Islamabad, December 07 : A three-member delegation of human rights activists from Canada arrived in Islamabad on Friday.
Their mission is to study the human rights situation in Indian occupied Kashmir.
The delegation led by Mr. Zafar Bangash, Convener Friends of Kashmir Committee Canada, comprises Mrs Karen Rodman and Ms. Michaela Lavis.
A fourth member of the delegation, Dr Jonathan Kuttab is due to arrive on Sunday December 8.
During their week-long visit, delegation members will interact with Kashmiri activists as well as families to record their testimonies and the circumstances that led to their fleeing Indian occupied Kashmir.
All members of the delegation have long experience in human rights work and are actively engaged in highlighting the cause of the Kashmiri people.
Mr Zafar Bangash is a prolific writer and a prominent Muslim intellectual. He has been organising seminars and conferences on Palestine and Kashmir. An articulate speaker, Mr Zafar is the editor of famous Islamic magazine, Crescent International.
Dr Kuttab is an International Human Rights lawyer who has done immense work for human rights in Occupied Palestine.
Founder of Al Haq, the Palestinian human rights organization, Dr Kuttab is also founder and Board member of the Nelson Mandela Foundation for Political Prisoners that is linked with the International Commission of Jurists.
Mrs Rodman is the founder and director of Just Peace Advocates, a Canadian NGO that has been in the forefront of advocating the cause of the Kashmiri people.
The fourth member of the delegation, Ms. Michaela Lavis is studying for her Master’s degree. Her thesis is on ‘Forced Migration and International Law: A case study of Jammu and Kashmir’ at York University in Toronto.
Ms Lavis’ plans also include a visit to Kashmiri refugee camps where she will compile the testimony of refugees and the circumstances that forced their migration from Indian occupied Kashmir.
Friends of Kashmir Canada has been actively involved in highlighting the plight of the Kashmiri people as well as interacting with Canadian civil society groups for nearly 30 years.
The group has in the past sponsored visits by Canadian parliamentarians to Kashmir as well as organized highly successful conferences on Kashmir in Canada.
Upon return to Canada, delegation members will share their experiences with other Canadians and also organize conferences and seminars to shed light on the current situation in Indian occupied Kashmir based on the testimony of refugees.
The delegation’s aim is to keep the Kashmir issue alive and to urge the Canadian government, civil society groups as well as the international community to fulfill their obligations toward the Kashmiri people.
This will only be realized when a UN supervised referendum is held in Jammu and Kashmir so that the people can freely exercise their fundamental right to determine whether they wish to join Pakistan or India.