Kashmiri Hurriyat leader Shamim Shawl gets Women’s Leadership Award

Brussels, September 04 (KMS): Kashmiri woman Hurriyat leader Shamim Shawl has been granted the European International Women’s Leadership Award by the Forum International Du Leadership Féminin for her human rights work she has tirelessly been doing for the people of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The European international Women’s leadership Award by the Forum International Du Leadership Feminine for the human rights work was awarded to seven women of the globe from different geographies for their outstanding and exceptional human rights work.

The award ceremony was held at Brussels. The award was distributed by MEP Corina Cretu, former EU Regional policy Commissioner to the laureates. Those awarded included Oyunna Bold (Mongolia, Belgium), Monika Griefahn (Germany), Yasmine Hasnaoui (Morocco, United States), Gulnoza Ismailova (Uzbekistan), Irene Kamanzi (RdC, Belgium), Bissan Salman (Palestine, Israel), Shamim Shawl (Kashmir, UK) and Yangdutso Yangkartsang (Tibet, Belgium).

Ms Shamim Shawl in her address at the ceremony said, “Dear guests, dear fellow laureates. I am grateful for this opportunity provided to me to share my views during this award giving ceremony. My selection for this award is the recognition to the plight of our Kashmiri people – torn by conflict and occupation. It is the acknowledgement of the suffering of my people, particularly by women, living in the troubled Jammu and Kashmir, Thanks you for your efforts to empower women and honour their achievements. The conflict has given Kashmiri women new roles: some – unexpectedly – found themselves as head of the household or as primary breadwinner. The conflict gave women as well as well greater access to public space. The intense military presence – coupled with a complete impunity given to Indian forces – increased sexual violence.”

She said, the role of women in this atmosphere of vulnerability is challenging. She paid great respect to courageous political and human rights activists like -Aasiya Andrabi, Aasiya Jeelani, Khadijah Mir and Perveena Ahanger, the President of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). It was due to the efforts of women activists that whole story of the rape victims of Kunanposhpora was documented, she added.

Shamim Shawl said, “When, years ago, I started to raise my voice for women, I was confronted with a variety of difficulties. Sometimes, the counter arguments were even ridiculous. All of that led me to the conclusion that a transformation can only be achieved by conviction, determination and steadfastness.”

She also paid gratitude to the International Muslim Women Union (IMWU) for providing her a platform at the United Nations. She also thanked Lois Harman from WUNRN (the Women’s UN Report Network), Barrister Margret Owen and others, who cooperated with her in organising worldwide programmes under the auspices of United Nations.

“I must pay my respectful tribute to Mary Robinson, the former UN Human Rights Commissioner for her inspiration and encouragement. Thank you, Barrister Abdul Majeed Tramboo, who always gave me a forum at the European level. Thank you, my husband and my children that you always supported me. Thank you finally, my mentor, Anjum Zamarud Habib, the leader of the Kashmir Tehreek-e-Khawateen, as the prisoner of conscience, the so-called “Prisoner No 100”. Let me finish my speech with news from Kashmir,” she added.

Shamim Shawl said, already years ago, an ad-hoc delegation of Members of the European Parliament concluded in their final report that Kashmir is “The most beautiful prison in the world”. “Millions of lives have been turned upside down, tens of thousands have been killed, thousands of women raped and tortured. Why? Indian Prime Minister Nehru confirmed in a radio broadcast in November 1947 “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people.” Nevertheless, the UN has failed to deliver the right of self-determination – as promised in UN resolutions. Since then, attempts to assimilate Kashmir to India have been made continuously,” she maintained.

She said, the latest attempt happened some two years ago when on 05 August 2019, the Modi-led fascist Indian government took a unilateral and even illegal decision to repeal Kashmir’s special status and since then Kashmir has endured a communications blockade cutting them from the outside world:- media access is denied,- medical facilities have been reduced during the pandemic,- religious gatherings forbidden.- the number of detentions have increased,- cases of torture as well,- extra-judicial killings happened. Despite all those challenges, we have succeeded to unite the local civil society in one body: the Organisation of Kashmir Coalition, OKC. It is now to the international community to have a more intensive involvement in that conflict.

A final dedication: this time to my father who was arrested because of my work, who was tortured because of my voice and to my brother, who was arrested, tortured and cut into pieces. And to his wife, who was shot in front of her house.

She also appealed to the European Parliament to send an ad-hoc women delegation to Kashmir to evaluate the situation of women.