In what will come as a huge shock to human rights campaigners in the country, Amnesty International has decided to close down its India operations. The decision is said to have been triggered by continued denial to the Amnesty International Foundation of the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) registration by the Government of India. In its letter dated March 25 to the country offices, Amnesty International India said it was sorry to inform them of its closure shortly. “Our office is closing down shortly and the activities, events, campaigns initiated by the India office will remain suspended till further notice,” said the letter, adding that everyone working in AII office would be relieved by March 31.
The AII blamed the decision of closure on the Government of India’s denial of FCRA registration to the Foundation, which makes it difficult for the international NGO to sustain its India operations.
“The Government of India continues to deny the FCRA registration to the AI India Foundation and our local resources are very insufficient for our survival,” says the AII letter, adding that Amnesty International was exploring all possible, legal, sustainable options to continue with its activities in India in future.
“As soon as we have some positive developments in this regard, we will once again establish our office and activities locally. In the meantime, all the AI India activities, campaigns, programmes and membership activism will be coordinated by the AI secretariat, London,” said AII officials here in the capital.
Significant here is a recall of the recent statement of UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who was not happy with India’s lackluster attitude on the opening of UN Human Rights Council office in the country. She had met with the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, asking him to open her office in India, but had said the government did not show “instant alacrity on the matter.”
“A country which claims to have a strong democratic tradition and a good record of human right should have no fear of having our office here,” Pillay had said in an interview to The Tribune.
Aditi Tandon, Tribune News Service, New Delhi, March 27