Protect HRDs in Kashmir!
July 2, 2008 - The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), a regional federation of Asian human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced disappearances, strongly condemns the latest threat to the life of Attorney Parvez Imroz. Representing the Association of Parents Disappeared Persons (APDP), which is a core group member of AFAD, Parvez Imroz is one of AFAD's Council members.
Today, the Federation received a report from its member-organization , the APDP about the latest of the series of serious threats to the life of Mr. Imroz. The report vividly recounted that for having co-convened an International People's Tribunal on Human Rights established in order to investigate the recently discovered mass graves of at least 940 people in Baramula and Kopwara, Parvez Imroz has all the more earned the ire of the violators of human rights.
According to the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, on June 30, 2008 at 10:00 p.m., 4 armed men, believed to be policemen, knocked at the house of Mr. Imroz. When asked of their identity by Mr. Imroz' wife, Rokhsana, the men were aggressively calling on Mr. Imroz to open the door and come out. The latter, aware of the intimidation he received days earlier because of the work of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights, immediately informed his brother, Sheik Mustaq Ahmad through the backdoor. Mr. Ahmad reportedly shined a torch at Mr. Imroz door and asked the persons in front to identify themselves only to be aggressively ordered to put off the torch. Mr. Imroz nephew came out of Mr. Ahmad's house, afraid that Mr. Imroz might have been taken away. This forced the armed men to leave, but only after firing a shot in the dark believed to be pointing towards the direction of Mr. Imroz' nephew. Worse still, they threw a grenade that exploded in Mr. Imroz' compound outside his front door. On their way back, the perpetrators beat a male neighbor.
The members of the community made an announcement in the village mosque. It was later learned that the villagers stated that they saw a large armored vehicle and two gypsy cars and men wearing Central Reserve Police Force (CSRF) and Special Operations Group uniforms.
It is important to note that a week prior to the incident, the Tribunal conducted investigation into mass graves of nameless people in Baramulla and Kupwara. Together with Mr. Imroz in the Tribunal are his other co-convenors, Dr. Catenni, Advocate Desai who were likewise harassed by intelligence personnel.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) reiterates its strongest condemnation of this attack against its own colleague whose noble intention is to work for human rights in this war-torn paradise of Kashmir.
Mr. Parvez Imroz, who, by dint of his fearless human rights advocacy, is the 2006 recipient of the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize. As the Indian government refused to renew his passport, he was deprived from personally receiving the award. His human rights advocacy, however, has earned for him the ire of the powers-that- be, consequently resulting in the numerous threats against his person.
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances challenges the government of India to:
1. fully investigate the incident and punish the perpetrators to the full extent of the law;
2. ensure that there would be no further threats to Mr. Imroz' life and that full protection be accorded to him and all other human rights defenders in Kashmir;
3. fully investigate the skeletons inside the closet manifested in the identified mass graves in the above-mentioned areas which was the reason for the establishment of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights.Finally, as the international community is commemorating this year the 10th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, we call on the Indian government to be true to its claim of being the bastion of democracy in Asia by protecting the rights of human rights defenders in particular and the rest of its citizens in general.
Signed and authenticated by:
MUGIYANTO MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO