Global body condemns reprisals against Afreen Fatima and her family

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a global body in an official statement, strongly condemned “the arbitrary demolition of Afreen Fatima’s house, as well as the arbitrary detention of her mother and sister and the ongoing arbitrary detention and criminalisation of her father, Javed Mohammad.”

House of prominent Muslim activists Afreen Fatima and Javed Mohammad was razed by Uttar Pradesh government last week amid acts of repression against the Muslim minority in the state. On 10 June 2022, members of Muslim communities across India organised protests against anti-Islamic public statements made in early June by two leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Afreen Fatima, national secretary of Fraternity Movement, is a woman human rights defender and a Muslim activist who has been vocal against the discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act passed (CAA) in 2019. She is the former president of the students’ union of Women’s College at the Aligarh Muslim University, and former councilor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ union. Javed is the national federal working committee member of Welfare Party of India.

The global rights body said that the “human rights violations and acts of reprisals against Afreen Fatima and her family take place in a context of ongoing crackdown against the Muslim minority and those who defend their rights in Uttar Pradesh. “

It went on to say: “The Observatory notes that the Indian authorities in Uttar Pradesh have increasingly misused provisions of law to illegally demolish houses and properties of Muslim individuals and families in areas that witnessed protests. Furthermore, human rights defenders and activists that speak up against discriminatory policies and laws against Muslims, including the CAA, face criminalisation, arbitrary detention and stigmatisation.”

The group urged the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Javed and to put an end to all acts of harassment against Afreen Fatima and her family, and to provide them with adequate housing and comprehensive reparation for the illegal demolition of their house.

It also demanded an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the demolition of Afreen Fatima’s house in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law.

The rights body’s letter was sent to prime minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, Chief Justice of India and Allahabad High Court Chief Justice and other top officers in the country.