Wednesday 17 February 2010

Amnesty International And The Rights Of Convicted Terrorists

Still nothing from friends who are supporters of Amnesty International's Gita Saghal, so I've been trying to work their position out a step at a time.

Amnesty International is apparently lending "spurious legitimacy to extremists who spurn its values" by allowing Moazzam Begg's to take part in a speaking tour in Europe, one calling for countries to accept non-EU citizens from Guantánamo Bay so that they are not tortured in their own countries and so that the secret prison can finally be closed. This is because Begg, despite calling for exactly what most human rights defenders also agree with and having a unique perspective on Guantánamo after years of detention there, is guilty of two things: not personally passing the 'sufficient liberal credentials' test set by his exacting detractors and being the director of Cageprisoners, who insist that even convicted terrorists are still entitled to human rights. In particular, Cageprisoners stands condemned for publishing information about convicted terrorists on its website.

The entire tour itself, although completely in keeping with Amnesty's long-standing objectives, is condemned for 'collaboration' by association with the Taliban, even though Anmesty actively opposes legislation in Afghanistan providingTaliban figures who agree to cooperate with the Afghan government with immunity to prosecution.

Furthermore, Amnesty International has itself defended the human rights of convicted terrorists before - and like Cageprisoners, it has published details of this defence on its website. What are we to make of this, from 2001:

On 16 May 2001, Timothy McVeigh is scheduled to become the first federal prisoner to be executed in the United States of America since 1963. Amnesty International urges you to prevent this retrograde step by announcing an immediate moratorium on all federal executions.

The crime of which Timothy McVeigh was convicted shocked the conscience of the world and caused immeasurable suffering to hundreds of people - not only the victims and survivors of the bombing itself, but their family members as well.

Such suffering deserves compassion, respect and justice. As an organization that works with and on behalf of victims of human violence on a daily basis, Amnesty International has the utmost sympathy for the families and friends of those killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. Nevertheless, the organization unreservedly opposes the planned killing of Timothy McVeigh, as it does all executions, in the belief that such a policy represents no more than a continuation of the cycle of violence it purports to confront. By imitating what it seeks to condemn - the deliberate taking of human life - society will once again have allowed violence and vengeance to gain the upper hand. Justice will not have been served.

In a country where judicial killing has increasingly come to be seen as an issue of ''victims' rights'', a growing number of murder victims' relatives are challenging the death penalty. The organization Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, opposing the execution of Timothy McVeigh, has said: "We believe that cold calculated killing by our government, replicating the very act of violence that brought us to pain, dishonors the lives and memories of our beloved. The ritual of executions damages all of us in society, and creates another grieving family. With the focus on putting someone to death, capital punishment makes icons of our murderers, while the lives of victims are forgotten and the needs of survivors are often ignored."

Demanding that a rightwing convicted terrorist has the right to life, no matter how popular his execution may have been in the US, whilst working with an organisation that does the same in forthright terms? What are we to make of that?


Anonymous said...


And someone made the comment on another blog about Reprieve and the work they do, will they get attacked for campaigning for the rights of various people who may not past the universal human rights test (and it is becoming like that...)

Unknown said...

Didn't they also tour with IRA or at least Irish dissidents? Anyone know more about this??

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