Pakistan urges UN to ensure release of detained Kashmiri activist

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has called upon the United Nations to direct India to immediately release a woman rights activist and political leader from occupied Kashmir detained in a New Delhi prison.

Asiya Andrabi, 60, chief of a pro-freedom group Dukhtaran-i-Milat (Daughters of the Muslim Faith) was arrested in April 2018 on charges of involvement in a “conspiracy” to “severely destabilise the sovereignty and integrity of India”, along with two women associates.

In August, Andrabi, who also faces accusations of sedition and conspiracy to commit acts of terror, was shifted to the punishment or penitentiary ward of New Delhi’s notorious Tihar Jail, where prisoners face a strict schedule, including forced physical labour. Her family has expressed fears for her safety and health.

In a statement issued Sunday, Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri Pakistan has urged the UN secretary general AntĂłnio Guterres and the UN high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet to seek Andrabi’s immediate release.

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“It has been highlighted that Ms Andrabi’s life is in danger owing to imminent risk of persecutory conviction by a sham court on 18 January 2020,” the statement read.

It further stated that as a “champion of human rights and an ardent advocate of women empowerment, the Kashmiri leader has worked tirelessly for social reforms and realisation of fundamental freedoms for the people of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) for over four decades”.

“She founded an organisation called the Dukhtaran-e-Millat (DeM), one of the biggest women rights organisations in IIOJK, working on women’s education, empowerment, well-being and protection — especially against sexual violence and abuse at the hands of Indian occupation forces.”

The statement maintained that Andrabi has remained under on and off “illegal and inhuman incarceration for over 15 years on fabricated charges under draconian laws aimed at further perpetuating India’s illegal occupation of IIOJK through brutalisation of the Kashmiri people”.

“The Indian authorities have now put Andrabi on trial on trumped-up charges, deliberately accelerated the trial, and set aside due process, reflecting malicious intent with clear indications of looming judicial murder.”

“India’s blatant attempts to portray the legitimate Kashmiri struggle as “terrorism”, and to prosecute its leaders through concocted cases, is a clear violation of the UN Charter, UN Security Council and UN General Assembly resolutions, and international human rights and humanitarian law,” the spokesperson asserted.

“Pakistan has called upon the United Nations to urge India to drop all fabricated charges against Ms Andrabi, her husband and her associates, and provide them complete legal protections, including the right to a free and fair trial; release all detainees, especially political prisoners and human rights defenders in IIOJK; repeal draconian laws such as AFSPA, PSA, and UAPA; allow UN-supervised investigations into cases of extra-judicial executions and other serious and systematic human rights violations; and fully implement all recommendations of the two Kashmir reports of OHCHR, including the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry.”

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