UK: Amnesty Int. Stages Protest Against Modi Govt’s Clampdown On International NGOs
Amnesty International UK held a protest against Indian Government’s clampdown on international NGOs such as Amnesty India and Greenpeace India, outside the Indian High Commission in Central London on 30 November, reported The Hindu.
The protests in UK came a day after over thirty Amnesty staff members were detained for protesting outside the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.
“Modi government is trying to silence human rights defenders and organisations”
The organisation also wrote a letter to newly appointed Indian High Commissioner in the UK, Ruchi Ghanashyam, demanding the removal of restrictions on bank accounts of the two NGOs, end of “intimidation and harassment” of the organisations and end of the legislations used as a ruse to muzzle activists. Amnesty UK tweeted about the protest reminding Prime Minister Modi of his promise to protect human rights.
As per Zee News, Amnesty International UK’s director Kate Allen said, “As more people in India call for equality, accountability and justice, Prime Minister Modi’s government is trying to silence human rights defenders and organisations.” She further added that Amnesty India works in the domain of women’s rights and has exposed many incidents of use of force against defenceless people. For years, they have also supported indigenous communities whose rights are being violated by corporations.
Amnesty International is a London-based NGO working for the protection of human rights. The NGO’s official website claims that it has over 7 million members in over 150 countries.
Government’s clampdown on NGOs
On October 24, 2018, Enforcement Directorate conducted raids on Amnesty International India’s two offices in Bengaluru, in connection with a foreign exchange rules violation case, reported The Indian Express. A day later, the bank accounts of the NGO were frozen, reported The Quint.
On October 5, Enforcement Directorate also searched premises of another international NGO, Greenpeace, in Bengaluru for alleged foreign exchange violations. Reportedly, the agency came to know that Greenpeace incorporated a commercial entity called DDIIPL after the Union Home Ministry cancelled Greenpeace India Society’s (Chennai) Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration in 2015 for alleged violation of rules. The searches were done under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), as per The Economic Times. The agency also froze over a dozen bank accounts related to Greenpeace. Greenpeace denied the allegations by stating that the organisation runs entirely on the donations made by ecologically conscious Indians.
Letter to the British Foreign Secretary
Earlier this week Amnesty UK wrote to British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt urging him to take up the issue of human rights abuse and the restrictions placed on NGOs such as Greenpeace India and Amnesty India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The letter also raised concerns about human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Ellie Kennedy, a campaigner for Amnesty UK who was among the protestors, said, “If you sit on a table with global leaders, human rights need to be on that agenda, and you have to live up to those values domestically too”, reported The Hindu.
Aakar Patel, director of Amnesty India, said that the government is showing no signs of easing the restrictions and more raids and restrictions are anticipated from different government organisations in the coming months.