US Congress panel to hold hearing on human rights situation in South Asia on Oct 22

Congressman Brad Sherman, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia, announced on Tuesday that the panel will hold a hearing on the human rights situation in South Asia with focus on Kashmir on October 22.

“Assistant Secretary Alice Wells, who oversees all State Department policy towards South Asia will testify,” said Sherman. “Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Scott Busby, who oversees human rights efforts in South Asia will also testify.”

“We have invited other State Department officials and we also expect to hear from private human rights activists on the issues,” he added.

The hearing will focus on the Kashmir Valley, where many political activists have been arrested and daily life, the internet, and telephone communications have been interrupted. It will also review the humanitarian situation in Kashmir and whether Kashmiris have adequate supplies of food, medicine, and other essentials.

“In August, I had an opportunity to meet with Americans from Kashmir Valley in the San Fernando Valley, along with my colleague Congressman Andre Carson (D-IN). We heard stories of difficulties encountered by my constituents and others, and the fears they have for their loved ones. Since then I have had several additional meetings with Kashmiri Americans. I look forward to learning more about human rights in Kashmir,” said Sherman.

However, the hearing will extend beyond Kashmir to also focus on the human rights situation in Pakistan, including the Sindh Province, as well as the situation on Tamils of Sri Lanka, and Muslims in Assam.

A hearing on human rights in Southeast Asia was held in July and a hearing on East Asia, with a focus on Hong Kong and the Uighur community (a Muslim minority group) in China, is planned.

On August 30th, Congressman Sherman addressed human rights in China, Sri Lanka, and Sindh in an address at a National Press Club event for the International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

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