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India: 14 protesters shot dead in escalating Kashmir violence

Security forces appear too ready to use live ammunition

With a growing number of fatalities in recent days in Jammu and Kashmir, Amnesty International today called on the security forces in the Indian state to show restraint when using live ammunition.

Amnesty added that security forces there should not use live ammunition, except as a last resort to protect against a threat to life.

At least 14 protesters have been killed in shootings by security forces during protests in Kashmir over the last four days. More than 150 people have been injured, including 22 security personnel, in some of the most violent clashes between protesters and security forces in recent years in the restive Kashmir valley.

Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director, said:

“Some of the recent demonstrations have turned violent, but the security forces should still respect and protect the right to life at all times.

“The number and circumstances of fatal shootings suggest that this has not always been the case.”

Security forces should use firearms only where unavoidable to protect life, and to the minimum extent required, in compliance with their own manual and international law and standards, including the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

From Friday 30 July to Sunday 1 August, nine protestors were killed by gunfire from the Jammu and Kashmir state police and the Central Reserve Police Force during demonstrations. Five more deaths were reported yesterday, including one demonstrator who succumbed to gunshot injuries sustained on Saturday.

Violence by protestors in recent demonstrations has included attacks on a train station and three police stations. Four people died in an explosion when a police station in Khrew, near Srinagar, was set on fire by protestors on Sunday.

The latest round of demonstrations began in late May over reported extrajudicial executions of three young men at Machil in Baramulla district. Protests increased after the killing of 17-year old Tufail Mattoo by police in Srinagar on 11 June. They have intensified over repeated cycles of protests and further killings by security forces – 17 protestors were killed between 11 June and 19 July. Over 300 people, including 45 security force personnel, have been injured in the demonstrations to date.

Amnesty International recognises the duty and responsibility of the authorities to protect the public, public property and officials from attack, and to investigate and prosecute those suspected of committing a recognisable criminal offence. The right to freedom of assembly protects only peaceful assembly. Protestors who engage in human rights abuses must be held accountable for their actions.

Similarly, according to international law, all incidents of police shootings should be investigated promptly, independently, impartially and thoroughly. Members of security forces suspected of violating human rights, irrespective of rank, should be prosecuted in proceedings that meet international standards of fairness. Survivors and families of victims should be provided with reparations.

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