Amnesty International ceases operations in India in the wake of new restrictions

Amnesty International has ended its operations in India after the Indian government froze its bank accounts.

Rajat Khosla, Amnesty's senior director of research, advocacy and policy, told the BBC, "We are facing a rather unprecedented situation in India. Amnesty International India has been facing an onslaught of attacks, bullying and harassment by the government in a very systematic manner. This is all down to the human rights work that we were doing and the government not wanting to answer questions we raised.”

This comes just as the Indian government has passed a new bill in parliament called The Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA). The Voluntary Action Network India (VANI), a body of Indian voluntary organisations, has said the bill will make it virtually impossible for NGOs to function. The bill includes restrictions on permitted expenses for an NGO and on collaborations between different NGOs. VANI calls it a “major blow”.

Open Doors local partner Heena* says “Considering that most of the Christian organisations and churches are registered as NGOs, this new bill is targeted especially at Christian mission organisations which had been operating for a long time in coalition with international churches and organisations, and often get its funding from outside India.”

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According to national news site TheHindu.com, there are currently almost 22,500 NGOs registered under the FCRA. However, because of the limited domestic philanthropy initiatives, “guidelines that criminalise activities of even those certified as FCRA compliant, thousands of small NGOs which enable good work and are dependent on legal funds obtained internationally, will shut down, also endangering livelihoods of those dependent on them for a vocation.”

Open Doors local partner Heena* says “Considering that most of the Christian organisations and churches are registered as NGOs, this new bill is targeted especially at Christian mission organisations which had been operating for a long time in coalition with international churches and organisations, and often get its funding from outside India.”

Please Pray

Open Doors works through local church partners in India, and is therefore not directly affected.

However, our local church partners continue to need our prayers as they face the new level of scrutiny this bill creates. Heena says, “Please pray for the mission organisations and churches in India which are mostly registered as NGOs. The government alleges that the grants they receive are used in fraudulent conversions to Christianity and are seeking different means to stop them functioning.”

 

*Name changed for security reasons

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