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Imagine that for two months, you are placed under a curfew. For two months, your phone and internet services are cut. For two months, you do not know how your family members and relatives are doing. For two months, your local hospital has not had adequate medical supplies.
For two months and counting, your life, and of those around you, has come to a virtual standstill.
This is the reality of the situation in the Indian-administered region of Kashmir.
It is the equivalent of, say, the Canadian government sending thousands of soldiers into Quebec and implementing a total blackout in the region.
Anyone with a sense of humanity within them would be concerned.
Yet Canadians have seen neither proper news coverage, nor a proper response by almost any federal party leader, on this issue.
As a nation that is a global champion of human rights, Canada must, at the very least, inform its citizens on the issue and federal leaders must also release a statement.
One finds it almost hypocritical that all federal leaders released statements in support of the people of Hong Kong, protesting against a brutally authoritarian regime masking itself behind the red banner of Communism.
Yet when we see something similar, if not worse, happening in India, we turn a blind eye.
India is hiding its authoritarianism behind the mask of “development and security.” One would expect better from Canada’s ally and one of the world’s largest democracy.
Kashmir is a long and historical source of tension between India and Pakistan. Both nations have fought numerous wars over it for the last 70 years.
The issue of who has legal rights over Kashmir is a contentious one. For what it’s worth, both India and Pakistan are equally responsible for the mess in the region.
Pakistan has been arming jihadists and supporting violent extremists in the region to create instability; the Indian army has been committing numerous human rights abuses against women and children.
So of course, this entire situation is not just plainly India’s fault. ]
But what is India’s fault, however, is this draconian imposition of an authoritarian blackout that was blasted on the Kashmiri people against their will.
Hospitals are out of medical supplies; people can’t contact their relatives; Kashmir has no access to the outside world; and the Indian army’s presence is in the hundreds of thousands.
Global Affairs’ official response has been a moot one, and its hollowness hurts more than it helps.
If anything, leaders should at least express their opinions on the issue. We can’t treat Hong Kong any different from Kashmir.
As Canadians, we are lucky to be able to read these articles. Kashmiris, cannot.
It is for those eight million helpless people that Canadian leaders should stand up for. It is imperative that Canada continues to champion human rights on the global stage.