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Amnesty International India 'halts work on upholding human rights' after GOI freezes its bank accounts

10:54 AM Sep 29, 2020 | FPJ Web Desk

Amnesty International India has decided to shut its operations in the country after the Government of India froze its bank accounts. The organisation has also been compelled to let go of its 150 staff members in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work.

"This is the latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations," Amnesty International India said.

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“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 of Amnesty International India.

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"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,” he added.

According to a report, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), following an FIR by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), filed on November 5, 2019, on charges of an alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), had initiated a separate probe against the organisation last year.

The ED has not converted the preliminary inquiry into an ECIR alleging money laundering charges, but has frozen all of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts. The ED has invoked the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Meanwhile, Avinash Kumar said that it 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 without any credible evidence.

"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," he added.

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