A joint statement by 15 International organizations including Human Rights Watch has been released, condemning the Forced closure of Amnesty India.
"Amnesty International India announced that it is halting its work in the country after the Indian government froze its bank accounts in an act of reprisal for the organization's human rights work. Fifteen international human rights organizations condemned the Indian government's actions against Amnesty India and pledged to continue support for local human rights defenders and organizations against the recent crackdown" - the Statement reads.
The organisations that have condemned the action of the Government of India are Association for Progressive Communications, Global Indian Progressive Alliance, International Commission of Jurists, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), 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 (SAHR), and World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).
Further, the statement stipulates that the "Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has accused Amnesty India of violating laws on foreign funding," a charge which the group says is "politically motivated and constitutes evidence that the overbroad legal framework is maliciously activated when human rights defenders and groups challenge the government's grave inactions and excesses".
In this backdrop, the statement stipulates:
"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".
Condemning the aforesaid crackdown, the statement reads that these actions "increasingly mimic that of authoritarian regimes", which do not tolerate any criticism and shamelessly target those who dare to speak out. "With growing criticism of the government's discriminatory policies and attacks on the rule of law, the authorities seem more interested in shooting the messenger than addressing the grievances. Women's rights activists and indigenous and minority human rights defenders have been especially vulnerable. The recent action against Amnesty India highlights the stepped-up pressure and violence felt by local defenders on the ground, regardless of their profile," it adds.
Furthermore, it is states that 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.
In conclusion, the statements says that 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.
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