Australia’s Silence on Genocide in Kashmir
Khizar Niazi (Canberra)*
(The following sent to the offices of the Australian PM,the three major political parties, Sada-e-Watan Sydney, Australian and Pakistan Media).
At the symposium on Human Rights Violations in the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK), organized by the Kashmir Committee at the Parliament House, Canberra on Wednesday, 18 September 2019, the ruling Liberal Party’s studied silence was deafening; the Australian Labor Party (ALP)’s calculated ambivalence, intriguing; the Greens’ unequivocal support for the hapless Kashmiri people, heartening; and, overall Australian position, nauseating!
The “host”, Liberal MP Craig Kelly, who could spare only a few minutes due to his multifarious commitments, left immediately after stating in a highly patronizing manner that, as people’s representative, they (the government) would listen to whatever is said in the symposium. This left many wondering whether the Government of Australia, having one of the most outstanding diplomatic outfits in South Asia, needed the symposium to tell it that IHK had been turned into the highest militarized region and the largest prison in the world!
The ALP Senator Deborah O’Neill, too, in an apparent bid to be just counted, joined in but then hurriedly left after brief bland remarks. And, Dr. Tariq Rana read out a formula message from ALP.
However, it was the Greens Senator, Mehreen Faruqi, who rose to the occasion and forcefully reiterated Australia’s unflinching commitment with human rights; and extended her party’s unequivocal support to the noble cause of the valiant people of Kashmir, fighting state suppression for their right to self-determination. She echoed Australia’s firm belief in human rights and the rule of law, winning loud applause for the position taken by her political party.
Australia is undoubtedly a multi-cultural and multi-religious society. It believes in personal liberties, human rights and the rule of law. It has supported victims of human rights violations not only in its immediate neighborhood but also in far off places in the Middle East and Africa. It is known in the world as a defender of the rights of even its sold livestock. It cannot, therefore, afford to be seen as being selective in application of its lofty principles.
The silence of the present government on the genocide in IHK is, therefore, totally un-Australian. And, ALP’s well-considered ambivalence which is tantamount to tacit acquiescence to the state suppression of the people of Kashmir is difficult to swallow for a significant number of its supporters all over the country, who earnestly espouse the cause of the Kashmiris. After the symposium, a lot of them were seen envying the Greens sympathizers - a virtual break-through for the Greens!
The two major political parties of Australia seem to have bought the ‘terrorism bogey’ to dismiss the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination as an act of terrorism. As pointed out by a participant, it is hard to believe that they are unaware of the United Nations General Assembly’s resolutions of 1974 and 1982 which recognize the right of the oppressed people to armed resistance against state suppression for their right to self-determination; and that these resolutions also recognize their right to seek assistance from any other country. We need not be Rhodes scholars to relate these resolutions to ground realities and visualize the consequences these are pregnant with.
Apparently, the Coalition
government is conniving at, condoning, and pretending ignorance of the human
rights violations in IHK and capitulating to its so-called national interests
at the cost of principles. It seems to be totally oblivious of the fact that
national interests of states in the global village are no different than animal
instincts of humans in a civilized society, which must be bridled at all costs.
Instead of compromising on principles or waiting for the volcano to erupt, we
must act proactively to alleviate sufferings of millions of besieged Kashmiris,
avert colossal loss of innocent lives in IHK, and pre-empt an imminent
disastrous clash between two sabre-rattling nuclear-armed neighbors. We are
highly regarded in the sub-continent since 1950 when Sir Owen Dixon, a
distinguished Australian jurist, highly revered judge and an accomplished
diplomat was appointed as UN Representative to mediate between the two
contenders on Kashmir. Let’s find another Dixon or motivate reluctant ScoMo to
emulate him and re-establish our credentials as genuine champions of Human
*The author is a former Ambassador and can be reached at email@example.com
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