AHEAD OF THE EU-INDIA LEADERS’ MEETING, Amnesty International has called on EU leaders to urge India to protect the rights to life and health, and to raise the alarm about the crackdown on dissent being carried out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Amnesty is also calling on the EU to ensure India has sufficient medical oxygen, to support the scaling up of the production and supply of Covid-19 vaccines, and to drop its opposition to the proposed temporary waiver of certain intellectual property provisions of the TRIPS Agreement.

Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office, said: “What is unfolding in India is tragic on many levels. Patients have been left without oxygen, those caring for them are working in unsafe conditions, and those exposing the authorities’ failures are silenced and even arbitrarily detained.

“An intolerance of dissent has been a hallmark of Prime Minister Modi’s time in office – we expect EU leaders to demand that India live up to their shared values, and deliver on its human rights commitments.

“At a time when the Indian government should be supporting and encouraging all civil society actors to work together to address the country’s problems, especially aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, it has chosen to attack, repress, detain and silence those who dare to criticise his government. The time to change course is now.”

The Indian authorities continue to attack the rights to freedom of expression and of association. Hundreds of human rights defenders have been harassed, intimidated and detained for their peaceful activism. In September last year, Amnesty International India was forced to halt its operations after its accounts were frozen by the authorities. Amnesty International India appears to have been targeted because of its human rights work.

On 6 May, Amnesty International Portugal held a vigil outside the meeting venue, lighting one candle for every person who signed the petition to EU leaders to protect human rights in India amid the Covid-19 crisis

Pedro A. Neto, Executive Director of Amnesty International Portugal, said; “Inspired by Gandhi’s dream, in the face of the dark days that India is experiencing, including attacks on freedom of expression and obstacles to enjoy the right to health, we lit a candle in the darkness.

“We want, silently and peacefully, to challenge the repression, persecution and imprisonment of all the people who today are continuing this dream of an India where human rights are enjoyed by all.”

The EU must boost their action for the rights to life and health in India by building on EU support for ACT-A (Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator) and COVAX (Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access), to ensure that India has sufficient medical oxygen and to support the scaling up of the production and supply of vaccines.

The EU should also use the meeting to demonstrate global solidarity and drop opposition to the proposed temporary waiver of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for Covid-19 products as proposed by India and South Africa and now co-sponsored by 60 countries, and to support the sharing of open and non-exclusive licences through the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (CTAP).

* Source: Amnesty International