Kashmir human rights activists call on conductor Zubin Mehta to call off concert over 'whitewash' fears

 

Delhi

Activists in Kashmir are calling upon a celebrated conductor of classical music to call off a concert in Srinagar as they claim the event will be used to “whitewash” human rights abuses.

The Indian-born Zubin Mehta is due to conduct the Bavarian State Orchestra in a concert, Ehsaas-e-Kashmir, or Feelings for Kashmir, at the Mughal Gardens park in Kashmir’s summer capital on Saturday. It is the first such concert of its kind in Kashmir and has been organised by the Indian government and the German embassy.

“Music is a universal language. Music connects,” Germany’s ambassador, Michael Steiner, said when the concern was announced last month. “With the magic power of music, crossing geographical, political and cultural borders, we want to reach the hearts of Kashmiris with a message of hope and encouragement.”

He added: “This concert is for the people of Kashmir. Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky, played by a world acclaimed maestro and one of the best orchestras of the world in one of the most enchanting places in the world.”

Yet activists in Kashmir, a long-disputed region that has been rocked by waves of violence, say they do not want the concert to take place. They say they are not opposed to the orchestra, the conductor or the music, but they believe the Indian authorities will use the event to claim the situation is normal in the disputed area.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the veteran leader of Hurriyat Conference, a political organisation demanding independence for Kashmir, has called a shutdown in the Kashmir valley next Saturday.

 “We are under occupation. The majority of people here are suffering from state terrorism – people are being killed,” Mr Geelani told The Independent. “People are suffering. There is no relevance for a music programme. India, with the help of the German government, is trying to say the situation should be forgotten."

Activists have organised an alternative musical event, the Truth about Kashmir, featuring poetry, folk music, rap, photography and art. Khuram Parvez, one of those opposed to the German concert and who has been involved in the alternative event, said: “We are saying the German government should not be doing this.”

Mr Khuram was among a number of activists, writers and academics who wrote to the German embassy in Delhi, asking them to call off the concert. A senior religious figure from Kashmir, Grand Mufti Basher-ud-Din, also said he thought the concert should not proceed

“Legitimising an occupation via a musical concert is completely unacceptable. Art as propaganda, as abundantly documented, was put to horrific use in Nazi Germany,” the letter sent to the embassy said. “We are sure you will understand that we cannot welcome anything even remotely analogous in Jammu and Kashmir.”

A spokesman for the German embassy in Delhi, Ravi Sharma, said on Monday that the concert was going ahead as planned.

The chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, has said he believed the concert should go ahead. He said if people fighting for an independent Kashmir believed their cause would be damaged by the concert, then either “leadership is weak or the issue is weak”.

According to the Press Trust of India, Mr Abdullah told reporters in Srinagar: “Everyone has political views but music is in our culture. To present [music] as outside [the Kashmiri tradition] is not right.”

Mr Mehta, who was born in Mumbai, is associated with both the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Valencia opera house. His links with Germany date from the early 1960s when, at the age of 25, he became the youngest conductor to direct the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. His programme is to feature the music of Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Kashmir over the last 25 years as a result of separatist militancy, backed by Pakistan, and the subsequent security operation of the Indian authorities. Even today, with the level of violence having dropped sharply, the Kashmir valley is home to up to 700,000 troops and paramilitaries.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star