ISLAMABAD, Nov 23 (APP): Pakistan on Tuesday strongly condemned the arrest of human rights activist Khurram Parvez in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
“Arbitrary arrests of human rights activists on orchestrated charges by Indian occupation forces is clear evidence of New Delhi’s state-terrorism and trampling of fundamental human rights in IIOJK,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in a statement issued here.
The Spokesperson said that the reprehensible unwarranted searches by Indian National Investigation Agency at the offices and residence of Khuram Parvez, have also been condemned by international human rights activists and organizations.
“The world is aware that it has become increasingly difficult for human rights organizations and activists to continue their work in India and IIOJK due to incessant witch hunt by the Hindutva driven RSS- BJP combine over unfounded and motivated allegations,” he added.
Amnesty International had to shut all its operations in India in September 2020 when its bank accounts were frozen by India in an act of reprisal because of their independent reporting on IIOJK, the Spokesperson mentioned.
He said the UN human rights machinery, independent NGOs and global media have regularly reported on and expressed concerns over increasing intimidation, harassment and reprisal attacks by Indian occupation forces against Kashmiri human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors since 5 August 2019.
“We call on the international community to hold India accountable for continued clamp down against human rights organizations and activists for undertaking their duty to expose gross and systematic human rights violations of Kashmiris in IIOJK, and the minorities, especially Muslims, in India,” the Spokesperson concluded.
Khurram Parvez is a well acclaimed human rights defender working in the world’s most militarized region – IIOJK. Parvez is the programme coordinator for a widely respected rights group in the disputed territory, the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), he is also the chairman of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).
India’s anti-terrorism investigation agency on November 21 arrested Khurram Parvez in a case of ‘terror funding ‘from the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) during a raid at his home and office. NIA also confiscated Parvez’s mobile phone, laptop and some books, along with his wife’s cell phone.
One of the most prominent rights defenders from Kashmir, Khurram has extensively worked on documenting the abuses committed by Indian security forces as coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a rights group based in Srinagar.
The JKCCS has published more than a dozen reports on human rights abuses in Kashmir and its last report, ‘Kashmir’s Internet Siege’ focused on the mass detentions and the reported breakdown of the judicial system in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the reading down of Article 370.
A vocal critique of Indian government policies, Khurram, in a rare interview (Turkey’s Anadolu news agency – 2020), had said that since 5th August 2019, the aim of the Indian government’s decision was to “completely disempower and disenfranchise local population,” while terming it as “violation of UN resolutions” on Jammu and Kashmir.
He also said, “breaking all commitments and forcing changes in Kashmir through military means would not alter the reality of Kashmir. Israel did all this but the Palestine issue is still alive and more than ever the world is behind Palestinians”.
World Organisation Against Torture (#OMCT) a Global network of over 200 NGOs fighting for
human rights and against torture and Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs strongly condemned the illegal arrest of HR activist, fearing torture and illegal conviction under draconian terrorism act (UAPA).
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), is a Geneva based non-profit which works with groups across the world to fight for human rights stated, “it was deeply concerned” by Khurram’s arrest, “We are deeply concerned about the high risk of torture while in custody. We call for his immediate release”.
Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, tweeted “I’m hearing disturbing reports that Khurram Parvez was arrested today in Kashmir & is at risk of being charged by authorities in #India with terrorism-related crimes. He’s not a terrorist, he’s a Human Rights Defender”.
- David Kaye, a former UN Special Rapporteur, said Khurram’s arrest under terrorism charges was “yet another extraordinary abuse in Kashmir.”
- Khurram, 44, is partially disabled. He lost his leg in a landmine blast that hit his car while he was on his way to monitor the parliamentary elections in 2004. His colleague, Asiya Geelani, a journalist, was killed in the explosion.
- In 2020, Khurram’s office was one of the ten locations, including the office of Greater Kashmir, a prominent Srinagar-based English daily, that were raided by the NIA in connection with a case related to the funding of “secessionist and separatist activities.” In a statement, the agency had said, “These entities were receiving money from undisclosed donors which was then being used to fund terror activities.”
- The raids had evoked sharp reaction from global human rights organisations including the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. “Using authoritarian tactics against outspoken critics and journalists needs to stop. India faces serious security challenges, but instead of addressing the problems in a rights-respecting manner, the authorities appear determined to crush peaceful criticism and calls for accountability,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, had said in a statement.
- Khurram, who is the recipient of the 2006 Reebok Human Rights Award, had been arrested before in 2016, a day after he was barred from travelling to Switzerland to participate in a session of the UN Human Rights Council. The then PDP-BJP coalition government had booked him under the controversial Public Safety Act and he was jailed for two and half months before the J&K high court stepped in, terming his incarceration illegal and setting him free.
Earlier, in October 2020, the NIA had conducted raids at Parvez’s home and office.
Khurram Parvez has always raised his voice against Indian strangulation of people of IIOJK, ‘The Indian Government is Depriving the Kashmiris of Peaceful Means of Protest’.
- It appears that Khurram Parvez has been arrested because of his efforts to highlight violations of human rights in IIOJK by Indian occupational forces. Parvez’s arrest comes as the IIOJK is in the midst of some of most widespread anti-India protests in recent years. Thousands of people have been protesting against illegal Indian occupation in IIOJK almost daily basis. Kashmiri freedom fighters have for decades fought Indian soldiers – currently numbering around 900,000 deployed in the territory, demanding independence for the region or its merger with Pakistan. Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been brutally killed by Indian occupational forces to suppress the rightful demands of people of IIOJK for implementation of UNSC resolution. India under the current fascist regime has been exposed for its worst HRs violations, silencing the voices of dissent at domestic and international level. India now feeling the heat is resorting to neo-
- Nazi tactics enforced disappearance and targeted killings. It is a sad fact that the actions of international HRs organisations and leadership has turned a complete blind eye towards Indian atrocities in mainland and IIOJK. It is high time that international stakeholders must take stock of the situation to avoid any future holocaust.