From The Practical Nomad: Kashmir, self-determination, and human rights
Who am I to talk about Kashmir?
I’m an activist for peace and justice, and a travel journalist. I think that part of the ethical responsibility of travellers is to speak up about what we see, not just go home and forget about the places we’ve visited – especially when we visit places with few foreign observers other than tourists. Tourists play an increasingly important role as citizen human rights observers.
The focus of my human rights activism is the USA, although that’s not today’s topic. And I don’t claim to be a historian or an expert on current events in Kashmir.
What I can offer is a perspective on Kashmir in terms of contemporary norms of human rights, democracy, and self-determination, rather than explanations of contemporary polices rooted in what I think is irrelevant ancient history.
The big picture, about which we’ll hear more from some of tonight’s other speakers, is that since 1989, India has maintained a military occupation of the Kashmir Valley by more than half a million soldiers, police, paramilitaries, and other armed “security” forces brought in from outside Kashmir.
This occupation has had all the typical attributes of any military occupation, in unusually intense and prolonged form. For most of the last 25 years, the Kashmir Valley has been under various flavors of de facto or de jure martial law, with soldiers everywhere, army camps next to every village, checkpoints on every city block, curfews, house to house searches, legalized arrest and detention without trial, and official suspension of many of the norms of democratic governance and civil liberties. (more…)