Thursday, November 20, 2008

AFAD Strongly Condemns the Abduction, Beating and Detention of Atty. Parvez Imroz




AFAD Strongly Condemns the Abduction, Beating and Detention

of Atty. Parvez Imroz, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir of India

The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), a regional federation of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced or involuntary disappearance, strongly condemns the arrest, beating and detention of Atty. Parvez Imroz and his two associates, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir. The arrest took place at 12:30 noon on Monday, November 17, in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. To this writing, the three are still detained.

AFAD learned about this condemnable incident from an urgent appeal sent by the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), our partner-organization in Kashmir. According to said appeal, JKCCS President Parvez Imroz along with a team of around 50 volunteers composed of journalists, human rights activists, trade union activists from within and outside Kashmir, were monitoring the first phase of the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Assembly Election.

Monitoring the elections is a usual activity of the JKCCS along with civil society groups from various parts of India. It is recalled that the group also monitored the Assembly Elections of 2002 and the parliamentary elections in 2004. Accordingly, Advocate Parvez Imroz and his two companions, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir, were arrested when they reached the place where a protest demonstration was going on.. The three were allegedly beaten up by the police in front of media men and were later taken to the Police Station in Bandipora.

December 9, 2008 is the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Moreover, December 10, 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this connection, abducting, beating and detaining human rights defenders like Atty. Parvez Imroz and his two companions should never be done by agents of the Indian government.

Atty. Parvez Imroz is an internationally-known human rights defender and a recipient of the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize in 2006. He was also the representative of their human rights organization, the Srinagar-based Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), during the initial conceptualization and founding of our Asian-wide Federation for the disappeared and is presently AFAD's Council member. It is, indeed, absurd to abduct, beat and detain him and his two companions because of their human rights activities. Certainly, their continuing detention is detrimental to the international posturing of India which poses itself as the "biggest democracy" in the world.

It is worrying to note that because of his work, Parvez Imroz has indeed earned the ire of the powers-that-be in the country that boasts itself as the biggest democracy in Asia. It has been more than three years since his passport has not been renewed and very obviously, such act by the Indian government can be obviously interpreted as constraining Imroz' mobility with the desperate intention of keeping his mouth shut on the sorry state of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir, thus, constraining his capability to tell the international security about the skeletons inside the closet in this beautiful yet sad valley of Kashmir.

Furthermore, 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. Aware of the intimidation he received days earlier because of the work of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights, Mr. Imroz 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. The perpetrators threw a grenade that exploded in Mr. Imroz' compound. On their way back, the perpetrators beat a male neighbor.

In view of the above, AFAD strongly calls on the Indian government -

· To release Atty. Parvez Imroz, Firdous Ahmed Sofi and Ajaz Ahmed Mir from detention at the soonest possible time, and

· To ensure that those who are responsible for the arrest, beating and detention of the three human rights defenders be brought to justice in urgency.

· To be true to India's being a signatory to the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which provides for the right of families of the disappeared and their organizations to organize themselves, thus, the government should give Parvez Imroz and his colleagues in the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons their freedom to form their association and work for truth, justice, redress, memory for the disappeared and other victims of human rights violations.

In positively responding to our urgent calls above, India proves that it is, indeed, "the biggest democracy" in the world.

Signed and authenticated by:

MUGIYANTO MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO

Chairperson Secretary-General


Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
Rms. 310-311 Philippine Social Science Center Bldg.,
Commonwealth Ave., Diliman, 1103 Quezon City

Phone: 00-632-9274594
Telefax: 00-632-4546759
Website: www.afad-online.org

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