June 21, 2012
Kashmiris Losing Hope in Nonviolence: Yasin Malik
Why would a group of people wish to secede from a democratic setup? Isn’t democracy, a rule ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’, the best form of government? No, not quite. Groups of people may seek secession from a democracy when a democratic rule has been imposed upon them, and especially when the democratic rule is merely a continuation of the colonial era setup, forcefully bringing together regions without obtaining the consent of people living there. Sixty five years after gaining independence from Britain, regions and peoples of South Asia are still struggling to find political setups best suited for their needs. Kashmir, South Asia’s connection with the Central Asia, is one such region. Struggle for an independent Kashmir has seen ups and downs in the last sixty five years. The violent days of the 90s are gone, but a desire for independence is still a reality in the Kashmir valley. Many Kashmiri leaders based in the West believe the West and especially the US can help them see the light of independence. US-based Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai is one of them. But whereas Fai may consider himself just an activist fighting for the rights of his people, in the post 911 United States he is a Muslim whose activities are closely watched by the Big Brother. Emboldened by legislation that gives carte blanche powers to law enforcement agencies in the name of national security, undercover agents, eager to prove their performance to superiors and patriotism to America, are gung ho about arresting the ‘Muslim terrorists.’ In this era of neo-McCarthyism, entrapment, if it involves ‘Muslim terrorists’—or, lately, the ‘occupy movement’ activists-- is very much condoned by the larger society and the courts. We see the FBI agents regularly frequenting mosques, exhorting people to do jihad, making ‘terrorist plots’ for the feeble-minded they can recruit, supplying the dimwits with fake ammunition, and in the end arresting them for plotting terrorist activities. Those who don’t get easily entrapped, get their lives and finances closely examined-- benign actors are implicated in tax evasion and building code violation cases; ‘despicable’ ones—ones with the beards—are humiliated through charges of prostitution and child pornography. To cut a long story short, Ghulam Nabi Fai has been implicated in a tax evasion case and is scheduled for an imprisonment starting from June 26. A conference on Kashmir dubbed “Right of Self-Determination for the People of Kashmir: A Reminder to US Policy Makers,” hosted by Dr. Agha Saeed and others, held on June 21, gave Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai the last opportunity to address a public rally before the start of his incarceration.
Speaking at the conference, through Skype, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik said after suffering for generations Kashmiris started an armed struggle in 1988. In 1994, the separatists laid down their arms after the international community and especially the US promised Yasin Malik and other Kashmiri leaders of their help in the resolution of the Kashmir issue if the Kashmiris would turn their struggle into a nonviolent movement. Malik said the unilateral ceasefire of 1994 was a very unpopular decision. He said several of his colleagues have been killed by India, and he too was arrested over 200 times after the Kashmiris voluntarily chose the path of nonviolence. Malik said in 2003 he collected over 1.5 million signatures on a petition and presented the document to both the Indian Prime Minister ManMohan Singh and the then president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. He said millions of Kashmiris have taken part in peaceful marches that have been largely ignored by the international community. He feared that Kashmiris are losing hope in peaceful protests and wondering if violence is the only way to bring attention to their cause.
Listen to Yasin Malik’s speech here:
Dr. Mohammad Siddiqui, brother of Aafia Siddiqui, and Raja Asad Ali khan, a Pakistani journalist also addressed the audience through Skype.
Mark Hinkle, an American libertarian activist, said that one of the tragedies that came out of the 911 attacks--besides the death of three thousand people--was the wholesale violation of rights of the Americans. He said Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, and Osama Bin Laden were all funded by the US government. Hinkle advocated a non-interventionist US foreign policy.
Listen to Mark Hinkle’s speech here:
Dr. Imtiaz khan, professor at the George Washington University said the Indian human rights abuses in Kashmir would put the Israelis to shame. He highlighted the case of Major Avtar Singh, a former Indian military officer, who shot his family members and then killed himself, in Selma, California, earlier this month—Khan implied that Avtar Singh’s suicide was an act of insanity stemming from psychological problems Indian military personnel deployed in Kashmir face. Avtar Singh was accused of abducting and killing Kahsmiri human rights lawyer Jalil Andrabi, in 1996. Dr. Khan also reminded the audience of the Kunan Poshpora mass rape case in which dozens of Indian soldiers raped over 50 women in the Kashmiri village of Kunan Poshpora.
Dr. Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi, professor of journalism at the Western Illinois University, said as an Indian Muslim he wants to see his country strong and prosperous and wishes India to stop wasting resources in Kashmir.
Listen to Dr. Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi’s speech here:
Edward Hasbrouck, a peace activist and author of “The Practical Nomad” said he looks forward to visiting an independent Kashmir one day.
Listen to Edward Hasbrouck’s speech here:
Hazem Kira read the position of the American Muslim Task Force, AMT, on Kashmir.
Listen to the AMT’s position on Kashmir here:
The text of the statement is here:
In his speech, Dr. Hatem Bazian, Chairman of the American Muslims for Palestine, said both Palestine and Kashmir entered the post-colonial era as entities still trapped in colonial setups. Bazian said occupations are the most violent manifestations of structures of violence.
Listen to Hatem Bazian’s speech here:
Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder of Zaytuna College, and Qadr Fai, Ghulam Nabi Fai’s wife, also spoke at the conference.
In his speech Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai said the unresolved Kashmir issue concerns not only the 17 million people of Kashmir, it affects 1.3 billion people of South Asia. He spoke of the four important factors--the historical background, the ground reality, the Indian thinking, and the International understanding—of the Kashmir dispute. Dr. Fai said Kashmir was never a part of India so ‘secession of Kashmir from India’ does not mean anything.
Listen to Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai’s speech here:
The Kashmir conference held at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark was emceed by Dr. Naeem Baig.