(October 25, 2016 | Washington, D.C.) In a letter addressed to India’s Home Affairs Minister today, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights called for the immediate release of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, who has been arbitrarily detained since September 16, 2016. He is the coordinator of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCSS), and the chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD).
On September 14, 2016, Mr. Parvez was prevented from traveling from Delhi to Geneva to attend the UN Human Rights Council 33rd session. Despite having an invitation, a valid visa and other necessary documents, authorities at the Indira Gandhi International airport detained Mr. Parvez for over an hour, reportedly on orders from the Intelligence Bureau, and ultimately refused to let him leave the country. At 12:30 AM on September 16, Mr. Parvez was arrested without a warrant, reportedly under Sections 107 (suspicion of intending to breach the peace or disturb public tranquility) and 151 (arrest to prevent the commission of a cognizable offense) of the Criminal Procedure Code. A judge quashed the charges on September 20 and ordered his release, but he was immediately re-detained. Mr. Parvez has since been in “preventative detention” under the highly controversial Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act.
“Indian authorities have provided no legitimate reason whatsoever for detaining Khurram. He must be released immediately and without any conditions,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Khurram is a courageous human rights activist documenting violations by border authorities and providing assistance to victims of human rights abuses. The documentation Khurram and his colleagues collect should be used by authorities to hold perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable. Instead, the Indian government is shamefully trying to silence Khurram for speaking out for the victims.”
Protecting Mr. Parvez’s ability to carry out his work is part of India’s international human rights law obligations, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Throughout Mr. Parvez’s detention India has failed to live up to its obligations, detaining him without charge and moving him without explanation to a detention facility hundreds of kilometers from his legal team, where he is held in terrible prison conditions. Mr. Parvez, whose leg was amputated in 2004 after he was severely injured by an explosion caused by an anti-personnel mine, has continuously been denied reasonable accommodation for his disability.
“India’s failure to abide by its international human rights law obligations and its active attempts to silence legitimate human rights activists are unacceptable” said David McKean, Asia Program Officer for RFK Partners for Human Rights. “Mr. Parvez should be released immediately.”Letter from Kerry Kennedy calling for the release of Khurram Parvez (153.3 KB)