Amnesty India’s Executive Director Aakar Patel in a statement on Friday accused the government authorities of increasingly treating human rights organisations like “criminal enterprises”.
Patel’s statement comes following Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) raids at the Amnesty International’s office in Bengaluru yesterday.
“We could not agree more with the Prime Minister when he says that periods of repression, like during the Emergency, have left a stain on India’s history. Sadly, those dark days are now casting a shadow over India again. Instead of protecting human rights, as it vowed to do, the government is now targeting the people who fight for them,” read his statement.
“Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance and dissent,” Patel added.
Venting anger over the government for its move, Patel said: “Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping our work.”
Giving out clarification on the ED raids, he stated, “Most of the documents asked for during the search were available in the public domain or were already filed with the relevant authorities. Details of our current structure, which was the focus of much of the questioning, have been available on our website since 2014. However, ahead of the raids, the Indian authorities leaked a cache of their internal documents marked secret that appear to cast Amnesty India’s operations as a dark web of intrigue.”
In his concluding remarks, the Executive Director of Amnesty India said, “Over 40 lakh Indians have supported Amnesty India’s work over the last six years and around 1 lakh Indians have made financial contribution.”