US Commission lists Khurram Parvez, Siddique Kappan as freedom of religion victims

WASHINGTON: Washington-based Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) has welcomed the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s decision to list Kashmiri human rights defender, Khurram Parvez, and Indian journalist, Siddique Kappan, on the Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) Victims List.

The FoRB list is a database of persons imprisoned or detained in a Country of Particular Concern (CPC).

The IAMC in a statement said, coming as it does at a time when human rights violations, including custodial killings, are rampant in India, the timely move will go a long towards engaging the government in ensuring safety of the victims and securing their freedom. This may work as India is a Country of Particular Concern, which USCIRF defines as a country that has engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” violations of religious freedom, it said.

India has been recommended as a CPC for two years in a row by the UNSCIRF.

Khurram Parvez, who was arrested in November 2021 is a world renowned human rights defender from Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He is the coordinator of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), an organisation that has repeatedly criticised the human rights abuses committed by Indian troops in the occupied territory.

Parvez has played an active role in documenting gross human rights abuses by Indian forces in IIOJK especially those perpetrated after the revocation of the special status of the territory in late 2019 by the Indian government.

On November 22, 2021, he was arrested and detained on the fake charges of “terror-funding,” “conspiracy”, and “waging war against the government of India”. The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a draconian law, was invoked against him.

On December 4, 2021, he was shifted to a high-security prison in New Delhi to await hearing even though the charges are leveled against him on flimsy grounds. Ever since, his current location is not known to anyone.

His arrest sparked international outrage and concern. On December 22, 2021, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a statement called for Parvez’s release.

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