D.C. based civil rights group, Americans for Kashmir, raise awareness of the atrocities in Kashmir by urging elected officials to take action - IAMC

D.C. based civil rights group, Americans for Kashmir, raise awareness of the atrocities in Kashmir by urging elected officials to take action

In a special congressional briefing organized by IAMC, Hindus for Human Rights, and 15 other American civil rights groups, Americans for Kashmir Co-Founder Zaki Barzinji urges elected officials to speak out against the attacks on the people of Kashmir.

April 20, 2022
IAMC News Desk

In their latest Congressional Briefing, the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) convened with elected officials, academics, authors and activisits to focus on India’s Brutal Persecution of Kashmir.

The highly qualified panelists included Zaki Barzinji, the Co-Founder and Board Member of Americans for Kashmir, the only DC-based policy organization led by – and centering the voices of – Kashmiri Americans.

Americans for Kashmir has worked with the State Department, US Commission of International Religious Freedoms, and other executive branch agencies to ensure that Kashmiri-Americans are part of any policy conversations that directly affect them.

Over the last three years, Americans for Kashmir has spoken to and partnered with many relevant offices, including that of Congresswoman Pramila Jaypal. The two worked on the bipartisan introduction of House Resolution 745, the first major piece of legislation to directly address Kashmiri human rights in decades.

In their most recent efforts, Americans for Kashmir prepared a briefing memo for members of Congress who are traveling or who plan to travel to India. They feel it is important to inform people just how dire the situation is for Kashmiris on the ground when it comes to the decimation of their basic human rights and democratic freedoms.

Barzinji touched upon the violence against minority groups in India, and shared a list of requests with elected officials for the support and justice of the people of Kashmir.

Here are some excerpts from Barzinji’s remarks.

“ You’ve heard about skyrocketing Hindu nationalist violence against Kashmiris and a variety of minority populations across India. Given those realities, we call on your offices to stand up and directly hold the Indian government accountable for its actions.”

  • No conversations around new US-India trade deals without directly addressing the exploitation and abuse of Kashmiri workers, businesses, and civil society institutions
  • No conversations around additional US security assistance to India without directly confronting the Indian government’s campaign to continuously jail journalists and human rights defenders under supposed national security policies like the Public Safety Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which Amnesty has declared out of line with international human rights law.
  • To be clear, if our US security assistance is being used by India to jail journalists in the name of public safety and national security, then that is a problem that we as Americans cannot ignore.
  • In particular, Members of Congress should call for the immediate release of Kashmiri journalists like Fahad Shah and Asif Sultan, who remain indefinitely detained with no evidence or due process despite international outcry from mainstream media and press organizations.
  • Members should also call for the immediate release of Khurram Parvez, one of Kashmir’s most prominent and internationally celebrated advocates for human rights and democracy. Khurram has been detained since November despite outcry from the UN Human Rights Office and dozens of international human rights organizations, including Amnesty.
  • And, finally, Kashmir remains to this day almost totally cut off from the rest of the world. Members of Congress have been denied access to the region. International human rights organizations, journalists, even the United Nations itself have all been continually denied access. At a bare minimum, the US should urge India to open Kashmir up to unrestricted access so the world can judge for itself what’s really happening on the ground.

Americans for Kashmir strives to continue partnerships with advocacy groups such as IAMC and elected officials to fight for the truth and justice for the people of Kashmir.