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YNTR – March 2021: On Jammu and Kashmir, West Guinea, and Western Sahara

YNTR – March 2021: On Jammu and Kashmir, West Guinea, and Western Sahara


Jammu and Kashmir crackdown

In the Jammu and Kashmir region––a region administered by India, as a state which consists of the larger part of Kashmir and has been the subject of dispute among India, Pakistan, and China since 1947––the methods of enforcing the revocation of the regions special status are still ongoing. The Indian government accompanied this revocation on 5 August 2019 by cutting off communication lines in the Kashmir Valley and deploying thousands of security forces to curb any uprising. Kashmiri politicians were taken into custody. The restrictions have been described as means for preempting violence and reactions in the Kashmir Valley was effectively reduced to silence because of cut-off communications, media-blackouts, and with imposition of Curfew (Section 144). So far, around 200 people have died, and more than 4,000 injured.

5 February 2021, Jammu and Kashmir’s Principal Secretary of Power and Information, Rohit Kansal, announced that 4G internet services would be restored in the entire union territory. The service had been suspended since 16 August 2020.



Western New Guinea conflict

The Papua conflict between secessionist group Free Papua and the Indonesia government, has been ongoing since 1962. Papuans accuse the Indonesian government of indiscriminate violence and of suppressing their freedom of expression. Indonesia has also been accused of conducting a genocidal campaign against the indigenous inhabitants. Estimates of casualties of conflict range between 100,000–500,000.

In February 2021, conflict between the pro-independence West Papua Liberation Army and Indonesia’s security forces intensified in the Intan Jaya regency––a western regency of around 50,000 Papuans. Three West Papuan men were killed in mid-February by Indonesia’s military. Amnesty’s Indonesia office has called for an immediate, independent investigation into the killings.

It said such deadly attacks had become commonplace in Papua, inflicting suffering on civilians who flee to the bush or neighbouring districts to escape violence and raids by security forces.

Armed clashes have also caused the internal displacement of thousands of indigenous Papuans. About 8,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Intan Jaya have sought shelter in neighbouring Jayawijaya Regency, and, according to solidarity groups, 400 IDPs have died in Jayawijaya due to diseases and other strains.



Western Saharan clashes

Armed conflict between Morocco and the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), represented at the United Nations by the Polisario Front (PF), in the disputed region of Western Sahara; a conflict that has been more-or-less ongoing since Spain relinquished control in 1975. Tensions deepened between Morocco and the PF in mid-October 2020 when Sahrawi protestors blocked a road connection Morocco to sub-Saharan Africa. On 13 November, Morocco launched a military operation into the demilitarized buffer zone of Western Sahara to clear protestors. Claiming that Morocco broke the ceasefire agreements in place since the 1990’s, the PF urged the UN to intervene; also accusing the Moroccan military of shooting at unarmed protestors. The Moroccan government has denied any wrongdoings and claimed the truce to remain in place. On November 14, the SADR declared war on Morocco.

In February 2021, the Mauritanian government–a long-standing ally of PF and SADR–is reportedly planning to soon withdraw its recognition of Polisario’s self-proclaimed SADR. This is a major setback for the PF, which has angered a growing list of countries, including Mauritania following its recent maneuvers. Mauritania emphasized that the potential decision seeks to adjust their neutral position in the Western Sahara conflict in favor of a realistic solution to end the struggles of thousands of Sahrawis living in dire conditions in the Tindouf camps–a set of refugee camps in neighboring Algeria for Sahrawi refugees heavily reliant on international humanitarian assistance.


Photo credits:

The Sahrawi refugees – a forgotten crisis in the Algerian desert by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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