Campaigners’ disappointment at Kashmir petition response

A petition calling for a boycott of India at Birmingham 2022 over its human rights record finally received a response – one year after it was first submitted.

New images of the revamped Alexander Stadium have been released as part of its planning application - image courtesy of Birmingham City Council
New images of the revamped Alexander Stadium have been released as part of its planning application - image courtesy of Birmingham City Council

A petition was submitted to Birmingham City Council in February last year calling for the Indian sports team to be banned from the Commonwealth Games due to human rights abuses in Kashmir and India.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has reported on abuses by state security forces and armed groups in both Indian and Pakistan-held parts of Kashmir, including the deaths of civilian protesters.

The petition, started by the Daughters of Kashmir group, states: “We, the citizens of Birmingham, and supporters of human rights across the globe, are signing this petition to demand that the Indian sports team be banned from competing in the Commonwealth Games 2022 for the Indian Government’s gross violation of human rights to minorities, protestors and to university students and staff in India and Kashmir.”

Following submission by Councillor Mohammed Idrees, council leader Ian Ward wrote in response that “it was not a matter for Birmingham City Council” and it would be passed to the Commonwealth Games Federation.

He said: “We further note that the sporting federation of India is independent of its Government and not responsible for Government decisions.

“Throughout history the power of sport has proven to be an effective driver for good, bringing the world together in friendly competition and it is hoped that in Birmingham, the Commonwealth City, we can bring nations from across the world together to embrace the Commonwealth Games Federation’s values of humanity, equality and destiny.

“As such we encourage the broadest possible attendance from across the Commonwealth at the Birmingham 2022 Games.”

But the group said this week it had had no response from the Commonwealth Games Federation after submitting the petition a year ago.

A Commonwealth Games Federation spokesman told the Local Democracy Reporting Service yesterday: “A nation’s eligibility to participate at the Commonwealth Games is determined by a nation’s Commonwealth membership – as governed by Commonwealth Heads at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).”

Alistair Wingate, 52, a musician who lives in Handsworth who is a temporary spokesman for the Daughters Of Kashmir, said: “I am suggesting lucrative arms deals between Britain and India is why political figures don’t want to raise the issue of Kashmir and [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi’s behaviour.

“I think it’s bizarre that Councillor Ward pretends Birmingham City Council has nothing to do with the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“It’s an abdication of responsibility – it’s an insult to our intelligence.

“The CGF haven’t really answered the question about human rights abuses by the Indian Government and military.

“It says it is committed to upholding human rights, but if India is committing human rights abuses in Kashmir, shouldn’t this be raised?”

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