SPEECH AT TORONTO CITY HALL, AUGUST 18, 2019,
ON INDIA’S ANNEXATION OF KASHMIR
by Ken Stone
Brothers and Sisters,
On behalf of the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War, I want to thank the sponsoring groups for organizing this important and successful rally on behalf of right of self-determination of the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir.
Canadians should be proud of the fact that it was a Canadian – General Andrew McNaughton – who sat as President of the Security Council on Dec 22, 1949, and introduced a resolution in which the United Nations voted to authorize a referendum among the people of Kashmir about their political future. That was the right and democratic thing to do.
Regrettably, today, the Trudeau government of Canada simply cannot do the right and democratic thing. The best that Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, could do was express “concern” over the infringement of Kashmiri’s human rights and risks of military escalation caused by India’s de facto annexation of Jammu and Kashmir in violation of the international law created by General McNaughton’s resolution seventy years ago. She didn’t have one word to say about international law in general or about the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people in particular. Of course, the Trudeau government also supports the illegal and anti-democratic US attempts at regime change in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Syria, Iran, and North Korea. Truly, the Canadian government has completely lost its bearings on international law and respect for democracy. I say, shame on Trudeau, shame on Freeland!
I was much more impressed by the August 6th statement of MP Guy Caron, the foreign policy critic of the New Democratic Party who said the NDP was deeply troubled by “…the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (that) recently took steps to revoke section 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted Kashmir considerable autonomy, and moved to arrest top Kashmiri political leaders, deploy thousands of troops, impose a shutdown of telephone and internet services and restrict peaceful assembly.” Caron added, “We must always have a foreign policy that is based on human rights and international law, not one that pays lip service to a “rules-based international order” without actually standing up for those rules.”
This talk of political parties reminds me that, in two weeks, the writ will be dropped for a federal election. I strongly urge you brothers and sisters here today to take full advantage of that process to insert your voices into the debate. I recommend a mailing to every single candidate in every single riding, requesting a response to the basic issue of the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir, the results of which could be published in newspapers or on social media. At your front door, you should confront the candidates over the Trudeau’s government’s failure to take action on this issue by NOT summoning India’s ambassador for an accounting, by NOT recalling Canada’s ambassador to India, by NOT introducing or supporting a fresh resolution at the UN.
You may ask, why is the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War interested in this faraway issue of Kashmir? Well, besides Modi’s flagrant violation of international law, there is the danger of war. India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Jammu & Kashmir in the past 72 years in which over 25000 soldiers perished. No one has an accurate count of how many hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in these wars. Today, India has nuclear-armed submarines, aircraft, and missiles. Pakistan has already given control over tactical nuclear weapons in the field to battlefield generals. The Bulletin of Nuclear Scientists, which last year moved the Doomsday Clock to two minutes until midnight, estimates that, in a military clash in which only ten to twenty nuclear weapons of various sizes are exploded, enough radioactive dust and fallout would be created to cause a nuclear winter for four to five years which would virtually wipe out human civilization.
And, in this context, I wish to point out that the Trudeau government, as a member of NATO, voted against the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Today, let us instead take the peaceful, legal, and democratic option. Let’s raise our voices once again for the self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Please join with me in this chant:
“From Kashmir to Palestine, occupation is a crime!”
Thank you for your kind attention.