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UN urges restraint in Kashmir

Srinagar, August 27, 2008:

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has voiced its concern about the recent violent protests in Indian-administered Kashmir that have led to civilian casualties and restrictions to the right to freedom of assembly and expression.

"OHCHR calls on the Indian authorities and in particular security forces to respect the right to freedom of assembly and expression, and comply with international human rights principles in controlling the demonstrators," according to a statement issued today in Geneva.

"The use of force should be proportionate to the threat posed and firearms must only be used in dispersing a violent assembly to protect individuals against an imminent threat of death or serious injury," it added.

The Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for thorough and independent investigations into all killings that have occurred so far.

OHCHR also called on the demonstrators to use only peaceful means when protesting.

"Leaders of the different protesting groups have a responsibility to ensure that demonstrations are peaceful and that the demonstrators are not carrying sticks, guns or other weapons and refrain from intimidation," stated OHCHR.

The UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has been deployed to observe a ceasefire in disputed Jammu and Kashmir since 1949. The princely state was split between India and Pakistan after they won independence from the United Kingdom in 1947.

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