Khurram Parvez now released “I want all of you to be hopeful. I am”
(Image via Dawn)
Human rights defender Khurram Parvez from Srinagar has been freed today from detention in Kotbalwal jail in Jammu, Indian occupied Kashmir following 76 days in detention. He was arrested a day after he was prevented from attending a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Switzerland.
The work of Parvez increased following unrest after the death of Burhan Wani a commander of the Kashmir-based Hizbul Mujahideen in a gun battle with government forces on July 8th, 2016. This led to unrest, demonstrations and curfews.
Allegations of human rights violations by the military and police were rife with the killing of protesters fighting for freedom (azadi) from India and self-determination. There were hundreds of detentions, abuse of women and children and heavy handedness of authorities blinding many peaceful protesters with pellet guns. Some media was also closed down with disruptions to internet and mobile phone services and worshippers prevented from attending Friday prayers at local mosques. Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Nafees Zakaria told Radio Pakistan today there are now over 1 million troops in Kashmir, the highest concentration of troops in the world.
Following the arrest of Parvez, questions were raised by the UN in October concerning the use of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act against Parvez, which permits administrative detention without judicial intervention for up to two years.” As highlighted in Indian Express UN officials stated,
“In a democratic society, the open criticism of Government is a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression of every person. We are seriously concerned that the arrest of (Khurram) Parvez may represent a direct retaliation for his legitimate activities as a human rights defender and the exercise of his fundamental freedoms, including freedoms of expression and association. (There is) lack of clarity as to why the Indian authorities have deemed it necessary to address this case outside the country’s ordinary laws”.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court deemed Parvez’s detention illegal last Friday ordering his immediate release. There was an initial delay however due to an administrative error. Once freed, Parvez soon updated his many followers on social media posting the following statement on his Facebook page,
“I am happy to be back amongst my family and friends. I am deeply touched by the love and solidarity expressed by so many friends from across the world. This 76 day detention was a difficult time for me, my family and colleagues. Difficult times are also opportunities, if only we make them so. I commit myself to not let this detention be a hard memory of my life but an opportunity that has enabled me to reflect, read and plan my future work for justice and peace. I wont let this difficulty make me bitter, instead my resolve for peace and justice has got strengthened. I want all of you to be hopeful. I am.”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.