On Monday June-7, Islamabad Institute of Conflict resolution (IICR) and Legal Forum for Kashmir (LFOVK) jointly organized an International online conference titled “Re-theorizing Theory of Self Defence”. The conference was aimed at highlighting how settlers oppress the people under the rubric of Self Defense to pursue their criminal objectives in Kashmir and Palestine. The eminent speakers included Dr.Ilan Pappe, historian and writer, Dr. Ramzay Baroud, US-Palestinian journalist and media consultant, Dr. Salma Malik, Assistant professor Quai-e-Azam University and Dr. Mevludin Ibish, assistant professor International Balkan University. The session was moderated by Ms. Dina Abraham.
While speaking to the forum Dr. Ramzy Baroud said that Israel engaging in violence has been perpetual throughout the history. The asymmetry between Israel and Palestinians is unmatched yet Palestinians have registered their resistant and effected Israeli economy which Israel use to justify their atrocious acts upon Palestinians. He further added that it is to be understood that Israel is engaging itself in manipulation of terminologies to justify their acts as self defense. He said that Israeli doesn’t have right to self determination or self defense. There is a factual basis of it that it is Palestine which is living under military occupation, it is Palestine which is facing horrors of ethnic cleansing for over 70 years. In Gaza people are living under Israeli siege for over 15 years, not just this thousands of people in Gaza have been killed and wounded severely. Then how come it is Israel who has right to self determination and self defense. Dr. Baroud also said that Israel is now facing criminal investigation of its actions in Palestine which is why they are coming up with similar claims of Self determination and self defense. Israel sees Palestinians as threatening and presents tailored narrative to justify its acts as self defense.
The next speaker on the panel was Dr. Ilan Pappe. While addressing the participants he said that it is time to reconceptualize international law and by inference also discuss the law of self defense. Adding more he said that the context in which international law was born and historical context under which it has shaped needs to be examined. The roots of international law are colonial. International law was not a product of discussion of a de-colonized world. it was colonial empires that laid the foundations of international law, said Dr. Pappe. Adding further he said that for centuries International law has worked as a vehicle to implement European imperial and colonial policies particularly in 17th century. The Palestinian and Kashmiri self defense is legitimate and there shouldn’t be any doubt about that. The Palestinian documents also refer to international legitimacy which is not set of rule but international consciousness. Dr.Pappe also said that through displacement and replacement, settlers are changing demography of Palestine and Kashmir and stripping indigenous people from their land. Lastly he said the meaning of de-colonization in 21st century should be the dismantling of settlers colonial institution’s occupation and ethnic cleansing both in Kashmir and Palestine.
Dr Salma Malik, while addressing the participants shared her thoughts on the fact that there has been a lack in indigenous discourses due to which we have to but western ideas. Adding further she said that the concept of Self-Defense is not how it is interpreted by the west today. Throughout the primitive times it has been there, Aristotle through the concept of just war and Cicero respectively defined self defense. She also said that Self defense is not preemptive and is actually defensive in nature anyone who is resorting to self defense is facing aggression and oppression from another entity. The contemporary understating of self defense under the light of League of Nations and United Nations has introduced more aspects to this phenomenon but with little application to be seen today. Addressing the Kashmir issue Dr. Salma said that Kashmir fully suffices the requirements of self defense where people are being stripped from their basic rights, where an occupier force is subjugating by all means the people of Kashmir and it has been happening since 1940’s. it was interesting to see that international community was vocal on internet access but paid little or no heed to the fact that people were being persecuted and are still facing cultural and ethnic genocide through systematic means, this holistically defines what is important in the eyes of international community, Dr. Salma said.
The last speaker on the panel was Dr. Mevludin Ibish. While speaking he said that international law is not related to the question of state to state interests but it is related to Individual to state interests. It is so because the construction of the sovereignty of state is not based on state but its developed on individuals and civil society. adding more Dr. Mevludin said that the case of Israel and Palestine should not be only looked through the lens of International law but political context to is also crucial. The position of self defense which Israel is using to justify their acts on innocent people is targeted towards Hamas. Israel projects the case as it is between two political forces i.e. Hamas and Israel. As far as self defense is concerned it is legal for individuals and civil society. Dr. Ibish also said that the methodological shift is needed, and should be redirected towards negotiations, which is more acceptable for the west. Lastly he added that even if peace and stability is brought it is not sure that there would be any discussion of two state solution because that has broader issues to be addressed. Palestinians have right to self defense, there shouldn’t be any doubt on it.
The conference was then followed by question and answer session.