Why Amnesty Got The Heat In Hong Kong Russia And India
Amnesty International recently announced its closure in Hong Kong owing to the strict measures implemented by China recently. However, this is not the first time that it has faced problem in a country, with its operations being previously halted in Russia and India. In that light, let’s take a look at what happened with the organization in these countries.
Crux of the Matter
Closed In Hong Kong
On 25th October, Amnesty International announced the closure of its Hong Kong offices by 2021 end. It cited the Hong Kong National Security Law behind the move, which was brought by China in June 2020.
China had brought the law after mass Hong Kong protests in 2019 against the extradition Bill. The law curbs rights in name of ‘secession’, ‘terrorism’, etc, with vague definitions and ironically allows extradition to China. Besides Hong Kong, Amnesty has shut its offices only in 2 countries: Russia and India.
What Is Amnesty Though?
Amnesty was founded in 1961 by the British lawyer Peter Benenson. It has 2 million members and 5 million activists worldwide. In 1977, it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
We help fight abuses of human rights worldwide. We bring torturers to justice. Change oppressive laws. And free people jailed just for voicing their opinion.
Close Down In Russia
In November 2016, the Amnesty office in Moscow was sealed. Moscow city Department cited delay in Amnesty’s rent, but the latter claimed it had documents to show the contrary. Analysts claim that Amnesty’s criticism of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime was the motive behind the move.
The move had been coming, as in 2012, Russia had passed a law which registered NGOs getting funds from abroad as “foreign agents”. Such NGOs were audited ‘more closely’ by the Government. In 2016, another law was passed, which allowed Government to “register any organisation as “undesirable”, which further restricted their functioning.
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In September 2020, Amnesty announced that it has halted its work in India. It cited “complete freezing of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts by the Government of India’’ as the reason for halting its work. The organisation accused the Indian Government of “incessant witch-hunt” over its coverage of human rights violation by the State.
Indian Government’s Response
Indian Government claimed that Amnesty had got permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) only once, which was in 2000. It ‘circumvented’ FCRA by getting money from Amnesty UK to 4 entities registered in India under Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Not The First Time
Amnesty's tryst with India was not its first with the country. In 2009 too, Amnesty had suspended operations in India. It had then claimed that since 2006, the Indian Government had dismissed its application for getting funds from Amnesty UK twice, which left it out of money.
Supporters of the organisation have backed its work regarding human rights and challenging authoritarianism around the world. Critics, on the other hand, claim that it is an extension of Western imperialism and interferes in affairs of other countries while having one-sided coverage.
Established in 1978, Human Rights Watch is a non-profit, non-governmental human rights organisation. It was formerly known as “Helsinki Watch”.