A group of protesters have given a voice to those who have been silenced in Kashmir.
More than 100 people marched around The Square in Palmerston North on Sunday in protest against a security lockdown placed on Indian-administered Kashmir.
The region, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan, has been in lockdown since August 5, with communications cut off, after Kashmir was stripped of a status that gave it autonomy from the rest of India.
The group chanted about freedom as they marched, then people from Kashmir spoke about their experiences and their fears for family members still in the country.
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Protest organiser Mohammad Shuaib said there was a complete blackout in Kashmir with no internet or phones, people were running short of food and children couldn’t go to school
“The reason these people have gathered here is to make sure all the voices that cannot be heard are heard,” he said.
“They have been silenced by the Indian Government.
“We can speak for them and we’re asking the Indian Government to not silence Kashmir. Silence your guns, not people’s tongues.”
He said if the people of Kashmir wanted to be part of India, then the group wouldn’t have turned out to protest.
“We demand human rights for Kashmir and give them the right to live.”
Shuaib said Kashmir had become a concentration camp of seven million people because they didn’t agree with Indian beliefs.
Omer Benazir, who came to New Zealand from Kashmir in 2006, said he was thankful to the people who attended for letting him know what freedom was.
He said India had suppressed Kashmir’s voice for years and the country’s freedom had been snatched from it on August 5.
“In the name of peace, I urge all of you to stand with us to call [out] the oppressive Indian regime.
He had been unable to speak to his family since the lockdown started.
Kashmir woman Sadaf Nakash spoke about the horrors she had experienced in her home country, including the death of a family member.
“Every child has a nightmare and this nightmare is Indian army personnel equipped with automatic weapons standing on the streets of Kashmir, because that’s what’s happening in Kashmir.”
Shuaib said the group planned to do another protest in Wellington in six weeks.