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Human Rights Advocates Threatened and Attacked in Indian-administered Kashmir
Human rights advocates threatened and attacked in Indian-administered Kashmir; state-led violence as response to investigations on human rights.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY
Srinagar, Tuesday, 1 July 2008
From: International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir
Khurram Parvez, Tribunal Liaison
khurramparvez [at] yahoo.com; kparvez [at] kashmirprocess.org
On Monday, June 30, the state forces attempted to assassinate Advocate Parvez Imroz, co-convener of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir (http://www.kashmirprocess.org). His statement is included below.
Advocate Imroz is co-founder of the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and the Association for Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). He is a distinguished human rights lawyer and recipient of the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize of 2006.
Advocate Mihir Desai, Legal Counsel for the Tribunal, said: "This reflects the legal and political impunity under which the CRPF and the SOG operate in the state".
Dr. Angana Chatterji, Tribunal co-convener, said: "The attempt to assassinate Advocate Imroz is cowardly and brutal. This act of the police displays the arrogance and the state of exception in place in Indian-administered Kashmir. This attack is an attempt to halt the International People's Tribunal from continuing its work. Our findings on the mass graves earlier and last week, and the state's attempts to intimidate and threaten us, evidence the Government of India's abject disregard for justice".
Last week the Tribunal's investigation into mass graves and nameless in Baramulla and Kupwara led to the targeting and harassment of co-conveners Dr. Angana Chatterji and Advocate Imroz, and Tribunal crew. The surveillance by intelligence personnel has escalated: Mr. Khurram Parvez, Tribunal Liaison, has been previously targeted and remains under surveillance, and Dr. Chatterji was again harassed by intelligence and police on June 30 while conducting Tribunal work. Dr. Chatterji, Advocate Imroz, Advocate Desai, and Mr. Parvez and other members of Tribunal met with families who narrated that their sons had been killed by the police in the violence of last week. The Tribunal conducted its work in curfew-like conditions as Srinagar and various parts of Kashmir remains extremely volatile following last week's events.
This latest attack is an escalation in the forms of state-led intimidation, harassment, and assault aimed at the Tribunal. The attack on Advocate Imroz attempts to make vulnerable the Tribunal and to instil fear in other Tribunal members in an attempt to stop this process. The Tribunal Conveners, Angana Chatterji, Parvez Imroz, Gautam Navlakha, Zaheer-Ud-Din, the Tribunal Legal Counsel, Mihir Desai, and Tribunal Liaison, Khurram Parvez, remain committed to the work on justice and human rights in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Angana Chatterji, Parvez Imroz, Gautam Navlakha, Zahir-Ud-Din, Mihir Desai, Khurram Parvez
Tribunal Conveners, Legal Counsel, and Liaison
Advocate Parvez Imroz's Statement:
On 30 June 2008, at 10.10 pm, when Parvez Imroz and his family was about to retire for the evening, Roksana, his wife informed him that there was a knock at the front door. She was extremely afraid, given the two prior assassination attempts on Advocate Imroz's life. She and Advocate Imroz asked 'Who are you?' to those at the front door. They responded aggressively, asking Advocate Imroz by name to open the door. Advocate Imroz was apprehensive after the intimidation of the Tribunal last week when it was undertaking a fact-finding on mass graves in Baramulla and Kupwara. He went to another room at the back of the house and shouted across to his brother, Sheik Mustaq Ahmad, who lived next door. Mr. Ahmad shined a torch at Advocate Imroz's door and asked the persons at the front door to identify themselves. The persons knocking at the door very aggressively asked Mr. Ahmad to shut off the torch. Meanwhile, Advocate Imroz's nephew came out of Mr. Ahmad's house and ran toward Advocate Imroz's house, fearful, as he stated later, that Advocate Imroz was being taken by the army.
Then, the perpetrators fired one shot in the dark, and it appeared that shot was fired in the direction that Advocate Imroz's nephew was coming from. The lights down the path had been broken.
After seconds, the perpetrators threw a grenade in Advocate Imroz's compound outside his front door, which exploded into a fireball. They also threw a tear gas and fired two blank shots while leaving. The perpetrators left at around approximately 10.30 pm. On the way, the perpetrators beat one male neighbour.
Meanwhile, community members had made an announcement from the village mosque, and people had gathered down the path. The villagers also stated that they had seen one large armoured vehicle and two Gypsy cars, and men in CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) uniform and SOG (Special Operations Group) uniform.
[Note: Advocate Imroz's home is located in Kralpura village approximately 8 kilometres from Srinagar.]