Last month two Muslim human right activists from Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir state, Parveena Ahanger, a mother, and Imroz Imroz Parvez, a lawyer, won Norway’s prestigious human rights Rafto Prize. The award carries a cash of US$20,000 and a citation – will be given on November 5 at a ceremony in Norwegian town of Bergen.
“Parveena Ahangar and Imroz Parvez have long been at the forefront of the struggle against arbitrary abuses of power in Indian-held state of Jammu and Kashmir that has borne the brunt of escalating violence, militarization and international tension. 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 Rafto Foundation said in a statement.
Parveena Ahanger is founder and chairperson of Association of Parents of Missing Persons. She founded the organization after the Indian Occupation Force (IOF) kidnapped her 17-year-old son in 1990. He is still missing and presumed murdered.
Imroz Parvez is founder of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, an organization that promotes human rights and non-violence. It has meticulously documented the Indian occupation troops’ use of torture in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
It is uncertain whether the two winners would be allowed to travel to Norway to receive their prize. In the past, India has blocked their travel by withdrawing their passports and in some instances even detaining them at the airport before they boarded a flight out.
However, the Rafto Prize to two Kashmiri human rights activists vindicates Pakistan’s position that India is guilty of egregious crimes against state’s Muslim-majority.
The Rafto Prize is an annual prize given by the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights. It was established in 1987 in memory of Professor Thorolf Rafto (died 1986), an iconic lecturer in economics at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen, Norway. Thorolf Rafto became a darling of world organized Jewry when he campaigned against the persecution of Jews in the former Soviet Union even though Jewish elites controlled the country.
The first recipient of Rafto Prize working outside Europe, was given to Aung San Suu Kyi, the current Butcher of Muslims in Myanmar in 1990.
Last year, Iraqi human-rights activist Yanar Mohammed won the Rafto Prize.