Commission on Human Rights Fifty-seventh Session in Geneva
Vijay K. Sazawal, Ph.D.
11 April 2001
Agenda Item 13: Rights of the Child
Intervention by Vijay K. Sazawal.
Interfaith International supports and promotes the human development of our society with particular emphasis on the rights of a child.
We have supported the resolution 51-77, passed in the 51st session, recommending that the Secretary-General appoint a special representative on the impact of armed conflict on children. The issues pertaining to the children affected by armed conflict in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir are diverse. We have seen a gradual increase in the abduction of Muslim children from their families who were forcefully taken to training camps and given indoctrination and military style training to fight Jihad in Kashmir. The export of? Talibanism? to the State has taken this issue to new proportions with children being recruited for the Fidayeen (suicide) squads. No doubt, the new recruits are now being inducted from overseas Diaspora.
Mr. Chairman, a recent suicide mission bomber in Kashmir was a 17 year old Muslim youth from Birmingham, U.K., whose parents were unaware that their son had been recruited for such a mission. Traditionally, such missions are funded by Wahabis who provide many inducements, including financial, to induce young people to commit such horrible acts for the sake of their own religious beliefs of personal glory.
Such cruel practices deserve universal condemnation, and the Commission must send out a clear message that specifically condemns the involvement of youth as Fidayeens. The United General Assembly must declare all such activities as immoral, uncivilized and against the basic tenants of human development.
Then there are children from families who were victims of armed violence in Kashmir and are facing an uncertain future today.
Mr. Chairman, the indigenous minority community of Kashmir, known as Kashmiri Pandits, was driven out of the valley by Islamic warriors a decade back. The survivors of brutal ethnic cleansing have since been living in makeshift refugee camps away from their ancestral homes.
The U.S. State Department Human Rights Report (2000) states that nearly 95% of the Pandit community is in a displaced state. The forced exodus has been particularly hard on children. The camps are rampant with diseases like hypertension, psychiatric disorders, ulcer dyspepsia, stress diabetes, tuberculosis, etc. But children have been particularly afflicted with malnutrition, skin diseases, jaundice, and other infectious diseases. The long term impact of such afflictions is clearly disastrous and when coupled with a lack of proper education and social services, portends a catastrophe in making.
Mr. Chairman, the situation of children affected by armed insurgency in Kashmir is very grave. The blame lies squarely on the organizations and nations that support Jihad as an instrument of foreign policy, which has only brought death and destruction to Kashmir in the name of religion. At the same time, the children from displaced families, currently languishing in refugee camps, deserve more serious consideration from the authorities before their situation turns into disaster. We call upon the civilized humanity to respect and protect the rights of children, including those residing in refugee camps in Jammu and elsewhere. Furthermore, we ask this Commission to condemn the forced induction of children in the Jihad unleashed by religious zealots in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir.
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Dr. Vijay Sazawal is a policy analyst and a commentator who specializes in local governance and intra-community issues affecting political dynamics within the Kashmir valley. He has written extensively on the current political turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir (commonly referred to as Kashmir), arguing for new and innovative approaches in understanding and resolving the simmering discontent in all communities and regions of the State.