Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has called for the immediate release of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Indian Penal Code.
In a statement, the HR body said, “As the coordinator of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), Parvez has meticulously documented violations by border authorities and provided assistance to victims of human rights abuses. Parvez is a Distinguished Scholar with the Political Conflict, Gender, and People’s Rights Initiative at the Center for Race and Gender at University of California, Berkeley.”
Earlier, National Investigation Agency (NIA), arrested Parvez after raiding his Srinagar home and office.
The NIA raid of his office reportedly lasted for at least fourteen hours. His laptop, cellphone, and several books were seized before Parvez was called in for questioning at the NIA office. His family received a call around 6 p.m. to bring his clothes, and was given his arrest memo under case number 30/2021.
Parvez faces at least eight charges against him under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Indian Penal Code, the statement said.
Adding that Indian authorities have repeatedly harassed and punished Parvez for his courageous human rights work.
“Just last year in October 2020, the NIA conducted raids of the homes and offices of several human rights defenders, nongovernmental organizations, and journalists, including at his Srinagar home and office,” the statement added.
During these raids, the NIA issued a statement alleging that organizations including JKCCS were “raising funds in India and abroad in the name of charitable activities” for “carrying out secessionist and separatist activities in [Jammu and Kashmir].”
In 2016, he was stopped from traveling to Geneva to participate in a session of the UN Human Rights Council and arrested the next day under the controversial Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act. He was imprisoned for 76 days.
“Year after year, Khurram Parvez has bravely documented human rights abuses and provided much-needed assistance to victims of these abuses to encourage India to abide by its international human rights law obligations,” Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights said. “Instead of attempting to silence and punish human rights defenders, Indian authorities should work to end impunity for perpetrators of human rights abuses. He should be released immediately.”