Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Amnesty doesn't always do the right thing

Not long ago I blogged on the suspension of one of Amnesty International’s leading advisors on womens rights (see 'Amnesty, the Taliban and womens rights - getting the balance right') and mentioned a petition to get them to see sense.
Though the petition was signed by numerous academics and womens right activists from around the world, and taken up in the UK by groups like Women Against Fundamentalism and Southall Black Sisters, it hasn’t worked.
Gita Saghal and Amnesty have parted, and I suspect she was pushed rather than jumping. There’s a story on it at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7095732.ece .
As some of the right wing drivel in the comments section shows, the worst UK victims of her departure will be those Amnesty needed to support most. Women around the world facing male violence, and nearer home especially lesbians, gays and abused women who might have been safe if only the UK’s racist mess of an asylum policy worked as it should.
I cannot believe Amnesty screwed up this badly. As it happens, I also don’t think the UK should have caved in to CIA thugs who snatch and torture UK citizens to fit racist myths used to perpetuate the US war industry. But a personal friend, currently writing a Ph.D. around whether Islamism is one of the new religious varieties of fascism (and also a hardcore anti-fascist rather than the wishy washy UAF variety) has convinced me we should be wary of Moazzam Begg and his Cageprisoners group.
Without doubt, serious Amnesty membership has problems. I’ve had my own - airy-fairy liberals who only want to back safe celebrity victims and think pointing out unpleasantness gives the general public ‘negative vibes’, faith organisations who tried to dictate local group policies at my old college or more recently.
You end up wondering if your limited time could be more profitably used elsewhere. Which is a shame, because even as you wonder some poor sod somewhere is having their fingernails pulled out or their relatives bumped off to shut them up, and then you worry some more that you might have stopped that.
I don’t know the answer either. But I’m mad at Amnesty’s kneejerk, play safe bureacrats for making me reconsider membership of the group I used to be proud my daughter first played a part in when, aged two, she drew a picture used for a greetings card sent to an Iranian trade unionist.

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