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India holds G20 meet in Indian-Occupied Kashmir in the face of brutal crackdown of Kashmiri human rights violation


From May 22nd to 25th India is hosting the third G20 working group meeting on tourism in disputed territory of Kashmir. China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt boycotted the meeting. India has contravened more than 16 UN Security Council’s resolutions over Kashmir. 

“India has defended its decision to host a Group of 20 (G20) meeting in the Himalayan territory of Jammu and Kashmir, despite criticism from rights groups and expected boycotts from a handful of countries,” reported CNN. 

This was the first international level event hosted by India in this disputed Muslim majority region since it revoked its special status, splitting the former state into two federal territories in 2019. 

India currently holds the presidency of the G20 nations and many feel that India should have shown restraint rather than flexing its muscles in a show of bravado by holding a meeting in such internationally disputed territory. 

Kashmir’s newly formed two federal territories by India have long been disputed by its neighbors. Kashmir and Ladakh borders disputed territory to which both Pakistan and China respectively claim as part of their territory. 

The dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan span over 7 decades. The tension along Ladakh bordering China dates to 1962 where a month-long dispute ended in Chinese victory and India lost thousands of kilometers of land to China. 

In 2020 again a hand-to-hand combat fight between Chinese and Indian soldiers along Ladakh border resulted twenty Indians and four Chinese soldiers being killed. 

Pakistan which is not a member of G20 have criticized India’s decision to hold meeting in disputed territory. 

Last week, Fernand de Varennes, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, said the Indian government was “seeking to normalize what some have described as a military operation by instrumentalizing a G20 meeting” in a region where fears of human rights violations and violence are rife.

In a statement on Twitter, India’s permanent mission to Geneva rejected de Varennes’s criticism, calling the allegations “baseless and unwarranted.”

120 delegates from seventeen nations attended the meeting. Neither Chinese nor Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey delegate attended the meeting. However, some private tourism representatives from Saudi Arabia and Turkey did attend. 

Among the countries that attended the meeting were Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the UK, the US and European Union. 

On Saturday, India’s tourism secretary, Arvind Singh, said the meeting will not only to “showcase (Kashmir’s) potential for tourism” but also “signal globally the restoration of stability and normalcy in the region.”

A political analyst based in Kashmir told Al Jazeera, on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals by the Indian government, that “a sense of security in any place does not come with conferences”.

“For such an event, there should have been an elected chief minister and we do not have one. I hope the world does notice these things,” he said, referring to the dissolution of the region’s elected legislative assembly in 2018.

Kashmiri American diaspora held a peaceful protest in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York city to convey to G20 countries including the United Nations that holding a G20 meeting in disputed territory of Kashmir is meant to engineer a façade of normalcy in Kashmir. 

Human rights activists and Kashmiri Americans were hoping that the G20 countries as signatories of Universal Declaration of Human, the Geneva Convention etc would take a “pro-people” stance.

The G20 countries that attended the event sent a wrong signal to the world “that these countries are willing to sacrifice moral values and universal principles for commercial gains and business interests.” 

Sardar Imtiaz Khan Garalvi, Representative, Jamaat-e-Islami, Azad Kashmir said that “Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the UN has not let his moral weight serve the cause of peace, prosperity, and democracy in Kashmir as of now. We were heartened when he said that the Kashmir issue should be resolved under UN Charter and under applicable UN Security Council resolutions.”

Regardless of international appeals from many corners of the world. India asserted its political and economic might, thumbing his nose to the rest of the world where nations proclaiming to be the bastion of human rights toed the line and attended the event. 

Unfortunately, Muslim world, all forty-six nations combined cannot muster power to register their protest except few invited nations excusing themselves from attending it on official basis yet allowing private travel companies to continue their support: placing the rights of the Kashmiris on back-burner. 

The entire event and the failure of the international community over this event could be summarized in the words of Choudhary Rashid Masud, one of the protestors at the UN in New over the past weekend that “India is using rape as a weapon of war, yet the world powers do nothing to ease the pain and agony of the oppressed of people of Kashmir.”

“He expressed his anguish for the silence of the world powers, including G20 on the continuing deteriorating situation in Indian occupied Kashmir.”