UN rights chief urges India, Pakistan to grant observers access to Kashmir

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UNITED NATIONS, Aug 17 (APP): The United Nations human rights chief has appealed to India and Pakistan to grant his office access to Jammu nd Kashmir, amid “grave concerns” over alleged rights violations.
In a statement released in Geneva on Wednesday, Zeid Ra’ad Zeid
al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), said he has been working to get independent observers to the parts of the disputed Kashmir region since the eruption of anti Indian protests in July.

The High Commissioner, who has sought access for a team to visit both Indian occupied Kashmir Jammu and Kashmir and Azad Kashmir to independently and thoroughly look into allegations of human rights violations, regretted that his requested have not been granted.

More than 70 Kashmiri civilians have been killed and thousands more
injured in Indian occupied Kashmir in clashes with security forces after the killing of a prominent Kashmiri youth leader, Burhan Wani, in a military operation on July 8.

“Since the latest outbreak of violence in early July, High Commissioner
Zeid has been engaging with both Indian and Pakistani authorities and has sought access for a team to visit both Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir to independently and thoroughly look into and verify allegations of violations of international law to be able to establish the facts accurately, particularly given the conflicting and competing claims on both sides,” Zeid said.

“I deeply regret that our requests for access have not been granted.
Given the seriousness of the allegations of the use of excessive force, allegations of state sponsorship of violence, as well as the number of people killed and the very large number of people injured, the continuing unrest and the almost daily reports of violence in the region, it is unfortunate that our sincere attempts to independently assess the facts in relation to reports of human rights violations have failed,” the High Commissioner said.

“We requested full and unhindered access to the affected population, to
interview a variety of individuals on the ground, including victims, witnesses, security forces, and with access to relevant documentation. Such access would enable us to provide an independent and fact based analysis of the situation, which is so crucial in volatile, politically charged situations.”

“Without access, we can only fear the worst,” Zeid added.
“I reiterate our request for access.”

APP/ia/ahn