Aaron Gray-Block was on his way to meetings in India when immigration officials stopped him at the New Delhi airport on Saturday night and put him on a flight to Kuala Lumpur without explanation, the campaign group alleged.
Environmental group Greenpeace on Monday said India had barred an Australian staff member who had valid travel documents, a move it called part of a wider crackdown on the group, which is embroiled in a legal battle with the government.
His passport was seized and only returned to him once he had landed in the Malaysian capital, the environmental group said in a statement. “Our colleague has a valid business visa, and yet he was prevented from entering India with no reason given,” Divya Raghunandan, programme director of Greenpeace India, said adding, “We are forced to wonder if all international staff of Greenpeace will now be prevented from entering the country?”
Home ministry spokesman KS Dhatwalia said officials were looking into the matter after seeing media reports on it.
A senior official of the home ministry, who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak on the record, said the ministry would question the immigration officials to learn why they blocked entry.
The central government refused entry to Greenpeace staff even after the Delhi High Court allowed the group to gather domestic donations and use some bank accounts frozen by the home ministry.
In April the home ministry blocked foreign funds in seven Greenpeace bank accounts, saying the group had misreported foreign funds and spent unaccounted money to obstruct developmental projects.
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power his right-wing nationalist government has tightened surveillance on foreign-funded charities.
It says some international charities violated the law by not disclosing details of donations, or used overseas money to fund “anti-national” activities.
Greenpeace workers, who have campaigned against coal mines in forests, genetically modified crops, nuclear power and toxic waste management, say their activism does not hurt the economy and they are determined to continue.
Previously, Greenpeace India activist Priya Pillai was prevented from travelling to London to voice her concerns against a project run by a multinational coal company in eastern India.
A court last month ordered authorities to unfreeze some of Greenpeace’s accounts, handing the group a lifeline after it faced closure of its local operations.– Reuters
Campaign on Twitter
On June 8, the account of Greenpeace India tweeted an appeal asking supporters to tell India’s Home Ministry to “stop the clampdown on us and uphold our democratic values”.
— Greenpeace India (@greenpeaceindia) June 8, 2015
Greenpeace’s full statement on this matter can be read here