ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister of Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari on Wednesday said that eight million people of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) are facing decades long State oppression and have been caged in the world’s largest open prison. She said this while addressing the 43rd session of United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Addressing the session she said “This Council is the custodian of universal human rights.”

She said that Pakistan, in September 2019, presented a plea and petition of the Kashmiri people to this Council.

Meanwhile, over six months have passed and 8 million Kashmiris, already in the clutches of decades-long Indian State oppression, remain caged in the world’s largest open prison.

She further said: The physical and digital lockdown continues in violation of international human rights standards, endorsed and pursued by this Council.

Empowered by draconian laws and in contravention of all international laws, Indian security forces continue to operate with impunity, violating the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people.

Despite the media clampdown in IOK, reports of harassment and beatings of journalists are rife

This has grossly affected their ability to earn, get access to hospitals, attend schools, and practice their faith- with Srinagar’s largest mosque remaining closed since August last year.” She also told the participants that women, girls and youth are being targeted by Indian security forces, with rape being used as a tool of oppression, in violation of several UN Security Council resolutions, specifically Resolution 1325. Despite the media clampdown in Occupied Kashmir, reports of harassment and beatings of journalists are rife, she said.

Human rights defenders face similar obstacles in their work and reprisals against them are increasing, she stated.

“Immediately after August 5 last year, over 6,000 Kashmiris, political leaders, activists, students, professionals and youth were arrested, without due process of law. Many of them were forcibly shipped to jails all over India and the fate of most of them still remains unknown. Those released have been forced to sign a pledge of silence,”she said.

She emphasized that Pakistan is not alone in highlighting the true face of India’s deliberate disregard of human dignity as well as its blatant breach of its international human rights obligations. She said: “US Congress, EU Parliamentarians, UN Secretary General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights organizations and the international media have all highlighted the same.

Amnesty International has rightly termed India as the Internet shutdown capital of the world”. She also highlighted that India’s assertion that these actions are its “internal affair” has no credibility, particularly in light of UN Security Council resolutions that deem the territory in question to be disputed.

The Security Council has met twice since 5 August 2019, debunking the mantra of Jammu & Kashmir being India’s “internal matter,” The Human Rights Council must pay immediate attention to the protection and respect of the human rights of the people of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir,she said. She said that Pakistan hopes this Council will deliver on its promise and its principles. Let the world not forget the disastrous legacy of appeasement and the great cost of it not only to Europe but the world. Let us not repeat the same mistake, she added.