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Webinar Seeks end to violence against children in IOK

London: Kashmiri Children Worst Victims of Indian State Terrorism
SPONSORED BY World Muslim Congress and Kashmir Institute of International Relations

Islamabad: Speakers at a webinar hosted by Kashmir Institute of International Relations and world Muslim Congress as sideline event of 46th Session of United Nations Human Rights Council, here on Friday, made a passionate appeal to the international community urging it to stand up for the rights of Kashmiri children who have been the worst victims of the lingering dispute and Indian state terrorism.

The webinar titled “Forgotten children of Kashmir conflict” was attended and addressed by noted human rights activists, scholars, academicians and international experts including H.E. Ambassador Dr Shahid Ameen Khan World Chairman & Ambassador at Large, International Human Rights Commission, Ms. Danielle Khan Special Assistant to Dean Eliot A. Cohen at Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Rana Shama Nazir Chairperson British Kashmiri Women Council, UK, Barrister Nida Salam British-Kashmiri Barrister, Ms. Marrina Zucca Human Rights Activist Italy, Dr Shaheen Shora Consultant Psychiatrist & Medical Lead for Mental Health Services, Hertfordshire, UK, Mr. Ahmed Bin Qasim son of political prisoners Ashiq Hussain Faktoo and Aasiya Andrabi, Prof, Shugafta Ashraf, Amb. Ibhrim dadu SAID of Lebanon, whereas the event was moderated by the KIIR Chairman Altaf Hussain Wani.

Speakers while highlighting the plight of Kashmiri children said that decades of conflict has left the life of Kashmiri children completely devastated. “Besides affecting the mental and physical health of children the unending violence has rendered their future bleak”, speakers added that life of Kashmiris especially the children who have always been at the receiving end has sadly been crippled by the long-running dispute.

“The fact remains that no facet of life in Kashmir has been left unaffected from the brutal war. However, being a vulnerable segment of the society children in Kashmir have been the worst victims of direct and indirect forms of violence and brutality, which has left indelible imprints of war on their memory “The atmosphere of violence has virtually robbed them of their childhood activities and cherished memories. Grown up witnessing nothing but the sounds of gunshots, killings and cries of the injured, the children have literally lost the meaning of childhood”,

Like other parts of the world Children of Kashmir deserve the right to live a peaceful life in a violence-free environment. These silent sufferers of the conflict deserve the right to health and education, Hundreds of innocent children have fallen to the bullets of Indian army while thousands of others have become orphans after losing their parents, and many have been left to rot in detention and interrogation centers without any fault. “Young generation of Kashmir has been searing in the flames of withering injustice, discrimination”

“Apart from dire economic impact the violence has cast a dark shadow on the physical and mental health of Kashmiri children. Having seen their loved ones killed by firing of the Indian army the Kashmiri children have been under tremendous mental depression. Anxiety, fear and trauma occupy their early emotional state has led to other psycho-social problems”. He said that the conflict has snatched from them the most cherished childhood days.

Citing a survey conducted by Save-the-Children According to the survey at least 318 children were killed, among them 72 girls from 2003 to 2017. Holding Indian armed forces largely responsible for the violence the report reveals that 144 children were killed by Indian armed forces and state police which is nearly half, 44 percent, of the total number of children killed.

The survey he further revealed that there were 2, 14,000 orphan children in Kashmir and 37 percent of them have become orphans due to the continued conflict and perpetual violence.

Referring to impact of violence on education of children the speakers said that due to many psycho-social problems many orphan children could not continue their education and some of them are studying in orphanages run by socio-religious organisations.

Ahmed bin Qasim, son of political prisoners Ashiq Hussain Faktoo and Aasiya Andrabi, highlighted the suffering of the political prisoners and her family. He said his mother has spent over 12 years of her life in prison & his father was jailed just two months after Ahmed was born. The people of Kashmir call him the Nelson Mandela of Kashmir – I just hope he too is a free man one day in a free Kashmir. Now my father is serving a life sentence and was recently shifted to a jail outside Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmiri am not alone – every Kashmiri child has such harrowing stories of the atrocities inflicted on us by the occupying Indian forces,” said Qasim The speakers said that like other parts of the world Children of Kashmir deserve the right to live a peaceful life in a violence-free environment. They said that it was incumbent upon the global community to play its due role to help secure the future of Kashmiri children and make Indian accountable for its crimes against humanity in Indian occupied Kashmir.

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