Turkish NGOs protest India's Kashmir move
Members of Turkish non-governmental organizations (NGOs) gathered in front of the Indian Embassy in Ankara late Friday to express their solidarity with the people of India-administered Jammu and Kashmir.
Dozens of people carried placards reading "The People of Kashmir Want Freedom" and "Kashmiris should be given the right to choose their political future".
Speaking at the rally, Ahmet Sanver, chairman of the Anatolian Youth Association's Ankara branch, underlined that the major part of the Kashmir Valley was under Indian occupation, calling on the Indian government to stop deploying troops to the region.
The region has been facing a clampdown since Aug. 5, when the Indian government nixed Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which granted it a special status. Hundreds of people, mostly political leaders, have been detained or arrested by authorities since the move.
"The future and status of Kashmir should be decided by the people of Kashmir, not by New Delhi," Sanver said, referring a 1948 UN resolution over a plebiscite to decide the fate of the picturesque valley.
"The occupying Indian government should end its disproportionate violence against the Kashmir people."
With the "unacceptable practices and decisions" of the Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kashmir is on the "verge of war", he stressed.
Issuing a statement, the NGOs expressed their concern over the possibility of a "major war" over the Kashmir issue.
Highlighting the importance of keeping the channels of dialogue open, the statement called on South Asian nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan to avoid "any kind of nuclear or conventional war".
They also accused India of carrying out demographic changes in Kashmir which were restricted by the Indian Constitution.
"The global powers, especially the U.S., should stop seeking the opportunity to take advantage of possible conflicts and tensions in Kashmir," the statement said.
Additionally, they called on the Turkish government to become "a voice of Kashmiris".
"It should also increase solidarity with the Kashmiri people and follow a more efficient policy to resolve the crisis."
A similar protest was held outside the Indian Consulate in Istanbul, where dozens of people waved Kashmiri and Pakistani flags and chanted slogans in favor of Kashmir's freedom.
From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir had special provisions under which it enacted its own laws. The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights groups, thousands of people have been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.