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Amnesty India suspends work; cites govt reprisal

Amnesty India suspends work; cites govt reprisal
Bengaluru: Global human rights watch body, Amnesty International's India unit, Amnesty International India has announced it is forced to suspend its work in the country. The organisation attributes its decision to reprisal measures as reflected in the "complete freezing of Amnesty International India's bank accounts by the Government of India which it came to know on 10 September 2020".

A press release issued by Amnesty India says its work has been brought to a grinding halt by the freezing of accounts. "The organisation has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work, notes the press release. "

The current government has been known to be particularly hostile to Amnesty and similar organisations monitoring the status of human rights in India and the use of state machinery in suppressing civic freedoms. Amnesty says that "this is latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations".

Amnesty deems the continuing crackdown on on it during the last two years and freezing of bank accounts as not accidental. Earlier, the organisation had alleged being subjected to harassment by government agencies including the Enforcement Directorate.

The rights body sees the governmental measures as a retaliation against its 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.

Amnesty also emphasises that it has been operating in full compliance with all applicable Indian and international laws, and clarifies that for its fund raising it operates through a distinct model domestically.

The press release also points out that more than four million Indians have supported its 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 press release adds.

While reiterating its advocacy of human rights, Amnesty India in this context also cites that the values it stands for are the same that are enshrined in the Constitution of India and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance and peaceful dissent.

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