Kashmir Solidarity Day Is A Reminder Of Why Democracy Is So Important

(The following is the speech that Andrew Korybko gave at the Pakistani Embassy in Moscow on 5 February, 2019 in observance of Kashmir Solidarity Day)

Dear Ambassador Khalilullah, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I’m very thankful to be here with all of you to observe Kashmir Solidarity Day, and I want to specifically thank the Ambassador for bestowing me with the honor of briefly addressing everyone today.  We’re gathering to draw attention to the peaceful struggle of the people of occupied Kashmir who have been deprived for far too long of their fundamental UN-guaranteed right to democratically decide their own future. Their former ruler surrendered his country into the hands of a foreign occupying army in a desperate bid to maintain his royal grip on power in the face of the democratic revolution that he faced shortly after independence. He betrayed his people for no reason other than a self-interested one that ultimately occurred at the expense of millions of Kashmiris and their descendants.

Many of them have since suffered direct abuse at the hands of the occupying army or have family members who’ve been beaten, raped, blinded, or killed with impunity. Justice is as unknown of a concept in Kashmir as democracy is, and the Kashmiris are unable to live the dignified and respectable life that they deserve as human beings. The occupying army arbitrarily imposes curfews, shuts down phone service, cuts off the internet, and implements a total media blackout on what’s happening in order to try to break the spirit of the Kashmiri people and hide its crimes against them. Standing in solidarity with the Kashmiris isn’t about advancing religious, territorial, or strategic interests like their enemies allege, but about reminding the world that there are millions of people who are suffering because an occupying army wants to advance its own religious, territorial, and strategic interests at their expense.

Instead of being seen as the human beings that they are, the Kashmiris are considered by the occupying army to be “troublesome terrorists” simply because the fulfillment of their democratic will would contradict the political interests of a certain country. As such, the entire population has been dehumanized with various labels that have been used to “justify” the never-ending perpetuation of their plight on “national security grounds”, therefore turning their mountainous paradise into hell on earth. The solution to this sad state of affairs is the same as it’s always been, and that’s to respect the Kashmiris’ fundamental UN-guaranteed right to democratically decide their own future. As we gather here today, let’s be thankful for the freedoms that we enjoy and pay respect to those who are literally dying to experience the same.

Thank you.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.