‘EU can’t back down’ on Kashmir: European Parliament vice president

Fabio Massimo Castaldo vice president of European Parliament

Fabio Massimo Castaldo, 15 members of European Parliament send letter to EU Commission president, bloc’s foreign policy chief.

The vice president of European Parliament and its 15 members on Friday sent a letter to the EU Commission president and the bloc’s foreign policy chief regarding the “worning humanitarian and human rights situation in Kashmir.”

Fabio Massimo Castaldo shared the letter on Twitter, saying “EU can’t back down.”

“As a champion of universal human rights, fundamental freedoms and the ruled-based international order, the EU must raise its voice against the violations of human rights affecting the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” read the letter addressing Ursula von der Leyen and Josep Borrell.

It said that “EU should use all its leverage and tools” to cooperate with India and Pakistan “to honour the pledge made to the Kashmiris by the international community” and to implement UN resolutions.

The letter highlighted several human rights violations, saying “the restraint of the rights to movement, access to information, health care, education as well as free speech have been intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Arbitrary detention and prohibition on public assembly continues, said the letter, adding journalists and human rights defenders “have been increasingly targeted.”

“In addition to being a humanitarian crisis, the long-standing dispute over Jammu and Kashmir in south Asia also poses a major threat to peace, stability, and security in the region,” it said.

“It is extremely important that the voices of Kashmiri people are heard, their aspirations are responded to and they are granted the opportunity to decide their own future,” it added.

Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.

Also, in the Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against the Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.