Mumbai: 'Incessant witch-hunt' shuts down human rights organisation, Amnesty International

Updated: 30 September, 2020 09:50 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

"The continuing crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is not accidental," said Avinash Kumar, executive director, Amnesty International India in the statement

This image has been used for representational purposes only
This image has been used for representational purposes only

In a statement on its website on Tuesday, human rights organisation Amnesty International India announced that the freezing of its bank accounts by the Government of India has compelled it to let go of staff and halt all operations.

Claiming "harassment" and an "incessant witch-hunt" at the hands of the central government, the organisation said that it came to know of the freezing on September 10 over "unfounded and motivated allegations". All ongoing campaigns and research work have been paused.

"The continuing crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is not accidental," said Avinash Kumar, executive director, Amnesty International India in the statement.

"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," the statement said.

The organisation told mid-day that after the ED raids of October 2018, all previous funds deposited in their accounts were frozen. "We were allowed by the court to use only new money coming into the account after October 2018. We had to let go of around 65 staff members by December 2018. As of today, the program team members have been reduced from 35 to 10," said an official.

"We have not been formally charged by the ED, even after two years. There is no official communication on why the accounts were frozen. We are completely compliant with Indian and international laws and stand by the fact that we haven't done anything wrong," the official added.

The organisation published an update on the human rights situation in Jammu & Kashmir on August 5, the first anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 and on August 28, an investigative brief on the complicity of Delhi police in the February 28 riots of North East Delhi. "The release of the two publications provided fresh impetus for the establishment to harass and intimidate Amnesty International India," concluded the statement.

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First Published: 30 September, 2020 05:46 IST

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