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Press Statement and Call for Action

the Gita Sahgal/Amnesty International controversy: What needs to be done

Wednesday 26 May 2010, by siawi2

26 May 2010



28th May 2010 is the 49th anniversary of Peter Benenson’s launch of
Amnesty International. But as the organization begins planning
celebrations, Gita Sahgal asks whether Amnesty International’s leaders
have lost their grip on reality. Do sections of the human rights
movement lend their credibility to protecting Islamists rather than
protecting their rights?

In an article in openDemocracy today,
she says that the leadership’s reports to Amnesty International’s
Executive Committee contain no mention of Moazzam Begg, Cageprisoners
or her dispute with the leadership. She says, ‘Amnesty International
cannot provide a coherent account of what has happened so they have
chosen to provide no account at all. The Executive Committee appears
to be asking no questions and the membership have been provided with
no answers.’

Recalling Peter Benenson’s statement that Amnesty works against
oblivion, she says ‘ If Amnesty International does not stop covering
up and start cleaning up, others will have to do it for them.’ She
calls on all those who want to restore integrity to human rights to
campaign with her.

As a tribute to the campaigning of the global women’s movement and the
many people who signed the Global Petition to Amnesty International to
Restore the Integrity of Rights, Amnesty International has launched an
internal review. The review cannot substitute for the urgent need for
Amnesty International’s leadership to provide answers, particularly as
the reviewers are not tasked to look at any of the allegations. Since
the managers have ignored all questions posed to them, please write to
the reviewers at <amnestyreview(at)> with a copy to
<integrity(at)> urging them to call on the
leadership to provide answers to the questions posed to them. In
particular they must make public:

1. What investigations did Amnesty International undertake when
they developed a relationship with Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners?
What was their analysis of that relationship? Why was expert advice
consistently ignored?

2. What investigation did they undertake after Gita Sahgal went
public? On what basis did they decide that Begg and Cageprisoners were
suitable partners?

3. Please explain why Amnesty International believes that the
violent enforcement of systematic discrimination ( defensive jihad)
does not constitute the destruction of fundamental human rights. What
external experts were called on to provide this advice?

Call on Amnesty International’s sections to:

1. Announce to their staff that there will be no reprisals if they
sign the Global Petition

2. Organise debates on these important issues so that members can
contribute to developing criteria for membership consistent with
upholding the universality of rights

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