Jailed Kashmiri Human Rights defender Khurram Parvez to receive Martin Ennals Award

Khurram Parvez. [File Photo]

Incarcerated Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez is among the three activists who pioneered the human rights movement to receive Martin Ennals Award 2023.

According to Martin Ennals Award, three outstanding activists who pioneered human rights movements in Venezuela, Chad, and Kashmir are scheduled to receive the Martin Ennals Award 2023 on February 16th, 2023, in Geneva, Switzerland.

A jury of ten of the world’s leading human rights NGOs – Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, Huridocs, Bread for the World, Human Rights First, World Organisation Against Torture, International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), and Front Line Defenders – have selected, after much deliberation, the three human rights defenders whom they strongly believe deserve to be recognized and honored by the Award in 2023.

The common denominator between the 2023 Laureates, Feliciano Reyna (Venezuela), Delphine Djiraibé (Chad), and Khurram Parvez (Kashmir) is their courage, passion, and determination to bring the voice of the voiceless to the international arena, despite the ongoing, sometimes life-threatening, challenges they endure, the statement said.

“We are particularly proud to honor these three exceptional Laureates who have each dedicated over 30 years of their lives to building movements which brought about justice for victims or delivered medicines to the marginalized. They have made human rights real for thousands of people in their communities,” said Hans Thoolen, Chair of the Martin Ennals Award Jury.

“It was at the age of 13, when Khurram Parvez witnessed the shooting of his grandfather during a protest demonstration against the molestation of women outside his house in Kashmir, that he chose to not incite violence and become part of some revenge, but rather to become a nonviolent activist,” the statement said.

It said, “He founded the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and is the Chair of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances. For 15 years he travelled to the most remote parts of the region to sit with victims of abuse, collect documentation and report on their stories. Under his leadership, the JKCCS has been highly effective in translating the protections guaranteed in international human rights law into local realities”.

“Despite continued attacks on his right to freedom of expression by the Indian government, being jailed in 2016 and losing a leg to landmines, Khurram relentlessly spoke the truth and was an inspiration to civil society and the local population. In November 2021, he was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on politically motivated charges. He remains detained without trial in India,” the statement added.

Recognizing Khurram as one of the most prominent human rights actors in Kashmir, Time magazine paid him a major tribute by including him in their list of the 100 most influential people of 2022.

“The soft-spoken Khurram is almost a modern-day David who gave a voice to families that lost their children to enforced disappearances, allegedly by the Indian State. Khurram is the story and the storyteller of the insurgency and the betrayal of the people of Kashmir,” said Journalist Rana Ayyub.

Pertinent to mention that the Martin Ennals Award, created in 1992, is an annual prize providing recognition, support, and protection to human rights defenders from across the globe.

The Award gives visibility to the Laureates and highlights the situation in their country. The MEA Ceremony, which is co-hosted with the Ville de Genève, will take place on February 16th, 2023 at the Salle communale de Plainpalais.

The Ceremony is livestreamed and draws many local and international human rights supporters to an uplifting event which celebrates the achievements and commitment of exceptional human rights defenders.

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