Rep. Ilhan Omar leads Letter Calling for Accountability and Deescalation in Kashmir

September 17, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) led six Members of Congress in a letter to the United States Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster and Chargé d’ Affaires of United States Embassy in Pakistan Paul W. Jones requesting that the U.S. use diplomatic relationships with the Indian and Pakistan governments to respect human rights and deescalate the current crisis in Jammu and Kashmir.

Since August, the Indian government has shut off all communications to, from and within Kashmir. As a result, many Kashmiri-Americans have not been able to reach their family members in the region. There are multiple reports of enforced curfews to restrict freedom to assemble and allegations of disappearances, mass detentions, rape and sexual assault and the targeted detention of governmental leaders.

“This presents tremendous danger to global peace and a clear national security risk for the United States. Pakistan and India are both valued allies, crucial to our interests in the region, including the Afghanistan peace process,” the Members wrote. “It is of the utmost importance that we leverage our relationships with their governments to deescalate the situation.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva, Andy Levin, James P. McGovern, Ted Lieu, Alan Lowenthal and Donald S. Beyer.

You can read the full letter below and attached.

Dear Ambassadors Juster and Jones,

We are writing to express our grave concern regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. It has now been nearly more than a month since the Indian government shut off communications to, from, and within Kashmir. This is a deeply ominous sign that is incompatible with both democratic and human rights norms. Coupled with the enforced curfew, it represents an unacceptable restriction on the freedoms of expression, assembly, and movement.

Several of our offices have heard from several Kashmiri-Americans who have, like Kashmiris around the globe, been unable to reach their family members and loved ones within Jammu and Kashmir. Although the reporting of what is happening inside Kashmir has necessarily been piecemeal and incomplete because of the communication shutdown, the reports we are all receiving are harrowing. These include allegations of forced disappearances, mass detentions, rape and sexual assault, and the targeted detention of political, economic, and social leaders.

Prominent international human rights NGOs – including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists – have issued alerts about the ongoing crisis in Kashmir. We are also deeply concerned that Genocide Watch has issued a genocide alert for Kashmir. They have identified seven genocide “risk factors” currently apply to the situation there, and that their Ten Stages are all “far advanced.”

As you both know very well, there is also the risk that the relationship between India and Pakistan will continue to devolve as a result of this crisis. This presents tremendous danger to global peace and a clear national security risk for the United States. Pakistan and India are both valued allies, crucial to our interests in the region, including the Afghanistan peace process. It is of the utmost importance that we leverage our relationships with their governments to deescalate the situation.

We urge both of you to do everything in your power to:

  1. Facilitate connections between Kashmiri-Americans and their family members in Jammu and Kashmir.
  2. Insist that the Indian government immediately restore communications in Jammu and Kashmir and allow press to access the region.
  3. Strongly urge Indian authorities to release the people they have arbitrarily detained.
  4. Provide assistance with documentation on allegations of human rights abuses in both Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir and urge the Indian and Pakistani governments to allow independent, impartial investigations. 
  5. Deescalate the tensions between India and Pakistan
  6. Emphasize the centrality of Kashmiri voices in determining the future of Jammu and Kashmir

 

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