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Whatever your background and lifestyle, we’re all united by our shared humanity. All of us are entitled to fundamental and inalienable human rights. These rights have been beautifully expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and almost every country on earth has signed-up voluntarily to the UN charter with the exception of Saudi Arabia and a few other countries from the old Soviet Bloc – they’ve since reversed their policy. Apartheid South Africa also had the honour of refusing to sign up to a charter that demanded equality for all human beings.

Of course, we do not live in a perfect world, and not all societies are minded to respect universal human rights. Countries like Pakistan and other autocratic pretend democracies offer lip service to such rights. It was because of the human tragedies in the wake of World Wars I & II that the universal declaration of human rights saw its first light of day; there were of course many precursor declarations. The concentration camps of Nazi Germany and the tens of millions of peoples that perished in needless wars made it abundantly clear that if we want to obvert similar tragedies in the future we must internalise some basic values.

Bosnia, Rwanda, Halabja, Myanmar, Kashmir, Ukraine, the East Pakistan genocide, are all modern day reminders of man’s capacity to violate the dignity of human beings.

The fact that our world is not a perfect one, and there are people who think it’s okay to dehumanise others because of perceived differences in ethnicity, ‘race’, religion, gender, sexual orientation and natural and physical abilities, means we must work together to ensure that forces of human rights prevail over the forces of inhumanity, cruelty and humiliation.

Freedoms require defending.

Our individual histories of suffering and shared stories of dispossession may have made this task a little difficult but we are not defined by our past. Having experienced the inhumanity of exploitative policies should mean we take the side of those currently being exploited – however strong, popular or great the Occupiers. It’s our commitment to the future that will help shape our new legacies. We should never shy away from the commitment to at least try to make things better whatever our individual abilities and capacities.

The Portmir Foundation is entirely subsumed within this quest.

Why not write for us, share a blog or a video? If you’re from the community – we would love to hear from you, and if you’re not, no bother, we would still love to learn about your experiences. Perhaps, you offer us new insights?

For British Azad Kashmiris, our past is one of dispossession and exploitation. We recognise that as a people, our forbears spoke a distinct language and had a culture of their own, but were forced to abandon their homeland because of the greed of Occupiers. Their descendants have become citizens of the world and many live in the Free World. We understand that we cannot live together peacefully as individuals, communities and nations if we do not develop practical ways of living together.

But yet, in our own communities in the UK we have social ills that we have never addressed. Domestic violence for instance is rife in our communities as patriarchy continues to influence how some of men and women behave. Perpetrators of domestic violence do not consider their behaviour to be wrong. Most women are the victims of these structural cruelties whilst others help enforce and perpetuate these inequalities. We do not like to talk about these social realities, which for some victims are quite acute despite living in a functioning liberal democracy that has criminalised domestic violence.

The reasons for these failures are many but suffice to say that our own communities pose some of the greatest hurdles. It is in the same vein that we shed light on issues of forced marriage, radicalisation of our youth to extreme interpretations of Islam that are completely opposed to the exercise of unfettered human rights and a host of other social problems. Not all governments or government policies are benign and we will speak out against unjust policies, especially Pakistan’s occupation of Jammu & Kashmir.

We will say the things that many of us know to be true. We’re not scared of offending people’s sensibilities, and neither are we committed to the personal aggrandisement of individuals through community causes. We believe in speaking the truth against power for the sake of truth even if we become casualties. Our cause is a just one and we will fight for it.

If you care about these problems sufficiently enough to get involved directly or indirectly then please join the Portmir Foundation. You don’t have to be a British Azad Kashmiri to take part in our activities as we recognise that we belong to a much bigger human family that has made Britiain its home. It’s only with the involvement of local people drawn from different backgrounds, professions, vocations and occupations that we can truly create the platforms by which we can aspire to live dignified lives in our communities. This is probably the best expression of a multiculturalism rooted in human rights that actually works. We have always believed that despite being a cultural heritage organisation with social agenda issues our culture is fluid and evolving – it is a living culture being shaped by our new environment. At its base are British values of fairness, equality and respect for human rights.

With your help, ideas and activism we can make the Portmir Foundation a beacon of hope for everyone.

We would love to hear from you!