At the outset, I offer my apologies to the readers for selecting a title to this article which may taste sour and bitter to their literary taste buds or be repugnant to their aesthetic sense. But please do carry on with reading to know why I chose this title.
This article is about arrest of Khurram Parvez, the human rights defender who was arrested on September 16, 2016 from his Srinagar residence, a day after he was stopped at Delhi airport and prevented from traveling to Geneva to attend the 33rd session of UN Human Rights Council. Remember Mr. Khurram Parvez is an internationally known activist for human rights advocacy, is presently Chairperson of Asian Federation Against involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and Program Coordinator of Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). He is a Reebok Human Rights Awardee, a prestigious international prize that is conferred on young activists who have made significant contributions to human rights causes through nonviolent means”. In an earlier attempt on his life by the rouge state, Khurram has lost one limb and needs periodic medical attention .
Concerned & conscientious people around the world have appealed Indian Govt. to release Khurram immediately & unconditionally but lice have not moved from their scalps to ears to listen & act on saner voices. Here are few of these appeals:
1. Four U.N Special Rapporteurs Michel Forst, Sètondji Adjovi, Maina Kiai and David Kaye from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), have called upon New Delhi to immediately release human rights activist Khurram Parvez, who was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) by Jammu-Kashmir government in the month of September. 2016.
2. International Commission of Jurists(ICJ), a globally respected organization, dedicated to the primacy, coherence and implementation of international law and principles that advance human rights has demanded immediate & unconditional release of Khurram Parvez and also advised India to desist from taking steps that curb or violate human rights in Kashmir rather than protecting & promoting them through the rule of law.”
3. An editorial in New York Times of September 23rd,2016 says ‘Mr. Modi’s government further inflamed the situation by blocking a Kashmir rights activist, Khurram Parvez, from flying to Geneva last week to attend a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Mr. Parvez, who was subsequently detained on spurious charges, should be released and allowed to travel.’
4. In a signed statement, Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, Secretary General Asian Federation against involuntary disappearences (AFAD) says that what India is trying to conceal is that fundamental rights are being curtailed in Jammu & Kashmir through the imposition of continuous curfews, telecommunication restrictions, high & strict surveillance, travel bans as well as arrest of people like Mr. Parvez.
5. Rights organisations from Thailand, Bangladesh, Switzerland, India, France and Philippines have called for immediate release of prominent Kashmiri human rights defender, Khurram Parvez. A joint statement was issued by rights organisations- The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, The Asian Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Defenders Alert – India, FORUM-ASIA, The International Coalition Against Enforced Disappearances and Odhikar which reads as
“Our organisations call for immediate release of Khurram Parvez and urge Indian authorities not to prolong his unlawful detention,” .Additionally, we demand an end to the harassment of human rights defenders and that the Indian government remove all legal and administrative barriers that impede their legitimate work. We also call on the international community, notably the other members of the United Nations Human Rights Council of which India is currently a member, to insist that India comply with its human rights obligations, including by allowing Indian human rights defenders to freely engage in their work and to enjoy their rights to free expression, peaceful assembly, and association,” joint statement said.
6. Fifty-two academics, activists, lawyers and writers have called for the immediate release of human rights activist Khurram Parvez, who has been under “preventive detention” of J-K Police since September 2016.
In a signed open letter, Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Amitava Kumar, Teesta Setalvad, Dibyesh Anand, Gautam Navlakha and Kavita Krishnan among others said the right to freedom of speech and movement and the right to dissent and self-determination are being “imperiled” in the Valley.The letter further says that
“We are gravely concerned by the repeated abrogation of international law and the disregard for India’s constitutional provisions, and by the unceasing targeting of civilians and the continued denial of their civil and political rights,”
7. People’s Union for Civil liberties (PUCL) commenting on the illegal detention of human rights defender Khurram Parvez, and the denial of permission to the UNHRC to visit the valley of Jammu and Kashmir says “Khurram Parvez is a human rights defender who is a member of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), an organisation comprising civil liberties groups, traders, families of disappeared persons, and students. On September 16, he was illegally detained at Kothi Bagh Police Station in Srinagar by the police, on the allegation that he incited a mob to throw stones at the Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar on September 15. Significantly, he was not notified of the reason for his detention, nor allowed access to a lawyer.Despite being a signatory to 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, there have been no measures taken by the Indian state to facilitate the work of human rights defenders, or to prevent their harassment, and the Indian State has in fact been complicit in the targeting of human rights defenders.
8. Amnesty International & Human rights watch, the two global human rights organizations, whose every word is respected and taken as a law in human rights matters around the world have called for immediate & unconditional release of Khurram Parvez.
9. On 19 October 2016, several United Nations experts called on the Government of India to release Mr. Parvez, and expressed their concerns regarding the arbitrary application of the PSA against human rights defenders. Nevertheless, the Indian authorities have ignored this call and their obligations under international law by continuing to hold Mr. Parvez in arbitrary detention.
10. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders,an amalgam of many human rights organization around the world has appealed India to set free Khuram Parvez. It has also critsized the Judgment of Honb’le J&K High Court for prolonging the arbitrary detention of Khurram Parvez.
Dear Readers- I will have to write millions of words, a humanely difficult, if not impossible task, to name & identify all organizations, distinguished personalities & concerned citizens of India & rest of the world who have appealed for Khurram’s immediate and unconditional release,. What is intriguing & stunning to note is that India & its surrogate Govt. in Srinagar is oblivious, unmindful & inattentive to such appeals. The defiance to public opinion on the issue is so marked & conspicuous that the chosen title for this article appears to be mild and a concession for the two Govts. in Delhi & Srinagar.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. E mail: email@example.com)