Human rights defenders in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) continue to be in the “line of fire” as they report on the massive human rights violations carried out with impunity in the disputed territory, Pakistan told a UN Panel Thursday.
During an interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, Pakistani delegate Saima Saleem called for providing them access to justice.
The dialogue took place in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, cultural, and humanitarian issues.
Speaking of the travails of Kashmiri human rights defenders, she said they face long-term arbitrary detentions in IIOJK for their “legitimate human rights activities”.
Among the defenders she named were: Khurram Parvez, Parvez Imroz, Jalil Andrabi, Parveena Ahangar, Babar Qadri, Asif Sultan, Asiya Andrabi, and Parvaiz Ahmad Bukhari.
“Misuse of so-called anti-terrorism legislation and other national security laws against human rights defenders, the use of trumped-up trials and coerced confessions, and the denial of legal access to defenders has become a new normal in IIOJK,” said Ms. Saleem, a counselor at the Pakistan mission to the UN.
They were arbitrarily detained and targeted by the police and occupation forces under counter-terrorism legislation such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, the Pakistani delegate said.
“Kashmiri Human Rights defenders continue to be killed, tortured, ill-treated, disappeared, threatened, arbitrarily arrested and detained, falsely charged, placed under surveillance, forcibly displaced, and have their offices raided and files stolen because of their legitimate work in upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The persisting physical and digital restrictions, Ms Saleem said, have violated the rights of Kashmiri human rights defenders to freely express, assemble and associate.
Social media activism has been outlawed, as hundreds of Twitter accounts of human rights defenders in Kashmir have been coerced into silence, she told the committee.
“These reprisals have been termed by the Special Procedures as representative of ‘a clear pattern of silencing independent reporting’ by India in occupied Kashmir,” the Pakistani delegate added.