BEtween friends: Kashmiris, Bangsamoro Dialogue PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 24 November 2014 11:37

By Fatima Pir T. Allian


We are very fortunate to be given the chance to be with our Kashmiri sisters and brothers for two days in Zamboanga City. The Conciliation Resources (CR) together with partner organisations on either side of the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir1 conducted series of grassroots engagement on gender and peace building issues in the various regions of Kashmir. Their efforts in implementing different activities in  Kashmir and in India and Pakistan hopefully continues in improving their peace dialogue.

Majority of them who came to the city were women. Their importance in the peace movement without a doubt ensures that the perspectives of women in peace building will be carried on. Just like in the peace process between the GPH and the MILF Conciliation Resources has worked with various women’s groups. Our role as women in peace building initiatives has gained grounds, documented and acknowledged such as the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women in conflict and peace. Women has played different roles in peace works and reconciliation  in their own communities  but are far too often excluded from peace building initiatives.

‘Half widows’ ruling in India-administered Kashmir

During the sharing sessions the Kashmiri women presented and discussed their issue on the half-widows ruling. Because of the decades of conflict there are about 1,500 ‘half-widows’. ‘Half-widows’ are women whose husbands have disappeared but are not yet declared deceased. They were forbidden from remarrying and owning the right to properties. The properties of their husbands will not be given to them instead to their husbands’ relatives.  In 2013 there were series of dialogues between the  CR CSO partners with the Ulamas.  With the untiring effort of the CSOs they were successful in  establishing the  4 years wait to remarry. The women fought for this very right and hopefully their efforts will pave the way for the women in their communities to rightly own the properties left by the husbands. Of course the women  in the group shared to us that even 4 years is too long but at least this is a starting point for better changes in the lives of women. They will still work in reducing the number of years in waiting.

Parveena Ahangar- the Iron Lady of Kashmir

She came very quietly and sat in one corner observing all of us. She may not speak in  English but her presence was  felt. She founded and is the chairperson of The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP).  She shared to us that her son was only 16 at the time he disappeared. He was staying at his uncle’s place just 3 houses away from their home. He was going to a college university when he was abducted. For the past 24 years Parveena and her network of friends in the 8 districts in Kashmir gathers every month to protest with the APDP to bring back their loved ones and to stop the abduction. A strong 10,000 supporters would join the monthly protests of APDP. She cried in saying. “No one deserves this kind of  pain I feel in my heart. I want my son back!”

For the participants it was their first time to meet because they do not have the safe space for such dialogue to happen on either side of the borders. They have so much compassion, love, tolerance and hope. They know that their advocacy needs to be strengthened more and they have a long walk to freedom  but they will erase the lines of biases and discrimination. With their Bangsamoro sisters and brothers, Mindanao will always be a safe place for our Kashmiri family to continue their dialogue for peace.  Long live to Kashmir! Freedom to Kashmir!

‘Kashmir’ refers to the regions in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir including India-administered Kashmir, Pakistan-administered Kashmir (or Azad Jammu and Kashmir) and Gilgit and Baltistan.