Au­thor­i­ties re­lease prom­i­nent Kash­mir rights ac­tivist

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

SRINAGAR (AP): AU­THOR­I­TIES IN In­dian-con­trolled Kash­mir re­leased a prom­i­nent hu­man­rights ac­tivist from prison yes­ter­day after a court in the dis­puted re­gion ruled that his de­ten­tion un­der a con­tro­ver­sial se­cu­rity law was il­le­gal.

Po­lice freed Khur­ram Parvez after the court or­dered his re­lease five days ear­lier.

In­dian au­thor­i­ties charged Parvez in Septem­ber un­der the Pub­lic Safety Act, which al­lows de­ten­tions for up to two years with­out trial.

The court said Parvez had been im­pris­oned ar­bi­trar­ily and that au­thor­i­ties had abused their power by or­der­ing his de­ten­tion.

Parvez said on his Face­book page that the 76 days of de­ten­tion were a dif­fi­cult time for him and his fam­ily.

“I won’t let this dif­fi­culty make me bit­ter, in­stead my re­solve for peace and jus­tice has got strength­ened,” he said.

In­ter­na­tional hu­man-rights groups, aca­demics, the UN Work­ing Group on En­forced or In­vol­un­tary Dis­ap­pear­ances,and sev­eral UN spe­cial rap­por­teurs had cam­paigned for his re­lease.

Parvez is the pro­gramme co­or­di­na­tor and spokesman of a Kash­miri rights group, the Jammu-Kash­mir Coali­tion of Civil So­ci­ety. It ex­pressed “over­whelm­ing grat­i­tude to the lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional sol­i­dar­ity cam­paign for his re­lease that was cru­cial in se­cur­ing his free­dom.”

STRUG­GLE FOR TRUTH

“The strug­gle for the re­lease of Khur­ram Parvez is a part of the larger strug­gle against un­law­ful de­ten­tions, state im­punity and the use of re­pres­sive laws such as PSA,” the group said in a state­ment. It said it “re­it­er­ates its com­mit­ment to the strug­gle for truth, jus­tice and the rights of all peo­ple” in the re­gion.

Shortly be­fore Parvez’s ar­rest, im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials at New Delhi’s in­ter­na­tional air­port had barred him from board­ing a plane to Geneva with­out of­fer­ing any of­fi­cial ex­pla­na­tion, al­though he had a valid visa and a let­ter of in­vi­ta­tion to par­tic­i­pate in a ses­sion of the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil.

Po­lice ar­rested him after he re­turned home to Kash­mir’s main city of Srinagar, say­ing it was to pre­vent him from “caus­ing a breach of peace.” A lo­cal court then or­dered his re­lease, but po­lice re­ar­rested him at the prison gate and charged him un­der the Pub­lic Safety Act.

Parvez, 39, and his rights group were the first to pub­li­cise thou­sands of un­marked graves in re­mote parts of Kash­mir and to de­mand that the In­dian gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­gate them and de­ter­mine who the dead were and how they were killed.

His or­gan­i­sa­tion also has writ­ten scathing re­ports about bru­tal­ity by some of the hun­dreds of thou­sands of In­dian troops in the re­gion and high­lighted the wide­spread pow­ers granted to them, which led to a cul­ture of im­punity and rights abuses.

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