Top EU officials commit to addressing rights violations in Kashmir


BRUSSELS: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Vice-President Joseph Borrell have expressed their commitment to addressing the dire human rights violations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

They recognised the concerns raised by European Parliament members and assured that the matter would be taken up with the Indian government in the near future.

In a letter to lawmakers, President von der Leyen and Vice-President Borrell stressed the importance of negotiations surrounding human rights issues in the occupied Kashmir and specifically highlighted the need for talks on human rights violations.

“The EU is the only external partner with whom India has a dedicated dialogue on human rights. Its latest edition took place in July 2022 in New Delhi and addressed human rights issues comprehensively, including the topic of security and human rights, notably in Jammu and Kashmir,” the letter read.

It highlighted that the human rights dialogue was also used to raise a number of individual cases, such as that of Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights defender. “The EU attaches high importance to the annual frequency of this dialogue and looks forward to scheduling its next session in the autumn of 2023, where we expect a similarly in-depth and frank discussion as last year.”

The EU’s principled position on Kashmir remains unchanged, they reaffirmed and stated that they continue to encourage India and Pakistan to find a lasting solution to the situation in Kashmir, by engaging in a positive dialogue, and by involving as far as possible the Kashmiri people on both sides of the Line of Control.

Controversial G20 meetings

Addressing the concerns raised by the lawmakers regarding India’s controversial decision to host G20 meetings in the disputed territory, President von der Leyen and Vice-President Borrell said that the EU’s position was that preparations for these events, including the selection of their venues, are the prerogative and responsibility of the presidency.

“For the third G20 Tourism Working Group meeting in Srinagar in May 2023, after careful reflection on the political sensitivities including security aspects, the EU decided to send a representative from the EU Delegation in New Delhi to the event,” they pointed out.

In a letter addressed to the European Commission president and vice-president, prominent European Parliament members, including Castaldo Fiore Massimo, Spinelli Sabrina, Rozemarie Demata, Satoorh Monir, Solé Jordi, Abiusi Clara, Kologlu Stelios, and Van Orden Geoffrey, have raised their voices against human rights abuses in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

They called on the European Parliament to empower the president and vice-president of the European Commission to engage with the Indian and Pakistani governments, with a focus on curbing violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir.

They bemoaned that since the revocation of the special autonomous status of the region, the people of the valley have continued to endure systemic and intolerable suppression of their basic freedoms and fundamental rights, with loss of innocent lives and severe restrictions imposed by Indian security forces.

They highlighted that this year, the already dire situation has been exacerbated by a brutal media crackdown in Jammu and Kashmir following the controversial decision of India to hold a G20 meeting in the region.

They cited a statement released by the UN special rapporteur on minority problems, Fernand de Varennes, that the G20 has been “unwittingly providing a veneer of support to a facade of normalcy” in Kashmir, where human rights violations, political persecution, and illegal arrests are on the rise. Moreover, he warned that the conference could help normalize what is being called an occupation by military forces.

“As we express our concerns, we urge the European Union, as a champion of universal human rights and the rule-based international order, to firmly address these issues with our Indian partners. We must advocate for accountability, respect for the rule of law, and the repeal of legislation that enables human rights violations and denies fundamental freedoms.”

It is noteworthy that Chaudhry Parvez Iqbal Losar, Deputy Chair of the European Pakistan Friendship Federation (EPFF), has played an active role in raising awareness about human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir.

His outreach to European Parliament lawmakers has prompted them to call for stronger action from the European Commission in addressing human rights violations and urging the Indian government to grant the people of occupied Kashmir the rights guaranteed by United Nations