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Sunday Aug 11 2019

'Don't know if our families are safe': occupied Kashmir diaspora in Germany worries about home

"We don't know if our families are safe or if they have enough food!"

That's what worried Kashmiri women in Germany said as the occupied Himalayan region's diaspora in Berlin came together to protest the unilateral decision by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to revoke Articles 370 and 35A back in their home, abolishing its special status.

Read more: India's illegal move

It was not an ordinary afternoon at the historic Pariser Platz of Berlin's Brandenburger Gate as around hundred of Kashmiri demonstrators gathered to show solidarity, waving Kashmiri flags.

Usually always crowded with tourists, chants of "We want Freedom!" and "Indian Army, Go Back!" rang out at the Brandenburger Gate on Saturday as the Free Kashmir Organisation, Berlin, called for a protest that attracted several people from the occupied Kashmiri, Indian, and the Pakistani diaspora.

Following the decision to scrap Article 370, a communication blackout has now continued for almost a week in the Indian occupied Kashmir. Residents have been confined to their houses, with neither medical institutions or shops allowed to open.

A Kashmiri woman hailing from Srinagar told that she was unable to make contact with her family since Monday morning, unsure if her parents were even alive or not or if they had enough food available.

According to reports of the Kashmiri media, hundreds of political leaders and workers have been detained since the night before India revoked the valley's special status on Monday.

Prominent politicians, as well as former chief ministers of the Indian-occupied Kashmir, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, were placed under house arrest late Sunday night as curfew-like restrictions were imposed in the region.

Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International have already condemned the additional deployment of thousands of Indian security forces, a blanket ban on telephone and Internet services, and restrictions on peaceful assembly in occupied Kashmir.

People from all walks of life joined the solidarity protest, holding placards of "colonised became coloniser."

A Kashmiri protestor, Zeeshan, said he was concerned about his family's well-being and that he could not trust New Delhi's decisions. "Once India was colonised by the British, and, now, Hindu nationalist BJP-led government is trying to subjugate Kashmir," he said.

In Berlin, Kashmir rights organisations say they have to continue their struggle to fight for the Kashmiris' right of self-determination.

The president of Free Kashmir Organization, Dr Siddiq Kiyani, said: "We are gathered here to tell the German politicians and civil society to stand with the Kashmiris.

"We want Europian leaders to add pressure on the Indian government to amend their actions in IOK," he added.

Earlier, on Monday, German Foreign Office Spokesperson Maria Adebahr said Berlin had called on the Indian government to engage in dialogue with the people concerned about their plans.

"We hope that the situation will remain calm, that there will be a dialogue, and the case there will not escalate further," Maria Adebahr had said.

Separately, Kashmiris have called for more frequent demonstrations in German cities in the coming days, especially one on August 15, when rallies were slated to be held in Frankfurt and Berlin.

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