World to have Tea with Kashmir! Let Kashmir Decide – SolidariTea Campaign
London: A grass roots, human rights movement is spreading across the globe at a fast pace. Even covid-19 cannot deter them, and they are commemorating an international, ‘Tea for Kashmir,” event on 30th May.
The human rights movement was convened by chance. A purchase of Kashmiri rugs from a Kashmiri salesman in Mumbai meant that Claire Bidwell a primary schoolteacher from a Scottish Island returned home as a champion of human rights; after learning that the salesman
could not contact his elderly parents, due to India’s clampdown and communication blockade, Claire was incensed at the injustices and found it hard to fathom how people could be treated so abysmally in this day and age and felt compelled to act to make a difference.
A social media search for more information about the embargo in Kashmir led to meeting people who were directly affected by the crisis. One such Kashmiri activist Jawad Qayyum from AJK and Claire conceived the ideas of campaigning on social media.
They launched a Facebook group based on a petition to the united nations demanding that UN implement their resolutions for self-determination for Kashmir. The initiative has become a phenomenon.
The aim was to stand in solidarity and raise awareness throughout the international community to support a peaceful solution to end the lockdown initiated by Modi’s far right BJP government. 8 million people are still under siege by one million soldiers since 5th August
2019. All political and elected leaders have been imprisoned without charge, there was a complete communications and internet blackout.
International relief and human rights organisations were not granted permission to enter Kashmir. Article 370 which gave a special
status to Jammu and Kashmir was unilaterally revoked amounting to annexing a territory.
There are documented cases of mass, custodial killings, torture and indiscriminate use of pellet guns blinding hundreds of children. Tensions are increasing on the borders and the threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan is increasing every day.
In the process Claire has campaigned the length and breadth of the UK, and overseas; meeting with many prominent pro- Kashmir activists to gain support for the campaign. Evidence of the journey is within the Facebook group, the country representatives’ group and on You Tube. The group now has nearly 3000 members and many of those are large
organisations representing thousands more people.
“Let Kashmir Decide” now has a liaison officer, a media manager, five continental representatives and over thirty country representatives who are voluntarily raising awareness in their countries and will unite for the SolidariTea event. There is a campaign song “Tea for Kashmir,” written and performed by a member.
Just this weekend over 12 cross party MPs met online for a Kashmir conference to discuss the severity of the Kashmir situation. On the 30th May, the 300th day of the lockdown of Kashmir there will be a twitter storm #letkashmirdecide at midday UK time.
The online event will be streamed by JKTV to include discussions, speeches, and music from differing experts and organisations around the globe and latest reports of current issues and solutions to the
crisis. Guests joining the live event for tea will be: The Let Kashmir Decide team; continental representatives; Paul Bristow MP UK; Lord Nazir UK; Sajid Tarar (USA adviser); Tariq Farooq (Deputy PM Azad Kashmir); Brendan O’ Hara MP, Fahim Kayani President Tehreek-e-Kashmir UK, Sahaf Kashmiri ( human rights activist UK ); Rifat
Wani (Human rights activist – Germany) Karen Gwendolyn (Human rights activist and justice for peace advocate – Canada) Michaela Rodman Lewis (Human rights activist, Social Policy and Kashmiri researcher – Canada) Sardar Anwar (JKLF – Pakistan) Dr Shawl (OKC – UK) Tanveer Ahmed – human rights blogger and reporter – Azad Kashmir)
The world will be joining Kashmir through virtual reality and can comment online or upload photographs to Twitter or Facebook to evidence their participation and support for Kashmiris.