Kashmir curfew to be eased after Thursday: governor

Indian authorities cut telecommunications and imposed a curfew in its Indian part of Kashmir. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 August 2019

Kashmir curfew to be eased after Thursday: governor

  • Kashmir governor said lines of communication may gradually return after seven to 10 days
  • The biggest mosque in the area was ordered to close during Eid

NEW DELHI: Restrictions on freedom of movement in Kashmir will be eased after Independence Day on Thursday, the state governor has said, although phone lines and the Internet will remain cut off.
Satya Pal Malik told Wednesday’s Times of India that communications will stay blocked as India’s government relaxes its clampdown since it stripped the region of its autonomy in early August.
“We don’t want to give that instrument to the enemy until things settle down,” Malik told the paper in an interview.
“In a week or 10 days, everything will be alright and we will gradually open lines of communication,” he said.
Fearing unrest, India snapped telecommunications and imposed a curfew in the part of Kashmir it controls on August 4, a day before its surprise presidential decree to strip the Muslim-majority region of its special status.
Tens of thousands of troop reinforcements have been deployed to the main city of Srinagar and other towns and villages, turning the picturesque city into a deserted warren of barbed wire and barricades.
The lockdown has not completely prevented protests, however.
According to residents around 8,000 people took part in a demonstration after Friday prayers, with security forces firing tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns to break up the rally.
On Tuesday the Indian government confirmed for the first time that clashes took place, blaming them on “miscreants” and saying its forces reacted with “restraint.”
For the Muslim festival of Eid on Monday the Himalayan region’s biggest mosque, the Jama Masjid, was ordered shut and people were only allowed to pray in smaller local mosques so that no big crowds could gather, witnesses said.
Footage filmed by AFP on Monday showed hundreds of people protesting in the Soura area of Srinagar, shouting slogans such as “We want freedom” and “India go back.”
Three helicopters continuously hovered over the area as protesters jeered and shook fists at the aircraft.
“What India has done is unacceptable to us. Our struggle will continue even if India keeps Kashmir locked down for months. Only solution is that India has to accept what Kashmiris want,” one protester told AFP.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan following independence from Britain in 1947, and has been the spark for two wars between the two nuclear-armed arch-rivals.
An armed rebellion against Indian rule — supported by Pakistan, New Delhi says — has raged since 1989, claiming tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians.
India marks Independence Day, marking the end of British rule in 1947, on Thursday, a day after Pakistan.
On Wednesday Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who on Sunday likened India’s government to Nazi Germany, was due to make a speech in the legislative assembly in Pakistani Kashmir.


Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

Updated 22 August 2019

Jakarta literary festival aims to give a voice to the voiceless

  • The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa
  • The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia

JAKARTA: The inaugural Jakarta International Literary Festival commenced on Tuesday evening with a focus on bringing together writers and literary works from the Global South. 

Festival Director Yusi Avianto Pareanom said that the organizer, the Literary Committee of the Jakarta Arts Council, wanted to emphasize the importance of creating balance in a discourse that has been dominated by work from the Global North.

The four-day festival features authors from the Middle East and Africa, such as Legodle Seganabeng from Botswana, Adania Shibli from Palestine, Bejan Matur from Turkey, Zainab Priya Dala from South Africa, Shenaz Patel from Mauritius, Momtaza Mehri from Somalia and many authors from Southeast Asian countries.

The festival unites international authors with dozens of fellow writers from Indonesia at the Taman Ismail Marzuki arts and cultural center in Jakarta between Aug. 20 and 24.  

“Our theme ‘Fence’ highlights that we want to unlock and deconstruct the barriers that separate us, so that these writers can get to know each other,” Yusi told Arab News. 

“From authors like Adania Shibli, we can enrich our knowledge about Palestine and its literary scene. There are plenty of ways to portray a situation. Through Shibli, we can get understand Palestine through its literary side.

“By featuring Bejan Matur, we know that there is another prominent Turk author apart from the world-renowned Orhan Pamuk,” he added. 

Shibli delivered her keynote speech titled “I am not to speak my language” at the opening of the festival, in which she described how the Israeli occupation has silenced Arabic-speaking Palestinians.

“The phenomenon of Palestinians taking refuge in silence whenever they are around Hebrew speakers in Palestine or Israel is not unfamiliar,” Shibli said.

She added that decades of military occupation had made speaking in Arabic a fraught experience. 

“Colonialism, however, does not only show contempt toward the colonized, their history and their culture by silencing them, but also toward their language,” she said.  

Shibli described how the nationality law, which the Israeli government passed in July 2018, strips Arabic of its designation as an official language and downgrades it to a special status. 

“Arabic was downgraded from a language into a threat a long time ago,” she added. 

Yusi said that what Shibli described in her speech is relevant to similar situations in other countries, including Indonesia. 

Multilingual Indonesia has more than 700 actively spoken local dialects, with 652 of them verified by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Many of the remaining dialects are in danger of dying out due to diminishing speakers, especially among the younger generation.