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SOS about Kashmir from UN

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United Nations human rights experts have urged India's government to lift a ban on social media websites and mobile internet services in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Axar.az reports citing AlJazeera.

In late April, Indian authorities banned 22 social media sites and messaging apps, including Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, as well 3G and 4G cellphone data services for one month. The government said at the time the ban was necessary because social media services were "being misused by antinational and antisocial elements".

David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, and Michel Forst, the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, said in a statement on Thursday that the ban had "disproportionate impact on the fundamental rights of everyone in Kashmir" and had the "character of collective punishment".

Such restrictions "fail to meet the standards required under international human rights law to limit freedom of expression," Kaye wrote.

Forst said such blocking "disrupts the free exchange of ideas and the ability of individuals to connect with one another and associate peacefully on matters of shared concern".

Others sites and apps covered by the ban include Wechat; QQ; Qzone; Google Plus; Skype; Line; Pinterest; Snapchat; YouTube; Vine and Flickr.

"[The ban] is to control the political space. The government is trying to control things in a military way which is not going to help," Gull Mohammad Wani, a professor and political analyst, told Al Jazeera after the ban was imposed.

"The government is claiming it has taken this step to calm the situation down. In the absence of social media, rumours can be more dangerous, as we have seen in the past."

Kashmiris have been uploading videos and photos of alleged abuse for some years, but several recently posted clips, captured in the days surrounding a violence-plagued local election on April 9, have proven to be especially powerful and have helped to intensify anti-India protests.

Indian police and paramilitary officials accuse agitators of using social media to instigate violence.

The UN special rapporteurs said there were at least 31 reported cases of social media and internet bans since 2012 in Kashmir and called it "a worrying pattern aimed at curbing protests and social unrest in the region."

The two called on Indian authorities to guarantee freedom of expression in Kashmir and "to seek a solution for the social and political conflicts of the region through an open, transparent and democratic dialogue."

Date
2017.05.12 / 10:48
Author
Axar.az
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