Bi-weekly press briefing: Kashmir - OHCHR
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Edited News | OHCHR

Bi-weekly press briefing: Kashmir - OHCHR

The people of Indian-Administered Kashmir continue to be deprived of numerous basic freedoms, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday, before urging the Indian authorities “to unlock the situation”.

The appeal over the territory – which both India and Pakistan claim as sovereign - follows months of escalating tensions linked to earlier suicide attacks and the Indian Government’s decision in August to revoke Kashmir’s special status allowing it partial autonomy.

At the time of the Indian Government decision, five UN-appointed independent rights experts warned that it had led to tighter central Government control, restrictions on peaceful protests and a communications blackout.

In Geneva on Tuesday, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville acknowledged that an “undeclared curfew” had been lifted from much of Jammu and Ladakh regions within a few days.

But he noted that it was reportedly still in place “in large parts of the Kashmir Valley, preventing the free movement of people, as well as hampering their ability to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and restricting their rights to health, education and freedom of religion and belief.”    

Highlighting “several allegations of excessive use of force” against protesters that involved the use of “pellet-firing shotguns, tear gas and rubber bullets”, Mr. Colville said that there had also been unconfirmed reports of “at least six civilian killings and scores of serious injuries” in separate incidents since the Indian Government declaration on 5 August.

The Office of the High Commissioner had also received reports that armed groups in Indian-administered Kashmir have threatened residents trying to work or go to school, the OHCHR spokesperson said.

In addition, “at least another six people have been killed and over a dozen injured in alleged attacks by armed group members since 5 August”.

And although restrictions on landline telephones were eventually lifted, and a state-run telecom company allowed to resume partial mobile phone services, all internet services remain blocked in the Kashmir Valley, Mr. Colville insisted.

In line with the Indian Government’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s partial self-rule, two separate federally-administered Union Territories are to be created this Thursday, the OHCHR spokesperson explained, adding that “hundreds of political and civil society leaders” had been detained “on a preventative basis”.

While some political workers have reportedly been released, most senior leaders – especially those from the Kashmir Valley – remain in detention, he said.

  1. Wide shot, exterior, United Nations Geneva, flag alley.
  2. Medium shot, journalists and podium with Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Rhéal Leblanc, Chief, Press and External Relations, United Nations Information Service Geneva.
  3. Close-up, journalist looking down.
  4. SOUNDBITE (English) — Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “The undeclared curfew imposed by the authorities in the region was lifted from much of Jammu and Ladakh regions within a few days, but is reportedly still in place in large parts of the Kashmir Valley, preventing the free movement of people, as well as hampering their ability to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and restricting their rights to health, education and freedom of religion and belief.”   
  5. Medium shot, journalists typing on laptops, profile.
  6. SOUNDBITE (English) — Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “There have been several allegations of excessive use of force including the use of pellet-firing shotguns, tear gas and rubber bullets by security forces during sporadic protests, with unconfirmed reports of at least six civilian killings and scores of serious injuries in separate incidents since 5 August.”
  7. Medium shot, two journalists writing on laptops, both wearing mini headphones, one looking up.
  8. SOUNDBITE (English) — Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “At least another six people have been killed and over a dozen injured in alleged attacks by armed group members since 5 August.” 
  9. Close-up, journalists’ hands typing on laptops, profile. 
  10. SOUNDBITE (English) — Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “While restrictions on landline telephones were eventually lifted, and a state-run telecom company allowed to resume partial mobile phone services, all internet services remain blocked in the Kashmir Valley.”
  11. Medium shot, podium, Room III.
  12. Medium shot, journalist listening with hands clasped, Room III. 

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