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Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo, Moazzam Begg & Amnesty

February 18, 2010

On Tuesday evening Moazzam Begg, as part of his work defending the human rights of those detained and tortured as part of the ‘war on terror’, was due to take part in a Q&A session following the film screening of Outside the Law:  Stories from Guantánamo at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre in London.

It was a session which Begg is one of the few uniquely qualified people to take part.  Sadly, following the shameful smear campaign against Begg, in which Gita Sahgal has chosen to involve herself and notch up by a few decibels, Begg quite rightly decided not to take part and his statement follows.  The event went well as Andy Worthington describes on his website, and the tour continues around the UK with new dates being added as they are confirmed.

A statement by Moazzam Begg  [16 February 2009]

Moazzam BeggIt 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 polarized, 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 a 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 event 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 [so] that the lives of men who have suffered human rights violations for so many years, as discussed in “Outside the Law,” are not overshadowed.

If people are interested in knowing my views regarding all the controversies discussed in the national press last week they can be seen on Cageprisoners.

I wish this evening’s event and Amnesty UK and Andy Worthington every success.

Moazzam Begg

If you haven’t already purchased The Guantanamo Files by Andy Worthington I would urge you to order it straightaway!  It is a most remarkable book and contains a lot of very important information which we should all know, and are unlikely to be told by our mainstream media.

Related:

Amnesty, Moazzam Begg, Gita Sahgal – Link roundup

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