Conference on Human Rights in Gilgit Baltistan at the United Nations

20 Jun, 2016, 10:46 ET from Friends of Gilgit Baltistan

GENEVA, June 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

The "Friends of Gilgit Baltistan" (FOGB) hosted an International Conference on Human Rights in Gilgit Baltistan, at the UN Human Rights Council on June 17, 2016. The prominent speakers who spoke on this occasion were Alberto Cirio, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Vice Chairman of Friends of Gilgit Baltistan, Paulo Casaca, Executive Director, South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) and Junaid Qureshi, Senior Leader of the Jammu Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party (JKDLP) and an expert on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In his remarks, Mr. Casaca stated that while Pakistan and China were today cooperating and jointly constructing the CPEC, they need to remember that Gilgit Baltistan is legally and as per UN Resolutions, still a disputed territory and not a part of Pakistan, though annexed and controlled by it.  Highlighting the manner in which the Pakistani Army is managing all aspects of this corridor, he stated that this was on account of opposition of the local population to its construction. He also drew attention to the manner in which all signs of local dissent were being brutally suppressed, including through extra-judicial executions. He called for a minute's silence to be observed for the death of one such local leader, Baba Jan, killed by the security forces recently.

In his remarks, Kashmiri leader Junaid Qureshi also highlighted the disputed nature of J&K, of which Gilgit Baltistan was a part and parcel. He stated that Pakistan, India and China were parties to this dispute, on account of their control of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Indian-administered J&K and Chinese occupation of Aksai Chin and Shaksgam Valley, respectively. Referring to the CPEC being constructed through this disputed area, he stated that this makes the project too, disputed in nature. Besides, he added, while the CPEC may benefit Pakistan, especially Punjab province, it would render more than 10,000 people of Gilgit Baltistan jobless, once the existing dry port in Sost (GB) is relocated to Havelian (Pakistan). Moreover, with mining licences being issued directly from Islamabad and the people of Gilgit Baltistan having no say in the CPEC, while the locals are opposed to its construction, the Anti-Terrorism Act is being used to silence all voices of dissent. He also highlighted the grave threat from militarisation of this fragile area, adding that the Chinese Army was constructing 22 tunnels in Gilgit Baltistan for deployment of missiles, and regretted that like Aksai Chin, Pakistan seemed to have sold out this territory too, to China, under the guise of infrastructure development. Describing the CPEC as a 'corridor of exploitation', Mr. Qureshi stated that he had launched a signature campaign against this project in major European cities, which had travelled to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Vienna and Geneva so far, and gathered considerable support.

Alberto Cirio, MEP stated that the European Parliament was against human rights abuses anywhere, and stood firmly with the people of Gilgit Baltistan who felt threatened by the CPEC. He added that the EU would be urging Pakistan to recognise all cases of human rights abuses, in view of its third generation agreement with Pakistan on this issue.

SOURCE Friends of Gilgit Baltistan