Amnesty International has closed its offices in India, as it had to let go of all the staff after its bank accounts were frozen earlier this month by the government of India.
“The complete freezing of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts by the Enforcement Directorate, an investigative agency of the Government in India, brings all the work being done by the organisation in India to an abrupt halt. Amnesty has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work,” the Amnesty said in a press release.
Meanwhile, the government of India reportedly stated that the global rights watchdog has been receiving foreign funds illegally and that it never registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
Responding to the closure, Julie Verhaar, Acting Secretary General of Amnesty International, said:
“This is an egregious and shameful act by the Indian Government, which forces us to cease the crucial human rights work of Amnesty International India for now. However, this does not mark the end of our firm commitment to, and engagement in, the struggle for human rights in India. We will be working resolutely to determine how Amnesty International can continue to play our part within the human rights movement in India for years to come.
“The Amnesty movement is very proud of the vital work carried out by our outstanding colleagues in India regardless of the risks they faced, including their unequivocal calls for accountability for the actions of the authorities during the Delhi riots and in Jammu and Kashmir and their work on gender based violence. Sadly, this enormously important work standing up for victims has been met with the heavy-handed tactics that Indian civil society has become increasingly familiar with – part of the government’s drive to silence critical voices and stoke a climate of fear.
“The staff of Amnesty India have shown great dignity in the face of a concerted and vicious smear campaign of spurious allegations, raids by various investigative agencies, malicious media leaks, and intimidation without an iota of credible evidence of wrongdoing. No laws have been broken,” she said.