Sunday, May 10, 2009

APDP to UN: Ask India to repeal draconian laws

Tells govt to declare disappeared men dead if killed, or their whereabouts if alive
Srinagar, May 10: United Nations must ask India to withdraw draconian laws that give impunity to its armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir, and also prevail upon India so that it clears its stand on the fate of thousands of men subjected to enforced custodial disappearance in the past 20 years, Parveena Ahanagar, the president of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) told reporters on Sunday. Parveena Ahangar, leading a monthly sit-in of the parents of disappeared persons at Pratap Park here, released the document she submitted at the 86th Session of the UN’s Working Group on Involuntary Enforced Disappearances in Geneva in November last year . Ahanger said the APDP submission urged the WGIED to ask India to ratify and implement the provisions of the International Convention for Protection of Persons from Enforced Disappearances (2007) and UN convention against torture, abolish all secret detention and interrogation centres, take immediate steps to protect family members of persons disappeared from intimidation and harassment by security forces, and also empower the NHRC and SHRC to investigate crimes committed by the armed forces in compliance with international standards and norms. The submission comprised six individual cases of disappearances in Kashmir. “The general submissions presented a brief account of the widespread prevalence of Enforced Disappearances in Kashmir and gave an overview of the Indian laws related to sanctions for prosecutions, and special laws like AFSPA which give armed forces extraordinary powers,” she said. The document gives a brief account of the APDP’s meetings with several UN officials in Geneva. “In response to the efforts of the APDP the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay during her recent visit to India on March 24 has asked India to allow the UN Special Rapporteurs to visit Jammu and Kashmir as in the past two decades hundreds of disappearance cases have been reported in Kashmir,” the document reads. “The High Commissioner has also called for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act which allowed the security agencies to indulge in excesses.” The document said that Pillay raised these issues during a press conference with Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, where she reiterated her demand to allow UN officials on human rights to visit Kashmir. Meanwhile, the Association demonstrated against the Jammu and Kashmir government, accusing it of failing to address the issue of “enforced disappearance of civilians in the custody of armed forces.” The family members of the disappeared men chanted anti-government slogans. “We don’t want jobs or money, but our children. We have been long waiting for justice, but the successive governments have failed to deliver it,” the members said. Holding placards which read “where are our loved ones” the members urged the chief minister Omar Abdullah to address their issues. “For God’s sake tell us where they are? Declare them dead if they have been killed, or hand them over to us if alive,” said the 70-year-old Azi of Tengpora whose son Mushtaq Ahmad Dar was disappeared in the custody of troops 10 years ago. The relatives of disappeared persons urged the chief minister to visit different jails to ascertain the condition of Kashmiri detainees. “We are sure he will find their condition very pathetic,” they said.

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