Khurram Parvez

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Ahead of the United Nations’ general assembly session, almost all of its subsidiary bodies have started their routine sessions. Last week, UN identified 38 countries including India and Pakistan which resorted to reprisals against the human rights defenders and those activists working with the UN bodies. The report Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights has mentioned Kashmiri activist Khurram Parvez.

Parvez is a prominent human rights activist and Chairperson of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances and Program Coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society. He is also a recipient of the 2006 Reebok Human Rights Award. He was arrested by the government in 2016 unrest and was bailed out amid outrage by the human rights activists across the world.

The report listed the instance of arrest, killings, torture and other intimidating practices that the listed countries have used against these people and public stigmatization campaigns targeting victims and human rights defenders.

The report revealed that Khuram had contributed to the OHCHR report of 2018. It also mentioned the threats by some group to him.

“The world owes it to those brave people standing up for human rights, who have responded to requests to provide information to and engage with the United Nations, to ensure their right to participate is respected,” Reuters quoted Antonio Guterres writing. He has said that the UN is “increasingly seeing” legal, political and administrative hurdles used to “intimidate and silence” the civil society.

The report has regretted the “disturbing trend” of member countries using “national security arguments and counter-terrorism strategies” as justification for “blocking access by communities and civil society organisations to the United Nations.” The report will formally be submitted by the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour to the UN Human Rights Council that is in session at Geneva.

The report said that Parvez, a source of information collected from June 2016 to April 2018 for an OHCHR report published in June 2018 on the human rights situation in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir, has reportedly suffered reprisals for his assistance.

Khurram Parvez

In the 2017 report of the Secretary-General, intimidation and reprisals against Khurram Parvez, were reported in relation to his cooperation with the Human Rights Council and the universal periodic review. These reprisals took the form of a travel ban and arbitrary arrest and detention, reportedly, because Parvez was fomenting an “anti-India narrative,” propagating separatism, and inciting others to violence. Reprisals were apparently taken against him for documenting and sharing information with the United Nations on human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, including on behalf of victims.

Apart from being under preventive detention for 76 days in 2016, Khurram was accused in four criminal cases, which were subsequently dropped by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court who held that he had been detained arbitrarily, the report says.

However, the police have still filed “First Information Reports,” before a court in Srinagar for three cases, for which he is awaiting hearings.

– Tahir Bhat

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