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UN Experts Ask India Again To Release Kashmir's Human Rights Activist Khurram Parvez

The United Nations experts have sought the release of Kashmir's human rights activist Khurram Parvez and asked the government to ensure his rights to liberty and security.

UN Experts Ask India Again To Release Kashmir's Human Rights Activist Khurram Parvez
File photo of Khurram Parvez. | Outlook
UN Experts Ask India Again To Release Kashmir's Human Rights Activist Khurram Parvez
outlookindia.com
2021-12-23T14:14:34+05:30

The United Nations experts and international human rights organisations in a fresh move have sought the release of human rights activist Khurram Parvez and asked the central government to immediately release him and ensure his rights to liberty and security.

In its latest statement issued by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (HRD) said that UN human rights experts urged the Indian authorities to stop targeting Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez. 

Tweeting the statement Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders said, “We are concerned that 1 month after Mr. Parvez’s arrest, he is still deprived of liberty in what appears to be a new incident of retaliation for his legitimate activities as a Human Rights Defender.”

Earlier on November 23, Mary Lawlor while seeking Parvez’s release had said, “He’s not a terrorist, he’s a Human Rights Defender.”

The fresh statement issued on Wednesday evening said Parvez has worked extensively to document serious human rights violations, including enforced disappearances and unlawful killings, in Jammu and Kashmir. “In his search for accountability, Mr. Parvez has been the victim of a number of incidents of reprisals reportedly for sharing this information with the United Nations, as documented in various reports of the Secretary-General and communications from UN special procedures mandate holders,” the statement said.

“We are concerned that one month after Mr. Parvez’s arrest, he is still deprived of liberty in what appears to be a new incident of retaliation for his legitimate activities as a human rights defender and because he has spoken out about violations,” the statement reads.

“In view of this context of previous reprisals, we call on the Indian authorities to immediately release him and ensure his rights to liberty and security.

Parvez, was arrested on November 22, 2021 on charges related to conspiracy and terrorism under Indian counter-terrorism legislation — the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) — is presently detained at the Rohini Jail Complex.

The latest statement by UN experts described the jail as “one of the three most overcrowded and unsanitary prisons in the country, where there is a clear and immediate risk to his health and safety, in particular from COVID-19.”

Parvez is also the chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), an international rights organisation that looks into the forced disappearances in Kashmir and elsewhere in Asia.

The United Nations and international human rights organisations have sought the release of Parvez. Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has endorsed the statement of the UN Human Rights official spokesman about Parvez.

The UN experts also raised questions over the UAPA saying, “the amendment introduced in July 2019 to the UAPA, allows any individual to be designated as a “terrorist”, bypassing the requirement to establish membership or association with banned groups.”  The statement said the “expansion of State agencies’ discretionary powers under the anti-terror law has resulted in a worrisome rise in the number of arrests across India – and especially in Kashmir.

It says that they regret that the government continues to use the “UAPA as a means of coercion to restrict civil society’s, the media’s and human rights defenders’ fundamental freedoms.”

“We therefore once again urge the Government to bring this legislation in line with India’s international legal obligations under human rights law,” the experts said.

Parvez is also the chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), an international rights organisation that looks into the forced disappearances in Kashmir and elsewhere in Asia.

On December 17, AFAD said, “We at AFAD are proud to announce that @KhurramParvez has been re-elected as the chairperson in the 7th Congress. He ran unopposed and was unanimously elected. We miss Khurram's presence and wise words at this time & hope to have him with us again soon.”

The World Organisation Against Torture (#OMCT) - Global network of over 200 NGOs fighting for Human Rights and against torture, had said, “We are deeply concerned about the high risk of torture while in custody. We call for his immediate release.”

Parvez has been a prominent part of the Valley’s human rights scene for the past two decades. In 2004, Khurram lost his left leg when an IED exploded under his car while he was travelling with his team to North Kashmir to monitor the election. His close colleague Aasia Jeelani died on the spot and Parvez suffered serious injuries. In 2015  he was instrumental in helping prepare a comprehensive 800-page human rights report titled ‘Structures of Violence’ which documented the extra-judicial killings of 1080 people and enforced disappearances of 172.

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