NEW DELHI: Amnesty International on Tuesday said it is halting all its activities in India due to freezing of its accounts and claimed that it is being subjected to an "incessant witch-hunt" over unfounded and motivated allegations.
Amnesty India, in a statement, said the organisation has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work.
The complete freezing of Amnesty International India's bank accounts by the Indian government which it came to know on 10 September 2020 brings all the work being done by the organisation to a grinding halt, it said.
However, the government has said that Amnesty has been receiving foreign funds illegally.
In 2018, the Enforcement Directorate had carried out searches at the headquarters of Amnesty International in Bangalore.
The raids were conducted for an alleged violation of the foreign exchange act.
The organisation claimed that the attacks on Amnesty International India and other outspoken human rights organisations, activists and human rights defenders are only an extension of the various "repressive policies and sustained assault by the government on those who speak truth to power".
"This is latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations," Amnesty International India said.
Amnesty International India said it stands in full compliance with all applicable Indian and international laws, adding that for human rights work in the country, it operates through a distinct model of raising funds domestically.
"More than four million Indians have supported Amnesty International India's work in the last eight years and around 100,000 Indians have made financial contributions," the organisation said.
These contributions evidently cannot have any relation with the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 and the fact that the "government is now portraying this lawful fundraising model as money-laundering is evidence that the overbroad legal framework is maliciously activated when human rights activists and groups challenge the government's grave inactions and excesses", it alleged.
"Treating human rights organisations like criminal enterprises and dissenting individuals as criminals without any credible evidence is a deliberate attempt by the Enforcement Directorate and Government of India to stoke a climate of fear and dismantle the critical voices in India," Avinash Kumar, the executive director of Amnesty International India, said.
It said the attack on Amnesty International India and other outspoken human rights organisations, activists and human rights defenders was an extension of the government's repressive policies.
"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 and international human rights law," said the statement.
"Instead, as a global power and a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, India must fearlessly welcome calls for accountability and justice," the statement released by the organization added.
(With PTI Inputs)