A report by Neeth Nakash, a Kashmiri activist in New Zealand, about getting the bum’s rush by politicians & being forced to move venue when they organized an educational forum on Kashmir:
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form. This fundamental human right I could never exercise in Kashmir without facing jail time or worse. Not being used to exercising the right, I stayed quiet for years after my arrival in New Zealand, lived in a shell and did not talk much about Kashmir to anyone. People would ask me where I am from, and my answer always was Kashmir, as it should be. Many people knew more about “Cashmere” than “Kashmir”. The first time we brought Kashmir issue to the attention of ordinary New Zealanders was in 2016 when we held a protest in the city of Palmerston North against the indiscriminate use of pellet guns by Indian army, especially on children. We were overwhelmed by the support that we received from the local city councillors, MPs, and the local population. Internet shutdown, communication blockade, and use of pellet guns live ammunition is unheard of in this part of the world.
New Zealanders are unaware of many global issues, which I believe is due to the lack of interest in global politics and international issues and scarce news on these issues by mainstream media of NZ. There is more news about the royal family on primetime TV than there is about Kashmir, Rohingya, the war in Syria Yemen. After 5th August, we held peaceful protest again in different parts of NZ, well within our democratic rights. We decided that we need a debate on this issue where we can engage politicians, academics, human rights activists and discuss ways of channelizing international effort to help resolve this issue. This Kashmir symposium was to be held in the hall in Parliament building of New Zealand. Invites were sent to Mps, universities, human rights organisations, ethic community councils. We received apologies form the speaker Trevor Mallards for not being able to attend but he wished us luck for the symposium. We did get confirmed attendances from the MPs and diplomats until the invite was received by the Indian high commission. Everything turned sour from there, the MPs started to withdraw, our hall booking was cancelled. The organisers held a press conference soon after, to bring public attention to the pressure tactics that were exerted upon them. For an ordinary Kashmiri like myself, it’s immensely important that I speak for my people who are caged and have no means of reaching out for help from the international community. This coercive pressure on the government of NZ to withdraw permission to hold the symposium in the parliament premises is the biggest disappointment in New Zealand so far for me. Whether the pressure came directly from the Indian high commission or some other external agency, it is clear that lobbyists for the government of India are working in every country to silence those who speak for Kashmir. We have always known what we are up against, this will never break our will for seeking freedom from the oppression of India.
“I dream of a free Kashmir, this may not happen in my lifetime, I will pass this dream to my children, the same as it was passed on to me. This dream lives as long as Kashmiri is alive in this world”.