NEWS RELEASES- On the 13th June 2017, the CIPADH decided to attend one of the many side events of the 35th session of the Human Rights Council offered by the civil society, permanent missions, the OHCHR and other international intergovernmental organizations. This informal meeting was given by the Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s rights on the topic of the Use of Human Shield.
The Chair, M. Naqshbandi introduced the subject by explaining why this discussion matters. The use of human shield is very frequent. It is the use of a person or a group of person as shield in war or conflict so the enemy will not want to attack the ones behind the shield. This practice is forbidden by the Geneva Conventions and defined as war crime in the Rome Status. It means that utilizing civilians or war prisoner to protect itself from the enemy is a war crime. But why are human shield still used frequently for example in Israel or more recently in Kashmir?
P. A. Shah a lawyer from the Indian occupied Kashmir reiterate that the prohibition of human shield can be found in numerous Covenant and other document of international law. This practice is considered as a criminal offense under the legislation of many states. In his statement he explained that using prisoners of war as Human Shield is an old practice and was frequently used during World War II. Concerning the Kashmir, it is according to M. Shah the most militarize place on the earth, where the Indian army torture and kill civilians with no legal proceedings. On the April 2017, an inhabitant from Kashmir was used as a Human Shield and tied up to a car during 5 hours to prevent separatists to attack the army vehicle. This war crime act was not condemned by the army nor the government. Some even thought it was a heroic act from the Indian arm forced of the Kashmir. The government stand up for the army explaining that the situation in Kashmir was a war situation and it was the appropriate response. The Indian government considers India as the biggest democracy in the world but it is a fraud as it violates human rights. The speaker beg for the delegates, journalists and other members of NGO in the room to speak up for the Kashmiris and increase the visibility of the situation. Indian operations need to be spoken about to “provoke the conscience of the international organization as the UN” and other state should ask India to stop this cruel practices
Afterwards, Miss S. Shawl took the floor to remind the public that the use of Human Shield is not a new practice in Kashmir. It was already use in the nineties and the situation is nowadays alarming. Indian army is using sophisticated weapons as Human weapons to create fear among the population. Furthermore the army has all the power and is not controlled by the parliament. She introduce some ideas about the way of solving the problem. In her mind, “a meaningful dialogue” is necessary. But the biggest obstacle to this dialogue is the Indian government. India does not want this dialogue and think only about a militarize solution. These way of thinking the conflict explain why there is total impunity of the army. As India obstruct any possible way of solving the problem, the matter should be taken into account by the United Nation. It is the responsibility of the Human Rights Council and the International Community to stand up and denounce the war crimes committed. She encourages the civil society to write about the situation in Kashmir, stand up for them and help them express themselves.
Mister M. S. Guzel, another panelist specialist on the topic, sums up the discussion by recall the violations of international laws concerning the use of human shield. It is a war crime as it take someone as a hostage, a civilians and use it to protect another group. But it is a crime committed by the government and the prime minister are responsible for these actions. They have a responsibility in these crime as they failed to prevent these and should or had a reason to know. In his mind a petition against M. Modi the prime minister of India should be made and the international community should take action against him and not only against the military responsible of the action. This situation should be taken care of and show everyone that crimes won’t be let unpunished. Furthermore, Kashmiris have the right to self-determination and a fair plebiscite as asked by the UN to get rid of the illegal Indian occupation. Finally, the speaker reiterate the goal of this conference: show to the world the war crimes committed in the Indian Kashmir by the Indian army to alert the international community about these atrocities and ask the United Nations and each state to react.
EF - Research Assistant at CIPADH