While rejecting the CNN-IBN award Parveena Ahangar, founder chairperson of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) released the following statement:
Srinagar, December 10, 2011: On this ‘International Human Rights Day’, December 10, 2011, the APDP (Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons), Srinagar, wishes to state that there is something obscene and perverse in the manner the CNN-IBN has nominated our organization for the ‘Indian of the Year 2011’ award. Sometimes, human rights can be violated by merely mocking those who struggle for human rights.
The channel and its associates are promoting this ‘award’ in all their publicity material as a recognition for “architects and ambassadors of Brand India”. The APDP would like to forthwith REJECT and condemn this gratuitous nomination of our organization for this award which smacks of being yet another attempt by corporate Indian media to cover-up and neutralize the crimes of the Indian state in Kashmir.
We believe there is something sinister in the way our organisation, which has been relentlessly struggling for core human values like freedom, dignity and justice in the Valley in the face of brutal state repression – largely condoned by the corporate media – has been drafted into the eclectic ‘menu card’ of shortlisted nominees just to buy some credibility to the ‘award’. The CNN-IBN or its associates certainly did not consult us before including our name on the nominees list.
The nomination states, ‘The award recognizes the Indian(s) whose contribution to the country in a calendar year has strengthened the foundation of our society and has helped build Brand India in the process. The pinnacle of Indian achievement….’
Applied in the context of our organization, this is patently absurd. The APDP’s struggle for justice and accountability has never been about “building Brand India” but about questioning and challenging Brand India and its trampling over the rights and lives of the people of Kashmir. We refuse to allow ourselves to be co-opted into that brutal system and demean our struggle for ‘rights’ by being foisted upon with some self-styled award. Particularly, when it seems obvious that our name is on your list merely as a ‘decoration’ to help prop up your credibility.
The award citation describes APDP as an organization ‘relentlessly highlighting the issue of missing persons in Kashmir, and forcing the government and rights groups to acknowledge and act’.
Describing the cases of enforced disappearances in Kashmir as that of ‘missing persons’ and claiming that due to efforts of APDP the government and its agencies have acted and acknowledged the issue of enforced disappearances in Kashmir, is both misinformed and misleading.
We wish to place on record that there has been no formal response from the government agencies or institutions on the issue of enforced disappearances in Kashmir. The APDP have identified the perpetrators of the crimes, and there are thousands of cases pending in the Srinagar High Court seeking sanction for prosecution of the accused. However, draconian laws like the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) in Kashmir continue to provide them complete impunity. To claim that the government and its agencies have responded to these gross acts of human rights violations and has ‘acted’ or punished the guilty is a blatant falsehood.
This nomination is a farce. Such nominations take away from the struggle that we as the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons have been fighting for past two decades. It also makes a mockery of the trauma and sufferings of the Kashmiri people.
The only real ‘award’ the news channel can bestow upon us is consistent and honest reportage of the heinous crimes committed by the armed forces in Kashmir and highlight the struggles and sacrifices of the people of Kashmir for justice and freedom.
We demand that CNN-IBN forthwith remove our name from their nominee’s list.