March 2007 News

US visa denial is rights violation: Geelani kin

29 March 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
Sarwar Kashani

New Delhi: The denial of a US visa to ailing Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was only to be expected given the 'irrelevant questions' he was subjected to at the embassy, say his family and supporters who called the decision a violation of human rights.'It was a matter of life of a person,' said Ayaz Akbar, spokesperson of Geelani's faction of the Hurriyat Conference, about the leader who is suffering from an advanced stage of renal cancer. 'Denying a visa for medical treatment is an obvious violation of human rights,' Akbar told IANS.Regretting the decision to not allow the 77-year-old Geelani, who has only one kidney, access to treatment in the US despite his critical condition, the spokesperson said the visit was apolitical and concerned solely with his health. He said the visa request should have been considered on humanitarian grounds.'Nevertheless, we had already given up the idea of visiting US as the embassy authorities had indicated the inevitable.' Geelani's family agreed and said the US decision to not give him a visa did not shock them in the least.'We knew that visa would never come. That is why we shifted to Mumbai for the surgery,' said a close relative over telephone from Mumbai.He said Geelani had been subjected to 'irrelevant questions about politics, religion and terror' during the interview at the US embassy.Geelani, a trenchant critic of the US government and its foreign policy, was diagnosed with renal cancer by doctors in New Delhi and was shifted to the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai after his health deteriorated last week. He has been operated upon. Family sources say the leader is recovering fast.Geelani has time and again condemned the US for its war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also said that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was surrendering to India under US pressure.


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