Global rights bodies, others condemn arrest of HR activist Khurramtext_fields
The arrest of Kashmiri human rights activist Khurram Parvez by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in an alleged terror funding case has evoked sharp criticism by human rights organisations and political parties at home and abroad.
Amnesty International, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, the World Organisation Again Torture (OMCT), the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights as well as rights activists in India criticised the move to arrest the 42-year-old who they said was a human rights defender .
The human rights body also praised Khurram for bravely documenting "human rights abuses" and providing "much-needed assistance to victims of these abuses to encourage India to abide by its international human rights law obligations".
"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.
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.
Back home, noted social activists Yogendra Yadav and Kavita Srivastava wondered if working for human rights is a "crime" and termed Khurram's arrest a "matter of shame".
"Why the arrest of Khurram Pervez. Is doing HR work a crime? Is it wrong to defend & advocate the cause of those violated by the action of security forces in J&K. Is questioning policies of the State & Union Govt, including repealing of Art. 370 a crime. Release @KhurramParvez NOW," tweeted Srivastava