Thursday, July 09, 2015

Deportation of human rights activist: Amnesty is "as opaque as Ministry of Home Affairs", charges senior researcher

Christine Mehta
By Our Representative
A senior activist-researcher Ramesh Gopalakrishnan has questioned premier human rights organisation Amnesty International's silence over the deportation of one of its ex-seniors-most activists Christine Mehta, a US citizen and person of Indian origin, from India in November last year. Mehta was instrumental in authoring the by now well-known Amnesty report "Denied" on human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).
The report was released on July 1. Ever since she was deported to US, she is out the Amnesty fold. Strongly critical of Amnesty's ways, Gopalakrishnan believes, it was Amnesty's duty to stand by Mehta, which it has not. A product of Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, who decided to be human rights activist and was with Amnesty till April 2014, Gopalakrishnan is independent London-based researcher and a visiting faculty at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai conducting an elective on human rights. 
Qualifying the report prepared under Mehta on J&K "meticulously-researched", Gopalakrishnan recalls how it enumerates the "systemic denial or blocking of official permission to prosecute armed forces or paramilitary personnel in 50-odd cases of human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture."
So deep is the research that "it would be impossible for India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to deny the report’s details", Gopalakrishnan points out. Anticipating what was coming, she was asked to leave India in November 2014 impounding her "Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card", with the passport having "an exit stamp which renders her future visits to India impossible". Currently, the situation is such that  her "contract with the organization she worked for also came to an abrupt end" (click HERE).
"Mehta’s induced guilt is about having carried out substantial research on the human rights situation in Kashmir for which she had visited the valley several times during 2012-2014", Gopalakrishnan says, adding, "In Mehta’s case, this induced guilt becomes her own and the modern organization she had worked for does not appear to have any guilt about her current situation!"
"One wonders if the modern organization’s mind is as opaque as that of the MHA which ordered her deportation", Gopalakrishnan says, questioning Amnesty's ways, adding, her case reflects on "the Indian national office of the world’s biggest human rights outfit, Amnesty International, which claims to have over seven million supporters standing up against the violations of the world’s governments and the abuses of corporate giants."
Quoting Mehta, Gopalakrishnan says, her "induced guilt" comes from the fact that there was "no permission from the MHA for her, as a PIO status-holder, to visit the valley for business or work purposes", adding, "Such permission is deemed necessary as per India’s visa rules, but she admits that neither she nor Amnesty International’s Indian national office had sought this permission."
Asks Gopalakrishnan, "Does it really matter that Mehta is a foreign national? No, it is amply clear that the violations in Kashmir or any other place remain the same whether or they are researched by an Indian or a foreign national who uses the framework of international human rights law."
An Amnesty insider, Gopalakrishan says, "Our plea that the research on Kashmir should be done by Indian nationals fell on deaf ears". He adds, When Amnesty International’s India national office asked Mehta to do the research on Kashmir, "it ticked off our warning that her visa status could be jeopardized." Yet she was "sent her to Kashmir several times, as a consequence of which, "she has had to face deportation" and is "unable to visit India even to meet her family."

No comments: