India urged to end reprisals against JKCCS, HR defenders in IIOJK



Six international human rights organizations have urged the Indian authorities to immediately stop the reprisals against human rights defenders in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, especially Khurram Parvez, Irfan Mehraj, and the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS).

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disap-pearances (AFAD), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), Kashmir Law and Justice Project, and World Or-ganisation Against Torture (OMCT) in a joint statement released on the website of AFAD called upon the Indian authorities to immediately release Khurram Parvez and Irfan Mehraj and to end the ongoing persecution and targeting of human rights defenders in IIOJK.

The statement said Khurram Parvez, the Program Coordinator of JKCCS and the Chairperson of AFAD, has been arbitrarily detained since 22 No-vember 2021 as a reprisal for his human rights work, including documentation and advocacy in Jammu and Kashmir. We are alarmed by new cases filed against Khurram Parvez and Irfan Mehraj, a journalist and human rights defender, in March 2023, and the ongoing reprisals against the JKCCS.

It said, JKCCS is the leading human rights or-ganization in Jammu and Kashmir. Since the or-ganization was founded in 2000, it has conducted ground-breaking human rights investigations, pub-lished dozens of rigorously researched human rights reports, litigated human rights cases and through non-violent mobilizing and advocacy, given voice to otherwise voiceless victims of human rights viola-tions in Jammu and Kashmir. The organization’s research is widely considered to be authoritative by scholars, international civil society and the United Nations’ human rights experts, who have cited JKCCS’ work in their own reports on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Our organi-zations have also cited and referenced JKCCS’ work, which is invaluable in understanding the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir and is of exceptional quality.

In February 2023, Khurram Parvez was the re-cepient of the prestigious Martin Ennals Award. Irfan Mehraj previously worked as a researcher for JKCCS. In October 2020, the JKCCS office and Khurram Parvez’s home were raided by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), and devices and documents including his passport were seized. Indian authorities through targeted reprisals and criminalizing human rights work have made it im-possible for JKCCS to continue its vital work. The charges brought by the NIA against Khurram Parvez include grave terrorism charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), a counter-terror law that violates international norms and is systematically used by the Indian authorities to in-capacitate and persecute human rights defenders and other dissenters.

The statement pointed out that in addition to the UAPA case against Khurram, there is a further case filed by the NIA in October 2020 which specifically targets JKCCS and anyone associated with that human rights organization. On 20 March 2023, the NIA arrested Irfan Mehraj in this case which in-cludes serious terrorism-related charges. Khurram Parvez, already imprisoned in the 2021 case, was also arrested in the JKCCS case.—KMS