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Sunday Times continues smear campaign against Moazzam Begg & Amnesty International

February 14, 2010

14 February 2010 The conscience stifled by Amnesty The Sunday Times, Margarette Driscoll

Gita Sahgal who last week made the ridiculous statement “I feel profoundly unsafe I have to say talking to Asim Qureshi and Moazzam Begg, but I’m more than willing to meet them” now says she “She fears for her own and her family’s safety”.  Playing the victim card doesn’t wash Sahgal when you are actively smearing an actual victim, in fact it is disgusting.  Whilst poor Sahgal has been having a “difficult week”, Moazzam Begg has been actively championing human rights.

ST commenting policy (only allowed if the comment agrees with the ST) seems to have softened a little this week though and comments like this one are being allowed:

The goal posts keep changing and the attacks on Amnesty, however, remain the constant goal. Guilt by association is the lynch pin for all the arguments and it is done at a time when Amnesty is launching a major campaign to find a safe haven for the release of prisoners not charged with any offence from Guantánamo. First it was Moazzam Begg himself whose main crime we are finally told is that he ‘admitted’ that the last 25 years in Afghanistan had seemed to him to have been the best*. That is horrible but it is weasely to suggest that this is the same as saying the Taliban are wonderful. The reason it isn’t the same is that it is a comment about the Taliban that has been made by many Afghan experts, historians and commentators as an explanation for why the Taliban achieved power – and that has to do with the previous horrors the Afghan people had lived through since the Russian invasion and since the havoc and constant chaos waged by the fighting among non-Taliban fundamentalist warlords, many of whom, lest we forget, had enjoyed the encouragement and financial support of the West [see ‘Charlie Wilson’s War] in order to fight the Soviets. Women’s rights played no part in that calculation. Neither by the Russians, nor by the West. If that is what Gita Sahgal is after, it is dubious, highly dubious, that an attack on Amnesty and, indeed, CagePrisoners, as an institution, is the way to go about it. It seems more of a distraction than anything else. What, specifically, should be done to help the women in Afghanistan, please, Gita. Say it and say it loud and clear. Changing the platform speaker for the release of Guantánamo’s prisoners? Is that going to do it? The grandstanding feels vindictive more than anything else and it is not helpful.

* Note:  Moazzam Begg said the Taliban was the best thing that had happened in 20 years after the misery of Warlords and constant war.  The Taliban emerged as a force in Afghanistan in November 1994 when they took over Kandahar and finally took over the capital Kabul by September 1996.

14 February 2010 Second Amnesty chief attacks Islamist links The Sunday Times, Richard Kerbaj

Including this quote from Sam Zarifi, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific director:

He said: “We did not always clarify that while we champion the rights of all — including terrorism suspects, and more important, victims of terrorism — we do not champion their views.”

“More important”? Some human rights are “more important” than others? Seems Sam Zarifi doesn’t under Amnesty International’s mission statement:

Amnesty’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on
preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental
integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from
discrimination–in the context of our work to promote all human rights, as
articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Update:  Amnesty respond again to the Sunday Times,  14 February 2010

Amnesty International response to the Sunday TimesBy Claudio Cordone, interim Secretary General of Amnesty International.

Your article (‘Second Amnesty chief attacks Islamist links’, 14 February) misses the point.

A central element in the development of our policy and strategies has always been a frank, informed and robustly-argued debate involving people – like Gita Sahgal and Sam Zarifi– who are acknowledged as experts in their fields.
Like with any of our campaigning work, our work with Moazzam Begg in the context of the Counter Terror with Justice campaign was also the subject of a healthy internal debate in which different views were expressed.

In the end, we decided to work with Moazzam Begg to highlight the suffering of those being held at Guantánamo and to campaign for its closure. Nothing has yet come to our attention that would justify us stopping this work.

Lastly, Gita Sahgal was not suspended for voicing her concerns in our internal debates. The suspension is not a sanction. She remains employed on full pay.

Update:  Sam Zarifi has responded to the Kerbaj article about him which Zarifi says “mischaracterizes my views”.


Amnesty, Moazzam Begg, Gita Sahgal – Link roundup

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 14, 2010 18:14

    ‘In its unwavering support for Marshall Fahim and the other warlords, the United States pretends to forget that they ruled the country for four ruinous, devastating years—years so bad that many Afghans were relieved when the Taliban routed the warlords.’
    Sam Zarifi

    Just an example of cherry picking quotes to smear. If the leaker in AI thinks the Times and its owner supports human rights they are very stupid.

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