Photo: Public Eye Spoof 2013 for Coal India, via sehroiber / Flickr (CC BY-NC).
Support surge gives Greenpeace India new lease of life
21st May 2015
Greenpeace India is to fight on for another month after a surge of support from allies, new donors and staff, who have pledged to work through June for no pay after the Indian government blocked its bank accounts.
The attack on Greenpeace is, by extension, an attack on civil society and free speech across India. We stand together with our allies at Greenpeace India and are ready to do whatever we can to help them survive.
Greenpeace India will keep on campaigning thanks to a surge in support from friends, allies and employees.
The group had previously expected to close down on 1st June, when its funds were due to expire, but it now plans to keep going through the entire month.
At a press conference today, Executive Director Samit Aich read out an emotional letter written by his staff, who wrote:
"We want to reaffirm our passion and commitment towards the environment and for this organization. As part of our country, we want inclusive and sustainable development. That means playing a part in preserving our forests, keeping our air clean and our food safe.
"We’re aware that we’re going through a financial crisis, but we want to assure you that we’re in this together. We’d like to pledge to continue our work for at least a month, without pay, starting June 1.
"We realize that this will place a strain on our finances and our personal commitments, but we’re determined to work through it. We will look out for and support each other in all ways ...
"This is not just about us but also about our friends and allies across India who are facing or may face similar situations. We believe that our environment is something worth fighting for together and we are happy to do this. Whatever happens over the next few weeks, we know that the spirit of Greenpeace India will survive."
Other civil society groups have also offered logistical support such as office space if needed.
'An incredible surge of support'
"Over the past few weeks we have seen an incredible surge in support for Greenpeace India", said Aich. "I am deeply humbled by the offers we have received from our allies in civil society, as well as many thousands of supporters across the country."
Over 30,000 supporters have now signed a petition to the MHA, calling on the home minister to end the crackdown on civil society groups and unfreeze Greenpeace India's accounts.
Samit Aich also invited Greenpeace supporters from around the world to sign an open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, urging him to lend his voice in support of free speech in India. In an email to supporters, Aich writes:
"I'm asking for thousands of people around the world to join me in standing up for Greenpeace India and speaking up for freedom."
Next week on Tuesday 26th May the Delhi High Court will hear Greenpeace India's writ petition, which challenged the suspension of its FCRA license and the block on its national and international bank accounts. Greenpeace says it has great faith in the Indian judicial system and is hoping for a positive outcome.
"We are confident in our case and are hopeful that the court will grant us relief on Tuesday", Aich continued. "But the wheels of justice can take time, and we need to make sure we don't disappear completely in the next few weeks. This plan enables us to do that."
'The attack on Greenpeace is an attack on us all'
Also attending the press conference in support of Greenpeace India was Willy D'Costa from Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF). He said: "This unconstitutional clampdown on dissenters in this country must stop.
"And on behalf of the rest of the civil society organisations, I would say that we are all prepared to take on the government and extend our support to Greenpeace India, even if it means a bout of arbitrary penalties for us as well. We are willing to offer our office and desk space to Greenpeace India's staff if needed."
A coalition of eminent individuals and civil society organisations from Chennai, including the People's Union for Civil Liberties and social activist Gnani Sankaran said:
"The attack on Greenpeace is, by extension, an attack on civil society and free speech across India. We stand together with our allies at Greenpeace India and are ready to do whatever we can to help them survive.
"Some of us can offer financial support, some will lend a hand in other ways. All of us are determined to show the Ministry of Home Affairs that we are unified and we stand together. India's freedom is our great strength, and we will not stand aside and let the Government undermine our great democratic tradition."
Background on The Ecologist: 'Indian government sanctions Greenpeace to send a menacing message' by Praful Bidwai.
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