To: Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Pierre James Trudeau
It is a terrible day for the world when India, the “world’s largest democracy,” forces Amnesty International to shut down its office in India. In a systematic targeted pattern of harassment, the Indian government invaded its Delhi office, beat up its volunteers, harassed its staff, launched fake cases against its leaders, and ultimately froze all bank accounts of Amnesty India, until the human rights organization had no option left but to terminate its operations and let its staff go.
This attack on the organization seems a direct reprisal for its documenting the many atrocities of the Indian government on Kashmiris and Indian Muslims attacked by Indian police in India’s capital Delhi.
This is now a well established behavior of the Indian government to avoid any reporting of its human rights abuses:
- India raided the Chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, a governmental body, at the eve of its report criticizing the impunity Indian police enjoys
- Many prominent human rights defenders for Dalit (untouchables) rights remain arbitrarily detained for ‘waging a war against the country’
- India refused entry to the United States Commission on Religious Freedom, a bi-partisan commission
- India declined 20 requests by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to access to Kashmir
- India consistently harasses human rights organizations
- Since the government often raids the human rights offices, they in fact rehearse a drill to hide confidential information of victims and whistleblowers.
Amnesty in 2019 reported that:
Human rights defenders faced huge challenges, including arbitrary arrest, detention and prosecution as a means of silencing them while freedom of expression was censored with draconian laws.
We urge the Indian Government to reinstate the bank accounts of Amnesty India and let it continue to do its important work to document and defend the human rights violations by all sides.
Human Rights Watch reports:
The authorities have repeatedly used foreign funding regulations under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), a law broadly condemned for violating international human rights law and standards, to target outspoken groups. United Nations experts on human rights defenders, on freedom of expression, and on freedom of association have urged the government to repeal the law, saying it is “being used more and more to silence organisations involved in advocating civil, political, economic, social, environmental or cultural priorities, which may differ from those backed by the Government.”