Amnesty International says government forced halt to operations in India

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Sept. 29 (UPI) — Amnesty International announced Tuesday that it will halt operations in India after the government in New Delhi froze the human rights organization’s financial accounts there.

The group complained that officials targeted the accounts as part of a campaign to silence criticism and create a climate of fear in India.

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“This is an egregious and shameful act by the Indian government, which forces us to cease the crucial human rights work of Amnesty International India for now,” Julie Verhaar, acting Amnesty International secretary-general, said in a statement.

“However, this does not mark the end of our firm commitment to, and engagement in, the struggle for human rights in India. We will be working resolutely to determine how Amnesty International can continue to play our part within the human rights movement in India for years to come.”

Amnesty has been critical of the New Delhi government, including accusations of police complicity in protesters’ deaths earlier this year and scrutiny over its crackdown in Jammu and Kashmir.

New Delhi called Amnesty’s response “unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth,” and said the group is being investigated for breaking finance laws.

“All the glossy statements about humanitarian work and speaking truth to power are nothing but a ploy to divert attention from their activities which were in clear contravention of laid down Indian laws,” the government said in a statement.

“Amnesty is free to continue humanitarian work in India, as is being done by many other organizations. However, India, by settled law, does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations.”

“No laws have been broken,” Verhaar said. “It is a dismal day when a country of India’s stature … so brazenly seeks to silence those who pursue accountability and justice.”

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