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August 22, 2000
Human rights groups condemn Kashmir massacres, demand probe
A New York-based human rights group has denounced the series of attacks over the weekend on residents of Kashmir, which left ten civilians dead and nine seriously injured, and called for a judicial inquiry into the violence.
The Human Rights Watch, in a statement on Monday night, urged all parties to the conflict to respect the rights of civilians under international humanitarian law.
"The recent attacks in Kashmir are a reminder of the continued failure by all parties to protect civilian non-combatants," said Sidney Jones, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division. "Just as we have condemned abuses against civilians at the hands of the security forces, we oppose violations of international humanitarian law by militant groups."
Although the massacres were condemned by most major separatist political parties and armed groups active in Kashmir, the statement pointed out, they were believed to have been carried out by militant factions opposed to peace talks then underway between Hizbul Mujahideen and the Indian government.
Meanwhile, in London, Amnesty International has asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to set up an independent and impartial investigation into killings of at least 100 civilians on August 1 and 2.
"Under International human rights law, everyone has the right to legal redress for abuses suffered. The state government is obliged to set up an independent and impartial inquiry into the killings," it said in an open letter to Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.
"The failure to bring perpetrators of human rights abuses to justice results in a climate in which more and more human rights violations are committed," Amnesty said.
Militants, opposed to the Hizbul Mujahideen's ceasefire declaration, gunned down 100 people, and left scores of others wounded on the outskirts of Pahalgam on August 1 and 2.
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