Civilians Bearing Brunt of Somali Conflict
Civilians Bearing Brunt of Somali Conflict

The human rights group Amnesty International is urging authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir to release two lawyers jailed under a special detention law.

Mian Abdul Qayoom, president of the Kashmir Bar Association, and its general secretary, Ghulam Nabi Shaheen, have been detained since July 7 and July 18, respectively, on charges of encouraging secessionist activities.

In a statement Thursday, Amnesty said the two men are being detained under a harsh law called the Public Safety Act that allows detentions of up to two years without trial.

The group said the detention of the lawyers appears to be an attempt to, in its words, "stifle legitimate and peaceful protest" as part of an ongoing crackdown in parts of Kashmir. Amnesty said the "arbitrary" use of the law to jail government critics demonstrates why the law should be repealed.

Authorities have struggled to maintain order in Kashmir, which has been rocked by strikes and protests against Indian rule for nearly a month. At least 17 people have died in shootings blamed on police and paramilitary soldiers trying to stop the demonstrations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP AND AP.