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June 24, 2008 1:21 PM

Reports of mass graves in Indian-controlled Kashmir must be thoroughly investigated if there is to be any progress towards peace in the troubled region, according to a Liberal Democrat MEP.

Recently a report by the Srinagar-based Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) detailed the existence of graves, which because of their proximity to the Line of Control are not accessible without Indian Army permission. The report claims over 8000 people have gone missing in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989.

Liz Lynne MEP (ALDE, UK) is a member of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with the Countries of South Asia and the Human Rights Subcommittee and has campaigned for many years on the rights of the Kashmiri people. Speaking at the start of the EU's Kashmir Week, she said:

"The claims in this report are horrific. If the authorities are to gain any credibility in the eyes of local people these allegations must be investigated and if crimes have been committed, the perpetrators must be punished. The rule of law must apply to everyone present in the region."

On moves towards peace in Kashmir and the role of the EU, Liz added:

"Kashmir Week here in Brussels gives us the opportunity to meet a range of opinion formers who share deep concerns about the ongoing conflict in the region.

"I am encouraged by the continued dialogue between India and Pakistan and credit must be given to both sides on this. I very much hope that following the recent political changes in Pakistan a fresh and hopeful dialogue can continue. The EU can play its part by acting as a facilitator for further talks involving India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people.

"This has been going on for over sixty years and we must now at long last try to find a just solution. The Kashmiri people have waited long enough."


Notes to Editors:

Liz Lynne MEP has for many years campaigned for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Kashmir. She has travelled to the region and also discussed the issue with Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf and the Prime Minister of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan. She also submitted many amendments in favour of Kashmiri self-determination for last year's European Parliamentary report on the troubled region. Earlier this year she co-chaired the Global Discourse on Kashmir 2008 at the European Parliament in Brussels.