This Internet blackout comes at a controversial time: the Government unilaterally decided to revoke article 370 of the Indian Consitution, which protected Jammu & Kashmir’s autonomy. Signatories of the statement recognized that the current situation is part of a systematic effort by the BJP-led government to silence and exclude dissent from the region; and remind that the current internet and network shutdown is part of a larger pattern of regular shutdowns in the disputed region: in 2019 alone 51 internet shutdowns have been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir.
The move by the Indian Government has drawn wide criticism, notably by 5 UN Human Rights experts, including the Special rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, David Kaye, and the Special Rapporteur on peaceful assembly and association, Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule. In a joint statement, the Human rights experts said the current blackout was “inconsistent with the fundamental norms of necessity and proportionality,”.
“That a Democracy like India decides to deprive 12.5 millions of citizens of their fundamental right to freely express and communicate online is extremely preoccupying, it gives the signal to other less democratic regimes that it’s acceptable to do the same”, Julie Owono, executive Director of Internet Without Borders , said.
Internet Without Borders urgently calls on the Indian Government to end violation of International Human Rights law, and lift the Internet and telecommunications blackout.