At a press conference today, Executive Director Samit Aich read out an emotional letter written by his staff, who have promised to work without pay in June. He also revealed that other civil society groups have offered logistical support such as office space if needed.
At the event, Samit Aich said: “Over the past few weeks we have seen an incredible surge in support for Greenpeace India. 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.
“Today my staff sent me a very moving letter in which they promised to work without pay for one month. I hope it will not come to this and my staff and their families avoid this hardship. But if necessary, we are able to keep the basic functions of Greenpeace India running until the end of June.”
The letter from Greenpeace India staff can be viewed at http://bit.ly/
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.”
On Tuesday, May 26, 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.
Aich continued: “We are confident in our case and are hopeful that the court will grant us relief on Tuesday. 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.”
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.”