Tearing the Geneva Convention asunder By Malik Muhammad Ashraf

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After the end of World War II, as a consequence of the initiative taken by the International Committee of Red Cross, the Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of International Convention for Protection of Victims of War was held in Geneva, which adopted the 4th Geneva Convention on August 12, 1949. It is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. While the first three conventions dealt with combatants, the Fourth Geneva Convention was the first to deal with humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone. There are currently 196 countries party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, including this and the other three treaties.

In 1993, the United Nations Security Council adopted a report from the Secretary General and a Commission of Experts which concluded that the Geneva Conventions had passed into the body of customary international law, thus making them binding on non-signatories to the Conventions whenever they engage in armed conflicts. What it meant was that these conventions were obligatory on all states of the world.

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Article 27 of the Geneva IV states “Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.” Article 49 of the Geneva IV says “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Article 32 of the Convention Stipulates “The High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands. This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishments…but also to any other measures of brutality by civilian or military agents.”

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Indian security forces in IIOJ&K are an occupying force by all definitions since Kashmir’s fate, as per UN resolutions, is to be decided through a plebiscite held under the auspices of the world body; a position which the UNSC has reiterated in three informal meetings in the backdrop of scrapping of the special status of the state by the Modi regime.

It is pertinent to point out that UN resolutions also recognize the right of self-determination of the people and legitimize their freedom struggle against the occupying forces. The Kashmiris, after waiting for a long time in anticipation for a plebiscite in the state which was denied to them by India, finally launched a freedom struggle in 1989. The Indian security forces taking advantage of the immunity from prosecution provided to them under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1990 let loose a reign of terror in the occupied territory to suppress the freedom struggle.

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According to figures compiled by different Human Rights Organisations including Amnesty International, from January 1989 till August 31 2019, the Indian security forces killed 95,438 people including 7128 custodial killings, gangraped 11,140 women and destroyed 109,409 homes. The movement got a new lease of life after the killing of Burhan Wani in 2016 and notwithstanding the fact that since then, Indian security forces have killed 1031 people, arrested and tortured thousands of them besides a number of custodial deaths, caused injuries to 10298 people with pellet guns and gangraped nearly one thousand women; it rolls on with greater ferocity.

After revoking Article 370 of the Indian constitution which accorded special status to IIOJ&K, the entire population of the state is under siege and they have been denied contact with the outside world; there is a complete lockdown in the valley and people are not even given access to mosques. International media, human rights organisations like Amnesty International and even the UN Human Rights commission in its reports has corroborated blatant violation of human rights in IIOJ&K. The discovery of mass graves at 38 sites in IIOJ&K also lends currency to inhuman treatment of the local population by the Indian security forces.

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India has not only revoked Article 370 of its constitution, but has also annexed the state to the Indian Union, followed by the promulgation of a new domicile law with a view to change demographic realities. Through the foregoing actions India has not only torn asunder the fourth Geneva Convention but has also pummelled the UN resolutions in regards to the plebiscite and breached international law with impunity.

It is indeed regrettable that neither the UN nor the big powers have shown real interest in stopping India in its tracks and resolving the Kashmir conflict as per the UN resolutions. Their indifference to the developments taking place in IIOJ&K and the fall-out of those provocative measures, is actually encouraging Indian hegemonic designs in the region.

India is being ruled by a diehard follower of the supremacist RSS ideology of Hindutva which takes inspiration from Nazism. It has already started showing its ugly face in the form of enhanced Indian hostility towards Pakistan. Indian leaders are on record to have repeatedly threatened Pakistan of dire consequences and in February 2019 India did made its intentions clear when it sent planes to bomb imagined terrorist camps in Balakot ostensibly in retaliation for the Pulwama incident, which according to revelations recently made by an Indian journalist close to the BJP regime, was stage-managed by the Modi government to win elections and find an excuse to take action against Pakistan. India has also been supporting insurgency in Balochistan and acts of terrorism throughout the country as corroborated by the revelations made by the captured Indian spy Kalbhushan Jhadav.

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Is it not a pity that a state which has shown no respect for UN resolutions, International Law and the fourth Geneva Convention is being supported for a permanent seat in the Security Council besides propping it up as a regional super power through transfer of nuclear technology and NSG waiver in complete violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty? Little do they realise that any such eventuality would lead to perennial instability in the region and foreclose any chance of settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

The Modi government is rightly perceived as a threat to peace and security in the region. Prime Minister Imran Khan has been repeatedly warning the world and UN about Indian designs and urging it to intervene before it is too late. Pakistan and India are both nuclear powers and any military confrontation between them can have disastrous consequences not only for them but for the entire region and beyond. Those who cry hoarse from every convenient roof-top to pronounce their humanitarian credentials and adherence to international law, UN Charter and Conventions, need to rattle their conscience.