Britain’s opposition Labour Party has said India must allow global human rights monitors to visit Jammu and Kashmir to verify charges of excesses by forces.
Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, told members of the Indian Journalists Association in London on Friday that if India had nothing to fear, it should allow human rights monitors into the region.
“Our current position on Kashmir comes from a concern for human rights. I know there are people in India who say these stories (of human rights violations) are exaggerated or indeed downright lies. And if that’s right, does seem to me that India has nothing to fear from allowing human rights monitors into Kashmir,” Thornberry said, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.
India has repeatedly denied charges of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and shot down several requests from the United Nations for unconditional access to Kashmir.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Council, had last month expressed his dismay over the reluctance of India and Pakistan to “engage with his office” over human rights concerns in Kashmir.
“This includes their failure to grant access to Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control to verify the worrying developments that continue to be reported there. In the absence of such access, my Office is undertaking remote monitoring of the human rights situation in Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control,” Al Hussein had said.
Refraining from going beyond the official position that the issue needs to be settled by India and Pakistan, and that Britain had no role, Thornberry, however, said: “It is our place to keep saying that it needs to be resolved in a peaceful way. This is not radical, this is common sense”.
Thornberry said she had “sympathy” for India suffering terrorism, “and so many of those terrorist attacks do seem to come from Pakistan”, but added that despite the “profound problems” in Pakistan, it would not be right to term it a “terrorist state”.
On Corbyn’s criticism of Modi, Thornberry insisted the Labour leader was a ‘pragmatist’, but one who would not hold back on issues of concern such as human rights. Corbyn had opposed Modi’s visit to Britain in the past, but met the latter during his November 2015 visit.
“Modi is a democratically elected leader of the biggest democracy in the world. I have been in many meetings with Jeremy with people who would seem to be our friends and with people who would not seem to be our natural allies,” she said.
(Featured Image : Labour Party leader Emily Thornberry)