United Kingdom: Sahgal's position misrepresented by new Amnesty Secretary General

The Guardian

In response to an interview with Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International, WLUML made the following comments on Guardian online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/15/salil-shetty-amnesty-international-leader

WLUMLSolidarity 20 Aug 2010, 3:24PM

The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) - International Solidarity Network has publically supported Gita Sahgal in her concern over Amnesty International’s partnerships, because of the importance of the indivisibility of human rights for all, including for women living in Muslim contexts across the world. We feel that it is most unfortunate that a new Secretary General, Salil Shetty, should misrepresent Sahgal’s position with the offensive comparison: "If a woman is dying I don't first ask what are your views about the Taliban," which is left unchallenged by the interviewer. The issue of supporting the human rights of all, regardless of political belief, is one which has never been questioned by Ms. Sahgal.

In our network’s experience, we note that one of the ways in which the threat of fundamentalist organizations is downplayed is by misrepresenting the arguments of those who oppose them, or by ignoring these challenges altogether. We are concerned that in this instance, Amnesty International has now done both. Evidence presented to them by WLUML for their internal review process, showing that Gita Sahgal is not the first AI employee to be victimized for protesting about AI’s work on terrorism, seems to have been ignored.


@Sarah8: You can see Amnesty's official report here:http://www.amnesty.org/en/node/17505

marieme 20 Aug 2010, 5:57AM

Amnesty International has admitted its complete failure to investigate Begg or Cageprisoners and their suitability as partners. In my long experience as an activist from Algeria and as a founder of Women Living Under Muslim Laws, I can say that I have not known them to investigate any Muslim fundamentalist leader or organisation, or adequately support their victims.

Now Amnesty International has conducted an internal review which has confirmed this. They have stated that previous evaluations had made severe criticisms of the failings of the counter-terror campaign. The research on detainees was shoddy and there was not enough research on victims of terrorism or on violations that disproportionately affect women

These problems are not new. I can testify that they are decades old from my experience of the way in which Amnesty International and other human rights organisations covered fundamentalist terrorism in Algeria presenting them exclusively as victims of state repression and largely ignoring the fact that there were serious allegations that they had perpetrated gross human rights violations. I revealed this in the Indian journal Communalism Combat (http://sabrang.com/cc/archive/2010/mar10/humanrights1.html), but it is not referred to in the article.

The interviewer failed to ask Salil Shetty how he feels about Amnesty International defending the concept of defensive jihad as ‘not antithetical to human rights’.