Republican Sen. Cory Gardner blasts India for banning NGO Compassion International

Rex Tillerson said he will look into the issue.

Republican Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado blasted India over the banning of Christian Charity Compassion International at the confirmation hearing for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Gardner put the blame squarely on the Indian government for the closure of Compassion International’s operations in India and asked Tillerson to look the ‘Ill treatment” of the NGO which has faced “multiple coordinated attacks” and get its license restored.

“Since 2014, Compassion (International) has been the target of multiple coordinated governmental attacks because of its unapologetically Christian belief, but it has been delivering humanitarian services to hundreds of thousands of Indian children,” Gardner said, at the hearing, on Wednesday.

“But due to restrictions by the Indian government, they have been unable to fund its India operation since February of 2016, despite having broken no laws. I believe the State Department should take notice that this ill treatment of Compassion International should stop, and it is part of a broader pattern by the government of India, where other NGOs have seen similar problems,” he said.

Last month, India’s home ministry said it is unlikely to reconsider its decision banning the US-based donor from funding Indian NGOs notwithstanding consistent appeals by American authorities, reported PTI.

The NGO was put under ‘prior permission category’ in May last. When a donor organization is put under this category, it is barred from funding any Indian NGO without the nod from the government.

Gardner said the State Department should insist India release Compassion International funds, restore its Foreign Contribution (regulation) Act (FCRA) licenses and permit Compassion to immediately resume its humanitarian operations.

“We would just appreciate your assistance on that. This is a pattern that is very disturbing as an organization that does nothing more than try to help children in poverty,” he said.

Responding to the question, Tillerson, however, did not make any commitment and said, “Senator, I appreciate you bringing it to my attention and look forward, if I am confirmed, to discussing it further with you”.

Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported Gardner and said the House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ed Royce is also very concerned about this issue.

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