India – The New York Times reports that a Christian charity organization, Compassion International, has permanently shut down its operations in India. This follows the government’s mission to close all charities suspected to contravene with the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. According to this act, charities are not allowed to receive foreign funds without government’s permission.
Western funders have been barred from transferring funds to Indian charities without permission from the government. India amended its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act in 2011. This is seen as an attempt by the Indian government to regulate charities.
Other major foreign-backed organizations, like Greenpeace India, have also come under fire. The Indian ministry is quoted by the Daily Mail: “The charity has come to adverse notice for its undesirable activities aimed to affect prejudicially harmony between religious, racial, social, linguistic, regional groups, castes or communities.”
To date, about 11000 charity organizations lost their licenses since Prime Minister Narendra Mondi took office in 2014. Mondi was banned by the United States because of alleged religious freedom violations.
Tweet this: Compassion International and other charity organizations have experienced governmental intimidation
The Indian government accuses the organization’s executives of being involved in funding religious conversions. The executives vehemently deny this and ask government to grant them an opportunity to prove their innocence in court.
Apparently, income tax investigators raided the offices of charity organizations suspected to be linked to Compassion International. The investigators were looking for evidence that funds were being used to convert Indian families. Compassion International and other charity organizations have experienced governmental intimidation and persecution.
At least 145 000 children are now helpless
Compassion International began operating in India in 1968. Many families have depended on its services for years. The organization distributed about $50 million per year in humanitarian aid. The closure leaves its 580 staff without jobs and 145 000 children without any care. The US director Tim Glenn says: “This is a huge turning point in Compassion’s history. We’re looking at a clear 8 to 9 percent of our ministry possibly being shut down all at once.”
In November 2016, about $600,000 in donations remained in an Indian bank account following government’s refusal to approve foreign funds. As if that was not enough, Indian bureaucrats refused to renew foreign funding licenses for Compassion and another 24 organizations.
Compassion International CEO Santiago Mellado
Santiago Mellado writes about one of the children impacted by the shutdown. A sixteen-year-old girl Rinki, whose family cannot afford basic needs such as food, clean water, clothing and shelter.
“She has discovered a sense of purpose and hope, that life is more than merely surviving. Today she and her family are thriving. Thanks to a special monetary donation from a family in Tennessee, Rinki’s father developed a business as an independent fisherman and now provides a sustainable livelihood for his wife and children”,he writes.
When speaking to the New York Times he said: “What we hear from our friends in India is that it would be tragic if they were successful in shutting down Compassion, because that would leave other ministries very vulnerable.”
Where does the government stand?
A foreign ministry official spoke to the New York Times on the condition of anonymity and said that Compassion International’s partners were violating Indian law by engaging in religious activities.
The Indian government is providing no recourse for Compassion and other organizations to appeal.
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