Amnesty closes India office after sedition charges

The India branch of Amnesty International (AI) temporarily closed its office Aug. 17 after the organization was accused of sedition and anti-India sentiments. The accusations arose after AI promoted a human rights seminar in Kashmir, focusing on alleged human rights abuses carried out by the Indian security forces. AI responded to the accusations by stating that the accusations "are preventing the families of victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir from having their stories heard. And preventing civil society organisations from enabling these families to exercise their constitutional right to justice."

Kashmir has been a subject of international concern for several month. Also Aug. 17 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein expressed his concerns regarding Indian and Pakistani authorities refusing to allow the Human Rights Council access to Kashmir. Pakistani Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz last month announced his country's intention to ask the UN Human Rights Council to send a fact-finding mission to India-controlled Kashmir following recent civil unrest in the disputed region. Pakistan accused India of human rights violations after a clash between the Indian army and pro-independence rebels, which led to the death of militant commander Burhan Wani of the group Hizbul Mujahideen. Continued unrest following the clash preceded the use of force on which Pakistan now seeks Human Rights Council action.

From Jurist, Aug. 19. Used with permission.

Note: The accusation against Amnesty was made by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), an activist arm of the Hindu-nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which has rallied around anti-Muslim extremists and is rooted in classical fascism.

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