After years of being hounded by a vindictive regime, International Human Rights organisation Amnesty International is putting a stop to all operations in India. Operations came to a grinding halt after the Indian government froze the organisation’s bank accounts.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Amnesty International India said, “The complete freezing of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts by the Government of India which it came to know on 10 September 2020, brings all the work being done by the organization to a grinding halt. The organisation has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work.”
Amnesty has been in the regime’s crosshairs for unearthing and reporting on their excesses repeatedly. Recently it had come out with a damning report on the February 2020 Delhi violence that revealed how minorities were specifically targeted and how in many cases, police inaction permitted the violence to exacerbate. They had also demanded that an independent enquiry be conducted to ascertain the role of the Delhi Police in the violence. The report was released in late August and the bank accounts were frozen in early September.
“The continuing crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is not accidental. The constant harassment by government agencies including the Enforcement Directorate is a result of our unequivocal calls for transparency in the government, more recently for accountability of the Delhi police and the Government of India regarding the grave human rights violations in Delhi riots and Jammu & Kashmir. For a movement that has done nothing but raise its voices against injustice, this latest attack is akin to freezing dissent,” said Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.
The regime is accusing Amnesty of money laundering and soliciting foreign funds illegally, thereby violating provisions of the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act (FCRA). However, the group has rubbished these claims saying, “Amnesty International India stands in full compliance with all applicable Indian and international laws. For human rights work in India, it operates through a distinct model of raising funds domestically. More than four million Indians have supported Amnesty International India’s work in the last eight years and around 100,000 Indians have made financial contributions. These contributions evidently cannot have any relation with the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. The fact that the Government is now portraying this lawful fundraising model as money-laundering is evidence that the overbroad legal framework is maliciously activated when human rights activists and groups challenge the government’s grave inactions and excesses.”
The regime has been targeting Amnesty International India for several years, mainly because the group which is a part of a Nobel Prize winning movement, does not shy away from exposing ugly ground realities about the state of human rights in the country. “Treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises and dissenting individuals as criminals without any credible evidence is a deliberate attempt by the Enforcement Directorate and Government of India to stoke a climate of fear and dismantle the critical voices in India. It reeks of fear and repression, ignores the human cost to this crackdown particularly during a pandemic and violates people’s basic rights to freedom of speech and expression, assembly, and association guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and international human rights law. Instead, as a global power and a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, India must fearlessly welcome calls for accountability and justice,” said Avinash Kumar.
The regime began its witch-hunt against Amnesty’s India operations in 2016 when it was slapped with sedition charges. Then, in October 2018 when Enforcement Directorate officials raided the organisation’s offices and its director’s home. The group has released a timeline of how it has been systematically targeted, as a part of its statement.
The complete statement may be viewed here: