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British PM must raise issues of "fevered crackdown on critics in India" during talks with Modi: Amnesty International

UK protest against Modi
By Our Representative
On the first day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to London, top human rights organization Amnesty International has said that his British counterpart David Cameron needs to do “more than unfurl the red carpet for yet another world leader.” Allan Hogarth, Head of Policy at Amnesty UK, said, “Cameron must raise some red flags on human rights concerns, too.”
“It’s all the more important that Cameron speaks out on human rights during the visit, as there’s not much space for criticism in Modi’s India”, Hogarth said, adding, “There’s a fevered crackdown on critics underway in India at the moment. NGOs and activists face multiple obstructions to carrying out their work, including being subjected to smear campaigns, having their funding cut off and being accused of being anti-national.”
Hogarth said, “Over 10,000 organisations have been ‘de-registered’ over the last year to prevent them from receiving foreign funding, and just last week Greenpeace had its license to operate cancelled. Cameron should speak out for the people Modi is so intent on silencing and make it clear that how a country treats its NGOs is a litmus test for their international standing.”
Amnesty said, “India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) requires organisations that receive funding from overseas to seek prior approval from the government. The law is used to harass and target organisations.”
It added, “In 2015, the Ministry of Home Affairs cancelled the FCRA registration of thousands of NGOs for allegedly violating provisions of the law. The government’s most prominent target has been Greenpeace India, but over 10,000 other organisations have also been ‘de-registered’.”
Amnesty noted, “In July 2014, the government restricted Greenpeace India’s international funding, claiming that its activities were ‘detrimental to the national interest’,”, adding, “In April the government ordered Greenpeace India’s bank accounts to be frozen and suspended its FCRA registration on the grounds that its activities had prejudicially affected the public interest and economic interest of the State.”
The human rights organization particularly took strong exception to how last Friday, “following a sustained attack on their operations, harassment of their staff and a string of obstructions to their work, Greenpeace’s license to operate in India was withdrawn.”
Giving latest examples of harassment, Amnesty said, “Journalist Santosh Yadav is facing a charge of ‘sedition’, (encouraging disaffection towards the government) a charge which has been levelled against journalists and activists in India. He was arrested in September in the conflict-torn state of Chhattisgarh in central India, on what Amnesty International believes are fabricated charges.”
Yadav, said Amnesty, “was targeted because of his investigatory journalism exposing police brutality against Adivasis (indigenous communities). He has been charged under laws, which the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders has called for the repeal of.”
Referring to the “targeting” of well-known human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, Amnesty said, her organization, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which has been “seeking justice for the victims and survivors of violence in the state of Gujarat in 2002, when an outbreak of violence led to the killing of at least 1044 people, mostly Muslims”, has been called “a threat to national security and dragged through the courts.”

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