Amnesty ends India operations over ‘govt reprisal’

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 29

In a sudden move on Tuesday morning, Amnesty announced the halting of India operations over what it called reprisal by the government.

Amnesty said the government has frozen its bank accounts bringing the organisation to a grinding halt.

“The complete freezing of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts by the Government of India, which it came to know on September 10, 2020, brings all the work being done by the organisation 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 said in a statement.

It alleged that freezing of bank accounts was the latest among incessant witch-hunts of human rights organisations by the Government over unfounded and motivated allegations.

“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 and 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.

Amnesty International India said it stood 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 1,00,000 Indians have made financial contributions,” said the NGO claiming that 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,” Amnesty said.

The halt of Amnesty operations comes days after the Parliament passed the FCRA Act making conditions for working and funding of NGOs receiving foreign contributions more stringent and mandating submission of Aadhar identifications by all NGO office bearers in case they need licences to get foreign funds.

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