Cedric Leterme: On 5 August 2019, more than a year ago, India withdrew the autonomy that had governed the status of the Kashmir region since 1947. This unprecedented escalation against the Kashmiris` right of self-determination runs parallel to a "digital siege" with dramatic consequences.
The official reason is to maintain public order and to prevent the spread of `false information`. In practice, however, it is mainly to prevent the Kashmiris from communicating with each other or with the outside world. For the Indian Government, however, this tactic is not unfamiliar.
It is the longest digital siege for a democratic country and the second longest in the world - only Burma has done better (or worse).
Officially, the disruption ended after 213 days when the 2G connections were partially repaired. To date, not all services are working and there are still occasional interruptions. By 2020 alone, there would have been 70 separate disruptions. Mobile internet is still limited to 2G.
According to the authors of the extensive report by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), this situation amounts to a massive and systematic violation of the civil, political, economic and social rights guaranteed both by the Indian constitution and by international law.
In addition, it is also the longest digital siege for a democratic country and the second longest in the world - only Burma has fared better (or worse). Officially, the disruption ended after 213 days when the 2G connections were partially restored.
To date, not all services are operational and occasional interruptions are still taking place. In 2020 alone, there would have been 70 separate disruptions. Mobile internet is still limited to 2G.
For the authors of the report, this situation equates to a massive and systematic violation of civil, political, economic and social rights guaranteed by both the Indian Constitution and international law. Indeed, access to the Internet is a fundamental element of the right to information, communication and freedom of expression.
In addition, the internet plays a vital role in almost all dimensions of society. In the context of an armed conflict, the massive and long-term limitation of those rights can also be interpreted as a violation of international humanitarian law. That law prohibits any form of collective punishment and requires that any measure that has consequences for citizens be “necessary” and “proportional”.
To support their claims, the authors break down the consequences of the Internet attacks into six areas:
1. right to livelihoods;
2. right to health;
3. right to education;
4. right to justice;
5. freedom of the press;
6. right to social participation.
The report contains testimonials that reinforce each area and show how drastic the consequences of the measures are for an individual or a family.