Srinagar (Occupied Kashmir Press): A group of prominent academicians, writers, journalists, filmmakers and social activists from different countries have launched an online petition seeking a series of measures, including release of Kashmiri political prisoners, return of mortal remains of Muhammad Maqbool Butt and Muhammad Afzal Guru, besides a sincere and time-bound political process to resolve the Kashmir dispute.The open petition “Free Kashmiri Political Prisoners, End the Occupation of Kashmir” has been moved on change.org – the world’s largest petition platform.
“We write this letter in solidarity with the people of Kashmir who have been living under one of the most dense military occupations in the world, where for every 15 Kashmiri civilians there is an armed Indian soldier,” says the petition that is being widely promoted by non-resident Kashmiris over Facebook and Twitter.
“We express support for the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination by highlighting and opposing the repression of political dissent in Kashmir through military violence and illegal detentions,” it adds.
Giving a brief about the history of Kashmir, the petition says that India has deployed 700,000 troops in Kashmir and given them unbridled powers under black laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that grant the forces immunity from prosecution for human rights abuses, including murder, rape, and torture. “Under the black law, Public Safety Act (PSA), the authorities have imprisoned thousands of Kashmiri youth and activists. Over 5,000 Kashmiris were arrested in the summer of 2008 alone,” it added.
The signatories have also expressed concern over the authorities’ policy of keeping most of the cases open specifically for punitive and pre-emptive purposes.
“There are many Kashmiris who have been languishing in Indian jails over several years, some without trial – an overwhelming majority of whom are denied a fair chance to defend themselves in court,” the petition says.
The signatories include prominent academicians from the US, Europe, Middle East and South Asia. Among the signatories are Waheed Mirza, journalist and the author of critically acclaimed novel ‘The Collaborator’; Nitasha Kaul, Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster, UK; Dibyesh Anand, Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster, UK; Sanjay Kak, independent filmmaker, New Delhi; Mona Bhan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, US; Huma Dar, Lecturer, Asian American & Asian Diasporas Studies Program, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California at Berkeley, CA, US; Rochelle Davis, Associate Professor, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Washington DC, US; Haley Duschinski, Associate Professor and Director, Center for Law, Justice & Culture, Ohio University, US; Rafiq Kathwari, social entrepreneur/writer, NY, US; Ather Zia, doctoral candidate, PhD program in Anthropology, University of California at Irvine, CA, US; Mohammad Idrees Ahmad, Lecturer, University for the Creative Arts, UK; Priya Kandaswamy, Assistant Professor Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Mills College, Oakland, CA, US; Suvir Kaul, A. M. Rosenthal Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, PA, US; Deepa Kumar, Associate Professor, Journalism and Media Studies, Rutgers University, NJ, US; and others.