The least of these…

Massed graves.

A State in which it is estimated that “8,000  non-combatants had vanished from army custody in a state the size of Ireland – four times more than disappeared under Pinochet in Chile.”

A place where hundreds of soldiers accused of rape, murder, torture- and not one single case has made it to court.

A state in which Human Rights Watch suggest torture is an endemic, systematic tool of government. Methods included branding, electric shocks, simulated drowning, striping flesh with razor blades and piping petrol into anuses.

A place where citizens are dealt with using a ‘Public Safety Act’, under which they can be jailed, preventively, for two years, if deemed likely to commit subversive acts in the future, with an estimated 20,000 detained, according to Human Rights Watch.

Cities and towns where children are regularly shot in the streets during public demonstrations.

A place where in 2008 a lawyer to make a terrible discovery. While surveying disappearance cases in villages he was shown a hitherto unknown network of unmarked and mass graves: muddy pits and mossy mounds, pock-marking pine forests and orchards. According to eyewitnesses, all had been dug under the gaze of the security forces and all contained the bodies of local men. Some were fresh, others decayed, hinting at a covert slaughter that went back many years. The lawyer widened his search, mapping almost 1,000 locations. This has since risen to 2700. He has continued at direct threat of his life- losing many friends along the way. He was awarded  the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize, first given to Nelson Mandela, he was unable to accept it in person as his government declined to issue him a passport.

Were is this terrible place?

Can you guess?

Why are we, the agents of the Kingdom of God, not scandalised? Why are we not using what we can to raise awareness, and to demand our government speaks on our behalf against such abuse?l

By the way, the country where the events above are happening is India. Kashmir to be precise. A beautiful mountainous Indian ruled majority Muslim province on the embattled frontier with Pakistan. Check out this article for a fuller account of the things described above.

Perhaps the list of events are not a surprise to you- either because you are better read than me in relation to international events- but I think that most of us will know very little about the conditions that Kashmiris live under. Beyond the stories about the dreadful earthquake a couple of years ago (in which over 70,000 people died) and the odd account of shellfire across the border, Kashmir is ignored by our media.

I wonder why? Is it because India is on ‘our side’? A democratic free market economy, in which things like this can not take place? Is it because the other side of the border lies Pakistan, with its military dictators, and Muslim extreme views? Or is it because it is simply so far away, and involving people who are not really like us- they are a different colour and creed…

Whatever the reason, shame on us.

If you want to read more, then check out some of these links;

KashmirWatch.

Channel 4’s up coming documentary Kashmir’s Torture Trail.

Human Rights Watch.

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