Labour must campaign for its democratically-agreed 2019 conference policy of demanding “the restoration of basic human rights and… the right to self-determination” in Kashmir.
We were disturbed by Keir Starmer’s declaration, in defiance of party policy, that “any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament” and his signalling through talk about “business links” and “dialogue” that he wants a rapprochement with India’s far-right government.
He says “Labour is an internationalist party and stands for the defence of human rights everywhere”. For that to be more than empty words, the party must firmly oppose human rights violations everywhere, including in Kashmir; support democracy and the right to self-determination – including in Kashmir; and fight the global nationalist right, of which the Modi regime is a central pillar.
We must not capitulate to the Hindu right’s communalist agitation in Britain, which seeks to divide communities on religious lines while shouting that support for human rights is divisive. We must not abandon our comrades in India fighting for democracy, workers’ rights and the rights of minorities against the Hindu nationalist regime.
We call on Keir Starmer and the party leadership to respect our democracy and conference policy, and to show it is serious about the fight for human rights, including in Kashmir.
• This statement was signed by over 300 party members. Full list of signatories here.
Socialist Campaign Group:
We reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Kashmir in their struggle against the world’s largest military occupation.
In accordance with the motion passed unanimously at Labour conference in 2019, and as enshrined by multiple UN resolutions, we recognise that Kashmir is a disputed territory and demand the realisation of the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination, as mandated by UN Resolution 47.
We are deeply concerned by the ongoing human rights violations, including torture, rape, extrajudicial execution and illegal detention, that continue to take place in Kashmir that have been widely documented by numerous human rights organisations and that have been intensified by Narendra Modi’s government.
Furthermore, in August 2019, the Indian government unilaterally revoked Articles 370 and 35a of the constitution that granted Indian occupied Kashmir autonomy reflective of its status as an occupied territory, and subjected the Kashmir people to a seven-month long lockdown and repressive communications blackout that was brutally enforced by Indian Security Forces.
We recognise the UK’s responsibility regarding the ongoing situation in Kashmir due to the historic role played in this conflict during the partition of the Indian sub-continent that laid the groundwork for the oppression faced by the Kashmiris.
Our internationalism acknowledges the role of British colonial injustices and the inalienable nature of universal human rights.
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