UN hopes for progress in talks with India for humanitarian access to Kashmir

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 24 (APP)::With the humanitarian situation fast deteriorating in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, the United Nations hopes that it’s human rights officials’ negotiations with India for access to the disputed state, which is currently under lockdown, “can move forward”, UN Associate Spokesperson Eri Kaneko has said.

“We’re aware that our human rights colleagues are in touch at various levels with the Indian Government. So, we would hope that these contacts would continue for, to allow for access,” she told reporters at the regular noon briefing at UN Headquarters in New York York on Friday.

The spokesperson was responding to a question whether efforts were underway to pressure India to agree to the request made by UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet to allow a “humanitarian team” to visit Occupied Kashmir.

“We hope that, in light of the current situation, these negotiations can move forward to allow for access,” Kaneko added.

Since Aug. 5, Indian Occupied Kashmir has been under strict military-enforced curfew with phone and other communication services cut as well as movement of people banned.

“Kashmir is silent as a graveyard,” this is how Vrinda Grover, a human rights lawyer, described the situation to The New York Times on Thursday.

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had called for an international probe into the serious human rights situation in Kashmir and for his office’s access to both sides of the Line of Control, a proposal which was endorsed by Bachelet, his successor.
India refused to allow U.N. officials’ access to Kashmir, saying it was an internal matter for the country.

On Thursday, a group of UN human rights experts urges the Indian government “to end the crackdown on freedom of expression, access to information and peaceful protests imposed” on Kashmir,.

The five experts “expressed concern that the measures, imposed after the Indian Parliament revoked the Constitutionally-mandated status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, would exacerbate tensions in the region”, the OHCHR said.

The UN experts are David Kaye Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Bernard Duhaime, Chair-Rapporteur, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association; and Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

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