No doubt those who have been attacking Amnesty International for working with former Guantánamo Bay detainee Moazaam Begg and Cageprisoners will be rubbing their hands with glee. In order to avoid detracting from the campaign against human rights violations in the name of the 'War on Terror', Begg has decided to pull out of this evening's screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre in London, where he was due to speak alongside filmmaker Andy Worthington and another former detainee, Omar Deghayes. The documentary focuses on the stories of the two ex-prisoners and a third man, Shaker Aamer, who is still held in Guantánamo.
In a statement reproduced on Pickled Politics, Moazzam Begg has said:
It has been my pleasure to have worked closely with Amnesty since my return from Guantánamo on highlighting the cases and campaigning against the human rights abuses that have occurred in the name of fighting terrorism since the outset of the ‘War on Terror.’ The relationship I have with Amnesty goes back to the years when I was incarcerated in US custody and my father was receiving immense moral and practical support from the organisation – something both he and I will never forget.
It is very unfortunate that this relationship is now being severely tested by both internal and external forces that would like nothing better than to see that work damaged, or even terminated. Since my return I have spoken about and written my views more times than I can remember. My goals for doing this have been to expose the reality of detention without trial, torture, cruelty and dehumanisation and at the same time, develop a nuanced approach to fostering understanding between communities that are increasingly becoming polarised through the language of education, understanding, acceptance and reconciliation.
I do not claim to have all the answers to every question on human rights; five years ago I could not even answer if I was going to live or face execution. But, I truly cannot understand why this is all happening now, since nothing that has been said in the media is new at all – no new and sensational revelations, no new controversial comments, at least not by or about me.
I have just returned from a pan-European tour asking governments to give sanctuary to cleared Guantánamo prisoners who are unable to return to their homes so I find it odd that this argument is occurring now, especially at time when revelations are being made that UK intelligence was fully aware that Binyam Mohamed was being abused. This is something I have said about my own case since my return too – and, I believe, the same will also be revealed about Shaker Aamer, on whose behalf I hope most people tonight will campaign.
I apologise for not attending this evening’s events but I have decided to abstain from taking part only so that the focus is not about my personal beliefs or Amnesty’s internal issues but, that the lives of men who have suffered human rights violations for so many years, as discussed in Outside the Law, are are not overshadowed.
If people are interested in knowing my views regarding all the controversies discussed in the national press last week they be can seen on www.cageprisoners.com.
I wish this evening’s event and Amnesty UK and Andy Worthington every success.