Concern over rising cases of reprisals against rights defenders in IIOJK

Speakers at a webinar have expressed their grave concerns over the rising cases of reprisals against Kashmir-based rights activists who have been directly or indirectly engaged with the UN and other international organizations on human rights issues.

According to Kashmir Media Service the webinar “Reprisals against Rights Defenders” was hosted by Kashmir Institute of International Relations (KIIR) in collaboration with World Muslim Conference in Islamabad.

The webinar titled “Reprisals against Rights Defenders” was held as a sideline event of the ongoing 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which was attended and addressed by prominent human rights activists, international law experts, academicians from different parts of the world, including Prof. Alfred DE Zayas, former UN independent expert, Ambassador Dr Haissam Bou Said, Ambassador Dr M Shahid Amin, Ambassador Dr Tivlumun, Prof. Dr Mehmet Sukru, Duke Salman Khan and Dr Shugufta Ashraf. The KIIR Chairman, Altaf Hussain Wani moderated the webinar.

In his initial remarks the KIIR Chairman said Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed an alarming increase in the cases of intimidation and reprisals against journalists and members of civil society, especially the rights activists who have played a significant role in documenting human rights violations being committed by Indian forces personnel in the territory.

Highlighting the woeful plight of the Kashmiri human rights defenders, Wani said that rights defenders along with their families were living in a heightened fear of being killed, harassed and humiliated just for documenting brutalities and human rights violations committed by the Indian forces in Kashmir.

The panelists on the occasion pointed out that the Kashmir valley had witnessed an uptick in the incidents of police reprisals and assaults on human rights activists. “They (rights activists) have faced police interrogation, raids, threats, physical assault, or fabricated criminal cases for defending human rights in the territory”, they said, adding that the notorious investigation agency -the NIA has been assigned a special task by the Modi government to carry on its witch-hunt against rights defenders.