May 13, 2013

Gilgit Baltistan: 19th Commemoration Of Vietnam Human Rights Day

On May 9 2013, Senge Sering made a statement in US Senate for the 19th Commemoration of Vietnam Human Rights Day. He urges the US to help Gilgit Baltistan in their fight for freedom and self-determination.

Below is a Statement made by Senge Sering in US Senate :

Respected Members of the US Congress and delegates

Julay and good afternoon!

On the Nineteenth Commemoration of Vietnam Human Rights Day, I express solidarity with the citizens of Vietnam and Gilgit-Baltistan who struggle for their universal rights, and do not hesitate from sacrificing their present for our future. And many among them have lost lives while struggling for the freedom of religion, expression, political activity and cultural identity. And while standing here, I express my commitment to continue their mission and speak for those who often dwell in isolation and don’t have a chance to speak for themselves. They are courageous people who might have failed to grab the media attention but surely deserve dignity and our support.

Ladies and gentlemen

Millions of Pakistanis will cast their votes day after tomorrow on the 11th of May to choose their congress members. However, on this day, the residents of the UN-declared disputed region of Gilgit-Baltistan, which is my birth place, will have no chance to choose their national representatives, president or the prime minister. Ruled by Pakistan like a colony since 1948, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan continue to live without their basic constitutional rights including the right to choose their political future.

The United Nations Security Council has passed several resolutions asking Pakistani rulers to vacate Gilgit-Baltistan and return authority to its residents. Honoring the UN resolutions and granting genuine autonomy to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan will help both the people and the economy; it will strengthen the rule of law and help Pakistan project stability across the regions. I appreciate Secretary Kerry for stating that all governments have a responsibility to protect the universal human rights but the fact remains that the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan are a country-less people and both India, which claims the region, and Pakistan, which physically controls it, have refused to grant the constitutional rights to them.

The US had long established itself as a leader in supporting democracy and the protection of human rights of people across the globe.  America’s commitment to advancing HR is about helping others but also about ensuring its national security. In this regard, promoting human rights in Gilgit-Baltistan ensures US national interests since the region is fast becoming the hub of terrorists, who are involved in Shia and minority killings and suppression of religious freedom, and intend to convert Gilgit-Baltistan into a sanctuary to revive Jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

Please allow me to read these sentences before I finish my statement. “So anywhere that human rights are under threat, the United States will proudly stand up, and continue to promote greater freedom, greater openness, and greater opportunity for all people. And that means speaking up when those rights are imperiled. It means providing support and training to those who are risking their lives every day so that their children can enjoy more freedom. It means engaging governments at the highest levels and pushing them to live up to their obligations to do right by their people. It means encouraging businesses to respect human rights wherever they operate. I’ve also seen firsthand what can happen when we work together and encourage change for the better, that amazing spark that grows into a shining light – a spotlight, if you will, on hope and progress.”

These are the words of Secretary John Kerry taken from his remarks on the release of the human rights report on April 19, 2013. Like others, the state-less people of Gilgit-Baltistan also expect the US government to one day help them attain the desired political change so their children can enjoy freedom.

In the end, I thank the honorable senator John Cornyn, Dr. Quan Nguyen and Mr. Dinh Huu Doan for this opportunity.