British parliament hosts national student conference on Kashmir

London, December 16 (KMS): British Parliament hosted National Student Conference on Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), with participation of students, British lawmakers and activists from across the country.

“When you talk about rape as a weapon of war and having treated so women that it occupies, that it rules over, that it claims to secure, there is a certain tyranny that the world can understand,” said British Shadow Minister Jess Phillips, about IIOJK.

She said India has used rape as a weapon of war in IIOJK to persecute the local population against their demand of right to self-determination. “As we go to the next step of hoping that spring will one day come, myself and others can work on specific activism and lay at the feet of the Indian government exactly what is happening to women and children in their name,” she told the conference, which was attended by around 100 students from across the UK.

Phillips expressed concern over the situation of human rights in IIOJK. She said the right to self-determination is end goal for Kashmir. “I pledge that going forward we will seek to do some real international work with women of occupied area (of Kashmir) … with women’s rights activists around the world,” she added.

Chaired by British MP Afzal Khan, who is also UK’s Shadow Minister for Justice, the conference was organized by Tehreek-e-Kashmir (TeK) UK, and was attended by peace practitioners, activists and Kashmiri diaspora leaders including TeK UK President Fahim Kayani, Kashmiri activists from IIOJK Muzammil Ayyub Thakur, Shaista Safi besides others. The conference is the first “successful student conference on Kashmir in the history of Britain held in the House of Commons,” organizers said.

MP Afzal Khan detailed how India was involved in demographic changes in the UN-designated disputed territory. “The artificial demographic changes in Kashmir tantamount to violations of international law, Geneva Conventions,” he said, urging the international community to act faster “to implement the long due plebiscite in accordance with UN resolutions.”

British MP Debbie Abraham, who is also chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kashmir, also attended the conference. She expressed her delight to attend the conference and interact with students discussing “how we can move things forward in Kashmir.” She said Kashmiris have to be at the “heart” of discussion on Kashmir.

“I was really pleased that the Kashmiri students (in conference) came up with some very tangible ideas of what we should be doing. The key to that is about organization and solidarity,” the APPG chair said.

Reminding the conference of British government’s stance regarding Russia’s war on Ukraine, TeK President Fahim Kayani said the UK government was pursuing “double standards viz-a-viz Kashmir.

Pushing back efforts to bilateralize Kashmir between India and Pakistan, Kayani told the convention, “Kashmir is not a bilateral issue. It is a matter of the right to self-determination of Kashmiris. No bilateral agreement can supersede this international obligation.”

He reminded the participating students of importance of their efforts in movements for freedom, justice and equality. “Dear students, no movement can succeed without the involvement of youth,” he said, suggesting forming of a “Kashmir Student Forum which will take this issue to the public and students through social media and other means.”

Muzammil Ayyub Thakur and Shaista Safi narrated the ordeal of being a Kashmiri in IIOJK and how India was committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the UN-designated disputed territory.

Student Leaders Yousaf Farooq, Zeynep Bugday, Zohra Shamim, Sadaf Abbas, Muhammad Bilal Mustafa, Iman Rasheed, Sabba Chaudhry and Syed Hassan were the main speakers of the conference. They said that this conference “is beginning not the end.”

“We must mobilise youth in the UK on Kashmir and this issue deserves same attention like other humanitarian issues. India is committing war crimes in Kashmir. The so-called largest democracy’s brutal face must be exposed to the world,” they added.

Lord Wajid Khan, TeK leaders Ch Zahid Iqbal, Rehana Ali, Ch Ikram-ul-haq and Daud Shah also attended the conference.

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