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Human rights organisations shut down by Modi's increasingly authoritarian government

Human rights organisations shut down by Modi's increasingly authoritarian government

Human rights organisations shut down by Modi's increasingly authoritarian government

In forcing Amnesty International to close its doors, the government declared war on civil society

As India, like most of the world, remains preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic, an even more alarming lockdown is silently taking place as the government cracks down on human rights organisations.

Amnesty International, the world’s leading advocacy organisation on human rights issues, was forced to close its offices in India in September 2020 after what it described as “an incessant witch-hunt”.

It happened quietly, like the imprisonment of so many activists who are still being held in prison without trial, from poet Varavara Rao to Jesuit priest Stan Swamy – both men in their eighties who have spent a lifetime peacefully defending the downtrodden. But it is a sign of how far Modi’s government is prepared to go to repress dissent and extend its authoritarian control.

A senior director of Amnesty told the BBC: “Amnesty International India has been facing an onslaught of attacks, bullying and harassment by the government in a very systematic manner.” Its bank accounts were frozen, and it was forced to suspend its research and campaigning.

Amnesty has only stopped operating in a country once before – in Russia in 2016 for one month. For this to happen in India, with no prospect of reopening in the near future, is shocking.

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