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  November 2002

Current Affairs
Members of European Parliament
support Kashmiris’ right to self-determination

Kashmir Peace Bus Trip
Report By Dr. Mozammel Haque

Nobel prize–winner, John Hume, from Northern Ireland, spoke passionately to a group of representatives of various political, religious and regional groups of Kashmiris about his experience of Northern Ireland peace process and said that the basic principle of peace process is to respect each other’s views, religious beliefs and be sensitive to the political feelings. He said that no election can be fair under the current condition of 700,000 Indian soldiers who are accused of illegal extra-judicial killings, rape and torture. He said that it is essential to have international monitors to observe the elections, otherwise the credibility of such elections would be at stake.

Kashmir Peace Bus trip, led by Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, Member of the British Parliament, left from the House of Commons, London, recently. Delegations arrived at Strausburg on the same day with a bus-load of people from London and Paris who were wearing yellow T-shirts, black bands with a logo – “Kashmir is nuclear flash-point”, and “Plebiscite now Free Kashmir”. Children were carrying balloons and banners with various messages – “700,000 Indian troops out of Kashmir”, “EU monitors for elections” and “Elections are no substitute for Plebiscite.” Further banners were carrying messages – “India stop killing Kashmiris” and “Stop rape and torture of Kashmiris”.

Before the bus started moving for Paris, Lord Ahmed said to the press, “We shall be demonstrating outside the Parliament with the bus which has all the logos and banners and will be parked outside Parliament for three hours. Then we will have a meeting at 3.00 o’çlock inside Parliament where a room has been booked for parliamentarians to come and express their views and also to listen to us.”

For six weeks British Friends of Kashmiris had been campaigning for democracy. “We believe in democracy, but democracy with justice. Unless there is real justice in Kashmir, we cannot see peace in that part of the world,” said Lord Ahmed.

The British Friends of Kashmiris and the European Friends of Kashmiris have been supporting elections under the international observers. This means not just a diplomat from Delhi embassies, but genuine observers from the United Nations, the European Union and the Commonwealth. That has not happened. “The armies are still there, killings are going on, over 340 people were murdered and literally hundreds and almost thousands of people were injured and detained just in August. When there is election in two weeks this cannot continue. If under these circumstances the elections are held, it will be under intimidation and oppression,” commented Lord Ahmed.

According to Lord Ahmed, free and fair elections cannot be held fairly and democratically under the presence of 700,000 Indian security forces. “You cannot have elections when you have over 20,000 political prisoners. The Indian authorities have created a fictitious and fabricated electoral list with no indigenous people. In fact, the majority of people of Kashmir are now worrying about this deliberately prepared list of non-Kashmiris, ,” Lord Ahmed said.

He added, “Our message to the European Union is to put pressure upon the Indian government to cancel the elections and a real proper plebiscite should be held which was promised to the Kashmiri people by the former Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and which is also enshrined in the resolutions of the United Nations.” He believes that the Members of the European Parliament understand the Asian sub-continent much better than anywhere else.