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Amnesty’s Sam Zarifi responds to Sunday Times latest smear article

February 15, 2010

Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director has responded to the article written by the desperate Richard Kerbaj in yesterday’s Sunday Times. And I say desperate because Kerbaj has misrepresented both Sam Zarifi and Moazzam Begg with deliberate misquoting, and has further rubbished any pretence he had to claim the title journalist.

Letter to the Sunday Times
From Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

Dear Sir,

Your recent article (‘Second Amnesty chief attacks Islamist links’, 14 February) mischaracterizes my views.

I have been a part of the internal AI debate surrounding the issue of AI’s collaboration with various groups as part of its campaign to close down Guantánamo. My opinions have been heard, considered, and where appropriate, implemented.
I do not oppose our current initiative working with Moazzam Begg in the recent European tour seeking to convince European states to receive more of the Guantánamo detainees who cannot be repatriated because of the risk of further human rights abuses.

As I told my programme staff in the internal email leaked to your paper, my concern has been that AI’s campaigning has not been sufficiently clear that when we defend somebody’s right to be free from torture or unlawful detention, we do not necessarily embrace their views totally.

This raises the risk of creating a perception, particularly in South Asia, that AI is somehow pro-Taleban or anti-women, playing into the rhetoric often used against us by governments and groups in the region that wish to deflect our criticism. But any suggestion that our work with Moazzam Begg or Cageprisoners has weakened our condemnation of abuses by the Taleban or other similarly-minded groups does not withstand scrutiny.

I believe that it was wrong to take this debate into the public in the manner and at the time done. And I fully agree with the measures AI has taken in response to the decision to publicize this debate now and in this manner.

Sam Zarifi
Director, Asia-Pacific Programme

H/T Random Blowe


Amnesty, Moazzam Begg, Gita Sahgal – Link roundup

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2010 22:04

    Gita is a feisty woman, not easily scared so why she would try and put herself forward as some feeble, frightened individual is beyond me … I can’t believe she’s trying to play the victim despite realising the full extent of what she’s done.
    When this whole thing kicked off I suggested that she pick up the phone and arrange to either speak with Moazzam Begg or meet him and ask him about his views instead of listening to some poisonous individuals with an Islamaphobic agenda.
    Gita, it’s still not too late – make that call and stop this pathetic nonsense … you’re not doing any favours for the female cause at all. I know you are not a coward, so what are you really afraid of?
    Yvonne Ridley,


  1. Moazzam Begg On Pulling Out of Amnesty Event « Ten Percent
  2. Sunday Times misrepresents views of Amnesty’s Sam Zarifi | Andy Worthington

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