GENEVA (PRESS RELEASE)
Diplomats and international human rights activists thronged a film screening organized by the Kashmir Delegation at UN Human Rights Council on Thursday on Pakistan’s top rights activist Asma Jahangir. The film focused on her thoughts on Kashmir, the oldest pending conflict on the agenda of UN Security Council.
The film was screened during an event that saw the first ever discussion at the UN of Tihar Jail, the largest prison complex in South Asia that is notorious for human rights violations within its premises, located in New Delhi, India.
The screening of the short film came a day after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, mentioned the Pakistani rights activist in his Global Update on Human Rights Concerns, eulogizing the “loss of a giant whose work has inspired many in the human rights community.”
The film, screened at the Palace of Nations, the UN headquarters in Geneva, showed Jahangir calling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “a cunning fox” and accused him of overseeing a sharp rise in human rights violations inside India and Kashmir.
In Pakistan, some people know Jahangir as an activist with sometimes controversial political positions, but internationally she is recognized for her work within the UN system on the human rights situations in places as diverse as Sri Lanka, India and Iran, in addition to her work in Pakistan.
The film was screened in a special side event titled No To Torture, where speakers included Kashmir Delegation leader Altaf Hussein Wani, from Indian-occupied Kashmir, and activist Ahmed Quraishi, both representing World Muslim Congress, or WMC. Other prominent speakers were Daniela Donges, president of Scales for Justice non-governmental organization, and Prof. Alfred de Zayas, the UN Expert on Promoting Democratic and Equitable International Order.
Quraishi, the event moderator, introduced Jahangir as “Pakistan’s preeminent rights activist.” He thanked her posthumously for defending him at the Supreme Court of Pakistan when his political television show was banned.
The highlight of the film was a scene depicting Jahangir’s strong views on Indian human rights violations in Kashmir.
After the film screening, Wani spoke about Tihar Jail, India’s feared prison complex considered to be the largest in the region and known for rights violations of Kashmiris. Wani mentioned two Kashmiri political prisoners, Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat, who were executed inside Tihar Jail without alerting their families and their bodies were not returned to their loved ones, in clear violation of international and India’s own laws.
Wani, who is also a leader of the APHC, the umbrella organization of pro-freedom Kashmiri political parties, listed the cases of three Kashmiri men, with their pictures, who lost their limbs or died under Indian torture.