“Give us at least the bodies of our loved ones so that we can give them a decent Islamic burial” (Parveen Ahanger)
An elderly Kashmiri lady walks past the caricatures of the disappeared persons during a protest by Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) in Srinagar on Friday
Pic: Habib Naqash/GK
On the International Day for Disappeared Persons (30th August 2013) families of those missing through “enforced disappearances” and international human rights campaigners join together in calling for a full inquiry and an end to this inhumane practice. A statement for the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) issued a statement saying:-
The state should institute an independent commission of inquiry into the complaints of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, tortures, rape and other human rights violations by state actors and provide a supportive environment to facilitate access to justice for human rights defenders.
The Long Wait for News
An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 persons are believed to have gone missing after being picked up by Indian security forces on suspicion of being militants or by separatists on suspicions of being police informers and were never seen again. However a study on families of disappeared persons (DPs) in Jammu and Kashmir argues that 72 percent of those who disappeared in the last 23 years were innocent civilians http://www.hindustantimes.com/Punjab/Chandigarh/Majority-of-disappeared-persons-in-Kashmir-innocent-Study/SP-Article1-964389.aspx
Recognizing the Resilient Women of Kashmir
The Kashmir Walla details the background to the disappearances, giving some context:-
Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute, an occupation and armed conflict. Since the inception of the armed conflict in 1989 Government of India has put into service more than 7,00,000 armed forces including army, paramilitary forces, police and other sponsored agencies. The armed conflict has resulted in the killing of 70,000 plus, countless cases of torture and rape, 8,000 plus enforced disappearances, Besides this illegal detentions, forced labour property damage and other forms of human rights violations remain a common practice in Jammu and Kashmir. In addition APDP has documented 7,000 plus unknown, unmarked and mass graves which still await investigation and so far the government is reluctant to conduct any comprehensive forensic examination of these graves.
A peaceful protest was held today at Pratap Park, Srinagar. Kashmir. Parveena Ahanger, the chairperson of APDP, said, “we express solidarity and pay tribute to the courage and resistance of the families who have spent years struggling for information about the whereabouts of their loved ones, for justice and for accountability,”
Amnesty International reports that “hundreds of unidentified graves – believed to contain victims of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other abuses – have been found in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir”. The human rights organization calls on the Indian government to launch urgent investigations into the mass graves which are thought to contain the remains of victims of human rights abuses in the context of the armed conflict that has raged in the region since 1989.
Pain and Protest
Campaigners are desperate to locate the remains of their loved ones to be buried and finally laid to rest. APDP explain that it has been two decades since the enforced disappearances began in Kashmir. There have been about 10,000 cases of disappearances which have left their families shattered. Wives who became half-widows, looking for their husbands. Children seeking the whereabouts of their parents and parents in search of their children.
PAPA 2 is a short film highlighting the plight of the disappeared and their families http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H26dQk2lBGQ
The following images are posted as a reminder of the pain and suffering of the families and their hope for justice after years of campaigning
The Disappeared Remembered through Art
Sending a Message…
Telling the Stories behind the Images…
Parents and Perseverance
Newspapers and Posters Document the Disappeared
Half-widows and Hope..
The following links provide further information about enforced disappearances in the hope that more people internationally will support the families in upholding their human rights and recognize their need for information and resolution.
The Disappeared of Kashmir: The boys who never came home (Al Jazeera Report) http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/04/201141710204769839.html
Half-widows in Kashmir (The Islamic Human Rights Commission) http://www.ihrc.org.uk/publications/briefings/9967-half-widows-in-kashmir
FILM… Waiting by Atul Gupta http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXzlrqQkZ3g
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.