June 30, the state forces attempted to assassinate Advocate Parvez Imroz, co-convener
of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in
Indian-administered Kashmir (http://www.kashmirprocess.org).
His statement is included below.
Imroz is co-founder of the Jammu & Kashmir
Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and the Association for Parents of
Disappeared Persons (APDP). He is a distinguished human rights lawyer and
recipient of the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize of 2006. (See also: Cérémonie
de Remise du Prix 2006.)
Desai, Legal Counsel for the Tribunal, said: “This reflects the legal and
political impunity under which the CRPF and the SOG operate in the
Chatterji, Tribunal co-convener, said: “The
attempt to assassinate Advocate Imroz is
cowardly and brutal. This act of the police displays the arrogance and
the state of exception in place in Indian-administered Kashmir
. This attack is an attempt to halt the International People’s
Tribunal from continuing its work. Our findings on the mass graves
earlier and last week, and the state’s attempts to intimidate and
threaten us, evidence the Government of India’s abject disregard for
Last week the
Tribunal’s investigation into mass graves and nameless in Baramulla and Kupwara led
to the targeting and harassment of co-conveners Dr. Angana
Chatterji and Advocate Imroz,
and Tribunal crew. The surveillance by intelligence personnel has
escalated: Mr. Khurram Parvez,
Tribunal Liaison, has been previously targeted and remains under
surveillance, and Dr. Chatterji was again
harassed by intelligence and police on June 30 while conducting Tribunal
work. Dr. Chatterji, Advocate Imroz, Advocate Desai, and Mr. Parvez
and other members of Tribunal met with families who narrated that their
sons had been killed by the police in the violence of last week. The Tribunal
conducted its work in curfew-like conditions as Srinagar and various
parts of Kashmir remains extremely volatile following last week’s events.
This latest attack
is an escalation in the forms of state-led intimidation, harassment, and assault
aimed at the Tribunal. The attack on Advocate Imroz
attempts to make vulnerable the Tribunal and to instil fear in other
Tribunal members in an attempt to stop this process. The Tribunal
Conveners, Angana Chatterji,
Parvez Imroz, Gautam Navlakha, Zaheer-Ud-Din, the Tribunal Legal Counsel, Mihir Desai, and Tribunal Liaison, Khurram Parvez, remain
committed to the work on justice and human rights in Indian-administered Kashmir .
Angana Chatterji, Parvez Imroz, Gautam Navlakha, Zahir-Ud-Din, Mihir Desai, Khurram Parvez
Tribunal Conveners, Legal
Counsel, and Liaison
Advocate Parvez Imroz’s Statement:
On 30 June 2008, at
10.10 pm, when Parvez Imroz
and his family was about to retire for the evening, Roksana,
his wife informed him that there was a knock at the front door. She was
extremely afraid, given the two prior assassination attempts on Advocate Imroz’s life. She and Advocate Imroz
asked ‘Who are you?’ to those at the front door. They responded aggressively,
asking Advocate Imroz by name to open the door.
Advocate Imroz was apprehensive after the
intimidation of the Tribunal last week when it was undertaking a
fact-finding on mass graves in Baramulla and Kupwara. He went to another room at the back of the
house and shouted across to his brother, Sheik Mustaq
Ahmad, who lived next door. Mr. Ahmad shined a torch at Advocate Imroz’s door and asked the persons at the front door
to identify themselves. The persons knocking at the door very
aggressively asked Mr. Ahmad to shut off the torch. Meanwhile, Advocate Imroz’s nephew came out of Mr. Ahmad’s house and ran
toward Advocate Imroz’s house, fearful, as he
stated later, that Advocate Imroz was being
taken by the army.
perpetrators fired one shot in the dark, and it appeared that shot was
fired in the direction that Advocate Imroz’s
nephew was coming from. The lights down the path had been broken.
After seconds, the
perpetrators threw a grenade in Advocate Imroz’s
compound outside his front door, which exploded into a fireball. They
also threw a tear gas and fired two blank shots while leaving.
left at around approximately 10.30 pm. On the way, the perpetrators beat
one male neighbour.
community members had made an announcement from the village mosque, and
people had gathered down the path. The villagers also stated that they
had seen one large armoured vehicle and two Gypsy cars, and men in CRPF
(Central Reserve Police Force) uniform and SOG (Special Operations Group)
[Note: Advocate Imroz's home is located in Kralpura
village approximately 8 kilometres from Srinagar .]
Parvez Imroz is a human rights lawyer and a
civil rights activist in Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir. He
graduated in Science from Srinagar in the year 1972 and then got his LLB
degree at the Law College Aligarh Muslim University in 1975. Imroz joined the J&K High Court as a lawyer in
1978. Since the end of the
eighties, he has initiated and led campaigns for human rights in a
context of grave violations, including killings, tortures and rapes, or
forced "disappearances" with impunity. He is founder and
President of the J&K Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) that works to build
local alliances between Kashmiri civil society groups.
In response to the large volume of parents at the Jammu and Kashmir
High court who were filing or pursuing habeas corpus petitions, Imroz founded in 1994 the Association of Parents of
Disappeared Persons (APDP), which brings together hundreds of Kashmiri
families whose members have been the victims of Enforced or Involuntary
Disappearances (EID). The APDP is a collective campaigning organization
that seeks truth and justice on this human rights issue in Kashmir. The
APDP is not a human rights group but an association of those suffering by
the State’s tactics and they are campaigning for knowing the whereabouts
of their missing relatives. Any person related to a victim of a disappearance could
be a member of the association. The association has no political
affiliations or political positions; it is an independent group seeking
justice and information from the state.
Parvez Imroz has lost four
colleagues in seven years at the hands of the security forces. Imroz's senior partner, H N Wanchoo,
was assassinated in the early 1990s, and on April, 12, 1995, Parvez Imroz was shot when
he was driving home after visiting a friend some eight kilometres from
Srinagar. Two men armed with automatic weapons signalled him to stop. Imroz sped up, and as he passed beyond them he was
hit in the upper left back. He lost control of the car and stopped in
front of a mosque. Someone came out of the mosque and drove Imroz to the SMHS hospital. Fragments of AK-56
bullets were found in Imroz's upper back, and
his left lung was damaged. After six days, Imroz
was transferred to a hospital in Delhi, where he remained for fifteen
days. When he returned to Srinagar, several militants of Hezb-ul Mujahedin
apologized for shooting him, claiming that it was a case of mistaken
identity. He was tempted to quit.
One year later, on March 8, 1996, Imroz
had tea with another High Court lawyer specialising in human rights, Jalil Andrabi. Thirty
minutes later, Andrabi and his wife were
stopped by a unit of the 35 Rashtriya Rifles
(35RR), an Indian paramilitary force. In 2004, a gunman
came to the home of senior lawyer Peer Husssam-ud-Din Banday to discuss a case, and killed him.
On July 18, 2001, Imroz realized his
dream, in Srinagar, he laid the foundation stone
of a monument built by the APDP, in memory of Kashmiri men who have gone
missing in the past 12 years of violence. In less than eight-hours,
Indian police razed the foundation.
Parvez Imroz did not resign and founded the
Public Commission on Human Rights (PCHR) that works extensively on the
documentation of human rights violations and the dissemination of the
information through its monthly dossier “The Informative Missive”. The
PCHR also provides free legal assistance to the victims of human rights
violations. The PCHR has published a comprehensive report on Human Rights
situation in Kashmir, which includes the time period of last 16 years.
Besides documentation, the commission is providing free legal assistance
to the victims of human rights violations. Thousands of victims have been
benefited from the PCHR’s free legal
Recently, in April 2003, Imroz organized
a worldwide hunger strike, coordinated in different cities across the
world, pressing for an end to disappearances, prosecution of
perpetrators, and appointment of a commission to probe into all enforced
disappearances. During the hunger strike the APDP received the letters of
solidarity from the civil society groups from India and abroad.
In March 2004, the Association of Disappeared Persons organised a
protest in Srinagar. Violent protest demonstrations followed alleged
police high- handedness and over a dozen people, mostly women, were
injured. Witnesses said that police targeted women in a procession by the
towards the office of the United Nations who were demanding for the fate
of their relatives who had gone missing in police custody during the last
13 years. Soon after the procession started from the APDP office, police
used force to disperse it. Over a dozen women and the APDP patron, Parvez Imroz, were injured.
Later police arrested 10 women and Parvez Imroz and they remained in custody for 7 hours.
Once more, on 21 April 2005, the APDP organised, in Srinagar a new
laying of foundation stone for a monument to disappeared persons.
On April 30, 2005 at 5.30 am,
an unidentified gunman
came to Imroz’s house in the Kralpora area, stating that he wanted
to discuss a case with
him. Reportedly, the door was not opened for the man. Fifteen
minutes later, the man allegedly
banged on the door
and left. The information received
indicates that, at this time in the morning, there are
restrictions on civilian movement
in the Kashmir valley.
It was alleged that the man who came to Imroz’s house that morning was a member of the army. On 11
May 2005, the Special Representative
on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers of
the United Nations sent an urgent appeal concerning Parvez Imroz. No response
has been received from
the Government of India.
ACT NOW FOR LAWYER
President Pratibha Patil, Office of the President,
New Delhi 110 004, Inde
I am gravely concerned following reports
of the attempted assassination
of human rights
defender, Advocate Parvez
Imroz, at his home on
30 June 2008. Advocate
Parvez Imroz is the co-convener of the
International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in
and the co-founder
and president of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.He is the distinguished recipient of the Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize 2006 ("The international tribute of lawyers to a lawyer").
On 30 June 2008, at
10.10 pm, Advocate Parvez
Imroz and his family were at home in Kralpura village, approximately
8 kilometres from
Srinagar, when unknown
to their door. When asked to identify themselves, they requested that Advocate Parvez Imroz open the door.
Following incidents of harassment
and intimidation against members
of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice
the previous week, Advocate Parvez Imroz was concerned for his and his family's safety.
He contacted his
brother who lives in the house next door and his brother responded by shining a torch at the front door of Advocate Parvez Imroz's home and again requesting that the individuals identify themselves. Advocate Parvez Imroz's nephew ran towards his uncle's home until a shot was fired by one of the persons
at the door. A few
seconds later a
grenade was thrown at the door before it exploded into a fireball. Tear gas was also reportedly thrown at the house as well as an additional two shots being fired. At approximately 10.30 pm the perpetrators
left the scene after beating one male neighbour.
Neighbours of Advocate
Parvez Imroz and community
members reported seeing one large armoured vehicle and two Gypsy cars, and men in uniform,
both from the Central
Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Special
Operations Group (SOG).
Previously, on 20 and 21 June
2008, Advocate Parvez
Imroz, together with
Dr Angana Chatterji and other
members of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice, were harassed and questioned by members of the Special Branch Kashmir (SBK) and Counter Intelligence Kashmir
(CIK) after visiting
mass graves in Baramulla and Kupwara, in Indian-administered Kashmir.
I believe that
Advocate Parvez Imroz
has been targeted as a result
of his legitimate work in the defence of human rights, in particular his work against institutionalized violence and human
rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir. I am concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Advocate Parvez Imroz, his family and all members of
the Tribunal team.
I urge the authorities in India to:
1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the attempted assassination of Advocate Parvez Imroz with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to
justice in accordance with international
2. Take all necessary
measures to guarantee
the physical and psychological
security and integrity
of Advocate Parvez
Imroz, his family and
all members of the Tribunal team;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances
that human rights defenders in India
are able to carry out their legitimate
human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free
of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
I respectfully remind
you that the United
Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals,
Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December
1998, recognises the legitimacy
of the activities of human
rights defenders, their
right to freedom of association and to carry
out their activities without fear of reprisals.
I would particularly
draw attention to Article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually
and in association with others:
(c) To study, discuss,
form and hold
opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human
rights and fundamental
freedoms and, through
these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those
matters”, and to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually
and in association with others,
to participate in peaceful
violations of human rights
and fundamental freedoms.
(2) The State shall take
all necessary measures
to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and
in association with others,
against any violence,
de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence
of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
PLEASE ACT NOW.