Speakers Corner in Bradford have launched a new campaign, Justice in Kashmir is Justice Here, to commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the invasion of Kashmir by the Indian army.
Between November 2020 and February 2021, many young women in Bradford have come forward to collaborate on the campaign, which has included illustrations, poetry and a short film. Speaking about the campaign, Sasha Bhat, a member of Speakers Corner, said: “I was a child when the Kunan Poshpora case happened but grew up with the fear of the memories shared by elders. It was only later that I really understood the horrors of what happened that night. I see that fear and ignorance is what the occupier/oppressor thrives on and in learning the truth about the reality of what happened – we can break the ignorance.”
“In standing in solidarity, in bringing the truth alive, we can break the fear and once you speak the truth you transfer the burden of fear to the occupier. This campaign is important because we’re speaking up and reaching a wider new audience. It is high time that activists across the world see that India is an occupier of Kashmir. Truth is power and a route to justice – and justice in Kashmir is justice everywhere.”
The short film produced for the campaign by young filmmaker Saul Padgett, combines the illustrations and the poetry completed for Justice in Kashmir is Justice Here. It has been made to raise awareness for the campaign and is dedicated specifically to those who were affected by the Kunan Poshpora incident three decades ago.
“Twenty-nine years have passed since 1991,” begins the moving piece. “Yet nothing has been done.
“Denied were the accusations and ‘worthless’ they were called, but are all aware of the Kunan Poshpora case, have YOU been told?”
The poem remembers the tragic events that occurred in Kashmir in 1991 and continues to express sorrow that retribution for the area still has not been achieved. It implores for action to be taken to restore Kashmir to its former beauty and finishes: “On one side the earth is healing, On the other side its heaven is bleeding…”
The harrowing narrative woven by the poem was written by Noor Jahangir, who is astonishingly only 15 years old. Speaking about her experience working on the campaign, the poet said: “I have felt excited being part of this project as it’s great to be able to do something that raises awareness on a certain issue and overall makes the problem known. It’s important because it could lead to justice and/or a solution.”
The illustrations displayed throughout the video were drawn by artist Haniyya Ejaz and represent images of loss and of violence. The video both emotionally, visually and auditorily produces a representation of not only the Kunan Poshpora but of the suffering of the Kashmiri people ever since. Speaking on creating the art for the campaign, Ejaz stated: “Being part of this campaign was so motivating, I think it’s important that we raise awareness for such a tragic event especially since whilst researching I saw the same thing written about Kunan Poshpora.
“One of the greatest injustices was so many were unaware of what happened and despite the numerous efforts this case was given no attention or justice. After seeing those words, I wanted to put my all into the campaign and the designs that were my responsibility.”
The illustrations from the campaign will feature on a billboard on Wakefield Road in Bradford from February to March 2021.
You can watch the short film produced by Justice in Kashmir is Justice Here below or visit the campaign website here for more information.