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India committing war crimes by moving Kashmiri prisoners to other jails: Mazari

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari Monday said India under the Modi government has continued and expanded violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

She reminded that under the Geneva Convention IV, Article 49, it is prohibited to transfer an individual or group of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the occupying power… regardless of their motive.

Addressing a press conference with the family members of imprisoned freedom fighter Asiya Andrabi, Shireen Mazari said India has breached Article 49 multiple times. The minister met with Asiya’s family upon their request. The minister took note of the urgency of this matter, which signifies serious and continual human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K).

Shireen Mazari called upon the United Nations, international human rights agencies including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as women organisations including the International Women Caucuses to take action on this issue. She said that in complete violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, India has breached Article 49 multiple times by imprisoning Dr Ashiq Hussain Faktoo (the longest serving political prisoner), Asiya Andrabi and other Kashmiri leaders in Kashmiri prisons, particularly the notorious Tihar Jail. This includes Syed Ali Geelani, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Ashraf Sehrani, Dr Fayyaz, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Musarrat Alam Bhat. Presently Fehmida Sufi and Naheeda Nasreen are in Tihar Jail along with Asiya Andrabi. The detainment of these prisoners is also a war crime under Article 82 (2b, VIII) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), read with Article 143 of Geneva Convention IV.

Moreover, Mazari said that India is also in breach of Article 76 of the 4th Geneva Convention which stipulates that detained prisoners shall have the right to be visited by delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Article 76 further stipulates that women shall be confined in separate quarters and shall be under the direct supervision of women.

The minister pointed out that the Indian Supreme Court in a judgement in November 2012 defined life imprisonment as “till death”, a precedent they are using this to imprison Asiya for life. The judgement is expected between the 14th and 18th of January. This is nothing short of judicial murder.

The press conference heard direct testimonials from Asiya’s family members. The minister said silence of the international community in response to the continual violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law by the Indian government is alarming, particularly with regards to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) which was endorsed by all member states of the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit. She said it is crucial that the international community takes note of the urgency of this matter, before the court gives its verdict.