Thursday - September 28, 2017
Two Kashmiri human rights activists have won international recognition for their work when Norway’s Rafto Prize was jointly awarded to them today.
The two, Parveena Ahanger, a mother, and Imroz Parvez, a lawyer, were named as this year’s winners of the Rafto Prize.
Active for nearly three decades, Parveena Ahanger founded the group, the Association of Parents of Missing Persons, after India’s occupation troops kidnapped her 17-year-old son in 1990.
There has been no word of her missing son since who is presumed dead.
Imroz Parvez is founder of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), an organization that promotes human rights and non-violence. It has meticulously documented the Indian occupation troops’ use of torture in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Parveena Ahangar and Imroz Parvez have long been at the forefront of the struggle against arbitrary abuses of power in a region of India (sic) that has borne the brunt of escalating violence, militarization and international tension,” the Rafto Foundation said in a statement today.
“Their long campaign to expose human rights violations, promote dialogue and seek peaceful solutions to the intractable conflict in Kashmir has inspired new generations across communities,” it added.
Named after the late Norwegian human rights activist Thorolf Rafto, the prize is worth $20,000. It will formally be presented on November 5 in the western Norwegian town of Bergen.
It is uncertain whether the two winners would be allowed to travel to Norway to receive their prize.
In the past, India has blocked their travel by withdrawing their passports and in some instances even detaining them at the airport before they boarded a flight out.
While announcement of the prize has shone international light on India’s egregious crimes in Kashmir, there is little likelihood that the occupation forces would be constrained by such unwanted publicity.
Pakistani and Indian diplomats have been involved in vigorous debate at the UN General Assembly in presenting their respective positions. Pakistan has highlighted Indian crimes in Kashmir while Delhi has tried to point an accusing finger at Pakistan.
Award of the Rafto Prize to two Kashmiri human rights activists vindicates Pakistan’s position that India is guilty of egregious crimes.
According to the Rafto Foundation, between 8,000 and 10,000 people have gone missing in India-held Kashmir since the 1980s.
Mass graves have been discovered in different parts of Kashmir but the process of identification of bodies has been painfully slow.
Matching DNA samples in a war zone where the occupation troops even attack medical personnel in hospitals is an arduous task. Further, there are few if any facilities for such work in Kashmir.
Since the most recent intensification in resistance to Indian occupation in July 2016, the occupiers have resorted to using pellet guns. These spray thousands of pellets when fired.
While considered ‘non-lethal’, pellets have blinded hundreds of people, especially the youth. Thousands of others have been badly injured. Virtually an entire generation has had its sight taken away from it.
India considers itself the largest democracy in the world but there is nothing democratic about its brutal tactics or the seven-decade long illegal occupation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.