Amnesty International Office Bangalore
Amnesty International Office BangaloreTwitter

Amnesty International the Non-Governmental Organisation to defend human rights and dignity will now be closing down operations in India. The organisation has taken this call, following the complete freezing of its accounts.

In a statement, the organisation also claimed that the government's 'incessant witch-hunt' has pushed for this call as well.

Amnesty International speaks about government 'reprisal'

The organisation announced on Tuesday that it would be shutting down the office in India. This was after the government froze all of the company's bank accounts. This has also pushed them to let go of staff and pause the campaigns in India.

The organisation called the government's action an 'incessant witch-hunt'. "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 Executive Director, Avinash Kumar.

Amnesty International is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate over irregularity in foreign funds. The organisation has said that the NGO operated with a unique model for India and raises funds domestically, in full compliance with Indian law.

Avinash Kumar said:

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."

Detailing what happened between 2018 and 2020, the organisation said that on 5 August 2020, which marks the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, Amnesty International India released an update on the situation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.

In the chronology of events, on 28 August 2020, marking the six-month anniversary of the riots that took place in North-East Delhi in February 2020, the organisation had released an investigative brief on the complicity of Delhi police in the riots which tool the lives of at least 53 people, mostly from the minority Muslim community.

The organisation said, "The release of the two publications has provided fresh impetus to the establishment to harass and intimidate Amnesty International India through its investigative agencies." It was on 10th September that the organisation's accounts were entirely frozen by the ED.

The government hasn't yet reacted to the claims levelled by the organisation. The home ministry had previously said that the Amnesty International had brought in funds through the FDI route.