Normblog runs a guest post by Eve Gerrard regarding her letter to Amnesty… and their reply to her.
This is a prompt and civil response to my concerns. Unfortunately these are its only virtues: it is an entirely unsatisfactory treatment of the problem in hand, on at least two counts. Firstly, Amnesty does not explain why Sahgal was suspended, nor does it in any way provide a justification for the suspension. Secondly, the reply mentions at least four times that Amnesty has defended Moazzam Begg and other Guantanamo detainees against violations of their human rights. But no one has denied this, nor has there been any suggestion that Amnesty shouldn’t be engaged in this defence. To continually emphasize this irrelevant point is to divert attention from the real issue here, which is that Amnesty has partnered with, and thereby provided credibility for, individuals and an organization whose own commitment to universal human rights is in doubt [my emphasis]. I objected to this manoeuvre in my original statement of concern, and I still object to it when it’s repeated four times in response to that concern. It’s irrelevant, and Amnesty must know that it’s irrelevant, since so many people have pointed this out.
Before it all blew up, the section at Amnesty responsible for this fiasco had described Begg’s outfit, Cageprisoners, as “a leading human rights organisation”. Amnesty appears to have forgotten this… or rather hopes that everyone else will.
It is unlikely.
This – and not the straw man Amnesty presents – is, after all, the debate that must to be had.