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REPUBLIC OF INDIA: Amnesty India latest target of government crackdown

4 Nov 2018
[International Secretariat]
Region: REPUBLIC OF INDIA
Topic:

Amnesty India is the latest target of the Modi government’s assault on civil society. On Thursday, the Enforcement Directorate, an agency that looks into financial crimes, raided the organization’s office and froze its bank accounts, effectively stopping its vital human rights work.

Swift on the heels of its assault on Greenpeace India earlier this month, when the environmental group’s bank accounts were frozen, the Indian government is claiming violations of foreign funding regulations to shut down another prominent NGO.

“As an organization committed to the rule of law, our operations in India have always conformed with national regulations.

The ten-hour-long raid began on 25 October after a group of officers from the Enforcement Directorate entered the premises. They ordered the Amnesty India staff to not leave, shut their laptops and not use their mobile phones.

Soon after the raid, a smear campaign was launched on social media and among pro-government sections of the media that have long opposed the organization’s human rights campaigns. Some media outlets claimed to have accessed secret government documents that cast Amnesty India’s operations as a dark web of intrigue.

The raid on Amnesty India’s offices comes just days after India’s election to the UN Human Rights Council, where it has an obligation to “uphold the highest international standards”. On the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “For us, human rights [and] their protection are not merely phrases. Whenever basic human rights are denied, like during the Emergency, the people of India fought tirelessly [and] ensured democracy and human rights prevail.” “We could not agree more with the Prime Minister.Sadly, we seem to have returned to those dark days. Instead of protecting human rights, as it vowed to do, the government is now targeting the people who fight for them.”

Background

The raid on Amnesty India’s office is indicative of a concerted effort by authorities to silence individuals and groups that work to defend human rights. The Indian authorities have used allegations of financial “irregularities” to obstruct the work of other human rights organisations including Lawyers Collective, Sabrang Trust, Navsarjan Trust, and People’s Watch.

Amnesty India works tirelessly to advance human rights for all people in India, including initiatives on human rights education and campaigns to end discrimination, unlawful killings, violence against women and abuses by companies. This work is done in collaboration with local communities and groups.

26 October 2018
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

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