Rafto Foundation appeals India to release Khurram Parvez, writes to UN

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The Rafto Foundation has called for the immediate release of prominent Human Rights activist Khurram Parvez from detention.

In a statement, the Human Rights body said it found “these allegations to lack any credibility whatsoever. We appeal to Indian authorities to respect Mr. Parvez habeas corpus rights and release him from detention without delay.”

It further said that Parvez who is Program Coordinator of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Chairman of the Board of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) is among the most convincingly and carefully articulated defenders of human rights in Kashmir.

He was arrested on Monday 22 November 2021 and accused of violating provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, suggesting association with ‘terrorists or terrorist organizations.’

“According to the information we have received, the raid lasted throughout the day since early morning. The raid included a violation of Parvez’ privacy, his freedom of movement, and the confiscation of electronic devices and books belonging to him. Parvez’ close colleague Chairperson of JKCCS Parvez Imroz was held at the offices of JKCCS, while also the archives and electronic devices of the organizations were searched.” Rafto Foundation further added in the statement.

This is the second time in a little over a year that JKCCS has been subjected to a raid of their offices and Parvez to invasion of his home by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Parvez has also been subject to unlawful persecution by Indian authorities in Kashmir earlier, most significantly his 76-day detention in the autumn of 2016, presumably to prevent his attendance at meeting at the United Nations in Geneva, it added.

Rafto foundation said that JKCCS and Khurram Parvez have consistently espoused non-violence and acted impeccably as human rights defenders to earn the highest reputation both within Kashmir and from international institutions.

“We observe with regret that the Indian government intimidates citizens working to secure the values and norms enshrined both in the constitution of India and in international treaties ratified by the government itself,” stated Director of the Rafto Foundation Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt.

“The allegations made in the Arrest Memo of the NIA and in articles in the press appear wholly implausible to us. We have worked closely with Khurram Parvez and JKCCS for four years, discussing all aspects of their situation. Their denouncement of political violence has been vehement and absolute, whenever the subject of other actors perpetrating such acts came up. All their work has been directed towards raising awareness about human rights violations by peaceful and democratic means.”

This aggressive invasion into and constriction of the space of human rights defenders and their organizations unfortunately fits a pattern of behavior by the Indian government. Arrest without presentations of credible evidence of crimes is a violations of Parvez human rights, RF further said.

Adding that after the UN OHCHR reports on human rights in Kashmir of 14 June 2018 and 8 July 2019, the unilateral change of the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian government on 5 August 2019, and the controversies relating to the Citizenship Amendment Act of 11 December 2019, the attention of the international community to human rights violations in India has intensified significantly.

The Rafto Foundation also appealed to the United Nations, and to all states committed to the protection of human rights, to express their unequivocal condemnation of the persecution of human rights defenders in India and warn in the clearest possible terms against pursuing prosecution of human rights defenders on national security grounds, which poses a grave threat both to rule of law and democracy in India, and to the efforts of the international community to uphold these values

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