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India: Killing of Protestors by Border Security Force in Kashmir Condemned

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(Bangkok, 19 July 2013) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights group with 47 member organisations from 16 countries across Asia, condemned the killing of six protesters by the Border Security Force (BSF), who were protesting against the forceful entry of BSF personnel into a mosque in the area in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India on 18 July 2013. The regional group pointed out that the incident is indicative of the grave and systematic human rights abuses by BSF in the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The heavy-handed manner in which the BSF personnel engage with civilians is an issue that is prevalent in all border areas, including the West Bengal-Bangladesh border. There is a culture among all security forces to use maximum possible force at the first instance. This must be addressed and remedied immediately,” said Kirity Roy, Secretary General of Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a member organisation of FORUM-ASIA in India.

Local and international civil society groups have time and again pointed out the need for greater protection of human rights in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but these concerns have been dismissed by the government of India as an exaggeration of ground realities.

“Civil society organizations taking up these issues have also been accused of maligning and tampering with the reputation of the state before the international community. The killing of innocent civilians in this latest instance only goes to prove the seriousness and urgency of these concerns,” said Henri Tiphagne, National Working Secretary of the Human Rights Defenders Alert – India and Chairperson of FORUM-ASIA.

The killing of civilians by the BSF has triggered massive protests in the region. The government of India has responded by issuing a curfew immediately in all major towns and suspending mobile services, which has further created a climate of fear and uncertainty in the region.

FORUM-ASIA urged the government of India to ensure that the constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of peaceful assembly is protected at all times. The regional group also urged the government to hold the BSF accountable and ensure that future violations are prevented.

“We call upon the government to suspend and prosecute the BSF personnel involved in the incident. The state and national human rights commissions must also closely monitor the situation and prevent further deterioration,” said Giyoun Kim, Acting Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.

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