Hopes that the Rafto prize brings focus to what’s happening in Kashmir

RaftoprisBergen, Norway. Parvez Imroz (L) and Parveena Ahangar.Photo: Tor Erik H. Mathiesen / NTB Scanpix

Parveena Ahangar and Imroz Parvez were awarded the Thorolf Rafto Memorial prize for human rights on Sunday night for their struggle for civilian rights in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.


“This prize allows the rest of the world to see what is happening in Kashmir today,” said Parveena Ahangar, when she received the award, according to Bergens Tidende.

The prize ceremony took place at the National Scene in Bergen Sunday evening. Parveena Ahangar and Imroz Parvez fight for civil rights in an armed conflict. Imroz Parvez is a lawyer and uses legal instruments for the fundamental human rights and equality of the population.

“We think it’s a great honor to receive this prize, to come here and meet others who work for human rights.”

There is an opportunity to tell the truth about what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir. But this is not a conflict that can or may be resolve in a short period of time. This fight will continue, Parvez told NTB a couple of days before the award ceremony.

Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan in 1947 and has been a conflict area since. From 1989 there has been a rebellion in the Indian-controlled part that has cost more than 47,000 lives.

In 2008, the conflict escalated further, and today more than 700,000 Indian soldiers are deployed in the region, the only one in India with a Muslim majority in the population.

During Sunday’s ceremony, Lise Rakner, who leads the committee that promoted the proposal for this year’s award winners for the Rafto Board, said the world looks the other way.

“Today they say it’s a lost cause. The world looks the other way. But suppose this is your home and you can not look the other way. And you live in a place where basic human rights are not respected,” she said.

Parveena Ahangar’s 17-year-old son disappeared in 1991.

“I hope the world will acknowledge that what is happening in Kashmir is a humanitarian disaster, not just a political conflict,” she said.

After the disappearance of her son, Ahangar became the founder and leader of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), which organizes peaceful protests and provides practical assistance to the survivors.

©  NTB Scanpix / Norway Today