As India continues to build up pressure on protesting Kashmiris while entering the 25th day of curfew, Pakistan has decided to observe the ‘Kashmir Hour’ in solidarity with the besieged people of occupied Kashmir. In his televised address to the nation and a recent tweet on Twitter, Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced that an event will be held every week to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people, starting Friday, August 30 between 12pm-12:30 pm.
In line with the government’s decision, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor has also announced that national anthems of Pakistan and Kashmir along with sirens will be played at the designated hour throughout the country. He has also urged the youth, particularly students, to take part in the initiative.
Accordingly, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan tweeted a detailed program outline for Friday. She urged people to come out of their houses, workplaces, and educational institutions at 12 PM and stand to express solidarity and unity with their Kashmiri brethren.
While a large number of population including national heroes, celebrities from the entertainment industry and media representatives have come out in support to show solidarity, a certain population seems to be confused and are questioning the impact of a standing protest.
A standing protest is a visual demonstration of standing in solidarity with the victims and amplifies the stories of oppression that stand in the way of their freedom. It marks as a tribute to the victims and survivors of violence who stand defiant in the face of terrorism. With that, it creates room for critical conversations and dialogue around illegal oppression through national and international coverage.
This type of protest particularly gained attention in May 2013 as demonstrations began in Istanbul as protests aimed at halting government plans to develop a popular urban park grew into a broader social movement to protest increasingly authoritarian policies and the violent response to peaceful demonstrations.
The first silent protester was performance artist Erdem Gunduz, now often referred to as “the standing man.” He stood for hours in silence at the Ataturk Cultural Centre in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the center of Turkey’s protest movement.
The story of Gunduz’s silent protest spread rapidly on social media and inspired others to initiate similar standing protests. Individuals stood in silence in parks, sites of conscience where historic acts of violence occurred, or in other prominent public spaces. The protest on Westminster Bridge after London terror attack and Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel are prominent commemorations held in the similar manner.
Hence, the Kashmir hour is aimed at alerting the international community to the false flag operation launched by the Indian leadership to divert attention from massive human rights violations in occupied Kashmir. The international pressure will expectantly lead to restoring of communications blackout and heavy restrictions on movement imposed by the Indian authorities on innocent Kashmiris from the eve of New Delhi’s decision to revoke Article 370 of its constitution.