This week, the Indian state has taken a radical step and revoked Kashmir's special status. The Rafto Foundation is deeply concerned about the situation in the region with regards to human rights.
Photo: Parveena Ahangar and Parvez Imroz in torchlight procession after receiving the Rafto Prize, in Bergen 5 November 2017.
- At the time being we do not know what is happening on ground and the status of our laureates Parveena Ahangar and Parvez Imroz. Our international collaborators have been given information that at least 200 people have been arrested, including local politicians and human rights activists. We are very concerned, says Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt, Executive Director at the Rafto Foundation.
The Indian government this week revoked the special status of Indian administrated Kashmir in its constitution, and immediately took action on the ground. 30,000 Indian soldiers were transferred to Kashmir, in addition to the more than 500,000 armed forces already located in the state. Public meetings and demonstrations are prohibited, schools and public institutions are closed, satellite telephones are monitored, and mobile networks, landlines and the internet have been shut down.
- The recent event will make the situation for human rights activists and civil society in the Indian state worse. In light of the widespread human rights violations we have seen for several decades in the region, we urge the UN Security Council to call upon India to refrain from any action that can escalate the conflict and provoke acts of violence, as well as restore full freedom of movement, organizational freedom and freedom of expression in Kashmir, says Kobbeltvedt.
Since the award given to Parveena Ahangar and Parvez Imroz in 2017, the Rafto Foundation has followed and supported their work. Their human rights organisations they represent, JKCCS and APDP, have recently published a comprehensive report on violence and torture against civilians in Jammu and Kashmir. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva has documented the abuses in reports published in 2018 and 2019, despite extensive sabotage by the Indian authorities and with total rejection of the reports in response.
The main findings and recommendations of the UN report are supported by academic expertise from universities around the world.