Human rights organisation Amnesty International India on Tuesday announced that it will be shutting its operations in the country after it was “compelled to let go off staff in India” and halt all its research work as all its bank accounts have been frozen.
The rather shocking news came a month after the organisation accused the Delhi police of complicity in the riots that broke out in the national capital in February. Around the same time, the organisation estimated that India had the highest number of deaths of health workers due to coronavirus.
This is not the first time that the international human rights organisation has faced problems with the Indian government.
Avinash Kumar, Executive Director, Amnesty International India said the continuing crackdown on the organisation over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is “not accidental”.
In October 2018, Amnesty International India was raided by the Enforcement Directorate. The residence of a director was also raided. After the raid, the bank accounts were also frozen by the ED. Amnesty is being investigated by the probe agency over alleged irregularities in receiving foreign funds. According to the home ministry, the human rights organisation "got money into India through the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) route" which is not allowed in the case of non-profits.
But India is not the only country that has had a rough history with Amnesty. In fact, the organisation has got in crosshairs with the governments of several countries, especially countries with conflict situations.
However, several nations have accused Amnesty of selection bias against non-Western or those not supported by the West. Here are some nations that have objected to the work done by Amnesty.
Amnesty has long since been criticised and discredited by Israel due to its documentation and reporting on the ongoing conflict between the Jewish nation and Palestine. In 2009, it had published an annual report which condemned its treatment of Palestinian Authority Arabs. Israeli authorities claimed that the report carried half-baked research and that it reflected bias on the NGO's part which allegedly underplayed the atrocities of extremist groups like Hamas against Israel.
Democratic Republic of Congo
In 2000, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) blasted Amnesty for its annual report on the nation which alleged that the government was running a campaign and witch-hunt to suppress dissent in the country, (much like the NGO's allegations against India).
The only country, apart from India, where the Amnesty shut its office is Russia.“We operate in over 70 countries, and the only other country previously that we had been forced to shut operations in was Russia in 2016,” Rajat Khosla, Senior Director of Research and Advocacy was quoted as saying by the BBC. Amnesty International’s Moscow Office was sealed in November 2016, much to the surprise of the staff who arrived for the duty that morning.
A notice on the organisation’s Moscow said the building was “property of a city of the Russian Federation” and that nobody could enter without being accompanied by a municipal official. The locks and alarm system had been removed and the electricity supply appeared to have been cut off.
Under the guise of national security, Amnesty warned Chinese Premier Xi Jinping had enacted “serious threats” to human rights into law in 2017. President Xi had laid out China’s new policy direction for the next five years during his maiden party congress speech on the opening day of the Congress. He stressed the need to tighten supervision of party members and institutionalize anti-corruption.