August 13th, 2019
Burhan Sarwar, firstname.lastname@example.org
ECAASU Stands With Kashmir
The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) condemns the Indian government’s recent revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370. This attack on Kashmir’s already limited autonomy from the Indian government lays the foundation for a rapid escalation of Indian colonial settlement and ethnic displacement of Kashmiris in the Muslim-majority region. Our country must name this as a violent form of colonial imperialism and swiftly take a stand for Kashmiri independence.
Kashmir has historically been used as a political cudgel for nationalist sentiments in India and Pakistan, ever since the original partition of the two countries. Due to Kashmir’s involuntary role in mediating the political tensions between these two much larger states, it has become subject to an expansive military occupation. This military occupation has at times ruptured into mass violence in the name of Hindu nationalist ideology and facilitates an extreme level of state surveillance and political repression, putatively for the sake of national security. Since 1990, 70,000 Kashmiris have been murdered by this military occupation and 8,000 have disappeared. It is not uncommon for curfews to be set, internet and mobile services to be shut down, nonviolent protests to be attacked, and soldiers to sexually assault the population. Indian soldiers have so far faced no repercussions for these actions.
While activists and community leaders in Kashmir (as well as Indian groups similarly marginalized by the government, such as Dalits, Adivasis, and Muslims outside of Kashmir) have been fighting for an end to the military occupation, the revocation of Article 370 drastically pushes the status of Indian-occupied Kashmir in the other direction. Article 370, and the related Article 35A, ensured Kashmiris in India a degree of autonomy in their internal affairs and gave Kashmiris special rights to residency, property ownership, and work in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Now that Jammu and Kashmir are to be directly governed by the Indian government (which is currently controlled by the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party), Kashmiris in India will lose these exclusive rights. This lays the foundation for attempts to create Hindu majority settlements in the region by deracinating locals in Kashmir and offering the now unprotected land as real estate opportunities for outside developers. This strategy of occupation and colonization does not only seek to develop the settlement, but also to destroy the indigenous population; the Indian occupation of Kashmir is part of a long history of colonial acquisitions across the globe which have set the stage for ongoing genocides and state-building. Preceding the revocation of Article 370, internet and cell coverage in Kashmir were shut off in an attempt to limit the visibility of what the Indian government plans to do in the coming days and weeks.
If you are concerned with the right of communities to self determination, then it is vital to support Kashmir in the face of this curtailment of its autonomy. As a student or community organizer, there are many ways to help (Thanks to Stand With Kashmir from whom we sourced these suggestions):
Raise Media Awareness. Encourage journalists, activist organizations, and influential community members to speak about the ramifications of revoking Kashmir’s special status. Follow and share updates from advocacy organizations such as Stand With Kashmir. Look for events or organizations which advocate for Kashmiri independence in your city. This is especially crucial as Kashmiri journalists currently lack internet access and advocacy groups are frequently censored on social media.
Contact Politicians and Protest. Reach out to your political representatives and local embassies and consulates and tell them to condemn express the occupation and revocation of Article 370. Attend or organize a protest at your nearest Indian Embassy. Coordinate events or campaigns with local organizations concerned with human rights, civil rights, international advocacy.
Educate Your Community. Attend or organize panels, teach-ins, or film screenings which explain the situation in Kashmir. Share information about Kashmir with ‘fellow travelers’. Talk to the community organizations you are involved in to speak out about what is happening in Kashmir. Invite professors and activists involved with Kashmiri independence to your campus or community.
Run solely by volunteers, The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to inspire, educate, and empower those interested in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) issues.
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