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Central Europeans support Kashmiris’ rights during a three-day signature move on Kashmir

Kashmir Council Europe (KC-EU)s “One-Million Signature Campaign”was massively welcomed in three central European countries Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.

The Council's team arrived in Vienna Tuesday’s night after holding the signature’s campaign in Hungary and Slovakia in last two days respectively. Like two preview days in Budapest (Hungary) and Bratislava (Slovakia), a huge number of the people visited a one-day signature camp held in Vienna, the capital of the country on Wednesday

The EU based signature drive is a widespread awareness movement on Kashmir’s issue and a large number of European people in different countries including Belgium, Holland, Norway, Sweden and UK supported it by their signature so far.

A press release said, the like Budapest and Bratislava, the capital cities of Hungary and Slovakia, the camp in Vienna was also successfully organised by council and certainly acknowledged by a massive number of the people as they made their signature in favour of the oppressed people of Jammu and Kashmir.

 The Kashmir Council EU has been supported by different local NGOs and social activists based in different European countries for motivation of the move.

At the conclusion of the three-day tour to three central European countries, Chairman Kashmir Council EU Ali Raza Syed said, a large number of the people specially youth including university students supported the rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir and opposed violation of human rights in the occupied territory.

He said, side by side receiving signatures from the people, the Kashmir Council EU’s team distributed the leaflets and brochures on Kashmir and presented a number of t-shirts with slogan of “Free Kashmir” on its front during the signature camps held in last three days in Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.

It is important to mention that basic aim of the EU based signature drive is to collect a million signatures in order to highlight the conflict of Kashmir and pressurize New Delhi to stop the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Indian forces in the Indian held Kashmir (IHK).

The collection of one million signatures will be presented in the shape of the document to the ‘European Parliament’s human rights committee’ in order to raise the issue of violations of human rights in IHK.

Highlighting the issues of a large extra-judicial killings, sexual abuses, forced disappearances and unnamed mass grave in IHK, Chairman Kashmir Council EU also urged the international Community to prevent violation of human rights in IHK and help the people of Jammu and Kashmir in connection with their right of self-determination.

Solidarity Day

Kashmir Council is organizing an event of candle light vigil in Brussels ,the capital of Belgium in order to express solidarity with oppressed people of Indian-held Kashmir (IHK).

You are kindly requested to join us to show the solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Culture of Kashmir: Future Prospects

An important conference and an exhibition would be organized at Brussels Parliament on Tuesday, 26th of January, 2016 in order to highlight the Kashmir cause through peaceful means.
The Kashmir Cultural Day program titling, “The Culture of Kashmir: Future Prospects” to be hosted by Member of Brussels Parliament Dr Zahoor Ellahi Manzoor and would be organized by International Council for Human Development (ICHD) and Kashmir Council EU.


The welcoming address by Dr Zahoor Ellahi Manzoor would be an official opening of the exhibition which would be followed by a lunch with specialties from the reign.

Along with the exhibition, a conference would also be held with participation of MPs, MEPs, Scholars, Journalists and members of civil Society who will discuss Kashmiri Culture and its future prospects.

Organizer of the event, Ali Raza Syed who is Chairman of International Council for Human Development (ICHD) and Kashmir Council EU said, main objective of the event is to highlight the Kashmir issue through cultural and peaceful means. The Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) is witness of severe violations of human rights. Indian authorities deny the basic rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the people of the region are suffering from state terrorism for a long time.

People want to have right of self-determination and settlement of issue according the desire of the people is extremely crucial for peace and prosperity in the region.

Symposium and Exhibition on Kashmir

At Leuven University on 29th of October 2012

Leuvan (30 October 2012): 
The Pakistan Students Forum, Politika International and International Council for Human Development (ICHD) organised a symposium and exhibition on Kashmir conflict on 29th of December 2012 at one of the university auditoriums. A large number of students from different departments and nationalities attended the event, which was addressed by Marjan Lucas (expert on Kashmir affairs), Sadia Mir (policy analyst and ecologist), Gie Goris (scholar on South Asia and editor weekly MO), Caron Dannielle (member of Belgian parliament) and Ali Raza Syed (chairperson ICHD). The symposium was moderated by Ali Shirazi, a phd student and former Pakistani president of the students union of Leuven University. 

Ali Shirazi said that the objective of the symposium was to build awareness about one of the most sensitive regions of the world. He said that it was an unbiased debate, which did not have any objective of siding with one party to the conflict. He introduced the panellists and invited them to speak. 

Marjan Lucas started her deliberations by denouncing the fact that Kashmir was an unfinished agenda of the decolonisation of India. She said that improper and incomplete decolonisation was at the root of the outstanding conflict. Giving a brief history of the conflict, she said that it was started with the partition in 1947 and international debate and resolutions of UN promised the Kashmiris that there would be a referendum to seek the will of the Kashmiri people. She said that after more than six decades the Kashmiris were still excluded from the decision making processes. 

Talking about Kashmiris struggle for the independence, she said that the indigenous movement of 90 taught Kashmiris the vital lesson that the violence is not the solution to any conflict. She said that Indian state should also learn this lesson as it has deployed 700, 000 strong forces for a population of 5 million. She lamented the fact that the human rights violations including rape, murders and disappearances were daily routine in the Kashmir. 

The civil society is paralysed under the draconian laws imposed by the state. She pointed out the fact that the indigenous struggle of Kashmiris was high jacked by the militant organisations like Lashkar e Tayyab supported by Pakistani secret agencies. These militants introduced other kind of violence in the region and the civil society was crushed between the violence of army and violence of militants. 

She welcomed the peaceful activities and awareness building measures taken by the organisations like ICHD. She especially pointed out the One Million Signature Campaign as a timely and right campaign. She said that the human rights activists and peace lovers should keep the Kashmir issue on the agenda of the international community, which, according to her, was a vital strength to gain justice for the Kashmiris. Answering a question, she said that the presence of 30,000 US army, in Afghanistan, was seen as a problem but 700,000 strong Indian force in a small piece of land of 5 million people was taken for granted. Talking about the economy of Kashmir, she said that the foreigner or Indian tourists were allowed to go to Kashmir but the Kashmiri diaspora was not able to visit their homeland. 

Sadia Mir recounted her experience of working for the UN policy mechanisms. She particularly pointed out the issue of environmental degradation, which was neglected by the international community. She said that the environmental degradation of Kashmir did not come on the agenda of even the environmentalist lobbies despite the fact that it was vital to the entire region of South Asia. She pointed out the pollution of the rivers and Dal lake of Kashmir. She said that the Dal Lake was shrinking at the rate, which was unparalleled in the world. She said that the deforestation was going on unabatedly at a horrible rate.

She told the audience that the Peer Panjal mountain range had only 18% of its forests. She said that the occurrence of flash floods was one outcome of the rapid deforestation of Kashmir. Answering a question, she said that tourism is vital to the Kashmiri economy but it did not give the viable and sustainable economic structure to the Kashmiris. She suggested that the Kashmiris resources and the original skills of their people should be explored and developed as the bases of the national economy of Kashmir. She said that revival of the tourism or Bollywood movies did not prove that the Kashmiris had abandoned their right to self-determination. 

Gie Goris said that the simplifications were the political tool to confuse the outstanding issues and conflicts. She said that the Kashmir was generally taken as only the valley of Kashmir while it was in fact the Jammu and Kashmir; the princely state at the time of partition. He referred to his talk with the grandson of the Maharaja of Kashmir, Karan Singh who told him that the Kashmir was already untenable at the time of partition since one part related to Budhism, one with Hinduism and one with Islam. 

He said that AJK was more related to Punjab than to mainstream Kashmir. He said that violence was not a viable solution to the Kashmir conflict. He said referendum was the only solution but UN resolutions did not include the third option of the independence for Kashmiris. He said in case of the referendum, Laddakh and Jammu shall vote for India, Gilgit and AJK for Pakistan and Valley might go for the independence. He emphasised upon the fact that the political way out was the only solution and that the violence, from any side, was a tool to complicate the issue. He said that the militants were patronised and trained by the ISI, which derailed the indigenous movement of the Kashmiris. He said Kashmiris rejected the violence but they caught up in the two kinds of violence by militants and army. He supported the demand that the Indian army should go back to the barracks. He said that the question of nationalism was also complicated issue in Kashmir since Kashmiris should acknowledge the fact that there were many identities in the Kashmir. Answering a question, he said that the decrease in the Pakistan supported militancy was, at one hand, failure of the Pakistani establishment and, at the other, it was success of the Indian state, which resorted to violence but never gave in. 

Caron Danielle said that the Kashmir had a special place in her heart as she had visited the beautiful region many times. She said that Kashmiris were friendly and loving people but there were security issues that crippled their collective lives. She said that Kashmiris had suffered so much and now it was time to give them the solution. She said the just solution to Kashmir was important for the entire region of South Asia as 4 out of 5 main rivers originated from Kashmir. 

Ali Raza Syed said the event, in its essence, was a peace initiative directed towards seeking the resolution of a conflict that has lethal potential to develop into a threat to the existence of entire South Asia. This way, he said that they were gathered here as an effort to safe the collective future of the planet earth and human race as many leading think tanks and peace organisations have termed the Kashmir as the nuclear flashpoint of South Asia. 

He said he was very delighted to welcome the audience on behalf of organisers and volunteers of this symposium at one of the best and oldest universities of the world. He was delighted also to see some of the most capable youth of Pakistan had taken initiative in this regard. He said that symposium and exhibition was something they wished for years and still, they hoped to see that happening in all the major universities of the world. He said it was the only way to win the hearts and minds of the opinion makers of this world, which were so occupied by narrow strategic interests and engagements. 

He said it was only a start for us since they had a long journey ahead. He said he believed that they shall continue marching towards the destiny if they continued having trust of the true humanists and transparent international forums. Talking about one million signature campaign, he said that he believed that they would achieve their goal of bringing the conflict to the agenda of EU parliament. He said that he believed that they would wield the human rights advocates, peace promoters and activists of the world around them. He said their trust in human conscience was unshakable. 

Solidarity Day in Hague

The International Council for Human Development (ICHD) and Kashmir Centre-Holland jointly organised a demonstration on 5th of February 2012 marked as the Solidarity Day. The demonstration was organised in Hague, Holland. A large number of participants including human rights activists, women, students and general people attended the event. 

The Solidarity Day is celebrated across the world to renew the commitment with the Kashmiri people who are fighting selflessly against a huge military force protected by the worst black laws. The participants raised slogans for the right to self determination of the Kashmiris.

Addressing the rally, chairperson of ICHD, Ali Raza Syed said that they expressed solidarity with the Kashmiri brothers leading miserable lives in Indian Held Kashmir. He said that Kashmiris were struggling for more than six decades for their legitimate right to self determination and in response they are being murdered, raped, imprisoned, tortured and humiliated. He said that the life conditions in the IHK are a scar on the collective conscience of the humanity. He said that the India authorities were no longer able to hide their crimes under the carpet as the entire world is becoming aware of the facts. He referred to many reports by the international human rights organisations that exposed the atrocities and human rights violations committed by the Indian authorities. Referring to unnamed mass graves, he said that it was only the tip of the iceberg as there were much more murders and disappearances in Kashmir. 

The executive director of Kashmir Centre-Holland, Dr. Zaib also condemned the fact that Kashmiris were not getting their right to self determination despite the fact that entire world community has, directly or indirectly, has validated their just demand. He mentioned numerous documents including UN resolutions in support of the Kashmiri demands. 

One-Million Signature Campaign

The One-Million Signature Campaign is a timely and innovative initiative by the International Council for Human Development (ICHD) that has succeeded in getting widespread attention and support from across the sections of the European society. The campaign draws its justification from the provision in the EU system that any organisation or initiative with the European Union can bring any issue on the agenda of the EU if it shows that it has the support of one million citizens of the Europe. Though a gigantic task, the ICHD started this campaign considering the huge number of its members and sympathisers as a basic asset for such an effort. The campaign is by large a big success and brought unprecedented applause from not only Europe but also from the people and activists of IHK, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan and the Kashmiri diaspora communities from all across the world. 

The basic argument of the campaign relates to the question of peace in South Asia, in particular, and the peace in the world, in general. The thousands of the people, in different cities of the Europe, endorsed the call for the peace and justice for the oppressed Kashmiris victimised by the Indian forces. The campaign pleads to end the sufferings of the Kashmiri people and seeks the support by the general masses, intellectuals, journalists, civil society organisations, artists, women, labours and lawyers to come forward and support the cause of justice, and peace in South Asia. 

The International Council for Human Development (ICHD), through the One-Million Signature Campaign, expresses its deep trust on the EU institutions and their mechanisms that support the oppressed nations, communities and individuals across the world. In fact, the EU has always acted in the favour of the oppressed nation of Kashmir through its many resolutions, statements and other acts of solidarity. The reason why CHD applies so much efforts and resource to lobby its cause in EU parliament is that the words of support from the RU mechanism receive attention from all across the world. We believe that the EU institutions are the forums that are following the ideals and values described in UDHR and numerous other Human Rights based documents. 

The campaign started with a camp in front of the European Parliament at Place Luxemberg. The campaign has successfully organised the camps in different countries of Europe such as Holland, Germany, France, Spain,   Italy,   Greece, & UK. Already, a large number of the EU citizens have endorsed the campaign. After collection of one million signatures, they will be presented to the ‘European Parliament’s human rights committee’ to emphasise the violations of human rights in IHK Kashmir. 





Seminar in Mirpur

Kashmir Council-EU organised a seminar in Mirpur, Kashmir on November 19, 2010. The EU-based human rights activist and coordinator of the Netherland based organisation, IKV Pax Christi, Marjan Lucas spoke to the seminar as the chief guest. The title of the seminar was, ‘Reflections on Kashmir’. The advisor to President of AJK, Dr.ZU Khan and the Former Chief Justice AJK, Justice Retired Majeed Malik also spoke to the seminar. A number of the personalities from civil society of AJK including doctors, lawyers and journalists, professors, and students attended the seminar.

A very well known passionate campaigner of the human rights of Kashmiri people, Marjan Lucas said that she would continue supporting the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. ‘‘We shall highlight the violation of human rights in Indian Held Kashmir.’’ She said that the innocent people of the IHK were undergoing extreme state torture, humiliations and deprivations while security forces were really acting as the coloniser forces bent upon crushing the will of their subjected nation. She said that the collective will of the Kashmiris had proved its worth in the wake of brutality they are facing. She said that all the human rights workers and peace activists of the world should come forward to put pressure on the Indian state and governments. 

Justice Retired Majeed Malik, the former Chief Justice of AJK High Court hailed the work of Marjan Lucas on Kashmir. He said that Kashmir Council-EU was dong very commendable job for building awareness on the Kashmir conflict. He mentioned the international laws while talking about the plight of fellow Kashmiris under the siege of Indian forces. He said that the UN resolutions and other provisions of the international laws clearly gave the right to self determination to the people of Kashmir. He said that the puppet governments in the Indian Held Kashmir could not be the substitute to the true referendum people. 
Dr.ZU Khan emphasized upon the collective efforts of Kashmiris to their raise voices against the violence being perpetrated in the Indian Held Kashmir. He said that there was a great need to raise the Kashmir issue on every influential international forum. He said that the opinion making in the western societies, institutions, governments and states were the key to realising the resolution of the Kashmir conflict. 
The Chairman Kashmir Council EU, Ali Raza Syed also spoke at the event. He emphasized upon the need of a united front of the Kashmiris. He said, situation in Indian Held Kashmir was terribly bad and that the hardships for the people had been increased in the held valley. He demanded the withdrawal of the Indian troops from the occupied territory while revoking all the draconian laws including Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). He demanded the release of all the pro-freedom leaders and activists. 
The speakers and participants of the seminar were of the collective view that the United Nations, world powers, forums and institutions should impress upon India to resolve the Kashmir dispute according to the aspirations of the people of Kashmir. 

The Kashmir-EU Week (2010)

The International Council for Human Development (ICHD) and Kashmir Council-EU, IKV Pax Christi and MEP, Mr. Sajjad Haider Karim jointly organised a Kashmir-EU week in the European parliament in Brussels, Belgium on 14-16 September 2010. The event included a well attended seminar and a well received exhibition of the cultural heritage of Kashmir. Titled as, ‘Beauty of Kashmir, preserved past and bruised present,' the event was applauded by the prominent personalities of EU. By doing so, the European Parliament embraced the cultural and literary heritage of Kashmir while endorsing their demand of the realisation of human rights as enshrined in the UDHR and other documents of UN, EU and other human rights institutions and forums of the world. 

The grand event was made possible through the office and efforts of MEP Sajjad Karim; the host of the event in EU parliament. The event was timed for the beginning of the EU parliament’s calendar session, reminding the EU to focus on eliminating the human rights abuses in Indian Held Kashmir. The event was a concerted effort to urge the EU to assist in finding a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir conflict. 

At the inauguration of the event, MEP Sajad Karim welcomed the guests and thanked them for supporting the event and the people of Kashmir. He asserted that the European Parliament's representatives remained engaged in assisting the region to overcome the conflict and current unrest experienced there. He said though the political backdrop of unrest preceded the debate on Kashmir but the event had given the opportunity to know about the cultural heritage and the rich civilisation of the Kashmiri people whose art, poetry and literature had influenced South Asian culture.
The Chariman of Kashmir Council EU and ICHD Ali Raza Syed spoke of the beauty of Kashmir especially their cultural heritage of the tolerant nature of the Kashmiri people and their ability to live in peace for centuries before the Indian occupation. He said that the Kashmir had a rich tradition of a multi-cultural and multi-religious society. He said different identities lived peacefully with each others but the illegal occupation of Kashmir by Indian forces changed the entire situation there. He briefly explained the human rights situation of the Kashmir while saying that the torture, humiliation, murders and rapes had become the daily routine of the life of Kashmiris. He mentioned the disappearances and discovery of the mass graves in Kashmir as the most horrendous atrocities committed in the modern world. He assured the participants that they would continue doing peaceful struggling for the right to self determination of the people of Kashmir.  

Marjan Lucas of IKV Pax Christi, while introducing the photographs of Govert Driessen, said that international community had a burden on its conscience. She said that no human rights activist of the world could afford to neglect the gross violation of the human rights of Kashmir people. She also mentioned the mass graves of unknown Kashmiri civilians while saying that everybody knew that these people were innocent local Kashmiris killed by the brutal Indian forces. She said that the slow but steady efforts for building awareness in the Western opinion makers was essential for the human rights campaigners focussed on Kashmir. She congratulated ICHD, KC-EU and MEP, Mr. Sajjad Haider Karim for organising such an important event in EU.  

Dr. Seema Kazi read the excerpts from her book, which highlighted the plight of women in the Kashmir conflict. She spoke of the human rights abuses faced by the women on a daily basis and the lack of any justice being provided. 
Mr. Farooq Siddiqi of World Diaspora Alliance reiterated the need to remind the international community and the European Union that they had a responsibility to intervene in Kashmir and administer the United Nations pledge for a resolution. He also talked about the significance of events such as they gave hope to the Kashmiri people. 
jThe MP, Danielle Caron described the beauty of the landscape and mountains of Kashmir one of the best in the world. She said that Kashmir had a special place in her heart since she had visited the region. She said she was highly perturbed to see the poverty and lack of security in the collective life of the Kashmir. She pledged her fullest support for any effort of bringing peace in the region. 

The Head of the Labour Party Group spoke the words of encouragement to the organisers of the Kashmir-EU week. He said that there was very impressive number of the participants of the event. He specially praised the exhibitions as remarkable initiative to portray the full picture of the collective Kashmiri civilisation. 






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