“Compassion International is approximately three weeks away from permanently withdrawing its humanitarian operations from India.” Compassions Lead Attorney, Stephen Oakley, offered this frank assessment on December 6th before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Compassion offers a holistic approach to lifting children out of poverty. Families from ten nations sponsor children in impoverished nations who attend child development centers where they receive food, medical care, educational instruction, and spiritual training. Headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO, Compassion started operating in 1952 after Reverend Everett Swanson saw the plight of children in war-torn North Korea. What started with 35 children on the Korean Peninsula has expanded to 1.9 million children worldwide, including 145,000 in India.
The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs updated its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act “to prohibit acceptance and utilization of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for any activities detrimental to the national interest.” While not specifying what is “detrimental to the national interest,” the MHA has used this language to crack down on non-government organizations (NGOs) whose values run contrary to the current government’s religious beliefs. Oakley stated that this has created, “a chilling effect on the free-expression of religion across India.”
The restriction placed on Compassion by the MHA means they cannot send money to their partners in India. This will leave the 570 centers who partner with Compassion without the necessary funds to operate.
Ahead of Oakley’s testimony before House Government Affairs Committee, 33,000 families sent letters to Congress to advocate for Compassion. In his testimony before Congress, Oakley appealed to the House Foreign Affairs Committee to use their influence to demand that India make changes in their policy so Compassion and other aid organizations can continue to serve underprivileged children within their borders.
Compassion says that they will continue to work through every possible channel to see a positive conclusion.
Publication date: December 14, 2016