Martin Bright

Devastating Attack on Amnesty International

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Gita Sahgal has launched a very powerful attack on Amnesty International on the Open Democracy website on the occasion of the publication of AI's Annual Report. 

Here is the nub if her argument, which is devastating to Amnesty's reputation:

"In his reports to the International Executive Committee circulated for ‘transparency’, the Interim Secretary General Claudio Cordone, has airbrushed out any mention of the  concerns that I forced Amnesty International to face when I went public with my complaint that the organisation has sanitized the reputation of Moazzam Begg, a former Guanatamo detainee. They have treated him as a human rights advocate, although he champions Anwar al Awlaki and al Timmimi.

"Like all tryrants  - whether of the right and left, Amnesty International raised the spectre of an assault on human rights to avoid answering questions and  to imply that Amnesty International was 
under attack. This  helped  shut down internal debate or demands for accountability from its own  staff.  At first the managers suggested that Begg only expressed his experiences of detention; and that they did not promote his views  (suggesting that his views fell somewhat short of a belief in the universality of rights). Soon, they claimed that his views were indeed universalist but that he supported ‘defensive jihad.’ – which is, after all  waged to establish systematic discrimination.  Amnesty International felt that this view was not ‘antithetical to human rights. Although he published in a Muslim Brotherhood journal and  has associated with the Jamaat I Islami the senior leadership decided to endorse him as a human rights advocate, which they had refrained from doing before the crisis."

Frankly, I can't see how Amnesty can recover from this.