ISLAMABAD: In a first, two Kashmiri rights crusaders from Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK), Parveena Ahangar and Imroz Parvez, have been awarded Norway's prestigious Rafto Prize 2017 for their long-term struggle against violence in the disputed territory, the jury announced.
The two human rights activists were given the prize of $20,000 (17,750 euros) at a ceremony held in the western Norwegian town of Bergenon, Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement on Sunday.
Ahanger, nicknamed "The iron lady of Kashmir", founded and leads the Association of Parents of Missing Persons after her 17-year-old son was kidnapped by security forces in 1990. She has not heard from him since.
Her co-laureate, lawyer Parvez, founded the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) which promotes human rights and non-violence. It has documented the authorities' use of torture in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Braving Indian atrocities: Norway honours two Kashmiri activists with Rafto Prize
"Parveena Ahangar and Imroz Parvez have long been at the forefront of the struggle against arbitrary abuses of power in a (disputed) region of India that has borne the brunt of escalating violence, militarisation and international tension," the Rafto Foundation said in a statement.
"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," it added. Since the start of the freedom struggle in IOK in 1989, tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the disputed valley.
Between 8,000 and 10,000 people have gone missing since the beginning of the escalation in the 1980s, according to the Rafto Foundation.
"Conferment of the prestigious Rafto Prize to Kashmiri activists has brought attention to the violation of human rights in Indian occupied Kashmir," the Foreign Office spokesperson said.
Every year, the non-profit and non-partisan organisation, Rafto Foundation for Human Rights selects the most distinguished individuals in the fields of human rights and democracy from around the world for conferment of the prestigious prize.
Named after the late Norwegian human rights activist Thorolf Rafto, four past winners of the prize (Aung San Suu Kyi, Jose Ramos-Horta, Kim Dae-Jung and Shirin Ebadi) went on to win to Nobel Peace Prize.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ