Over a week after the Enforcement Directorate froze the bank accounts of Amnesty International in India, the organisation has shut its Indian operations with several human rights projects set to be stalled. The development has also led to the laying off of around 150 employees across India and paused several research works.
“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 the Delhi riots and Jammu & Kashmir,” Avinash Kumar, Executive Director of Amnesty International India said in a statement.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) began proceedings following an FIR by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on charges of an alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The bank accounts have been frozen by the ED invoking the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
— Amnesty India (@AIIndia) September 29, 2020
Adding that the attack on its finance is a “freezing dissent” Kumar said that the move, “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.”
The organisation had released a series of reports around the abrogation of Article 370 and the deadly riots that rocked parts of Delhi earlier this year. “The release of the two publications provided fresh impetus to the establishment to harass and intimidate Amnesty International India through its investigative agencies,” the organisation said in a statement.