Thursday, February 26, 2009

Amnesty International: Neutral No Longer

There is a sore need for Amnesty International in the world today. Unfortunately this need is not being filled by Amnesty International. The core mission of AI is defending people who are being jailed for political reasons. Someone who is being persecuted for their religious or political beliefs and who has not resorted to violence to advance their cause is within the scope of AI's focus.

Amnesty International has been compromising their effectiveness by expanding their scope into dubious areas. AI is against capital punishment. There are many staunch supporters of human rights who do not agree with this position. There are many cases where the carrying out of a death sentence should be delayed or rescinded. There are other cases where guilt is not in doubt and when the heinous nature of the crime cries out for retribution. It is possible to be passionately committed to civil liberties and support the existence of a death penalty.

Amnesty International has taken a step which has shredded any pretensions it might have of non partisanship. It has called for an arms embargo on Israel and Hamas on the specious grounds that both sides are using arms from abroad to wage war. Aside from morally equating the two sides, they are willfully and slyly ignoring the fact that Iran and other arms suppliers will never participate in an arms embargo. They are aiming at the US.

Amnesty International recently shredded all pretense of neutrality by calling for an arms embargo on Israel and on Hamas. The following exerpt from their web site is a masterpiece of deception.

Both Israel and Hamas used foreign-supplied weapons to attack civilians according to fresh evidence released by Amnesty International.

Munitions from the USA, Israel’s main foreign arms supplier, were used by Israel forces during three-week conflict in Gaza and southern Israel. Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fired hundreds of rockets that had been smuggled in or made of components from abroad at civilian areas in Israel.

Amnesty International has called on the UN to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on the parties to the conflict.

"Israeli forces used white phosphorus and other weapons supplied by the USA to carry out serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes," said Donatella Rovera, who headed Amnesty International's fact-finding mission to southern Israel and Gaza.

"Their attacks resulted in the killing of hundreds of children and other civilians and massive destruction of homes and infrastructure. At the same time, the firing of rockets by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, though far less lethal than the weaponry used by Israel, also caused several civilian deaths and constitute a war crime."(emphasis mine)

Since when is there a rule that war may not be waged with imported weapons? This is an absurd rule that Amnesty International seems to have made up. Additionally, in the last paragraph quoted above, it actually compares Hamas' bombing cililian targets on purpose with the Israelis striking back and blames Israel more than Hamas.

There is a critical element missing from the Amnesty International report. Hamas consistently hides its operatives among civilians. This itself is a war crime. Any injuries suffered by civilians so misused is according to international law the fault of Hamas.

The AI report repeatedly uses the term "war crime" in instances that such a term is highly debateable. They use the term without any specifics. Their coverage of Israel focuses predominantly upon Israel and little on the Palestine Authority. When it does mention the PA, it seems less like a comprehensive treatment of the PA's violations of human rights and more like a weak attempt to appear impartial.

There are horrible violations of human rights going on around the world. The unfair and unwarranted criticism of Israel's legitimate acts of self defense diminishes the effectiveness and moral stature of Amnesty International in dealing with these pressing issues.

There are times when a nation must go to war to defend itself. Israel has only gone to war after having exhausted all alternatives. Calling for America to cut off arms to Israel is not an act of pacifism. It is aiding and abetting Israel's sworn enemies. The manner in which this partisanship is couched in pious language heightens the sly cynicism of this naked partisanship.

Amnesty International used to be a one stop organisation for fighting human rights violations around the world. It now appears that it has adulterated its once clear and lofty agenda. I would like to fight rape as a weapon of war in the Congo. I would like to fight amputations of the limbs of civilians as was practiced in Sierra Leone. I will not support them through an organisation that has joined with Israel's enemies.

The job description of Amnesty International remains the same. Amnesty International has changed. It is not the organisation it once was. Those who are troubled by torture of political prisoners or the murder of dissidents must look to other organisations to address these issues. How sad. Sphere: Related Content

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