Amnesty suspends India operations after accounts are frozen


Amnesty Worldwide is suspending its operations in India after New Delhi froze its financial institution accounts following the human rights group’s criticism of Narendra Modi’s authorities.

The Enforcement Directorate, an company set as much as examine financial crimes, froze the financial institution accounts of Amnesty’s Indian arm on September 10, weeks after the group revealed two reviews extremely vital of the federal government’s human rights record.

Amnesty mentioned that the freezing of its financial institution accounts was the end result of a two-year marketing campaign of harassment by India’s residence affairs ministry, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.

The human rights group mentioned it was pressured to halt its work and lay off its 140 Indian employees members. “For a motion that has accomplished nothing however increase its voices in opposition to injustice, this newest assault is akin to freezing dissent,” mentioned Avinash Kumar, government director of Amnesty Worldwide India.

The motion is a part of a wider clampdown on civil society teams that the Modi authorities believes tarnishes its picture. Final week New Delhi tightened restrictions on foreign-funded charities in its newest try to muzzle critics.

In June 2014, the federal government froze the financial institution accounts of Greenpeace, the environmental group, and barred considered one of its activists from flying to London to speak a few contentious coal-mining venture.

Though a courtroom unfroze the Greenpeace accounts, authorities have repeatedly frozen them once more, forcing the group right into a cycle of authorized battles to entry its personal funds.

Final yr, the CBI raided the residence and workplaces of outstanding members of the non-profit Attorneys Collective, which had fought landmark authorized battles over homosexual rights, entry to life-saving medicine and different human rights points.

The collective referred to as the raid “nothing however a vicious means to humiliate, intimidate and silence its trustees . . . whose fierce independence and advocacy for human rights perturbs the political institution of the day”.

Indian authorities have raided Amnesty India’s workplaces twice previously two years, and in 2018 denied the group entry to its financial institution accounts. About 30 of Amnesty’s 100,000 Indian donors obtained earnings tax notifications linked to their assist for the group.

The Enforcement Directorate, which has not publicly confirmed this month’s freezing of Amnesty’s accounts, didn’t reply to requests for remark.

The directorate acted after Amnesty revealed two vital reviews, one on circumstances within the Muslim-majority Kashmir area, and one other on the function performed by New Delhi’s police in communal riots in February.

Amnesty discovered that Indian authorities had curbed primary civil freedoms in Kashmir, together with restrictions on political figures, a media clampdown and restricted access to the internet a yr after New Delhi revoked the area’s political autonomy.

In Delhi, Amnesty has accused native police of complicity within the violence that shook town throughout US President Donald Trump’s go to. Greater than 50 individuals, mostly Muslims, died within the non secular riots, the worst the capital had skilled in a long time.

Amnesty mentioned that it had interviewed greater than 50 witnesses and analysed reams of video proof. It alleged that police didn’t act to include the violence, and a few officers abused badly injured Muslim males of their custody. A few of these detained males died.

Further reporting by Jyotsna Singh