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Global rights bodies call for release of Kashmir-based activist Khurram Parvez

NIA’s move to arrest Parvez elicits sharp reactions from across the world

November 23, 2021 02:05 pm | Updated 02:05 pm IST - SRINAGAR

Khurram Parvez. File Image.

Khurram Parvez. File Image.

Rights bodies and activists, including the United Nations Special Rapporteur, on Tuesday reacted sharply to the arrest of Kashmir-based human rights activist Khurram Parvez ,(44) by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday.

“I’m hearing disturbing reports that Khurram Parvez was arrested today [Monday] in Kashmir and 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,” Mary Lawlor, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, said in a tweet.

The Rafto Foundation, a body working for the global promotion of human rights, in a statement, appealed to India to “immediately release Mr. Parvez,” who was working as programme coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Chairman of the Board of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).

“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. We appeal to Indian authorities to respect Mr. Parvez’s habeas corpus rights and release him from detention without delay,” Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt, Director of the Rafto Foundation, said in a statement.

The JKCCS was awarded the Rafto Prize for Human Rights in 2017.

“The work of Parvez and JKCCS to document human rights violations in Kashmir under very difficult circumstances has received high praise from international legal experts. 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,” the statement added.

Mr. Parvez was arrested on Monday following raids on his house and office in Srinagar. He has been held in a case registered on November 6 under the IPC and the UAPA, pertaining to criminal conspiracy and illegal money transfer for terror activities.

“The allegations made in the arrest memo of the NIA appear wholly implausible to us. We have worked closely with 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,” the Rafto statement said.

The World Organization Against Torture, based in Geneva, also expressed its deep concern. “We are deeply concerned about the high risk of torture while in custody. We call for his immediate release,” the organisation said.

Several rights activists also condemned the government’s move to arrest Mr. Parvez.

“The arrest of Parvez should be a matter of shame. A life-long human rights defender is now being accused of terrorism and will be in jail without trial. In 2016, after being jailed for more than two months, the court called his detention ‘illegal’. Will the State never learn?” Yogendra Yadav, a political activist, said.

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