UK, EU, Global Rights Groups Flay Modi Govt for Crackdown on Amnesty India



The British government said that it was raising the Amnesty issue with the Indian government through diplomatic channels

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – The shutdown of human rights group Amnesty India has evoked concerns in the international community with the United Kingdom, the European Union, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and 15 global rights groups criticising the Narendra Modi government over shrinking spaces for the civil society in the country.

On Tuesday, Amnesty India announced that it had halted its operations of upholding human rights in India because of continued crackdown against the rights group by the Modi regime. The British government said that it was raising the Amnesty issue with the Indian government through diplomatic channels.

“The UK’s Minister for South Asia and our Acting High Commiss-ioner in New Delhi met Indian government representatives after Amnesty International India’s accounts were frozen, to emphasise the importance of organisations like this being able to continue their work. The UK is seeking further information on recent decisions affecting Amnesty and believes the freedom of civil society organisations to operate underpins any functioning democracy,” British High Commission spokesperson was quoted by Indian Express as saying.

European Union’s spokesperson Nabila Massarali on Wednesday tweeted: “EU highly values work of @Amnesty & hopes this will be resolved allowing @AIIndia ‘ (Amnesty India)’s activities to continue w/o interruption. We have & will express our concerns & expectations w/ Indian interlocutors. We are committed to protecting & empowering civic actors/#HumanRights defenders”.

Nabila shared Amnesty EU’s tweet over the shutdown of Amnesty India in which it complained that the European Union was missing in action even as human rights groups were under attack in India.

In a tweet, US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also expressed concerns over the shutdown of Amnesty India.

Apart from these concerns, 15 international human rights groups on Wednesday issued a joint statement condemning the government action against Amnesty India.

“The Indian government’s actions against Amnesty India are part of increasingly repressive tactics to shut down critical voices and groups working to promote, protect, and uphold fundamental rights,” they said.

They refuted the charges levelled by the government against Amnesty by calling them “politically-motivated” and “maliciously-activated”.

“The BJP government has increasingly cracked down on civil society, harassing and bringing politically-motivated cases against human rights defenders, academics, student activists, journalists, and others critical of the government under sedition, terrorism, and other repressive laws,” the rights groups said.

They said the government’s actions against the dissenters, human rights defenders and groups mimicked the authoritarian regimes which were hell-bent to silence the critics, and the authorities have used the controversial Foreign Regulation Contribution Act to target the groups critical to the government.

“A robust, independent, and vocal civil society is indispensable in any democracy to ensure a check on government and to hold it accountable, pushing it to do better. Instead of treating human rights groups as its enemies, the government should work with them to protect the rights of all people and ensure accountability at all levels of government,” they noted.

The 15 international groups, who are signatory to this statement, are the Association for Progressive Communications, Global Indian Progressive Alliance, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Front Line Defenders, FORUM-ASIA, Foundation the London Story, Hindus for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, International Service for Human Rights, Minority Rights Group, Odhikar, South Asians for Human Rights, and World Organisation Against Torture in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

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