SEARCH Statement on Kashmir

The SEARCH Foundation -

  • notes that Kashmir is a disputed territory;
  • supports the right of Kashmiris to self-determination in accordance with UN resolutions; and
  • recognises that there is a vital role for the Australian government in resolving the Kashmir conflict. 
  • Urges the Labor opposition, Coalition and Greens to call on the Indian government to withdraw from Kashmir.

As Australia is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council we urge that the Coalition and Labor parties call on the Indian government to demand the restoration of basic human rights including the freedom of speech and communication, the lifting of curfews, and to allow humanitarian aid organisations to resume their work in Kashmir. Australia should also express serious concern at the unprecedented level of illegal detentions and disappearances.

Also all restrictions the Indian government has placed on political leaders in this region should be lifted. India should follow the resolution passed by the UN Security Council and immediately de-militarize the region so a free & fair plebiscite can be held.

All decisions pertaining to the future of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir should be taken in consultation with the people who live in this area. Australia at the UN General Assembly and other international forums should advocate for Kashmiris to be granted the right to participate in a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. This position is in keeping with the many UN resolutions that recognise it is only Kashmiris who should have the right to decide their fate.

The 43-page report of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Jammu and Kashmir calling for the formation of Commission of Inquiry to conduct a comprehensive, international and impartial investigation into the alleged gross human rights violations should be supported by the Australian government.


Violence and human rights abuses have been a part of life in Kashmir since 1947 when Britain as the colonial power partitioned India and Pakistan. 70,000 people have been killed in the violence in past three decades since the armed revolt against Indian rule broke out in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989.

The events in Indian Occupied Kashmir since 5 August 2019 when the curfew and cuts to communications were brought in has serious implications for the future of India as a secular, democratic country.

Prior to the events of 5 August there had been 53 instances of shutdowns in Kashmir in 2019. In 2017, David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, and Michel Forst, the special rapporteur on human rights defenders, condemned the restrictions on the internet and social media services in Jammu and Kashmir, saying they had a “disproportionate impact on the fundamental rights of everyone in Kashmir,” and had the “character of collective punishment.”

By a decree issued by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on 5 August 2019 Jammu and Kashmir lost its autonomy. The decree revoked Article 370 of India's constitution that had guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including the right to its own constitution and the right to make laws on all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs.

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