Human Rights

Why I No Longer Support Amnesty International

I’ve finally overcome my inertia and canceled the £5 monthly donation that I have been making to Amnesty International for the last 30 years or so. Twenty years ago I was an active AI supporter, more recently it has just been the donation. As Syrian Girl says, AI supports NATO’s wars; I do not.

The last two calls I’ve had from Amnesty asking for increased support highlighted abuses in Iran and China; I’ve never had a call about abuses in Saudi Arabia or Israel or any ally of the NATO countries.

My concern about Amnesty began with their support for military intervention in Libya and the disinformation that they spread about Gaddfi using black mercenaries against his own people. Amnesty later admitted that this information was false but it led to the murder of black civilians.

According to Wikipedia Amnesty has ‘form’ for spreading rumours like this, as in the lead up to the 1991 Gulf War:

Critics have also pointed out that AI had a role propagating disinformation in a press release before the 1991 Gulf War, in which it claimed that Iraqi soldiers were responsible for the deaths of “scores of civilians, including newborn babies, who died as a direct result of their forced removal from life-support machines.”[13] It later transpired that this claim was a propaganda hoax, and AI’s press release was used in the opening salvo of this propaganda campaign – U.S. President George H. W. Bush showed AI’s press release on a prime time interview. Prof. Francis Boyle, an AI USA director at the time, gives a detailed insider account of the way the AI press release was handled.[14] The normal process of double-checking and consultation was short-circuited in a rush to issue the press release. In an April 1991 statement, AI said that although its team was shown alleged mass graves of babies, it was not established how they had died and the team found no reliable evidence that Iraqi forces had caused the deaths of babies by removing them or ordering their removal from incubators.[15]
 

Source: Wikipedia

The same Wikipedia article indicates that AI continues to spread rumours relating to the Syrian conflict:

In September 2011, Amnesty International reported that anti-Assad protestor Zainab al-Hosni’s body, mutilated by pro-Assad forces, was “discovered by chance by her family in a morgue in Homs while there to identify her brother’s corpse.” In October 2011, Hosni allegedly appeared on Syrian TV stating that the accusations of her killing were false and fabricated by anti-Assad protestors to “serve foreign interests” and that she was “alive in contrast to what the lying satellite television stations had said.” According to a report in Reuters, anti-Assad activists say she is a look-alike.[62]

This is not to say that AI does not do some good work, it must in order to maintain any credibility, but the evidence suggests that it is either allied to NATO and its aims or else it is irresponsible and incompetent in its pronouncements about abuses by states.

Emancipation Day

“The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834. Emancipation Day is widely observed in the British West Indies during the first week of August.” See Wikipedia. It’s a day worth commemorating and a day on with we should commit to freeing ourselves and all others from all forms of physical, psychological and economic enslavement.

The picture is of a monument to Cuffy the leader of a slave revolt in Guyana in 1763.

Naomi Wolf Article

The article ‘How the US uses sexual humiliation as a political tool to control the masses‘ by Naomi Wolf in the Guardian strikes me as particularly important. I commented on Facebook that:

A lot of people recognise that the US is far from being a benign force in the world (British understatement) but I’m not sure we are acknowledging how malign US global and domestic policy is. While Naomi Wolf’s article is about the US it should be clear from recent news stories in the UK that the ideal of an ‘open society’ (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_society) is under attack here also.

The first paragraph of Wolf’s article reads:

In a five-four ruling this week, the supreme court decided that anyone can be strip-searched upon arrest for any offense, however minor, at any time. This horror show ruling joins two recent horror show laws: the NDAA, which lets anyone be arrested forever at any time, and HR 347, the “trespass bill”, which gives you a 10-year sentence for protesting anywhere near someone with secret service protection. These criminalizations of being human follow, of course, the mini-uprising of the Occupy movement.

The rest of the article shows a US that is well on the way to totalitarianism.

Given Naomi Wolf’s liberal and establishment credentials this article mainstreams what so called ‘conspiracy theorists’ like Alex Jones and David Icke have been saying for years i.e. that the power elites are profoundly evil and actively enjoy the humiliation and enslavement of what they see as the lower classes. Wolf rightly sees the Occupy Movement and open communication on the Internet as threatening the establishment’s control of perception and political initiative. What she is describing however is not a new phenomenon; this oppression has always existed but it is now threatening people who imagined themselves safe, who believed that they were part of the establishment. Still some good may come of it; a conservative is a liberal who hasn’t been strip searched yet.

Amnesty, Libya and the Clash of Civilizations

 

I’ve supported Amnesty International for 25 years or so, actively for a couple of years and then by default subscription. I need to review this. This video shows clearly that AI perpetuated a lie that African mercenaries were being used by Gaddafi to kill civilians. This lie was used to justify the NATO intervention. After the damage is done the President of AI in France admits that there was no evidence of the use of African mercenaries on Gaddafi’s side but I note no apology for Amnesty’s role in this.

The reference to Samuel Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations’ is interesting:

In 1993, Huntington provoked great debate among international relations theorists with the interrogatively-titled “The Clash of Civilizations?”, an extremely influential, oft-cited article published in Foreign Affairs magazine. Its description of post-Cold War geopolitics contrasted with the influential End of History thesis advocated by Francis Fukuyama.
Huntington expanded “The Clash of Civilizations?” to book length and published it as The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order in 1996. The article and the book posit that post-Cold War conflict would most frequently and violently occur because of cultural rather than ideological differences. That, whilst in the Cold War, conflict likely occurred between the Capitalist West and the Communist Bloc East, it now was most likely to occur between the world’s major civilizations — identifying seven, and a possible eighth: (i) Western, (ii) Latin American, (iii) Islamic, (iv) Sinic (Chinese), (v) Hindu, (vi) Orthodox, (vii) Japanese, and (viii) the African. This cultural organization contrasts the contemporary world with the classical notion of sovereign states. To understand current and future conflict, cultural rifts must be understood, and culture — rather than the State — must be accepted as the locus of war. Thus, Western nations will lose predominance if they fail to recognize the irreconcilable nature of cultural tensions.
Critics (for example articles in Le Monde Diplomatique) call The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order the theoretical legitimization of American-led Western aggression against China and the world’s Islamic and Orthodox cultures. Other critics argue that Prof. Huntington’s taxonomy is simplistic and arbitrary, and does not take account of the internal dynamics and partisan tensions within civilizations. Furthermore, critics argue that Huntington neglects ideological mobilization by elites and unfulfilled socioeconomic needs of the population as the real causal factors driving conflict, that he ignores conflicts that do not fit well with the civilizational fault lines identified by him, and they charge that his new paradigm is nothing but realist thinking in which “states” became replaced by “civilizations”.[11] Huntington’s influence upon U.S. policy has been likened to that of British historian A.J. Toynbee’s controversial religious theories about Asian leaders in the early twentieth century.
The New York Times obituary on Samuel Huntington notes, however, that his “emphasis on ancient religious empires, as opposed to states or ethnicities, [as sources of global conflict] gained…more cachet after the Sept. 11 attacks.”

Map of 'Civilizations' after Sam Huntington.

Source: Wikipedia.

The video argues that this neat world view was at odds with Gaddafi’s Pan-African vision. I’m not sure what Huntington’s view adds but I find it an interesting aside maybe worth noting for future reference. What’s more relevant is to observe that, ironically, the foreign fighters, NATO and Qatari, were on the side of the Rebels. Perhaps that’s the link; Qatar and the Arab League shared an interest with the West in bringing Libya back into the Arab fold.