without any political affiliations, is leading the effort. They have organised these peaceful candlelight vigils and silent sit-ins throughout the globe from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, United States.

"In addition to planned vigils in front of the White House in Washington DC and United Nations Headquarters in New York City, the vigils are planned to take place in greater Philadelphia area, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities in the United States of America; Toronto and Edmonton in Canada; New Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, and Chennai in India; Dubai, Muscat, Kuwait, and other places in the Gulf; Sydney, Australia; London, Brussels, Oslo, and other cities in the European Union; South Africa; and in Kashmir.

"In addition to these protests throughout the world, people of conscience are requested to hold candlelight vigils on their porches, balconies, and decks and post pictures or videos on social media using ‪#‎VigilForKashmir‬, ‪#‎KashmirBleeding‬, ‪#‎FreeKashmir‬, and ‪#‎CandlelightVigilForKashmir‬ hashtags.

"People of Kashmir want international community to intervene and speak on their behalf for their safety and their human rights. They want to live a life of dignity and honour and want politicians in the region to leave them alone to choose their own destiny.

"Thousands of innocent lives have been lost and untold miseries perpetrated on a small nation for nothing but their desire to exercise their rights of self determination enshrined in international law. It is time that international community remembers that this wanton destruction of life is not mere statistics, but actual people in flesh and blood.

"As the Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel has said, 'To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.' No more, should be the cry of the people of conscience throughout the world," Rafiqi added.

(For more details of the Sydney vigil for human rights in Kashmir see this Facebook event.)