Two Kashmiris win Norway’s Rafto Prize

MIRPUR (AJK)-Norway’s prestigious Rafto Prize for Human Rights will be conferred on two prominent human rights activists – Parvez Imroz and Parveena Ahanger – from Indian-occupied Kashmir in western Norwegian town of Bergen tomorrow.
“Both the Kashmiri activists will be speaking at the ceremony titled ‘Voices of Kashmir – Defending Civilians in the Indian Held Heavily Militarized Zone”, says a message released to the media on Friday.
Parvez Imroz is co-founder of the Indian-Occupied Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) which promotes human rights and non-violence. The IOJK CCS has documented the Indian authorities´ use of torture in the disputed Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir territory and published several reports, being used as reference document worldwide. Parvez is a veteran lawyer and has survived an assassination attempt.
Parveena Ahanger is the other recipient who is founded president of the Association of Parents of Missing Persons. Indian security forces picked Ahanger’s 17-year-old son from their home in Srinagar’s Batamallo area in 1990. She hasn´t heard anything from or of him since. Nicknamed ‘The Iron Lady of Kashmir’, she has stood against the high-handedness of the Indian military and security forces in disputed Jammu and Kashmir region, according to the message.
“Their long campaign to expose human rights violations, promote dialogue and seek peaceful solution to the intractable conflict in Kashmir has inspired new generation across communities,” noted the Rafto Foundation.
The committee acknowledged that both the laureates – Parveena Ahangar and Imroz Parvez – have long been on the forefront of the struggle against arbitrary abuses of power in the Jammu and Kashmir that has borne the brunt of escalating violence, militarization and regional tension.
The prize of $20,000 (17,750 Euros) will formally be presented on Sunday in western Norwegian town of Bergen. The Rafto Foundation for Human Rights was established in 1987 in memory of Professor Thorolf Rafto (1922-1986), an iconic lecturer in economics at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen, Norway.
The prize committee looks for those not well decorated for the dedicated work so that the award can make a difference, and the foundation can work with the distinguished individual for a long span of time.
In its initial years, the Rafto Foundation was focused on the struggle for human rights in Eastern Europe but after 1989, it started looking at the entire world. Previous recipients of Rafto Prize for human rights include Jose Ramos-Horta, Kim Dae-Jung, Aung San Suu Kyi and Shirin Ebadi. Some of Rafto award winners later became Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Thorolf Rafto was a Professor of Economic History at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen. Academic life was so calm and uneventful for him, so he took an active role in world issues. He died on November 4, 1986 at 64.
Norway is among those countries where the Kashmir issue has on parliamentary agenda and media discourse for the last three decades. Meanwhile, Sardar Ali Shahnawaz Khan, a lobbyist and Executive Director of Kashmiri Scandinavian Council, stated, while talking to this Correspondent Friday evening that over seventeen times Kashmir conflict came under discussion in the Norwegian parliament.
“A Kashmir group in the Norwegian Parliament was too established several years, which had shown its concerns about unabated human rights violation in Kashmir,” he underlined.
“Being a Norwegian Kashmiri, I feel doubly honoured. Not only the distinguished people of my country stand for the supreme values of human rights but also the Rafto Foundation is acknowledging the struggle of Kashmiri people who have been at the fatal end of barrel since 1948,” Ali stated.
The award ceremony will be followed by a torch-bearing procession in solidarity with the victims of human rights violation worldwide, especially Kashmiris this year. Musicians – Lluvia Son and Jonas Apeland – will perform at a concert in Oslo on Monday, Ali concluded.

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