Amnesty India is an International Human Rights organization. It complains that it has been compelled to halt work as government freezes its bank accounts. Human rights defenders alleged that they are facing an ‘incessant witch-hunt’.
Human rights organization, Amnesty International India on Tuesday announced that it has been “compelled to let go of staff in India” and stop all its work as its bank accounts have been frozen. In a statement, the organization called the government’s move to freeze its bank accounts a witch-hunt “over unfounded and motivated allegations”.
Executive Director Avinash Kumar of Amnesty International India said that the continuous crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts are not accidental, but a planned one.
Apart from the Enforcement Directorate, many government agencies were continuously harassing them because of their 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 the Delhi riots and Jammu & Kashmir. Just to suppress the movement that has done nothing but raised its voices against injustice, this latest attack is analogous to freezing disputes.
It is alleged that the organization’s “lawful fundraising model” was termed as a model of money-laundering. This is the result of the challenge they had given to the “government’s grave inactions and excesses”.
Amnesty International India stands in full obedience 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 100,000 Indians have made financial contributions. These contributions evidently cannot have any relation with the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
Amnesty International India said that all its bank accounts were completely frozen by the Enforcement Directorate on September 10. It was a deliberately raided multiple times by various agencies before freezing the bank accounts.
The ED raided the Amnesty International India’s office for 10 hours, on 25 October 2018. The agencies did not find any foul play in the documents as most of the information and documents that were demanded during the search were already available in the public domain or filed with the relevant government authorities. Though they found nothing, the bank accounts were also frozen by the ED, immediately after the raid. As a result, Amnesty International India was forced to let go of a number of its staff, adversely affecting its work in India including the marginalized communities.
Unfortunately, a media trial against the organization was done after the government leaked selective documents to the government-aligned media outlets.
Over 30 regular donors received investigative letters from the Income Tax department, in early 2019. The department did not find any irregularities but the lack of donors adversely affected the fundraising campaigns of Amnesty International India.
The organization then recalled how it had to virtually release its third ‘Lawless Law’ report on the misuse and abuse of the Public Safety Act in Jammu and Kashmir in June 2019.
Amnesty International testified at the US Congressional hearing on the situation of human rights in South Asia with a specific focus on Jammu and Kashmir since the unilateral abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, on 22 October 2019.
Two weeks after the testimony there were numerous arrests of the top officials of the organization. CBI raided the residences of the top officials and the offices of Amnesty International India, which paved the way to shut down the organization in India.
It is alleged that Amnesty International was continuously harassed and eventually forced to shut down in a very planned manner by the existing government.
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