Lessons from Srebrenica to Srinagar

Commemoration of past events should not ignore the suffering of the unfolding tragedies of today in Palestine, East Turkestan, and Kashmir which have been occupied for the past 70 years

Lessons from Srebrenica to Srinagar

Tavseef Mairaj - Hamburg

We are just done with commemorating the genocide in Srebrenica on its 20th anniversary. The chilling tales of what the Bosnian Muslims had to go through and the testimonies of the survivors leave one's soul bruised to the core. But is that it? Is the deterrence to genocide and war crimes limited only to commemorations and not relevant to the crimes against humanity which are happening in the world around us, as we breathe. We have former presidents and leaders of the same countries who watched and waited while the genocide was taking place now paying rich tributes to the fallen of Srebrenica. Are the leaders of today aiming at the playing the same role in the future, 20 years down the lane? We have, in front of us as the biggest example of Syria – hundreds of thousands dead and more than 8 million people displaced - a tragedy of unprecedented magnitude. Syria, Iraq, Arakan, Kashmir, Palestine, Egypt. Why do we find it convenient to commemorate the past than to pay attention to the present?

When we look back, as a human family, at the horrors of Srebrenica we are compelled to say “never again” but right through the 20 years after Srebrenica, and even in the preceding years, what we have seen in Kashmir is a piece by piece replay enacted by Indian forces of what the army of Republika Srpska did in Srebrenica in 1995. Massacres, mass rapes, enforced disappearances, mass graves. People waiting, hopefully and hopelessly, for a disappeared son's return. People wailing over the grave of martyred children. People recounting horrors of rapes and massacres. People living with a perpetual sense of injustice. In addition to that the people of Kashmir live with another burden – that of the indifference of the international community. If anyone ever commemorates our fallen, it is us. If anyone ever fights for justice for those violated, it is us. Save for a handful of conscious voices around the world, our cause seems to be a forgotten one although its roots predate even al-Nakba of the Palestinians. Hence, when somebody says Kashmir is becoming the Palestine of South Asia, with all the differences between the two cases notwithstanding and without discounting any suffering on either side, one can as well say actually Palestine is the Kashmir of Middle East.

Palestine, East Turkestan, and Kashmir are the three nations which have been under occupation for the last nearly 70 years. Although the nature of occupier in that how it treats the occupied is different in all the three cases that does not mean that any of these occupations is beautiful and can be conveniently forgotten. Palestinians have been driven out of their land, the Uighur Turks in East Turkestan are being assimilated into the occupier's culture and being robbed of their religion, Kashmiris are being subjected to a piecemeal genocide with an ugly mix of heavy militarisation and deception. More than 70,000 deaths, 8,000 enforced disappearances, 6,000 unmarked mass graves each of which containing varying number of up to 17 bodies documented by International Peoples‘ Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir. And this includes scores of massacres and cases of sexual violence including mass rapes. If Israel's occupation of Palestine is brutal and China's occupation of East Turkestan is cunning, India's occupation of Kashmir is ugly.

The indifference of the international community, if that is something which exists, can be gauged from the fact that even when Kashmir does find a mention internationally, it is solely treated as a case of human rights violations and not as a case of a brutal occupation of a nation demanding freedom, which actually is the case. Consider the recent Amnesty International India report, which documents the lack of accountability for the actions of Indian forces in Kashmir. This report does not help further the case of Kashmiris in that it just treats the human rights violations in Kashmir solely from the perspective of a conscious, conscientious Indian voice which treats Kashmir as an integral part of India deserving equal treatment as other Indian states. Even then, from the perspective of human rights this report generated almost no reaction across India, much less internationally. Considering that this report reveals nothing more than what Kashmiris have been trying to convey to the world since decades, this report does nothing more than just offer yet another sort of an international independent acceptance of the human rights violations in Kashmir and hence bring it to the attention of those in positions of influence and power. On that front even, it seems to have failed as the UNO chief when asked to comment on the report declined to offer any comment.

Kashmiris commemorate 13th July as Martyr's Day to remember the martyrs who rose against the autocratic rule of the Maharaja in the times preceding Indian rule. It is not just the remembrance of the past events which marks this day rather an unflinching resolve of the same spirit of resistance which continues till date. Although the autocrat is long gone, resistance is still there – against the occupation.

Last Mod: 13 Temmuz 2015, 13:46
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