Human Rights body Amnesty International on Tuesday said that it is halting work in India due to “continuing crackdown” and “harassment” by Narendra Modi led Government of India (GoI).
Indian authorities have frozen the bank accounts of Amnesty International’s India office, forcing it to halt operations. This crackdown on @AIIndia is yet more evidence that PM Modi's government is failing to uphold freedom of speech and association.https://t.co/Ijg647C0w4 pic.twitter.com/HqLOWMcGma
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) September 29, 2020
The rights group said the bank account of its India office has been “frozen by the right-wing government”, forcing it to lay off staff and stop campaign and research work in the South Asian nation.
The body also accused GoI of running an “incessant witch hunt” campaign against human rights organisations over “unfounded and motivated” allegations.
“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 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. This is latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organisations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations,” Amnesty International India said in a statement on Tuesday.
“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 statement added that attacks on Amnesty International India and other outspoken human rights organisations, activists and human rights defenders is only an extension of the various “repressive policies and sustained assault” by GoI on those who speak truth to power.
“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.
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