MIRPUR (AJK)    -   Welcoming the European Parliament’s (EP) decision of holding a debate on the ugly situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) at Strasbourg plenary session on September 17, Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan has said that the decision reflects growing concern in Europe over the deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied valley.

He was addressing a conference on Kashmir, jointly organised by Friends of Kashmir Group and the Jammu Kashmir Self-Determination Movement in Brussels, city of Belgium, according to an official statement released to the media on Friday.

Masood said all developments in the Indian occupied territory met the criterion of genocide and called for swift action by the international community.  He briefed the audience about the implications of India’s unilateral decision to revoke articles 370 and 35-A.

The AJK president called upon the international community to take firm steps to check the human rights violations at the hands of Indian forces in the held territory.

He stressed the need for linking trade relations with India to the human rights situation in occupied Kashmir.

Masood thanked the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee for holding an in-camera meeting on Kashmir on the 2nd of this month, and expressed his gratitude to the sub-committee of the Human Rights Committee for holding an open hearing on the report on human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir released by the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in February this year.

He also thanked the European Parliament for taking proactive initiatives on the Kashmir issue and creating awareness about the deteriorating human rights situation in the held territory.

He informed the audience that people in the held valley were running out of food stocks as India was showing no signs of relaxing the curfew imposed after August 5.

The Co-Chair Friends of Kashmir Group Richard Corbett called for utilising all possible means to mount pressure on India.

He proposed the imposition of trade sanctions on India and restrictions on the travel of those found involved in committing human rights violations and acts of terrorism in IoK.

The Friends of Kashmir also proposed a resolution on Kashmir.

Members of Friends of Kashmir Group in the European Parliament briefed participants of the conference about their visit to Azad Jammu and Kashmir last month where they had a chance to meet victims of unprovoked firing by Indian forces from across the Line of Control (LoC) and relatives of those who had lost their lives in these attacks.

Members of Friends of Kashmir Group during their visit to AJK were able to meet a wide range of people, including journalists, representatives of civil society, physicians, teachers, students and lawyers.

They called upon the Indian government to provide a similar kind of access in its part of Kashmir.

Those who spoke on the occasion included members of the European Parliament Anthea McIntyre, Shaffaq Mohammed, John Howarth, Irena Von Weise, Theresa Griffin and Raja Najabat Hussain, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Self-Determination Movement. A message from MEP Baroness Nosheena Mobarik was also read out on the occasion.

Earlier, Azad Jammu and Kashmir president met with several members of the European Parliament and briefed them on the current situation in Kashmir.

He held separate meetings with members of European Parliament (MEP) belonging to UK Nosheena Mobarik, Shaffaq Mohammed, John Howarth and also met with German MEP Michael Gahler, Swedish MEP Jyette Guteland and Spanish MEP Javier Nart.

During the meetings, Masood informed members of the European Parliament about the ongoing human rights violations in Kashmir and the impact of India’s aggression on the peace and security of the region.

The AJK president is currently visiting Brussels on the invitation of Friends of Kashmir Group in the European Parliament in connection with the conference on Kashmir.