Thursday, August 25, 2011

Don’t look away from Kashmir’s mass graves and people’s struggle

Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Aug. 24, 2011
 
A protester faces Indian paramilitary forces in Srinagar, Kashmir on 19 August 2011
 
Last Summer, during a massive unarmed revolt against Indian rule in Kashmir, the writer Pankaj Mishra posed the following question about the situation in the territory. It remains as valid today as a year ago – especially after the recent discovery of thousands of bodies in mass graves:
Once known for its extraordinary beauty, the valley of Kashmir now hosts the biggest, bloodiest and also the most obscure military occupation in the world. With more than 80,000 people dead in an anti-India insurgency backed by Pakistan, the killings fields of Kashmir dwarf those of Palestine and Tibet. In addition to the everyday regime of arbitrary arrests, curfews, raids, and checkpoints enforced by nearly 700,000 Indian soldiers, the valley’s 4 million Muslims are exposed to extra-judicial execution, rape and torture, with such barbaric variations as live electric wires inserted into penises.

Why then does the immense human suffering of Kashmir occupy such an imperceptible place in our moral imagination? After all, the Kashmiris demanding release from the degradations of military rule couldn’t be louder and clearer. India has contained the insurgency provoked in 1989 by its rigged elections and massacres of protestors. The hundreds of thousands of demonstrators that fill the streets of Kashmir’s cities today are overwhelmingly young, many in their teens, and armed with nothing more lethal than stones. Yet the Indian state seems determined to strangle their voices as it did of the old one. Already this summer, soldiers have shot dead more than 50 protestors, most of them teenagers.

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