Kashmiri Overseas Association asks Congress to include community in human rights discussions

Shakun Munshi Malik

indica News Bureau-

The Kashmiri Overseas Association (KOA) has called upon the U.S. Congress’ Human Rights Commission to reach out to Jammu and Kashmir “community members who have been silent victims of human rights over the last 30 years,” in a letter a KOA letter to Congressmen James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

The Potomac, Maryland-based nonprofit KOA, whose stated mission includes promoting Kashmir Pandit ethnic and socio-cultural heritage, has voiced disappointment in the commission’s failure to reach out to the effected community to participate in a hearing this past week. KOA says a move to be more inclusive “would have elicited far wider response from potential expert witnesses, non-government organizations working in this field and wider public and would have enriched the Commission’s hearing, according to the letter signed by Shakun Munshi Malik, KOA president, CEO, and chairperson, and KOA Secretary Amrita Kar.

The group has made clear its positions on the situation in Kashmir and Jammu, stopping just shy of demanding decisive action from the US government and the human rights commission.

In the letter, the group says the Congressional commission, designed to champion of the protection of human rights, “would be hard pressed to protect fundamental human rights when terrorism and its multifarious consequences stymie every aspect of life “in Jammu and Kashmir.

KOA has asked the commission to investigate the threat of Islamic radicalization to the religious minorities in the Kashmir valley and more broadly in the whole region, and asking the commission  to look into the situation behind the 300,000 to 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits being forced to flee the Kashmir Valley in the 1990s because of  targeted killings of religious minorities by Islamic terrorists, and the hundreds of temples of religious minorities in the Kashmir valley that were destroyed or vandalized and desecrated during 1990s.

The situation in the region “is a direct product of cross-border terrorism emanating from across the border with a focus on radicalization of Islam … (and) It is a widely documented fact that Pakistan has created, trained, armed and nurtured terrorist groups as a matter of its state policy in South Asia that has resulted in death of over 42,000 civilians in Jammu and Kashmir alone over the last three decades,” the letter says.

The group cites the fact that 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden was based in Pakistan, and that about 130 terrorists and 25 terrorist groups sanctioned by the UN Security Council for association with Al-Qaida, ISIS and associated terrorist groups are still based in Pakistan.

According to the group, for decades Pakistan has been the starting place for dozens of cross-border attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks in which innocent American civilians were among those killed.


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