Washington, D.C. – Hundreds of Kashmiri Americans – men, women and children – from various states in the United States staged their huge rally in front of the White House. They were demanding United Nations – assured right of self-determination.
Raising slogans of: “Kashmiri Lives Matter Too” “Kashmir in Pain: India in Shame” “Indian Forces: Out of Kashmir” “Demilitarize Kashmir” “U.N. Implement Resolutions on Kashmir” “Stop Forced Disappearances and Torture in Kashmir,” the marchers held candle light vigil on the sidewalk of the White House.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, ‘the Keynote Speaker’ (via telephone) called on the world leaders to persuade India and Pakistan to initiate a meaningful dialogue with the Kashmiri leadership to settle the Kashmir dispute once and for all. He suggested that it is better for Indian authorities to shun its stubborn approach and resolve this long pending issue. “The Indian army is unleashing a new wave of terror, killing dozens and maiming hundreds of unarmed protesters, utilizing bullets and lethal pellet-guns aimed to kill and maim” emphasized Mr. Geelani. He hoped that a new dawn of prosperity, peace and stability will be guaranteed when the Kashmir dispute is resolved to the satisfaction of the people of Kashmir.
Mohammad Yasin Malik, ‘Guest of Honor’ (via telephone) thanked the audience for expressing their solidarity with the people of Kashmir. He said that Kashmir is facing worst kind of oppression unleashed by Indian army. Innocent people are being killed, maimed, blinded, incarcerated, tortured and humiliated by the occupational forces. India is using its military might to crush the peaceful resistance movement of Kashmir. And this all is being done with impunity. Mr. Malik expressed his sadness that no civilized nation, not even the United States seems to be concerned with the human rights atrocities being committed in this unfortunate land. Not a single word has been uttered by them against human rights violations taking place in Kashmir.
Barrister Sultan Mehmood Choudhary, ‘Special Guest’ warned that the Kashmiri youth, who had laid down their arms to pursue their struggle by peaceful means, were again becoming restive and the prevailing tensions in occupied Kashmir might explode and lead to a conflict. He therefore urged the international community to resolve the Kashmir dispute for the sake of peace and stability in South Asia. Barrister highlighted that Indian army is conducting a campaign of slaughter in Kashmir. Each day they shoot and kill civilians; detain and brutally torture innocent Kashmiri men, women and children.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, ‘Main Organizer’ said that it is one thing to deny a people their right to freedom of speech and the freedom to vote. It is another thing to deny them the right to live. Fai added that there is no freedom in Kashmir. Only death, destruction and oppression. He reiterated that the United States paved the way for freedom around the world. The United States can help the people of Kashmir achieve peace, freedom and self-determination.
Dr. Imtiaz Khan, President, Kashmiri American council supported dialogue process between India and Pakistan to settle the Kashmir dispute, but emphasized that the leadership of the people of Kashmir must be made integral part of the process. He urged President Trump to listen to Mr. P. Chidambaram, former Home Minister of India who said on February 25, 2017 that India has lost Kashmir. Dr. Khan said that Yashwant Sinha, former foreign minister of India said on January 27, 2017 that India has failed Kashmiris and Kashmiris claim that they have lost faith in India.
Sardar Zulfikhar Khan moderated the event and Sardar Zarif Khan and Sardar Zubair Khan thanked the attendees for their participation.
Others who spoke included: Dr. M.A.Dhar, Javaid Rathore, Sardar Taj Khan, Sardar Imtiaz Khan Garalavi, Choudhry Shaban, Gulfaraz Inqilabi, Sardar Sajid Sawar.Raja Liaqat kayani, Malik Hamid, Zeeshan Haider, Choudhry Zahoor Akhtar, Sardar zahid khan, Asgher khan, Pro abdul Rashid, Raja Mukhtar, Wajid ali shah, Sardar Afzal khan, Sabar khan, Sardar Tahir, Ghulam, Syed mukhtar shah,Amana Habib, Ms. Farah Sawar, Ms. Mumtaz kosar, Ms. Khalida Perveen.