International online conference held on Kashmir, Palestine

Highlighted how settlers oppressing Kashmiris, Palestinians

Islamabad, June 08 (KMS): Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR) and Legal Forum for Kashmir (LFOVK) jointly organized an International online conference titled “Re-theorizing Theory of Self Defence”.

The conference organized on Monday was aimed at highlighting how settlers oppress the people under the rubric of self-defense to pursue their criminal objectives in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine. The eminent speakers included Dr Ilan Pappe, historian and writer, Dr Ramzay Baroud, US-Palestinian journalist and media consultant, Dr Salma Malik, Assistant Professor Quai-e-Azam University and Dr Mevludin Ibish, Assistant Professor International Balkan University. The session was moderated by Ms Dina Abraham.

While speaking to the forum Dr Ramzy Baroud said that Israel engaging in violence had been perpetual throughout the history. “The asymmetry between Israel and Palestinians is unmatched yet Palestinians have registered their resistance and effected Israeli economy which Israel uses to justify their atrocious acts upon Palestinians,” he said.

Dr Ramzy Baroud further added that it is to be understood that Israel is engaging itself in manipulation of terminologies to justify its acts as self-defence. He said that Israeli doesn’t have the right to self-determination or self-defense. There is a factual basis of it that it is Palestine which is living under military occupation. It is Palestine which is facing horrors of ethnic cleansing for over 70 years. In Gaza people are living under Israeli siege for over 15 years. Not just this, thousands of people in Gaza have been killed and wounded severely. Then how come it is Israel who has right to self determination and self-defense,” he said.

Dr Baroud also said Israel is now facing criminal investigation of its actions in Palestine which is why it is coming up with similar claims of self-determination and self-defense. Israel sees Palestinians as threatening and presents tailored narrative to justify its acts as self-defense.

Dr Ilan Pappe in his address said it is time to reconceptualize international law and by inference also discuss the law of self-defense. He said the context in which international law was born and historical context under which it has shaped needs to be examined. “The roots of international law are colonial. International law was not a product of discussion of a de-colonized world. It was colonial empires that laid the foundations of international law,” said Dr Pappe. He said for centuries International law has worked as a vehicle to implement European imperial and colonial policies particularly in 17th century. “The Palestinian and Kashmiri self-defense is legitimate and there shouldn’t be any doubt about that. The Palestinian documents also refer to international legitimacy which is not a set of rule but international consciousness,” he added.

Dr Pappe also said through displacement and replacement, settlers are changing demography of Palestine and Kashmir and stripping indigenous people from their land. Lastly, he said, the meaning of de-colonization in 21st century should be the dismantling of settlers colonial institution’s occupation and ethnic cleansing both in Kashmir and Palestine.

Dr Salma Malik, in her address shared her thoughts on the fact that there has been a lack in indigenous discourses due to which we have to accept western ideas. She said the concept of self-defense is not how it is interpreted by the west today. Throughout the primitive times it has been there, Aristotle through the concept of just war and Cicero respectively defined self-defense, she said. Dr Salma also said self-defense is not preemptive and is actually defensive in nature anyone who is resorting to self-defense is facing aggression and oppression from another entity.

“The contemporary understating of self-defense under the light of League of Nations and United Nations has introduced more aspects to this phenomenon but with little application to be seen today,” she added.

Referring to the Kashmir dispute, Dr Salma said Kashmir fully suffices the requirements of self-defense where people are being stripped from their basic rights, where an occupier force is subjugating by all means the people of Kashmir and it has been happening since 1940’s. “It was interesting to see that international community was vocal on internet access but paid little or no heed to the fact that people were being persecuted and are still facing cultural and ethnic cleansing through systematic means, this holistically defines what is important in the eyes of international community,” she added.

Dr Mevludin Ibish in his speech said international law is not related to the question of state to state interests but it is related to individual to state interests. It is so because the construction of the sovereignty of state is not based on state but it is developed on individuals and civil society. He said that the case of Israel and Palestine should not be only looked through the lens of international law but its political context is also crucial. “The position of self-defense which Israel is using to justify its acts on innocent people is targeted towards Hamas. Israel projects the case as it is between two political forces i.e. Hamas and Israel. As far as self-defense is concerned it is legal for individuals and civil society,” he added.

Dr Ibish also maintained that the methodological shift is needed, and should be redirected towards negotiations, which is more acceptable for the west. Lastly, he added that even if peace and stability is brought it is not sure that there would be any discussion of two state solution because that has broader issues to be addressed and the Palestinians have the right to self-defense, there shouldn’t be any doubt on it.

The conference was then followed by question and answer session.