Sun Nov 19 2017, 4:13:40 +03

Observatory condemn travel ban by India on Kashmiri rights defender Khurram

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(Bangkok-AlummahWorld, Dhu-AlHijjah 20, 1437 AH, 22 September 2016) We condemn the arbitrary travel ban imposed on Kashmiri human rights defender Mr. Khurram Parvez, who was prohibited from leaving India as he was about to travel to Geneva, Switzerland to participate in the 33rd session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC), stated The Observatory, AFAD, FORUM-ASIA, AHRC, HRDA, ICAED, and Odhikar.

At 1:30 a.m. on September 14, 2016, Mr. Khurram Parvez was stopped by immigration officials at the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi and prevented from leaving the country to attend the current UNHRC session. Mr. Parvez was detained for one and a half hours at the airport, and subsequently told that the Intelligence Bureau of India had ordered that he was not allowed to travel, despite having an invitation letter and a valid visa to travel to Geneva. Mr. Parvez repeatedly asked for an explanation for why he was being denied the right to travel and asked to see written proof of the orders from the Intelligence Bureau, but the authorities refused to provide him with either. Immigration officers simply told Mr. Parvez that they had instructions that he was not to be ‘arrested’ but that he should not be allowed to leave the country.

Mr. Parvez is the Chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and Program Coordinator of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS). He was slated to be part of the AFAD & JKCCS delegation visiting Geneva from 14th to 24th September to attend the UNHRC session. While in Geneva, the Kashmiri members of the delegation are scheduled to brief UN bodies including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the concerning situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

In his work with AFAD and JKCCS, Mr. Parvez has consistently highlighted violations of human rights taking place in India, notably in Jammu and Kashmir. In addition to their planned advocacy work at the current UNHRC session, JKCCS has also recently submitted a report to the UN on the role of the Indian authorities in gross human rights violations taking place in Jammu and Kashmir.

By denying Mr. Parvez the right to travel to Geneva to participate at the UNHRC session, the Indian Government is disregarding its obligation to uphold international human rights principles, notably the right of civil society members to be represented and engage with UN mechanisms, as enshrined in the 1998 UN Declaration of human rights defenders and several resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly.

It is especially concerning that India is engaging in such repression in the wake of a statement made yesterday by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, wherein he expressed regret at India’s lack of cooperation with international human rights mechanisms, particularly with respect to Kashmir. The Government of India continues to out-rightly refuse to give the UN permission to conduct a fact-finding mission in Kashmir, despite widespread accusations of serious human rights violations by security personnel in the region.

The travel ban imposed on Khurram Parvez is the latest attempt by the Indian Government to censor the human rights situation in Kashmir and to isolate the Kashmiri people, notably human rights defenders working on this important issue. Especially given that India is presently a member of the UN Human Rights Council, the international community cannot stay silent in the face of such disregard of its human rights obligations.

Our organisations condemn the travel ban against Mr. Parvez, and call on the Indian authorities to respect his personal liberty, his right to travel freely, notably to participate in meetings at the UN. Additionally, we demand an end to the harassment of human rights defenders and that the Indian government remove all legal and administrative barriers that impede their legitimate work on human rights. We also call on the international community, notably the other members of the UN Human Rights Council, to insist that India comply with its human rights obligations, including by allowing Indian human rights defenders to freely engage in their work, and by fully cooperating with the UN requests for access to Kashmir and elsewhere in the country.