US congresswoman says rights violations in occupied Kashmir ‘extremely concerning’

WASHINGTON D.C.: US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday said the blockade on communication and life-saving medical care in occupied Kashmir “must end” as she expressed support for the people of occupied Kashmir.

In a post shared on Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez, who is among a group of progressive US congresswomen popularly known as “The Squad”, said: “We stand for the basic human dignity of Kashmiris [and] support democracy, equality, and human rights for all — including the most vulnerable.”

She said that the reports of violence and torture in occupied Kashmir were “extremely concerning,” adding that the blockade on communication and life-saving medical care “must end”.

The US congresswoman was responding to a video of herself uploaded by a user on Twitter, who had thanked her for taking time out to express solidarity with Kashmir.

Since the Indian government on August 5 repealed Article 370 of its constitution — stripping occupied Kashmir of its special status — a strict lock-down and communications blackout has suffocated the region into silence. It has now been in place for 58 days.

Ocasio-Cortez is not the only US lawmaker who has condemned India’s action in occupied Kashmir.

Fellow congresswoman Rashida Tlaib in September called for the communications blockade and curfew restrictions in occupied Kashmir to be lifted to “shed light” on what is happening in the disputed region.

Another progressive congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, had called for “de-escalation” and an “immediate restoration of communication” in occupied Kashmir.

Last week, Alice Wells, the top State Department official for South Asia, said that the United States had serious concerns over the clampdown in the region.

“We hope to see rapid action — the lifting of the restrictions and the release of those who have been detained,” Wells had told reporters.

“The United States is concerned by widespread detentions, including those of politicians and business leaders, and the restrictions on the residents of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said, adding: “We look forward to the Indian government’s resumption of political engagement with local leaders and the scheduling of the promised elections at the earliest opportunity.”