Amnesty International said Tuesday it has suspended its Indian operations after its bank accounts were frozen in what it called a government “witch-hunt” against rights groups.
Non-governmental organizations have long alleged they face harassment from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration for highlighting rights abuses, including in restive Indian-administered Kashmir.
Amnesty said that it came to know on September 10 that its Indian bank accounts were frozen, forcing it to let go of staff and pause all 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,” the group said in a statement.
“Treating human rights organizations like criminal enterprises and dissenting individuals as criminals without any credible evidence is a deliberate attempt… to stoke a climate of fear and dismantle the critical voices in India,” said Avinash Kumar, Amnesty India’s executive director.
“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,” he said in the statement. AFP