Background to Let Kashmir Decide
My name is Jawad Quyyam and I live in Kotli, Azad Kashmir. I was born in the city. I became aware of the Kashmir issue when I was about 9 years old and would hear my family talking and the televisions news. I had heard great things from my grandad and that his family were originally from Indian occupied Kashmir, but we were not able to visit.
I did not know then that Jammu and Kashmir belonged to us and that we had been denied our rights to independence. That however became clearer to me over time. Everyday there was news of atrocities in Kashmir and firing at the lines of control. There were daily protests for freedom and for cease fires. I became involved in the protests and participated in activities for the freedom of Kashmir when I was a teenager.
In school we had a library where we could read about our history. There was also a library in our city where I read much and became interested in working for the freedom of Kashmir. I learned more history from a senior leader of the nationalist party and came to realise that Jammu and Kashmir should be an independent and free country, but that Kashmiris had been denied their rights.
One day I saw a comment on a social media site that was made by Claire Bidwell, an English lady who was replying to someone else. I thanked her for speaking on the issue of Kashmir and we began to discuss directly what was happening and at the end the question was. “What can we do to help Kashmir?” We knew we wanted to raise awareness by sharing information and discussing the main issues and to show solidarity with the Kashmiris who were under occupation. So as ordinary people we wanted to reach other ordinary people to make that difference. We set up the Facebook group first under the name of the Peoples party as we wanted to invite all the people of the world to our group to raise awareness and let Kashmiris see that people did support them.
We then wanted to strive to let more people know about the situation for the prosperity and freedom of Kashmir. With the voice on the inside and the voice on the outside it was a good balance. Then came the idea of the tea party where we could invite all the people of the world to stand up for humanity.
May peace be upon you…
My name is Claire Bidwell and I was born and brought up in London but now live in Scotland. A visit to Mumbai and a search for an Indian doll for my granddaughter led to a lady, who lived in the slums taking me along to an Asian craft shop. The shop was run by a young Kashmiri businessman who sold me two beautiful Kashmir rugs which are now in the heart of my home. We remained in contact and one day I asked him how his family were. His short, solemn reply was that he did not know as his country had been locked down by the Indian government. 900,000 troops had been sent in; politicians had been imprisoned and the internet had been cut. He had no means of knowing how they were. My heart went out to him; my heart went out to 8 million people of a country and their families and friends who were unable to communicate.
This led to a heart led, passionate interest to find out more. I learned that article 370 had been revoked and Jammu and Kashmir were no longer able to have any right to self-determination. Their basic human rights, civil liberties and freedom of voice was being denied. When the Great British government left their empire state in 1947, they partitioned the country into three. One third with Pakistan, one with India and the other with China; with a promise for a vote for self-determination. A UN article of 13th August, according to their rights and charters was set but Kashmir have never had their promised vote.
I began visiting social media sites to learn more and met Jawad Qayyum in a site discussing the Kashmir issue. After discussing many things about Kashmir this led to us forming a Facebook Group to raise awareness and to stand in solidarity. We wanted to make the ordinary people of the world and in the western world more aware so the idea for a global tea party emerged and with the process of the journey has led to uniting pro- Kashmiri groups.
So here we are working to raise awareness and stand in solidarity for the rights to self-determination and to “Let Kashmir Decide.”