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UN experts urge India to release Kashmiri rights defender

SRINAGAR, KASHMIR, INDIA-JUNE 26 : Kashmiri women walk past an Indian policeman of Special Operation Group (SOG) near the site of attack in Barbar Shah area of Srinagar,Kashmir on June 26, 2021. Four civilians including a non-local were injured after suspected militants lobbed a grenade at Indian forces in Barbar Shah Srinagar ,Police said. ( Faisal Khan - Anadolu Agency )
Kashmiri women walk past an Indian policeman of Special Operation Group (SOG) near the site of attack in Barbar Shah area of Srinagar,Kashmir on June 26, 2021 [Faisal Khan - Anadolu Agency]

A group of UN human rights experts on Wednesday urged the Indian authorities to immediately release Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, Anadolu Agency reported.

"We are concerned that one month after Mr. Parvez's arrest, he is still deprived of liberty in what appears to be a new incident of retaliation for his legitimate activities as a human rights defender and because he has spoken out about violations," said the independent experts.

They said Parvez has worked extensively to document human rights violations, including "enforced disappearances and unlawful killings," in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

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Among the experts are Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on human rights defenders; Fionnuala Ni Aolain, special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights in counter-terrorism; and Morris Tidball-Binz, special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.

"We call on the Indian authorities to immediately release him and ensure his rights to liberty and security," the experts said.

Parvez was arrested on Nov. 22 under Indian counter-terrorism legislation – the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The experts said he is detained at the Rohini Jail Complex, one of the country's three most overcrowded and unsanitary prisons, where there is an immediate risk to his health and safety, particularly from COVID-19.

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.

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