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APPEAL TO ALL COMBATANTS

Since last many years Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) has tried to impress upon the government of India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri armed insurgent groups to adhere to the principles of the International Humanitarian Law during their combat operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

In the recent few months there have been huge number of extrajudicial killings by the Indian armed forces and an indiscriminate use of force against the civilians. Also the Indian state has resorted to tactics of collective punishment on the civilian population for providing support to the armed insurgents. Cordon and search operations, widespread torture and beatings to the civilians, using civilians as human shields, preventing the ambulances to ferry the injured to the hospitals, ransacking and vandalization of civilian properties, attacks on college premises, banning of internet etc are some of the allegations against the Indian armed forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police.

On the other hand, armed insurgents have been accused of killing workers of the political parties, attacks on banks, throwing of grenades and attacking the armed forces at the public places, ransacking of the houses of police personnel and threatening their family members and killing of a soldier on leave after abduction.

Also there have been news reports about the beheading of the two Indian army personnel in Poonch district by Pakistani army deployed along the Ceasefire Line (defacto border) and the killings of civilians due to border skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani army.

It is in this context JKCCS would like to reiterate its demand for insurgent groups and Indian armed forces involved in the Jammu and Kashmir armed conflict, which according to our understanding is an international armed conflict, and all the parties involved in the hostilities must always abide by principles of the International Humanitarian Law.

India and Pakistan are signatories to Geneva Conventions and other International humanitarian instruments, which regulate conduct of combat in all conflict situations.

United Jehad Council (UJC), the umbrella organization of all the insurgent groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir, besides having its own Code of Conduct has on various occasions assured the people of Jammu and Kashmir that it believes in abiding by the four covenants of the Geneva Conventions. More clearly it was in October 2007, while signing the Unilateral Declaration on the Ban of use of landmines, the UJC reiterated its commitment to abide by all four covenants of Geneva Conventions.

Despite all the public commitments by India and Kashmiri insurgent groups, the people of Jammu and Kashmir continue to witness loss of civilian lives, destruction of their property and denial of their civil and political rights.

There have been consistent media reports in the last few months about the escalation in the direct hostilities between the state and non-state forces. Amid the obvious political simmer, and reported ‘prospect of hot summer’ coupled with many recent civilian killings, we as a civil society organisation feel duty-bound to remind the state as well as non-state actors of their moral/legal/religious obligations towards people.

We would like to remind India, Pakistan and the UJC in the context of continuing armed conflict, about their responsibilities in protecting civilian lives, property and civil rights.

We call upon all the combatants whether state or non-state and their political leadership to abide by the following minimum and basic principles derived from International Humanitarian Law and other universally accepted principles:

During operations combatants must not target civilian objects, civilians and those not directly participating in armed hostilities.[1]
During military operations, constant care must be taken to spare civilian population, civilians and civilian objects.[2]
In order to avoid civilian casualties, military installations in and around population centers must not be created. Attacks against such military objectives which are expected to cause disproportionate civilian casualties and damage must not be launched.[3]
During and after the combat operations wounded and sick must be collected and cared for.[4]
Civilians must not be taken hostage for any reason or/and in any circumstances.[5]
During operations when enemy fighters are taken prisoners, they must be treated humanely; they must not be tortured, killed or disappeared in custody.[6]
The dead must be respected and their bodies not mutilated. When mortal remains are unidentified, every effort must be made to preserve evidence that could lead to their eventual identification. Graves should be marked. Where the identity of a dead person is known (whether friend or enemy), next of the kin should be promptly informed.[7]
Family members of those involved in direct hostilities (insurgents, police and armed forces personnel) must be exactly treated like civilians and not arrested/abducted, threatened, assaulted or discriminated against.
Ambulances, medical personnel and fire fighting personnel who take no active part in hostilities must not be attacked, nor obstructed from performing their humanitarian duties.[8]
Places of worship and those taking refuge in them must not be attacked in any circumstances.[9]
Minorities, women, children, older people and disabled should always be respected and no attempts should be made to infringe upon their rights, dignity and safety.[10]
Vehicles and buildings bearing emblems of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent should be respected. These emblems must not be used to deceive enemy during hostilities. [11]

[1] See article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. See also articles 48 and 51.2 of Additional Protocol I of 1977. See also Al-Quran 2:190
[2] See article 57.1 of Additional Protocol I of 1977.
[3] See article 51.4, 51.5 (b) and 57.2 (a) iii of additional protocol I of 1977.
[4] See article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949.
[5] See articles 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949.
[6] See article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. See Also article 13 and 17 of Geneva Convention III of 1949. Also see Al-Quran 76:8
[7] See article 17 of Geneva Convention I of 1949 and article 34 of Additional Protocol I.
[8] See articles 12-18 of Additional Protocol I of 1977.
[9]See Hadith,
[10] See Hadith (Muslim Book 019, Number 4320)
[11] See articles 37, 38 and 85.3 (f) of Additional Protocol I of 1977.

KHURRAM PARVEZ ORGINAL POST 

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