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« Scotsman fracking conference | Main | Those lovely BBC journalists »
Wednesday
Jan142015

India cracks down on greens

Hot on the heels of its decision to crack down on foreign funding for Greenpeace, the government of India has started what looks like a full-scale crackdown on green groups:

Authorities over the weekend barred a Greenpeace staff member from traveling to London to speak to British lawmakers about alleged legal and human rights violations in India by Essar, a British-registered energy company.

I'm uneasy about this. Greenpeace is certainly an organisation that has engaged in criminal behaviour in the past but not, to the best of my knowledge, in India. They certainly have a policy of using dishonesty as a tool in their campaigning. Their hypocrisy is beyond dispute. But travel bans look a bit over the top to me.

The argument of the Indian government seems to be that the greens are threatening the economic security of the country, and in some ways you can see their point. In a country with an energy supply that is far from secure and far from regular, any threat to that supply is quite possibly a matter of life and death for the people who depend on it. But does this justify travel bans and funding freezes?

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Reader Comments (78)

No it isn't reasonable. You're either a democratic nation or not. That means you tolerate religious groups and argue your position with reason.

Jan 14, 2015 at 8:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterWill Nitschke

The travel ban is not ok. If the restriction of funds is money supplied by the UN or other governmental funds yes that I approve of as I do not want by money spent on fake charities.

Jan 14, 2015 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

No. It is not justified.......but it is rather fun! Greenpeace has a record of defying the law in the interests of "saving the planet" and one could argue ,Thomas More style, that it has forfeited the protection of the law.

"This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast—man’s laws, not God’s—and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?"

Jan 14, 2015 at 8:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

"But does this justify travel bans and funding freezes?"

I think we are all concerned about the curtailment of any freedoms, but remember Greenpeace, etc al would not bat an eye to any thing that "saves the planet". The end justifies the means.

In this country they have (wih some sucess) misinformed the public, helped with increased fuel poverty, made life difficult for anyone who disagrees with them, etc.. Who knows what else they are doing? Spying on skeptics??? These things are bad enough in this country but their effect on the developing world could be much more damaging or even catastrophic!

I might feel uneasy about the actions of the Indian government but I can understand why. since economic growth is so important to India and could save millions of llives!

Jan 14, 2015 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

This would be an appropriate response to a terrorist organisation!

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

She is on bail (arrested for criminal trespass etc) and the case is going through the Indian courts. You can google it.That might be the reason why she was on a no-fly list.

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterUKIndian

I'm with Peter Whale. Banning people's freedom of movement is not compatible with democracy. In my view, at any rate.
On the other hand I would happily see any sort of taxpayer funding to Greenpeace cut off permanently and the same goes for every other organisation or group that lobbies governments, whether local, national, supranational or international.
Having policy influenced and in some cases made by groups with no democratic mandate is worrying enough without being expected to foot the bill for it as well!
At the same time if UKIndian is correct and the individual concerned is on bail for a criminal offence then refusing to allow her to leave the country is standard practice and one wonders why this has become a news item.
Except, of course, that when you are Greenpeace the normal rules (especially the rule of law) don't apply.
"Remember, folks; we're saving the planet."

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

@UKIndian

That's a good follow up. According to this source:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/priya-pillai-why-am-i-being-singled-out/article6781690.ece

"She was charged with criminal conspiracy, criminal trespass, house trespass, defacing property, unlawful assembly, cheating, and even attempted suicide."

But...

"Greenpeace sources, however, said she was released on bail and her bond did not say that she could not leave the country."

That said, travel restrictions are common for those in trouble with the law. It is not a "bond" issue. Those suspect of criminal activities are often inconvenienced when not downright assaulted (I can only speak for occidental countries here). It comes down to the "political atmosphere" in most cases (eg, Mexicans are stealing our jobs) and to very specific government officials behaving abusively for kicks in the remaining few (eg, the thug with a badge and so on).

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

No it isn't reasonable. You're either a democratic nation or not. That means you tolerate religious groups and argue your position with reason.

Will Nitschke

Yes, but what do you do when they make acts of terrorism. Greenpiss is a terrorist group albeit not as barbaric as some others.
Yes it's undemocratic but then so is Greenpiss. Goose and Gander come to mind. At least the Indians are doing something about them. The western democracies appear totally innept in that regard.

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

It's very likely - indeed almost certain - that at least some green groups in the UK have been funded by foreign governments intent on destroying UK industry and commerce in the same way that anti-nuclear protest groups were similarly funded during the cold war intending to undermine the UK's resolve to have nuclear weapons.

But the problem for these big rapidly developing nations who profit so much from these attacks against western industry as western industry moves to their countries, is that these green groups don't just attack nasty foreign industry, but sooner or later, they bite the hand that feeds them and start to attack their own economic interests at home.

So, yes whilst I support free speech, the questions that need answering are these:

1. Is it really free speech when the table is so massively slanted almost to vertical in favour of one side?
2. Can and should you support free speech when you know or at least very strongly suspect foreign governments are using these organisations as an instrument of economic warfare?

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:35 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

I bet the flight wasn't going via Lima.

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Yes this sounds like Greenpeace spin, "our poor little activist prevented from travelling on mission planet-save by beastly oppressive government" when the real story is, as UK Indian points out, authorities quite reasonably prefer to keep people facing charges in the country until trial time.

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Re: Brute

> "Greenpeace sources, however, said she was released on bail and her bond did not say that she could not leave the country."

Unless there is a trustworthy source for this (not Greenpeace/BBC etc) I'm inclined to believe the travel ban is due to the ongoing court action and this is just greenpeace using it to promote itself as a oppressed organisation.

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

From LA Times article:

"With one-quarter of its 1.2 billion people lacking electricity, India rejects arguments by green activists that it must move away from coal energy, saying the alternative would be to keep its citizens in poverty."

Would that our government would consider not keeping citizens in fuel poverty.
-------

“The so-called free speech they are talking about is not free speech, it’s not free opinion; it’s paid opinion,” G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, the national spokesman for Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said this week on NDTV, a news channel.

“They are acting as foreign propagandists and foreign agents.”

Well, they could only get Capone for tax evasion.
------

"She [Pillai] said Greenpeace staff in London had arranged a meeting with lawmakers to discuss allegations that Essar’s proposed coal mine in the central state of Madhya Pradesh had violated the rights of indigenous communities."

The greens just love 'indigenous communities' when they can be used to stop development. (Why don't they try that with HS2?) I once asked a green if they expected these communities to just sit around looking quaint for the tourists. No answer.
-------

LA Times comment by: ghost of schabarum

"Even though I believe in free speech it seems that India does not want some dilettantes to tell them that their people have to live in poverty to prevent CO2 emissions. Al Gore flies around in a private jet everywhere, and his ilk want others to live in poverty and use some useless solar power plant that can barely power anything."

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Re: UKIndian

> She is on bail (arrested for criminal trespass etc) and the case is going through the Indian courts. You can google it.That might be the reason why she was on a no-fly list.

Why was she given a UK visa when she has criminal charges against her in India? Did she even inform the UK Immigration service about the charges?

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Greenpeace are the antidote to democracy.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Should any person on bail, having offended as described, be allowed to travel abroad? Would permission be given in this country? I suggest on balance that the answer would probabl be yes: but an awful lot would depend, surely, on precedent, and whether the person is likely to offend in the country being visited. It would be interesting to see the full statement of the judgement. It goes without saying that any suspicion that she might abscond, would immediately lead to a travel ban.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Greenpeace India is the branch that threatened somebody on their website, I seem to recall, with a "we know where you live" notice, so to speak.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Totally opposed to the banning of movement of greens — the movement is one of their great hypocrisies anyway.

Totally opposed to the banning of free speech of greens – their own words damn them.

The only justifiable restriction I would impose on greens is to cut them off from public money. Public money for private causes is the root of so many of today's evils. Let causes speak out, but only with their own funds.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

The Indians had to show us how to manage Jaguar/Landrover, then how to produce a proper nuclear energy plan and now they are showing us how to handle anti-progress, anti-human activists. "Life without energy is brutal and short" but does any UK politician care?

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

It looks dodgy, "trespass" is a pretty thin crime, "crimminal damage" well what damage, "attempted suicide" - huh?

I recall that Russian dissidents in the days of the USSR used to be sent to hospital diagnosed with "sluggish schzophrenia" (ie no symptoms yet, therefore sluggish).

Looking at the LA Times article the passage: the process of awarding coal blocks has been plagued by corruption, environmental degradation and land-grabbing suggests the real explanation. She was going to London to blow the whistle on corruption in Essar - which would get them in trouble.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Mott

The simplest and most likely, is related to Indian bureaucracy. Something that takes a deep breath and karma to deal with.

She was flagged on some database and stopped at the airport.

It seems to me that anyone on such a charge (irrespective of the details of the case) would be expected to be flagged somewhere if wanting to leave the country? Wouldn't you ask to be sure before leaving? Most of us would with a charge like that.

The Interior Ministry did not explain. So Greenpeace see an opportunity for conspiracy when it is just the elephant of Indian Bureaucracy in "motion".

If it wasn't Greenpeace, everyone would basically shrug their shoulders, including the bureaucrats, and like everything else that screws up in India, try to unravel the mess after the fact.

Blow the whistle? So we do not have the internet, webcams etc. This is just Greenpeace creating their own living myths, reading too many Grisham novels.

They are a green blob, a major establishment organisation, that has to maintain a sheen of anti-establishmentism to attract the young idealists.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterMedia Hoar

Surely the Indian government are only saving greenpeace from there own hypocrisy.

A travel ban, it's just a saving on their carbon footprint.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Re: Peter Mott.

> It looks dodgy, "trespass" is a pretty thin crime, "crimminal damage" well what damage, "attempted suicide" - huh?

Probably chained herself to a gate to stop vehicles moving:

Chained to gate - criminal damage caused to gate by having to cut through chains.
Trespass - the gate was on private property.
Attempted suicide - intentionally put herself in front of moving vehicles.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

"Let causes speak out, but only with their own funds."

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:23 AM | Stuck-Record

The problem is that their 'own funds' come from American billionaires and trust funds, and the likes of Grantham. This can buy an awful lot of PR agencies time. I once saw a tele programme of investigative journalism (OK. It was many years ago) called "Who wants to be a Trillionare." The world's first, that is. How much of the funding of green groups, and the ripping off of the world's poor, is really for this cause?

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Here is a new twist. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) now says that she was put on a "look-out" notice which alerts immigration authorities because her ticket was bought by Greenpeace International. (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/greenpeace-activist-priya-pillai-admits-her-ticket-was-funded-by-greenpeace-international/articleshow/45873904.cms)
Greenpeace India is forbidden from accepting any foreign funding without direct approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs after IB included Greenpeace amongst NGOs which were "negatively impacting economic development" last year.
It looks like the Indian government is trying to send a message to NGOs and foreign parliamentarians about "interfering in India's internal affairs"

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterUKIndian

Sorry guys but Im having a difficult time trying to work up any kind of sympathy for this person.

Everything that has happened to her has happened as a direct result of her actions.

Mailman

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Re Peter Mott:

Greenpeace have form for criminal damage and criminal trespass in the UK.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:47 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Greenp*$$ is a pernicious, anti-democratic, anti-freedom group who would gladly destroy the lives of many, many people in order to achieve their rather obscure goals, and would have no qualms whatsoever about curtailing the freedoms and freezing the fundings of those with whom they might disagree. That they should now have those same tactics employed against them does have a certain schadenfreude about it, but, yes, I do have my own reservations about this, too. Let them gather as much rope as we can give them, as the end result will be so interesting.

Jan 14, 2015 at 10:53 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Why does this person need to travel? Don't they have video-conferencing in India? (I bet they do - in fact I know they do).

Would that not be a worthier, more "planet-saving" approach for a Greenpeace apparatchik anyway?

Hypocrisy AND one-rule-for-us-another-rule-for-you.

Contemptible.

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin

The Indians have themselves to blame. They sat on their asses on the coal situation for ages (~40 years) and now they realize that coal is important to grow an economy and manufacturing goods is a good way to use coal and grow as an economy?

That said, I didn't know the Greenpeace lady has a case (for its worth) pending against her. Would be a good idea to dig about the exact nature of her offence/s though.

I saw Siddharth Varadarajan, a veteran columnist for the Hindu, tweet about the airport 'offleading' linking straight to a Greenpeace press release. You usually don't see journalists straight up reproducing or disseminating greenie press releases, do you? Greenpeace's already running around tweeting about being prevented from working for poor indigenous people.

I think the rules about foreign funding of NGOs and pressure groups should be along the same lines as corporations. That way, there is transparency, no restrictions and laws can be used to dictate broad rules instead of messing with individuals.

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:03 AM | Registered Commentershub

Why does this person need to travel? Don't they have video-conferencing in India? (I bet they do - in fact I know they do).

Would that not be a worthier, more "planet-saving" approach for a Greenpeace apparatchik anyway?

Hypocrisy AND one-rule-for-us-another-rule-for-you.

Contemptible.

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin

Restricting the freedom of travel of someone to prevent them from meeting a human rights lawyer... it's not good is it?

The enemy of my enemy is not my friend. They may be useful but we do not endorse everyone with whom we share an opponent. We should not, anyway.

"Hitler = Bad so Stalin = Good" may have motivated the troops in WW2 but wasn't entirely accurate.

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

Ah, let's have Greenpeace in China.
===================

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Why, of all the activists in India, is this person so indispensible that she has to go on this foreign-funded trip to berate a company on another continent?

Wouldn't be surprised if she claimed political asylum once she got to the UK.

No sympathy from me. When you are on bail, the right to travel overseas to make a nuisance of yourself is not a given.

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:25 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Re: MCourtney

> Restricting the freedom of travel of someone to prevent them from meeting a human rights lawyer... it's not good is it?

She was not on her way to meet a human rights lawyer.

India is an independent country with its own rules and regulations. One of these rules covers the funding of NGOs (such as greenpeace) by foreign entities. Since greenpeace international bought the ticket, and not greenpeace India this breached that rule.

She was also on bail for criminal charges. This usually carries some restrictions and obligations. This might be a travel ban or a requirement to inform them of the intention to travel (so they can get a ban if needed). At the moment there is only greenpeace's word that there was no travel ban which doesn't count for anything. Additionally, the UK imposes restrictions on visas for people travelling from India. I do not know whether the visa system grants entry visas to those who are on bail but I suspect that it doesn't so it is quite possible that she never informed the Immigration Service of the criminal charges. This would invalidate her right to travel to the UK and is quite possibly a criminal offence.

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

I'm reminded of the following.......

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDBiLT3LASk

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Hype:
She can use Skype.
Problem solved and less CO2 and stratospheric pollution.
Of course, she would also remain within the jurisdiction of Indian Courts.

Jan 14, 2015 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

Jan 14, 2015 at 9:35 AM | Mike Haseler

It's very likely - indeed almost certain - that at least some green groups in the UK have been funded by foreign governments intent on destroying UK industry and commerce in the same way that anti-nuclear protest groups were similarly funded during the cold war intending to undermine the UK's resolve to have nuclear weapons.

*************************************************************

And if so, a clearer example of treasonous behaviour against the national interest it would be hard to envisage. If ever it were evidenced, such groups / individuals should feel the full force of the law.

Jan 14, 2015 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

GenocidalPeace. To fulfil Malthusian prophecies, it is necessary to DENY millions of people, access to affordable water, food, medicine etc, and condemn them to a premature death.

Jan 14, 2015 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

The simple method would be for India to declare Greenpeace a terrorist group and simple ban then altogether. Maybe even expell them to, say, a Greenpeace friendly nation like Peru so they can work off their sentences and actually help folks.

I'm ok with gov not spending any money, whatsoever, on them. And, since commercial travel is paid for by the gov (roads, traffic control, etc.) I'm ok for them to ban them from using any gov provided service(s) or paid for by the public funds. I think, however, a complete ban is a stop too far since they should be allowed to walk or swim their. I'd suggest the Mt. Everest route.

Jan 14, 2015 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered Commentercedars rebellion

Are we so brainwashed that we react to propaganda released by the green blob without checking the actual facts of the matter? If so then God help the world because we are not.

johanna at 11:25 AM has most probably reached the correct conclusion - her trip was supposed to be a get out of jail card.

Now the question is, how many commentators are going to reconsider their views on this matter now that some real evidence has been presented?

Jan 14, 2015 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

Greenpeace are backing villagers against a UK registered coal mining company that wants to destroy a forest and dig coal. Not getting a lot of support in India, they look to anti industry UK for support. A group of MPs are happy to poke their noses into Indian affairs and invite her over. The ticket paid for by Greenpeace International is a no, no, despite a judge ruling it illegal to make such a rule. Woman gets removed from her flight. Greenpeace and their buddies do the melodrama thing.

Six of one and half a dozen of the other. My advce to the UK is mind your own business. India has to make it's own mistakes now.

Jan 14, 2015 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"India cracks down on Greenpeace, other environmental groups"
By Shashank Bengali
contact the reporter
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Special correspondent Parth M.N. contributed to this report.

I'll reserve judgment until more is known. Whenever I have read a newspaper report about something of which I had first hand knowledge I have wondered if the reporter was perhaps reporting some completely different event.

What affiliations does "special correspondent Parth M.N." have?
Where did Shashank Bengali get their information?

I could be wrong but the report has a kind of greenpiss odour to it.

Jan 14, 2015 at 1:03 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I'd go further.

I'd forbid ANY member of Greenpiss to travel ANYWHERE - unless of course it was on foot or by pushbike....

Jan 14, 2015 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Martin, you surmise correctly. This is Greenpeace flexing its tiny muscles to bring 'international media pressure' on the govt.

Jan 14, 2015 at 1:15 PM | Registered Commentershub

sherlock1. I think you are being extreme. I would encourage GenocidalPeace to maintain a permanently staffed observatory at the North Pole. They could then let us all know exactly when the ice melts, no matter how long it takes

Jan 14, 2015 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Of course they have video conferencing in India - my son, in his managerial capacity at a well-known bank, has frequent video conferences with his staff in Sri Lanka....

Jan 14, 2015 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Think India is going to do what it wants to do. Unlike UK thats shackled to the EU corpse.

Essar is Indian and has an office in UK and elsewhere...like many others. Clearly keeping its eye on the handouts, like many others.

Get Vaz out there, so he can shame us all..for a good bung.

Jan 14, 2015 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

#GreensDONTgoByAir when the BJP gov enforces the Indian Law
- Yes it's a bit bizarre when Greenpeace are always trying to stop other people flying.
#GreenPeaceGoByAir unnecessarily : to Climate conferences, from their Luxembourg Home to GP job in Amsterstam & from India to London for 1 meeting

The newspaper story
BTW India has it's own style ..so almost all charities are corrupt & you can do your own research on the BJP

“It’s a classic David and Goliath fight," says the Guardian of MultiNational Billion dollar eco charity lobbiest organisation GreenPeace
- CanadaChuck comments "I've never been sure with these two outfits. Greenpeace and the Guardian,
which is the parent company and which is the subsidiary."

Jan 14, 2015 at 1:38 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

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