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IKOHI

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

En Memoriam; Aasia Jeelani, Immortalized

AFAD Statement on Aasia’s Fifth Death Anniversary
20 April 2009

En Memoriam:
Aasia Jeelani, Immortalized


Oh, the tree of life is growing
where the spirit never dies.
And the bright light of salvation shines
in dark and empty skies.

Bob Dylan

A dreamer may not live long to see the day of reckoning but her dream for the goodness of humanity will still persist.

Aasia Jeelani was a young human rights activist from Kashmir, who, like many Kashmiris, dreamed of a free, self-determined and peaceful society. She was a woman who had found her meaning and purpose in life. As she lived in a paradise turned into a combat zone by a war between the Indian security forces and Kashmiri rebel groups and where consequently, disappearances and killings have become an order of the day, she dreamed of a free and independent valley. Such dream had led her to the doorsteps of the needy and the downtrodden. In her lifetime, Aasia immersed herself with the “wretched of the earth,” the victims of human rights violations particularly widowed and half-widowed women, and children orphaned by the disappearance and/or death of their loved ones.

The political reality of the valley had turned her dream into a passion for human rights advocacy and a commitment that never ever wavered. She tirelessly worked to help the families of the disappeared persons in their search for truth and justice . She championed the cause of the Kashmiri people against all forms of human rights violations. As an editor of a newsletter, “Voices Unheard,” she used her pen to articulate the horrendous plight of her people and bring their situation to national and international attention.

On that fateful day of 20 April 2004, Aasia Jeelani got violently killed in a landmine blast while performing her duties as an election observer during an Indian parliamentary election of 2004 in Lolab valley, north of Kashmir. Her driver, Ghulam Nabi was also killed and two of her colleagues were seriously wounded. Physically, she had gone, but she has not been and will never ever be forgotten.

Aasia’s exemplary life as a woman human rights defender leaves us an indelible memory. Her noble deeds are a source of hope for the Kashmiri people to continue struggling so that one day, the newly elected Government of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah will decisively put an end to the existing "reign of terror” through a call for a peace negotiation, a pursuance of the accountability of the perpetrators of human rights violations ; the establishment of truth and justice commissions and the repeal of draconian laws that fashion the atmosphere of impunity.

Aasia Jeelani had a courage beyond compare –that which continues to inspire and strengthen her colleagues to bravely face constant dangers as they tread the road of human rights advocacy. Parvez Imroz and many others continue to face risks. In 2008, Atty. Parvez Imroz and two others were arrested and badly beaten by Indian police while monitoring State Legislative Assembly Election. For exposing the skeletons inside the closet of a thousand unmarked graves of victims of human rights violations found in the borders of Kashmir and Pakistan, Parvez Imroz ceaselessly earns the ire of the powers-that-be. Parvez and other human rights defenders, in their dangerous crusade for human rights in Kashmir, continue to be inspired by the immortal spirit of their martyred comrade, Aasia Jeelani.

On the occasion of Aasia Jeelani’s 5th death anniversary, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) pays tribute to this martyred woman. By virtue of her dedication to human rights and for her invaluable contribution to build a world without desaparecidos, her spirit will live forever and will always serve as a source of inspiration for all men and women of her beloved paradise of Kashmir.

Long live Aasia! Long live the struggle for human rights and self-determination in Kashmir!

Signed:

MUGIYANTO MARY AILEEN BACALSO
Chairperson Secretary-Genera l

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IKOHI was set up on September 17, 1998 by the parents and surfaced victims of disappearances. Since then, IKOHI was assisted by KONTRAS, until October 2002 when finally IKOHI carried out it first congress to complete its organizational structure. In the Congress, IKOHI decided its two priority of programs. They are (1) the empowerment of the social, economic, social and cultural potential of the members as well as mental and physical, and (2) the campaign for solving of the cases and preventing the cases from happening again. The solving of the cases means the reveal of the truth, the justice for the perpetrators, the reparation and rehabilitation of the victims and the guarantee that such gross violation of human right will never be repeated again in the future.

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