George Floyd died an excruciating death at the hands of his
tormentors who were supposedly his protectors. Police officer, who suffocated
George to death was filmed by some bystanders and the whole world is protesting.
It was indeed a very gory act by someone who wears a uniform and takes an oath
to protect the civilian life in the discharge of his duties. But this death also
highlights one very disturbing fact of the global politics and media affairs. It
is that few lives are worth far more than others. George, a black man, was a
minority person in the racially divided American society. Minority can take
several forms and the colour of the skin is one of many including ethnicity,
Not that one is underplaying the severity of the crime against George, but I am
puzzled about the selective reaction of the world. All human rights violations
and the use of brutal force against minorities should be equally condemnable.
Isn’t it surprising that when a racial minority is treated badly in the richest
state of the world, the conscious of the whole world is animated instantly and
global protests erupt? But similar reactions are not witnessed when minorities
are killed and tortured day in and day out for over 70 years in Indian occupied
Kashmir and there is deafening silence. Why is the moral compass of the world so
selective in pointing out violations?
Kashmir and Palestine are the oldest military occupations in the world.
Ironically, Muslims are suffering the wrath of occupation forces in both cases.
These occupations are internationally recognized and condemned by the United
Nations and there are tons of evidences and heaps of useless resolutions
pointing to global inaction. Both these occupations are brutal, atrocious, and
have a genocidal thread in the tactics employed by occupation forces.Sufferings
of Muslims in both the cases without rousing the world consciousness is a
Kashmir is under occupation for 75 years and holds the record for the longest
occupation, beating Palestine by a year. Kashmiris rose to demand its right of
self-determination, promised by the UN Security Council, in 1988 and have never
returned to normal life ever since. India resorted to ruthless application of
force to stem the democratic demand of Kashmiris.But Indian brutalities touched
a new peak when in August 2019, the Indian government, led by an extremist
rightwing party which holds Hinduvta very dear and closer to their heart,
imposed the harshest lockdown in human history, turning Kashmir into a largest
open-air prison. A population of nearly 12 million, Kashmir is occupied by
nearly 400,000 Indian security forces imposing one of the most brutal and
crippling curfews. One soldier to every 30 residents is very heavy
militarization by any standards. And all this was done in the name of amending
the constitutional provisions governing Kashmir. How strange that you amend the
constitution through guns and torture and still call yourself a democracy?
Amending the constitution is a democratic exercise, taken by elected
representatives of people with the consent of the masses. Indian action of
August 2019 violates basic democratic logic. If a country has to deploy half a
million soldiers in anticipation of street protests against the constitutional
amendment, then the very nature of the amendment is undemocratic and against the
will of the people.
From August last year to this day, the Sun has risen over 300 times but the long
dark night, cast over Kashmir is still staying. Indian occupation has crippled
Kashmir’s economy before the world even knew Covid-19 and consequent lockdowns.
Kashmir is literally cut off from rest of India and the world physically since
all means of communication are totally suspended. No telephones, no cellular, no
This 11-month-long harsh lockdown has crippled Kashmir economically and wreaked
havoc socially and tormented every segment of the population. Sick died due to a
lack of medical care and a shortage of essential medicines. Students missed
their academic year and have an uncertain future. Kashmir lives on tourism and
agriculture. Fruits are the major product of Kashmir. Lockdown forced farmers to
see their year-long toil rot in front of their eyes, with the remotest chance of
compensation. What would be the mental state of a person who has undergone such
traumatic experience? But surely, no one would be concerned since Kashmiris are
the sons of the lesser gods.
All violence is bad. State repression in any form is worse. George’s death is
the latest testimony to the unchecked use of lethal force by law enforcement
personnel. All reputable international human rights watch groups and
organizations have accumulated loads of evidence against Indian security forces,
with graphic details of atrocities and torture. IOK holds an exclusive, though
disgraceful distinction where rape is used as state policy to suppress
democratic dissent. UNHCR, Amnesty International, and innumerable other bodies
have collected verifiable evidence of using illegal practices against civilians
which include the use of pallet guns and enforced disappearances. Worst, Indian
occupation forces have resorted to collective punishment in Kashmir which is a
war crime under 1949 Geneva Conventions.
State is a responsible actor and it works within legal bounds. There are
international conventions that explicitly prescribe how states can fight
insurgency. India holds another terrible world record of home to highest number
of active insurgencies in single country. There are currently plus of a dozen
active insurgencies in India. So much for Indian democracy! With so many
insurgencies, Indian forces should have been the best trained to fight
insurgencies. Opposite is however true. Indians have only resorted to the use of
maximum force as a favoured tool to fight back insurgents. Indian record of
minority rights violation is so awful that USCIRF (United States Commission on
International Religious Freedom) has placed India on its watch list for rights
abuses. That’s not how a world expects a responsible state to act. Or, perhaps
we are expecting too much from a saffron-clad state. A state which razed and
bombed the holiest shrine of Sikhs in the name of fighting few lightly armed
Death of George Floyd has given awakening to the world conscious that all forms
of torture and highhandedness by state security apparatus is repulsive and must
stop forthwith. Protestors have voted with their feet. Its time world also pays
attention to the oldest and bloodiest occupation on the planet and finds
solutions in line with resolutions of the United Nations. Any principle which is
true for sacredness of American lives should also be applied with the same
spirit for protection of the lives of people of other faiths and ethnicities.
(The writer is a security analyst, based in Islamabad)