Human rights organization Amnesty International announced Tuesday that it is ceasing its work in India due to the complete freeze of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts by the Indian government.
On September 10 the organization was alerted that all of its bank accounts were frozen by the Ministry of Finance’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) because of money-laundering. According to Amnesty International India, the organization complies with all applicable Indian and international laws. The organization stated that its funds came from financial contributions by around 100,000 Indians, which would have no connection with the 2010 Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
In October 2018 Amnesty International India was raided by officers of the ED. Following the raid, the ED froze Amnesty International India’s bank accounts. This led the organization to let staff members go, adversely affecting their work. Following this, the ED allegedly began a smear campaign against Amnesty, selectively leaking documents to government-aligned media outlets.
In 2019 the Department of Income Tax sent letters to regular Amnesty donors. Although there were no irregularities found, this discouraged Amnesty’s fundraising campaign. There was also another raid of Amnesty International India in November.
According to Executive Director of Amnesty International India Avinash Kumar:
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 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.
Because of the bank freeze, Amnesty International India has been forced to cease work in India.