September 29, 2017
Two long-time human rights defenders Parvez Imroz and Parveena Ahangar have been awarded the prestigious Professor Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize, popularly known as the Rafto Prize, for human rights this year.
The past recipients of this award include Aung Sang Suu Kyi and Shirin Ebadi, both of whom went on to win the Nobel prize for peace.
In its statement, the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights said the award was given to the duo for their “decades of campaigning for human rights in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir”.
“Their long campaign to expose human rights violations, promote dialogue and seek peaceful solutions to the intractable conflict in Kashmir has inspired new generations across communities,” the foundation said.
Speaking about Parveena Ahangar, the foundation said that she “protests against enforced disappearances and challenges the perpetrators of violence”. Similarly, the foundation praised Imroz as “a lawyer and a leading intellectual who uses the law to ensure fundamental human rights and equality before the law in Kashmir”.
On his part, Imroz sees the award as an acknowledgement of the deteriorating human rights situation in Kashmir by the European civil society.
Imroz has already received the Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights prize in 2006 given by the Human Rights Institute of The Bar of Bordeaux, France, and the European Bar Human Rights Institute (IDHAE). The award has earlier been conferred to Nelson Mandela.
The duo will be traveling to Norway in November to receive the award and also get a chance to interact with the various civil society groups in the country.
“We will use this opportunity to create some more awareness about Kashmir. And tell the world that the overriding challenge in Kashmir is not terrorism but the massive humanitarian fallout of the thirty years of the conflict,” Imroz said.