London, February 14: The International Council for Human Rights-Kashmir Project, and Kashmir Centre London have said that the 9th February 2013, the day when Mohammed Afzal Guru was hanged speaks volumes about the continued unethical, immoral and unjustified misconduct of the Indian state vis-à-vis occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
In the briefing given by the ICHR-Kashmir Project and Kashmir Centre London in London, today, it was said that Kashmiri diaspora around the world condemned the execution of an innocent person and the consequential clamp down following it in the length and breadth of the occupied territory.
Following is the text of the briefing:
Curfew continues in ten districts of the occupied territory, entire population is in a state of siege. This disproportionate state terror has already caused the death of three persons, one of them a pregnant woman who was deprived an access to the hospital. The entire political leadership has been arrested and has been continuously held in communicado by the Indian authorities. Curbs have been imposed on the media for the last several days. No newspapers could come out because of the restriction imposed unofficially according to the south Asia Media Commission President K K katyal. Central reserve police force is reported to throw tear gas shells in the evening in different areas of the valley to terrify the residents.
“It needs to be emphasised that right to protest against a cowardly brutal act like the hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru was a fundamental right of the people of Kashmir and preventing them for holding protest demonstration and use of brutal force against the protestors is gross violation of human rights. According to Jammu and Kashmir civil society “A conviction affirmed despite serious lapses in the trial. The execution carried out in absolute secrecy – the family of Mohammad Afzal Guru being cruelly informed of the execution a few days later. No opportunity provided to Afzal Guru to challenge the rejection of the mercy petition. An absolute shut down in Jammu and Kashmir. The message from India is clear – there will be no right of mourning for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and “law and order” will be maintained at all costs– and as of date this has led to three killings of civilians and countless injured. Peaceful protests in New Delhi have been met with brute force, executed by the colluding forces of the State and right-wing extremists”.
There are a lot of incongruities in Mohammed Afzal Gurus hanging and we feel strongly that it is a murder of justice against the collective conscience of international community. Guru was executed when more than 100 countries of the world during discussion on Universal Periodical Review India at UN Human Rights Council had asked New Delhi for complete elimination of capital punishment like hanging. The murder of Guru was carried out in utmost secrecy and it has shocked all those people who believe in justice and democracy. This shocking development has taken place in spite of accepting the recommendation to place moratorium on the capital punishment at the forum of UN International Human Rights. We need to stress that no arrangements for a free and a fair trial were provided to Afzal Guru. India’s own rule of law provides that the body of the victim should be handed over to his relatives, which has not been done in this case. This is yet another example in which India’s rule of law is not applied when it comes to Kashmir.
The execution of Guru was also unacceptable within the framework of India’s judicial system. As Guru’s wife had lodged a petition with the Supreme Court of India seeking the removal of the death penalty on the grounds of eight year delay in the execution, and that petition is still pending with the superior court. Further, the Indian legal system provides for a judicial review of the decision by the President of India where he rejects a mercy petition relating to a death sentence. Clearly, the murdered Muhammad Afzal Guru was denied this opportunity as well.
A vast majority of countries and international human rights organisation, including ICHR, opposes the death penalty in all cases – without exception – regardless of the nature of crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner.
The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. This cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is done in the name of justice but it violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948, recognises each person’s right to life. It categorically states in Article 5 that: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” We firmly believe that the death penalty violates these rights.
In order to apprise the international community ICHR-Kashmir project and Kashmir centre London has started a campaign on 9th of February. In a letter, by Abdul Majeed Tramboo to H.E Ms Catharine Ashton vice president of the European commission and the high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy European external action service Brussels, and he has informed her about this blood drenched drama enacted in Tihar jail in contravention to disregard for the rule of law and an in depth analysis at the entire judicial process has been enumerated as under
1. The evidence against Afzal Guru in this matter was entirely circumstantial. This was accepted by the trial court, the High Court, and ultimately by the Supreme Court of India. This is why the Supreme Court in its judgment stated: “As is the case with most conspiracies, there is and could be no direct evidence amounting to criminal conspiracies….. The incident, which is resulted in Heavy casualties had shaken the entire nation, and the collective conscience of society will only Be satisfied if capital punishment is awarded to the offender.” In my opinion, Madam Ashton, this itself speaks in volumes, the conviction and the punishment being based on political considerations.
2. It has been widely recognised by the Indian legal fraternity that Afzal Guru was not provided with adequate legal assistance, as a result of which his entire trial was prejudicial and unfair.
The Supreme Court judgement in its numbered paragraph 18 records this point raised by Mr Sushil Kumar, appearing for Afzal Guru stating – “…he was denied proper legal aid, thereby depriving him of affective defence in the course of trial. In sum and substance, the contention is that the councel appointed by the court as “amicus curiae” to take care of his defence was thrust on him against his will and the first amicus appointed made concessions with regard to the admission of certain documents and framing of charges without his knowledge. It is further submitted that the counsel who conducted the trial did not diligently cross-examine the witnesses. It is, therefore, contended that his valuable right of legal aid flowing from Articles 21 and 22 is violated.”
3. It was announced on television (broadcast on NDTV at 8:00, Brussels time – on the 8th February, the Burkha Dutt Programme) that the wife of Afzal Guru, Tabassum, had lodged a petition with the Supreme Court of India seeking the vacation of the death penalty given the eight years delay in the execution, and that petition is still pending in the Superior Court. It is the legal argument of the Indian lawyers that the death penalty could not have been carried out while the petition was still pending.
4. India’s legal fraternity has also advocated that the domestic legal system provides for judicial review of a decision by the Indian President when rejecting a mercy petition relating to a death sentence. Clearly, the murdered Muhammad Afzal Guru was denied this opportunity as well.
5. It is also shocking that Afzal Guru’s wife, and his other immediate family members, were not informed of his imminent execution. In fact, his wife has indicated that she received a letter from the Indian Government in the mail, three days after the execution, on the 11th February 2013.
6. Tabassum has also been denied the right to perform religious rites for her husband after his death, within the compound of Tihar jail, New Delhi;
7. Amnesty International has condemned the execution of Afzal Guru “…in the strongest possible terms. This very regrettably puts India in opposition to the global trend towards moving away from the death penalty.”
8. Human Rights Watch has described the secret hanging of Guru as: “…a major step back for India…” and stressed that “…questions need to be asked why the Indian Government executed Afzal Guru now.”
9. Since the execution, the entire Indian-Held Kashmir has been put under 24-hour curfew, for an indefinite period of time.
10. The entire Kashmiri leadership, both within the occupied territory and in India at large, has been arrested or detained in their homes; and
11. The people of Kashmir are expressing their anguish at the tragic hanging of Guru. Youths have taken to the streets to protest despite the curfew, resulting in the deaths of three young Kashmiris – Obur Mushtaq Rather of Sopor, Tariq Ahmed and Zameer Ahmed of Sumbal – by the Indian armed forces.
UN Human Rights Council, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Secretary General of the UN and Secretary General of the OIC, Her Majesty’s government of UK and secretary general of common wealth have been informed about the flaws in the hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru. As a part of the campaign a huge diaspora meeting was organised in Italy. A demonstration will be held in Brussels outside the Indian Embassy on the Friday the 15th of February in protest to this hanging. Funeral prayers in absentia will be offered in different parts of UK on Friday the 15th of February. A demonstration on Guru hanging is being organised by Kashmir advisory council Milan on 22nd of February followed by other peaceful demonstrations throughout Europe. A seminar on this hanging will be organised on the sidelines of UN Human Rights council in Geneva. The relevant UN, EU, OIC and common wealth mandates will be engaged. Every lawful international mechanism will be brought on board. The UN Human Rights Council session which is starting on the 25thof February will be focused on the Afzal Guru hanging.
We thank Baroness Ashton the High Representative of European Union for condemning the hanging of Afzal Guru as EU has always advocates for the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights including the right to life.