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Dublin - Event Notice
Thursday January 01 1970

International Youth Day to Condemn Imperialist Aggression

category dublin | anti-war / imperialism | event notice author Thursday August 16, 2012 13:15author by Irish Anti-Imperialist Report this post to the editors

Anti-imperialists in Ireland will be gathering outside the Amnesty International "Freedom" Café, 48 Fleet Street, Temple Bar, Dublin, at 1pm, lunchtime, Mon 20th August, to mark the beginning of the NATO bombing of Tripoli, on August 20, 2011, and to call on the imperialist powers to stop their genocidal policy of orchestrating, arming and funding sectarian terrorism in Syria, and to cease their threats of violence against Iran.

A picket will be placed on this so called "Freedom Café" and leaflets handed out, which detail Amnesty International's disgraceful record of giving cover to NATO's imperialist adventures, through promoting lies attacking the perceived enemies of US interests. Sometimes these lies have been obscenely comical, such as the claims that Colonel Al Gaddafi gave the Libyan Army viagra so as to rape peaceful protestors. Other times they have been purely genocidal in intent and consequence, such as claiming that the Black members of the Libyan security forces were "mercenaries" from Sub-Saharan Africa (though they had lived in Libya for generations.) This particular lie gave political cover to the lynching of hundreds of Black people, and the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Black people by NTC forces.

Amnesty continues this shameful behaviour in Syria, where it promotes the statements of sectarian terrorist groups as fact, and represents Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists as "heroes of democracy," and ignores the voices of those who wish to protect Syria's sovereign independence.

Related Link: https://www.facebook...71315132881648/
author by Irish Anti-Imperialistpublication date Thu Aug 16, 2012 13:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

August 20th 2011 is the date that the North Atlantic Terrorist Alliance (NATO) began its onslaught on Tripoli, Libya, to bomb mercenaries from that country, Qatar, Jordan, Afghanistan and other parts of the wider region into the capital, lead by NATO special forces.

That date was covered by the western and GCC corporate media as the date that Libya was being “liberated”. The reality is that in Tripoli alone, in just 12 hours, the Jamahiriyah’s Ministry of Health, reported that 1,300 people had been killed and thousands injured. The following 5 days of intensive bombardment were nothing less then a bloodbath. During those days and up until this date, NATO forces and their proxies on the ground (perversely labeled as “freedom fighters”/”revolutionaries” by much of the international media) have systematically persecuted, murdered, tortured and imprisoned anyone who resists their agenda.

This date is a date for youth around the world to engage with each other on the basis of solidarity with their brothers and sisters who are suffering the most brutal effects of imperialist aggression, whether it be in Libya, Iraq, former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan which have been ravaged by NATO’s bombing campaigns; Syria which every day is losing more and more of its children to mercenaries that are being armed and financed by NATO powers, Sudan, Somalia and many other African countries which have been divided and continue to suffer long term sectarian war as a result of long term imperialist meddling, Colombia where millions live as internal refugees because of persecution by the Bogota US puppet Government, Puerto Rico, which remains a US colony, Haiti which has been punished by imperialist powers almost since the moment it established itself as the first Black Republic in the early 19th century, Palestine which has suffered more than 60 years of ethnic cleansing and European settler colonialism, Pakistan, where almost every day lives are lost to US drones….and the list goes on.

The idea for such an international event was conceived in Nicaragua, which lost over 50,000 people to a US proxy war against the revolutionary FSLN government in the 1980s, in addition to centuries of imperialist military and economic interference (including colonial occupation) that have lead to its current status as the poorest country in the Americas after Haiti. Since 2007, the FSLN has been back in power, and the idea of such a date is to maintain a high level of consciousness amongst Nicaraguan youth about the effects of imperialist aggression, by highlighting on this date such aggressions that continue in other parts of the world.

As well as raising consciousness, the idea of this date is for youth around the world to engage with each other and build up an anti-imperialist network amongst themselves.

In Nicaragua, an event will be organized on this date with young people, where this year's the theme will be Libya and Syria. The format of the event will be three or four expert speakers, followed by a question and answer session for the audience, but particularly youngsters in the audience, to engage with, and cultural performances (e.g. music, poetry etc) by young artists, thereby also giving them a platform to share their talents. The event will be filmed and shared online.

We encourage friends across the world to organize a similar such event, with a theme of your choice, although it is important that this date is also marked as the invasion of Tripoli in an effort to destroy the perverse narrative that this was the date that Tripoli was liberated. It is vital that all events are filmed and shared online so youth around the world can see that their counterparts are engaged in similar activities and as a basis for them to begin engaging and communicating with each other. Also, even if the audience present at the event is small, sharing videos of the events will maximise the potential audience for these events.

We already have confirmation that friends in London and Chicago, US, will be organizing sister events.


author by Irish Anti-Imperialistpublication date Thu Aug 16, 2012 13:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The facebook link I gave seems to be broken, but here is another one:


author by leftypublication date Thu Aug 16, 2012 17:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Including some information on dodgy Amnesty board members the interesting fact that ex "US state department Suzanne Nossel, former assistant to Richard Holbrooke (killer of Yugoslavia) in his capacity as UN Ambassador and Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Assistant for International Organization Affairs, was selected as the new Executive Director of Amnesty International USA."

also, it receives funding from George Soros, for those of you familiar with his meddling.

The article linked to is highlighting the support Amnasty gave to Anti Russian journalist Luke Harding, the Guardian's former Moscow correspondent and the author of "Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia", speaking engagement in Dublin.

Luke harding was a totally biased (a totally anti russian "russia correspondent") plagiarising idiot. Also well known for his ruthless attacks on Julian Assange in the Guardian.

No doubt most ordinary people who join Amnesty are well meaning and want to do good, but it certainly looks to me like the people at the top and some of the major funders have an obvious political agenda

author by Nicopublication date Sat Aug 18, 2012 17:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors


PDF Document leaflets.pdf 1.46 Mb

author by pat cpublication date Sat Aug 18, 2012 19:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have to admit that I was in two minds about the demo, Amnesty do a lot of good work. But the message below by Tony put things in perspective for me. Tony is Jewish but he is fiercely Anti-Zionist and is an Anti-Fascist who believes in apply the No Platform tactic. He is the author of THE FIGHT AGAINST FASCISM IN BRIGHTON & THE SOUTH COAST.

Re: Tell Amnesty International to Sack Its Executive Director & Ex-S
Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:36 am (PDT) . Posted by: "tony greenstein" tonygreenstein

Dear Amnesty International USA,

Your post below professes concern about the jailing of the Pussy Riot band. Many of us are concerned about the lack of human rights in Russia but we are also concerned about human rights in the United States (Guantanamo about which you've gone quiet, Bradley Manning's persecution etc.)

As my blog post below shows, you have lost all credibility with your support for the war in Afghanistan. If you seriously believe that the USA waged war on the Afghan regime in order to defend women's rights you must be crazy. Everywhere the USA has gone in the Middle East it has bolstered fundamentalism and sectarianism, e.g. Iraq. Unsurprisingly US concern about women's rights stops at the shores of Saudi Arabia.

You have just appointed Suzanne Nossel as your new Executive Director, fresh from the State Department. Her 'humanitarian' concerns there dovetailed with US foreign policy concerns, as she herself boasts. http://www.amnestyusa.org/about-us/who-we-are/executive...l-usa It is no accident that opposition to any critique of Israel's abysmal human rights policies was a particular feature of Nossel's work at the State Department.

Until you fire Nossel and send her back to her corporate friends, along with her 'smart power', then Amnesty International will have little or no credibility.

Tony Greenstein

Tony Greenstein

> From: Michelle at Amnesty International USA
>To: Tony Greenstein
>Sent: Friday, 17 August 2012, 16:10
>Subject: Tell Putin: Let punk rockers go
>Human Rights Action - Amnesty International USA
> Tell Putin: Let punk rockers go
>Dear Tony,
>This morning Russian authorities sentenced three members of Pussy Riot, a feminist punk band known for their colorful masks and political activism, to two years in prison, despite an outcry from musicians, activists, and supporters of free speech in Russia and around the world.
>Pussy Riot's crime? Singing a protest song in a church.
>Amnesty International is mounting a strong global response to help keep Pussy Riot's case front and center. Help us send a truckload of colorful ski masks to President Putin in protest.
>Today's verdict is emblematic of increased efforts by President Putin and his cronies to stifle free speech in Russia. That's why we're sending President Putin as many colorful masks, called balaclavas, as we can. Donate $20 or more to send a mask to Putin.
>I am outraged by this morning's verdict. It is clear that Russian authorities are trying to silence these women and instill fear in other activists -- don't let them succeed.
>Your donation will be used to purchase and transport the balaclavas, and it will help Amnesty International continue our fight to defend human rights worldwide. We'll also email all donors a photo of the masks you helped us send.
>More than one hundred thousand concerned people like you have taken action to defend Pussy Riot's right to freely express themselves, and I was proud to carry your petition signatures to the Russian Embassy this week. Join Amnesty International in sending a strong message to President Putin -- we will not let Pussy Riot be silenced!
>In Solidarity,
>Michelle Ringuette
>Chief of Campaigns & Programs
>Amnesty International USA

author by pat cpublication date Sat Aug 18, 2012 19:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

From Tony Greensteins blog.


Recognizing the depth of the rot at Amnesty USA, more than 100 long-term volunteers for the organization have launched a campaign to stop Nossel from further undermining the group's mission. In a petition* addressed to the executive director, they call for "an immediate moratorium...on the implementation of the Strategic Plan and the staff changes recently announced."

On a Facebook page created to press Nossel to listen to an increasingly disgruntled membership, Marcia Lieberman, a leader of Amnesty in Providence, R.I., wrote:

We asked you, respectfully, to listen, but you closed your ears. We asked you, respectfully, for a short pause to allow real engagement with the membership, but you raced ahead and forced your plan through. You could not have chosen better, had you determined to eliminate the wisest, most experienced, most valuable members of our staff. You destroyed the institutional memory of this organization you have so decisively taken over.

After the debacle of the shadow summit in Chicago and amid growing discontent among Amnesty USA staff and membership, Code Pink launched a petition campaign** whose initial signatories include Col. Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin. They encourage Amnesty USA's "board members to call for Suzanne Nossel's resignation; her loyalty to powerful government players can only be a hindrance to the true work and mission of Amnesty."

Opponents of war and injustice should support such efforts. But at the same time, the left must see the compromised nature of the NGO model of organizing. At times, NGOs can play a role in various movements, as Amnesty USA has. But because of their integration with the liberal establishment, they can't challenge the system and its priorities.

The disaster of Amnesty's support for the occupation of Afghanistan provides the perfect evidence for why the new left we need to build must break with the NGO model and organize grassroots democratic organizations that can lead a struggle against the system.

* http://signon.org/sign/moratorium-on-aiusa-strategi-1?s...12707

** http://went2thebridge.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/letter-to-....html

author by Irish Anti-Imperialistpublication date Sun Aug 19, 2012 01:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Amnesty International's flawed Syrian Hospitals “Investigation”

By Franklin Lamb

This observer counts himself among Amnesty International’s more than 3 million supporters and members in more than 150 countries and territories who also strongly endorse AI’s campaigns to end grave abuses of human rights. I share AI’s vision for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

In Beirut, I attend their events and was honored to play a small part in assisting with last spring’s AI research on the subject of disappeared Palestinians and Lebanese which resulted in AI’s excellent April, 2011 publication: Never Forgotten: Lebanon’s Missing People. This report documents one of the bitter legacies of the 1975-1990 civil war which is the thousands of people whose fates remain unknown.

I have crossed paths with AI researchers in the Middle East and recently during three months in Libya I followed their work which included the human rights problems of black Libyans, particularly from the Tawagha region but also in eastern and western Libya where blacks were often taken from hospitals never to be seen again.

AI rightly condemned the number of massacres and extra-judicial killings perpetrated by both pro-Gadhafi and NTC partisans, many of which, like the 53 recently executed Gadhafi supporters found at the Mahari Hotel in Sirte involved the kidnapping and murder of patients in hospitals. These grisly scenes have shocked the world’s conscience and all people of goodwill condemn them. They weaken substantially the moral authority of the group currently claiming power in Libya.
Despite its generally exemplary work, Amnesty International, like the rest of us, in not infallible.

This is evident in its 10/25/11 released 39 page report: Health Crisis: Syrian Government Targets the Wounded and Health Workers.

AI’s conclusion from its “research” in Syria, which consisted significantly of collecting Al Jazeera and Al Arabia type media accounts including the dubious reports on the same subject by CNN’s Arwa Damon, and sundry anonymous U-tube clips is virtually identical to what it concluded from its investigation in Libya on the same subject.

However, there is a great distinction between Syria and Libya, their medical professions and their current challenges.
AI claims this week, without convincing material, probative or relevant evidence that Syrian authorities, including Hospital administrators and staff, have since March 2011 turned Syrian hospital into instruments of repression in order to crush protests and demonstrations.

AI’s report claims that Syrian citizens wounded in protests or incidents related to the current unrest “have been physically assaulted in state-run hospitals by medical staff, and in some cases denied medical care, while others taken to hospital have been detained or have simply disappeared.”

AI offers as its proof of these claims the weakest and seemingly most competition-driven support of any Amnesty International reports I have read. It reeks of yet another orientalist double standard and ignores similar claims from citizens in western countries of similar actions by their governments.

This observer recently had the opportunity to visit with administrators and medical staff at some of Syria’s largest state-run Ministry of Health hospitals (Syria also has Higher Education Hospitals for university students and Ministry of Defense Hospitals, the latter being roughly equivalent to American Veterans Hospitals for the military,) which is Damascus General Hospital, established in 1952. Damascus Hospital sees approximately 800 patients daily and is one of 90 hospitals belonging to the Ministry of Hearth that together serve all of Syria with 14, 571 beds. Medical care in Syria is virtually free…

Among those I had the opportunity to meet with at Damascus Public Hospital and to discuss issues raised by Amnesty International were Dr. Mahmoud Naji (damahosp@mail.sy) who is the Director of the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit at Damascus Hospital and Dr. Adib Mahmoud, (damahosp@mail.sy), Damascus Hospital administrator.

Both the Syria Medical Emergency Association, of which Dr.Naji is a representative and the Syrian Medical Association, have large memberships with the reputation of being fiercely independent of and resistant to outside influences.

At the same time they have achieved individual treatment and medical ethics standards that help make Syria’s medical services the highest rated in the Middle East.

Amnesty qualifies its findings with complaints that it did not have access to Syrian hospital staff, and that it wanted to protect its “witnesses” by withholding some specifics such as time, place, and circumstances of alleged wrongdoing by members the Syrian medical community, as well as the unwillingness of alleged victims of abuse to come forward.

For their part, Syrian medical staff, more than two dozen I met individually with, complained to this observer that AI’s Report is deeply flawed and that in fact Syrian hospitals welcome foreign visitors for tours and dialogue with all questions honestly addressed. Syria’s medical profession has justifiably taken umbrage at what it considers, as one Physician described, “Amnesty International’s “gratuitous defamation of Syria’s medical community.”

According to Amnesty's report, but without providing convincing collaborative evidence, wounded patients in at least four government-run hospitals had been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, both by medical workers and security personnel.
AI’s charges that Syrian medical staff humiliate or refuse to treat patients brought laughter from some care givers at Damascus Hospital, as they explained the strict procedure they abide by from the moment a patient arrives at the emergency entrance.
“We treat each patient to the best of our ability and we are strictly forbidden from questioning them about the circumstances of their injury,” Dr. Mahmoud Naji explained.

This observer was invited to literally follow arriving emergency room patients as they were admitted and treated and until they were assigned a bed in the appropriate ward.

A nurse, who was filling out a patient’s medical forms noted, “In certain cases if there was an auto accident, for example, and an injured person arrives while the accident is being investigated then we could contact authorities. However, our patient privacy rules are very strict in Syria and we can only ask medical and certainly not political questions, “according to one ER intern as she took the blood pressure of an arriving young woman who complained of stomach cramps.

One Physician who had trained at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston explained, “ I am sure there must be some abuse and especially in the middle of an area where there is fighting, but I have personally never heard of any physician or medical personnel doing what some Western media have alleged without submitting proof. He continued, “Do police officers sometimes come to the hospital? Yes but it’s like what you would see, for example, in America on a week-end night at the emergency room in maybe the 200 largest cities., isn’t it?

When I was training in Boston and with all that goes on in the early hours of the morning in big cities, one sees more police cars outside emergency rooms than ambulances.

While it’s not like that here, the police presumably sometimes have reason to suspect that a crime may have been committed and the arriving injured person might be the victim or the perpetrator and an officer has the duty to complete a police report. I believe it’s similar anywhere isn’t it?”
Another Dr. commented, “And yes, our medical profession has been criticized along with our government because it is claimed by some that some injured people may not want to come to our hospital thinking we might report them to the police. We will not. Does that not also happen in every society?

Someone is injured while doing something wrong or criminal and they are afraid of being arrested so they seek alternative treatment from friends or private clinics. Yes, that sometimes happens in our country. Every citizen can choose where they seek treatment.”

This observer also toured Syria’s Al Mouwasat government hospital, which like all government hospital in Syria is free to all, and met at length with a variety of staff just as AI could have and still can. It is Syria’s oldest and largest and has received dozens of patients over the past six months who had been injured during anti-government demonstrations.

Al Mouwasat, with approximately 850 beds was founded in 1946, the year the French occupiers left. 1946 was also the year US President Harry Truman promised to “take on that mean trust-the American Medical Association” and enact free health care for all Americans. Nearly 66 years later the gap between Syria and the US in terms of civilized and affordable medical care for its citizens is vast.
I participated in briefings from several physicians and staff including the Hospital administrator, physicians and nurses. We discussed at length any subject I raised including AI accusations.

Among those who discussed rumors that some Syrian medical staff refused treatment or reported to authorities or intimidated patients were surgeon Dr. Osama Yousef Shahin, Dr. Ayham Obied vascular surgeon, Dr. Imad Alasha, Director of the ER Department, and ER surgeon Dr. D. Shadia as well as Mouwasat hospital’s Administrator and various staff.
All can be contacted directly, by AI or others, via the hospital email address which is info@almouwasat and arrangements can be made for visitors to come and see for themselves.

One doctor who appeared a bit offended by AI type accusations even offered to request from among scores of current or former patients their permission to provide AI with their phone numbers so they could discuss privately AI’s sweeping and unsupported allegations against the Syrian Medical community including the charge that they work in cooperation with various militias but also with government security services.

Dr. Alusha explained: “A few casualties from May are still hospitalized and others even come from “field hospitals” set up by opponents of the government. We do not ask them anything about where they received earlier treatment or their political views. We have not seen any of the claimed patient betrayal events described in some western media reports.”
Al Mouwasat has 4 ER operating theatres and routinely does about 50 operations per day. As with other hospitals visited, May 2011 was the most active month recently for Syria’s ER departments which are always open 24/7 with no cost to any patient, domestic or foreign.

Al Mouwasat hospital, like Damascus General Hospital and others, has received patients from Deraa, Homs, Hama, Idlib, and other communities according to Dr. Shahin who explained: “Any human being will be treated here without charge and without politics or the police being summoned and for as long as necessary until the patient regains good health. Jewish patients are also welcomed and while our government does not recognize the legitimacy of Israel, Israeli citizens will receive the same care as everyone else. Just yesterday we received Lebanese from the Bekaa Valley with gunshot wounds. They come here because our care is of high quality and it’s free ever for foreigners and without political complications. We specialize also in Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) which attracts patients from across Syria and abroad. I think I speak for almost every Syrian medical person what I insist that we are doctors and care givers with a variety of political views which we leave at home. We comply with our Hippocratic Oath which we take seriously.”

According to Syria’s Ministry of Health, it has not received any complaint to date, either from the patients or from their relatives about maltreatment or political pressure.

In its Report: “Health Crisis: The Syrian Government Targets the Wounded and Health Workers,” Amnesty International falls significantly below an objective standard and fails to shoulder its burden of proof for the charges it levels at Syria’s medical community.

The fact that AI appears to have been somewhat lazy in its work and continues hyping its deeply flawed “investigation” is egregious.

AI also failed to meet the standard of investigative work that we who will continue to support and endorse its human rights work expect from it.


author by Irish Anti-Imperialistpublication date Sun Aug 19, 2012 01:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Amnesty International botches blame for North Korea’s crumbling healthcare

Posted in Amnesty International, Imperialism, north Korea, Sanctions by gowans on July 20, 2010

“Economic sanctions are, at their core, a war against public health.”
–The New England Journal of Medicine [1]

By Stephen Gowans

Amnesty International has released a report condemning the North Korean government for failing to meet “its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to health of its citizens”, citing “significant deprivation in (North Koreans’) enjoyment of the right to adequate care, in large part due to failed or counterproductive government policies.” The report documents rundown healthcare facilities which “operate with frequent power cuts and no heat” and medical personnel who “often do not receive salaries, and many hospitals (that) function without medicines and essentials.” Horrific stories are recounted of major operations carried out without anaesthesia. Blame for this is attributed solely to the North Korean government. [2] While unstated, the implication is that DPR Korea is a failed state, whose immediate demise can only be fervently wished for (or worked toward.)

The attack is joined by Barbara Demick, the Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times and author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, writing in the British newspaper, The Guardian. She acknowledges the DPR Korea’s considerable social achievements – an acknowledgement that would never have been permitted in the pages of a major Western newspaper in the depths of the Cold War – but does so only in order to show how far the country has regressed.

If we recognize that “economic sanctions are, at their core, a war against public health” and acknowledge, as a former US president has, that North Korea is “the most sanctioned nation in the world,” it is difficult not to draw the obvious conclusion: that the crumbling of North Korea’s healthcare system is due to sanctions. How is it, then, that a new Amnesty International report blames Pyongyang’s “failed or counterproductive” policies, while saying not a word about sanctions?

“The country once had an enviable healthcare system,” Demick writes, “with a network of nearly 45,000 family practioners. Some 800 hospitals and 1,000 clinics were almost free of charge for patients. They still are, but you don’t get much at the hospital these days.” Demick continues: “The school system that once allowed North Korea’s founder Kim Il-Sung (father of the current leader) to boast his country was the first in Asia to eliminate illiteracy has now collapsed. Students have no books, no paper, no pencils.” [3]

Nowhere is the role of sanctions mentioned in Demick’s account of North Korea’s “giant leap backwards” [4] or in Amnesty’s condemnation of Pyongyang for failing to safeguard the basic healthcare rights of its citizens. Instead, Demick and Amnesty point to a botched currency reform, as if it alone accounts for the country’s deep descent into poverty. Neither mention that no country has been subjected to as long and determined a campaign of economic warfare as North Korea, or that in recent years, a UN sanctions regime little different from the one that destroyed the healthcare system of Iraq in the 1990s, and led to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children under the age of five from 1991 to 1998 [5], has been imposed on a country that has struggled with food shortages since the collapse of the Soviet-led socialist trading community and as a result of a series of natural calamities. No mention either is made of Washington’s efforts to “squeeze North Korea with every financial sanction possible” with the aim of bringing about the collapse of the country’s economy, [6] and with it, its public healthcare and educational systems. What’s more, while Demick acknowledges that South Korea and other countries have sharply reduced food aid to the North, she blames North Korea’s leadership for refusing to dismantle its nuclear program and for “provocations” against the South, for inviting the aid reduction. (The provocations Demick refers to include the sinking of a South Korean corvette in March, attributed, with not a lot of evidence – and over the initial denials of the South Korean military [7] – to a North Korean submarine.) Demick and Amnesty could have condemned South Korea and the United States for using food as a weapon. Instead, Demick censures North Korea for putting itself in the position of being sanctioned, while Amnesty counsels major donors not to base food aid on political considerations, without acknowledging that this is exactly what major donors have done.

Both Amnesty and Demick operate within the framework of Western propaganda. As the North Korea specialist Tim Beal points out, Western propaganda invokes economic mismanagement as the explanation for North Korea’s collapsing economy, despite an obvious alternative explanation: sanctions. “The results — those malnourished babies,” Beal wrote prophetically three years ago, “can be blamed on the Koreans, which in turn is produced as evidence that the sanctions are desirable and necessary.” [8]

Sanctions of Mass Destruction

“In contrast to war’s easily observable casualties, the apparently nonviolent consequences of economic intervention seem like an acceptable alternative. However, recent reports suggest that economic sanctions can seriously harm the health of persons who live in targeted nations.” [9] This has been well established and widely accepted in the cases of Iraq in the 1990s and the ongoing US blockade of Cuba. Political scientists John Mueller and Karl Mueller wrote an important paper in Foreign Affairs, in which they showed that economic sanctions “may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.” [10]

While unstated, the implication of Amnesty International’s new report on North Korea’s healthcare is that DPR Korea is a failed state, whose immediate demise can only be fervently wished for (or worked toward.) The rights organization covers up the role played by the United States and its allies in undermining the conditions that would allow Pyongyang to fulfill the healthcare rights of North Koreans, and then blames the disaster on Pyongyang.

“The dangers posed today by such enfeebled, impoverished, and friendless states as Iraq and North Korea are minor indeed”, they wrote in 1999. It might be added that the dangers posed by North Korea to the physical safety of US citizens are not only minor but infinitesimally small. Notwithstanding the fevered fantasies of rightwing commentators, North Korea has neither the means, nor the required death wish, to strike the United States. However, the danger the country poses to the idea of US domination – and hence, to the banks, corporations, and major investors who dominate US policy-making – are admittedly somewhat greater.

“Severe economic sanctions”, the Muellers contend, ought to be “designated by the older label of ‘economic warfare’”. “In past wars economic embargoes caused huge numbers of deaths. Some 750,000 German civilians may have died because of the Allied naval blockade during World War I.” [11]

“So long as they can coordinate their efforts,” the two political scientists continue, “the big countries have at their disposal a credible, inexpensive and potent weapon for use against small and medium-sized foes. The dominant powers have shown that they can inflict enormous pain at remarkably little cost to themselves or the global economy. Indeed, in a matter of months or years whole economies can be devastated…” [12] And with devastated economies, come crumbling healthcare systems and failure to provide for the basic healthcare rights of the population.

Sixty Years of Sanctions

From the moment it imposed a total embargo on exports to North Korea three days after the Korean War began in June 1950, the United States has maintained an uninterrupted regime of economic, financial, and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea. [13] These include:

o Limits on the export of goods and services.
o Prohibition of most foreign aid and agricultural sales.
o A ban on Export-Import Bank funding.
o Denial of favourable trade terms.
o Prohibition of imports from North Korea.
o Blocking of any loan or funding through international financial institutions.
o Limits on export licensing of food and medicine for export to North Korea.
o A ban on government financing of food and medicine exports to North Korea.
o Prohibition on import and export transactions related to transportation.
o A ban on dual-use exports (i.e., civilian goods that could be adapted to military purposes.)
o Prohibition on certain commercial banking transactions. [14]

In recent years, US sanctions have been complemented by “efforts to freeze assets and cut off financial flows” [15] by blocking banks that deal with North Korean companies from access to the US banking system. The intended effect is to make North Korea a banking pariah that no bank in the world will touch. Former US President George W. Bush was “determined to squeeze North Korea with every financial sanction possible” until its economy collapsed. [16] The Obama administration has not departed from the Bush policies of financial strangulation.

Washington has also acted to broaden the bite of sanctions, pressing other countries to join its campaign of economic warfare against a country it faults for maintaining a Marxist-Leninist system and non-market economy. [17] This has included the sponsoring of a United Nations Security Council resolution compelling all nations to refrain for exporting dual-use items to North Korea (a repeat of the sanctions regime that led to the crumbling of Iraq’s healthcare system in the 1990s.) Washington has even gone so far as to pressure China (unsuccessfully) to cut off North Korea’s supply of oil. [18]

Dual-Use Sanctions: 1990s Iraq Redux

The Amnesty report blames Pyongyang for a shortage of syringes at hospitals. Yet in the 1990s Iraq suffered from a similar shortage, not due to failed government policies, but because “the importation of some desperately needed materials [had] been delayed or denied because of concerns that they might contribute to Iraq’s WMD programs. Supplies of syringes were held up for half a year because of fears they might be used in creating anthrax spores.” [19] Like Iraq in the 1990s, North Korea is under sanctions that ban dual use items – goods that have important civilian uses but might also be used in the production of weapons. “Medical diagnostic techniques that use radioactive particles, once common in Iraq, [were] banned under the sanctions, and plastic bags needed for blood transfusions [were] restricted.” [20] On October 14, 2006 the United Nations Security Council banned the export to DRP Korea of any goods, including those used for civilian purposes, which could contribute to WMD-related programs – the very same sanctions that led, at minimum, to hundreds of thousands of deaths in 1990s Iraq when the export of potentially weapons-related material, also essential to the maintenance of sanitation, water treatment and healthcare infrastructure, was held up or blocked. Not a word of the escalating sanctions regime against North Korea is mentioned in the Amnesty report, an omission so glaring as to resemble a report on the post-World War II devastation of Europe that says nothing of the string of Nazi aggressions that caused it.

Kaesong, the vast industrial park of South Korean factories employing North Korean workers situated near the South Korea-North Korea border, provides an example of how ridiculously wide the dual-use sanctions net can be cast. “U.S. officials blocked the installation of a South Korean switchboard system at Kaesong on grounds that the equipment contained components that could have been adapted for military use. As a result…the 15 companies operating at Kaesong share a single phone line, and messages must often be hand-delivered across the border.” [21] While dual-use sanctions may appear to be targeted, just about any item required for the provision of basic healthcare, sanitation, and educational rights – chlorine, syringes, x-ray equipment, medical isotopes, blood transfusion bags, even graphite for pencils – can be construed to have military uses and therefore banned for export.

Most of North Korea’s trade after the fall of the Soviet Union was with China, Japan and South Korea. In 2002, Japan banned the export of rice to North Korea and effectively prohibited North Korean ships from using Japanese ports. [22] In 2009, Tokyo went further, imposing a total ban on exports to the beleaguered country. [23] No wonder former US President George W. Bush called North Korea “the most sanctioned nation in the world”. [24]

Food as a Weapon

The Amnesty report recommends that “major donors and neighbouring countries…ensure that the provision of humanitarian assistance in North Korea is based on need and is not subject to political conditions”. In making this recommendation, the rights organization tacitly acknowledges that humanitarian assistance has indeed been subject to political conditions. (If this practice was unheard of, why make the recommendation?) In fact, the United States, Japan and South Korea have used food aid as a weapon. “After Pyongyang test-fired missiles in July (2006), South Korea announced plans to eliminate the 500,000 tons in annual food aid it provides directly to North Korea.” At the same time, food aid from China dropped one-third. [25] And in 2005, the Bush administration cut off all food aid to North Korea. [26] In all instances, humanitarian assistance was withheld to exact concessions from Pyongyang.

Amnesty International and Imperialism

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognized in 1997 that sanctions “often cause significant disruptions in the distribution of food, pharmaceuticals and sanitation supplies, jeopardize the quality of food and the availability of clean drinking water, severely interfere with the functioning of basic health and educational systems, and undermine the right to work.” [27] These disruptions were evident in Iraq in the 1990s, and led to the crumbling of the country’s healthcare system, contributing to what the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Denis Halliday, called “a de facto genocide.” [28] Additionally, the deleterious effects of US economic warfare on the Cuban healthcare system are uncontested except by anti-Castro émigrés and the US government. [29] If we recognize that “economic sanctions are, at their core, a war against public health” and acknowledge, as a former US president has, that North Korea is “the most sanctioned nation in the world,” it is difficult not to draw the obvious conclusion: that North Korea’s crumbling healthcare system and “great leap backwards” are not due in large measure to Pyongyang’s “failed or counterproductive” policies, but to the inhumane policies of the United States, Japan and South Korea.

Amnesty International’s contributions to US imperialism are not unprecedented. In 1991 the rights organization claimed that Iraqi soldiers had thrown Kuwaiti babies from incubators, a hoax, perpetrated by the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. When US President George H.W. Bush appeared on television to announce that he was readying for war on Iraq, he had a copy of the Amnesty report in his hands.

Amnesty’s failure to point to the role played by the United States and its allies in undermining the conditions that would allow Pyongyang to fulfill the healthcare and other rights of North Koreans, and its willingness to play a part in legitimizing Washington’s foreign policy agenda, is not without precedent. While Amnesty was critical of the human rights record of apartheid South Africa, it alone among human rights organizations refused to denounce apartheid itself. [30] The organization also refused to condemn the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia [31], even though it was an exercise in imperial predation that denied the rights of many innocent Yugoslavs to life, security of the person and employment. Amnesty excused its inaction on grounds that it is not an antiwar organization, as if war and human rights are not often inextricably bound. The war on Yugoslavia certainly was, at least rhetorically, since NATO invoked the language of human rights to justify its attack. But Amnesty’s most egregious service to the propaganda requirements of US foreign policy came in 1991, when the rights group released a report in the run-up to the Gulf War claiming that Iraqi soldiers had thrown Kuwaiti babies from incubators. This was a hoax, perpetrated by the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, orchestrated by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, which had been hired to launch a propaganda campaign to galvanize public support for a US war on Iraq. When US President George H.W. Bush appeared on television to announce that he was readying for war on Iraq, he had a copy of the Amnesty report in his hands. [32]


A Western-based organization, Amnesty has proven itself time and again to be incapable of operating outside the propaganda system of Western governments, and at times has acted to justify the imperialism of dominant powers or turned a blind eye to it. In its latest North Korea report it has made an invaluable contribution to the campaign of the United States and its East Asian allies to bring down one of the world’s few remaining top-to-bottom alternatives to capitalism and Third World dependency on the United States and former colonial powers. It has done so by fulfilling the two requirements needed for an anti-North Korea propaganda campaign to work: First, to cover up the role played by the United States, Japan and South Korea in starving the country’s healthcare and educational systems of necessary inputs, and second, to blame the ensuing chaos on the North Korean government. The action of Amnesty in misdirecting responsibility for this tragedy is no less shameful than that of the governments that have perpetrated it.

1. Eisenberg L, “The sleep of reason produces monsters—human costs of economic sanctions,” New England Journal of Medicine, 1997; 336:1248-50. http://content.nejm....ort/336/17/1247
2. Amnesty International, “The crumbling state of health care in North Korea”, July 2010. http://www.amnesty.o...240012010en.pdf
3. Barbara Demick, “North Korea’s giant leap backwards”, The Guardian (UK), July 17, 2010. http://www.guardian....ea-famine-fears
4. Ibid.
5. “Iraq surveys show ‘humanitarian emergency’”, UNICEF.org, August 12, 1999. http://www.unicef.or...line/99pr29.htm
6. The New York Times, September 13, 2006.
7. Stephen Gowans, “The sinking of the Cheonan”, PSLweb.org, May 27, 2010. http://www.pslweb.or...ws_iv_ctrl=2801
8. Tim Beal, “Invisible WMD- the effect of sanctions”, Pyongyang Report, Volume 9, Number 4, October 2007. http://www.vuw.ac.nz/~caplabtb/dprk/pyr9_4.mht
9. Karine Morin and Steven H. Miles, “Position paper: The health effects of economic sanctions and embargoes: The role of health professionals”, Annals of Internal Medicine, Volume 132, Number 2, 18 January 2000. http://www.annals.or.../2/158.abstract
10. John Mueller and Karl Mueller, “Sanctions of mass destruction”, Foreign Affairs, Volume 78, Number 3, May/June 1999.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Dianne E. Rennack, “North Korea: Economic sanctions”, Congressional Research Service, October 17, 2006. http://www.au.af.mil...crs/rl31696.pdf
14. Ibid.
15. Mark Landler, “Envoy to coordinate North Korea sanctions”, The New York Times, June 27, 2009. http://www.nytimes.c...ner=rss&emc=rss
16. The New York Times, September 13, 2006.
17. According to Rennack, the following US sanctions have been imposed on North Korea for reasons listed as either “communism”, “non-market economy” or “communism and market disruption”: prohibition on foreign aid; prohibition on Export-Import Bank funding; limits on the exports or goods and services; denial of favorable trade terms.
18. The Washington Post, June 24, 2005.
19. Mueller and Mueller.
20. Ibid.
21. The Washington Post, November 16, 2005.
22. Rennack.
23. “KCNA dismisses Japan’s frantic anti-DPRK racket”, KCNA, June 23, 2009.
24. U.S. News & World Report, June 26, 2008; The New York Times, July 6, 2008.
25. The Los Angeles Times, October 25, 2006.
26. The Washington Post, May 16, 2008.
27. United Nations Economic and Social Council, “The relationship between economic sanctions and respect for economic, social and cultural rights”, December 12, 1997. http://www.unhchr.ch...57?Opendocument
28. Denis J. Halliday, “The Deadly and Illegal Consequences of Economic Sanctions on the People of Iraq”, Brown Journal of World Affairs, Winter/Spring 2000 – Volume VII, Issue 1. http://www.watsonins...ys/Halliday.pdf
29. Richard Garfield and Sarah Santana, “The Impact of the Economic Crisis and US Embargo on Health in Cuba”, American Journal of Public Health, January 19997, Volume 87, Number 1. http://www.ncbi.nlm....les/PMC1380757/
30. Francis A. Boyle and Dennis Bernstein, “Interview with Francis Boyle. Amnesty on Jenin”, Covert Action Quarterly, Summer, 2002. http://cosmos.ucc.ie...rt.php?aid=4573
31. Alexander Cockburn, “How the US State Dept. Recruited Human Rights Groups to Cheer On the Bombing Raids: Those Incubator Babies, Once More?” Counterpunch, April 1-15, 1999. http://cosmos.ucc.ie...cle0005098.html
32. Boyle and Bernstein.


author by Irish Anti-Imperialistpublication date Sun Aug 19, 2012 01:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A well presented You Tube Video, outlining Amnesty International's genocidal and racist activities in Libya:


author by Irish Anti-Imperialistpublication date Sun Aug 19, 2012 02:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Assessment by a former AI-USA board member

Prof. Francis A. Boyle (Professor of International Law, Univ. of Illinois, Champaign) from an interview with Dennis Bernstein:

"Amnesty International is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money. Third comes getting more members. Fourth, internal turf battles. And then finally, human rights, genuine human rights concerns. To be sure, if you are dealing with a human rights situation in a country that is at odds with the United States or Britain, it gets an awful lot of attention, resources, man and womanpower, publicity, you name it, they can throw whatever they want at that. But if it's dealing with violations of human rights by the United States, Britain, Israel, then it's like pulling teeth to get them to really do something on the situation. They might, very reluctantly and after an enormous amount of internal fightings and battles and pressures, you name it. But you know, it's not like the official enemies list."

Hill & Knowlton launched a major propaganda campaign [5] to change US citizens’ attitudes about a possible US intervention in Kuwait. Part of this campaign produced the “throwing the babies out of the incubators” hoax presented by the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador in the US. As part of this propaganda campaign President Bush (Senior) appeared on national TV holding a copy of AI’s press release pertaining to the incubator story. It was portrayed as further proof of the incident.

… Of course the worst instance is well known, and that's the Kuwaiti dead babies report. I was on the AI USA board at that time, it was the late Fall of 1990 and, as you know, we were on the verge of going to war. There was going to be a debate coming up in the United States Congress, and a vote. And at the end of November or so, mid-November, since I was a board member, I got a pre-publication copy of the Amnesty report on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. So I immediately read through this report and it was sloppy, it was inaccurate even its statement of applicable law. It did not seem to me that it had gone through the normal quality control process.

As for the allegation about the Iraqi soldiers taking babies out of incubators and putting them on the floor of the hospital where they did, I didn't know if that was true or not, but it certainly sounded very sensationalist to me. And as a result of that, I made an effort to hold that report back for further review, on those grounds that I gave to you. And indeed I also enlisted a fellow board member for the same reason, and he and I both tried, and I made the point, even if this story about the dead babies is true, it's completely sensationalist, and it is simply going to be used in the United States to monger for war, and could turn the tide in favor of war. And so you know, we really need to pull back on this, further review, more study.

They wouldn't do it. It was clear it was on the fast track there in London. This was not AI USA, this was in London. And it had been put on the fast track, they were ramming it through. They didn't care. Finally, I said look, let us at least put out an Errata report to accompany it on those aspects that are clearly wrong. They refused to do that either. They then put the report out, and you know what a terrible impact that had in terms of war propaganda. Of the six votes in the United States Senate that passed the resolution to go to war, several of those senators said that they were influenced by the Amnesty report. Now I want to make it clear this was not a job by Amnesty International but by London, and what happened then, when the war started, at the next AI USA board meeting, I demanded an investigation. By then it had come out that this was Kuwaiti propaganda put together by the PR firm, Hill & Knowlton, and I demanded an investigation.

Absolutely nothing happened. There was never an investigation, there was total stonewalling coming out of London. They refused ever to admit that they did anything wrong. There has never been an explanation, there has never been an apology. It's down the memory hole like 1984 and Orwell. My conclusion was that a high-level official of Amnesty International at that time, whom I will not name, was a British intelligence agent. Moreover, my fellow board member, who also investigated this independently of me, reached the exact same conclusion. So certainly when I am dealing with people who want to work with Amnesty in London, I just tell them, "Look, just understand, they're penetrated by intelligence agents, U.K., maybe U.S., I don't know, but you certainly can't trust them."
— Prof. Francis Boyle, Interview with Dennis Bernstein, CovertAction Quarterly Number 73 Summer 2002, pp. 9-12, 27.

Diana Johnstone's Fool's Crusade, Pluto Press 2002, p. 81:

Regardless of such discrepancies, Cigelj became a feminist heroine. In June 1993, she was honored by the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights "for outstanding contributions to international women's rights" and the Minneapolis Star Tribune identified her as a "Bosnian Muslim victim". In 1996, she was featured in a documentary film, "Calling the Ghosts: A Story of Rape, War and Women", launched by Human Rights Watch in June 1996 at its annual film festival and distributed by Women Make Movies. Amnesty International thereafter sponsored a 25-city U.S. tour. The promotional blurb stated "Jadranka Cigelj and Nusreta Sivac, childhood friends and legal professionals, lived the lives of ordinary women in Bosnia-Herzegovina, until one day their neighbors became their tormentors. This film documents mass rapes as a wartime tactic, focusing on these two survivors, whose personal struggles transform into a larger fight for justice against the backdrop of the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague." Two women, one of them a professional propagandist for the Tudjman regime, became documentary evidence for "mass rapes as a wartime tactic". The film was shown on university campuses as part of programs on Yugoslavia with such celebrities as General Wesley K. Clark, Bosnian ambassador to the UN Muhamed Sacirbey, and Bianca Jagger.

A political activist such as Cigelj, working for the propaganda agency of one of the parties to the conflict, and who tells an inconsistent story, cannot be considered the most reliable witness. There was naiveté on the part of the women's groups, and sloppiness on the part of the journalists, to accept without question such a partisan source.

NB: Amnesty has not issued an apology for playing along in this deception. Furthermore, at the time there were grave doubts about Cigelj's accounts given the mounting inconsistencies. No bar for an AI sponsored 25-city tour of the US.

humanitarian bombing of Serbia". When an AI director was asked to explain this decision, she answered "AI is not an anti-war organization".
Suzanne Nossel, the new head of AI-USA and the possible source of this campaign.[6] Philip Weiss discusses the reason Amnesty might have embraced this campaign, and it has all to do with the appointment of Suzanne Nossel.[7]

Posted Image

AI poster in Chicago during the NATO conference in May 2012

Amnesty Business Group. It was meant to monitor human rights observance by corporations. However, the curious thing is that it chose Sir Geoffrey Chandler to head this unit. NB: Chandler was a Shell company director, and the head of the Sustainability Council. The second curious aspect of this AI unit is the issuance of a report about a controversial oil pipeline. It is quoted as follows on its website: "Launch of Human Rights on the Line Report into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline project and the Host Government Agreement between BP and the Turkish Government." Note that this pipeline was beset by controversy because BP overlooked the rights and interests of all the people in the path of the pipeline.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised under dubious circumstances. This is what Macdonald Stainsby had to say about it:

"Beginning Thursday, November 6th until Sunday the 9th, Amnesty International held their annual film festival on Human Rights in Canada. The listings were much of the usual fare for AI: Films on Tibet, Burma, Pinochet's 1973 coup in Chile, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, even a film on Israel's secret nuclear weapons program. The festival had one other film scheduled to be the last one shown. That film had been broadcast on the CBC's 'Passionate Eye' program (twice). It had won more awards than any other film on the list of films to be put on screen at the film festival. It has been shown across Europe, including the BBC. It was removed two days before the festival, and AI still hasn't clarified why or who convinced them to do this. The film is "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", and citing a series of contradictory reasons, the film was banned from the festival by Amnesty International, after it had already been booked and listed in all of the AI programs."

"A controversy immediately ensued, and it was Venezuelans who support the film who first noticed that the very people from Venezuela that the film exposed as human rights violators had launched a campaign against it globally, wherever people might see it. Don Wright, local region (BC Yukon) coordinator of AI, was interviewed on 'Democracy Now', a radio program in New York run on the station Pacifica. There, the arguments given were (quote): "...when we choose films we strive to choose films that are nonpartisan and nonpolitical to reflect the mandate of our organization."[8] That is a rather bizarre statement, to say the least, for an organization dealing with human rights and coming from a film festival that included topics such as a successful coup in Chile and discussions of Israeli nuclear programs. Perhaps nuclear weapons in the Middle East and military coups in South America are non-political and failed coups in South America are? I guess I'm missing something here. And nonpartisan, well – I guess the Chinese government will be invited to talk on why it maintains sovereignty over Tibet next year, no doubt that we need balance here." —

Macdonald Stainsby, After the Censorship by Amnesty International, we Need to See The Revolution Will Not Be Televised More Than Ever, Venezuelanalysis.com, Nov. 12, 2003.
There is more information on this controversy on the website of the producer of the film. NB: what appears now on the website is an abridged version of the long exchange between AI and the producer; that has now been removed.

[9]. NB: Hoffman and Schulz have made a number of remarks indicating that AI will qualify its defense of human rights during the "war on terror". It is not clear where all this is going, but there are many questions. See John Pilger's article about this. It is these issues that may have had a bearing on the UNESCO squabble.

Interview with Dennis Bernstein, CovertAction Quarterly Number 73 Summer 2002, pp. 9-12, 27.
Kirsten Sellars writes in her book about Peter Berenson's partial measures and reports on South Africa during the early 1960s.[10]

Various human rights organizations sent delegations to Haiti and reported on the situation, and they also found that a government-associated group (which was also instigated by US-directed groups (IFES and/or USAID)), the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), were hostile to Aristide government (before the coup), and, after the coup, hostile to the Aristide-Lavalas movement. The human rights organizations which visited Haiti after the coup found that NCHR was compromised and biased, and proceeded to inform AI about the dubious nature of NCHR. Even though AI had been forewarned about NCHR, AI (1) utilized NCHR information, and (2) adopted the same hostility shown by NCHR towards the Aristide/Lavalas movement. While AI had protested the imprisonment of one of the leaders of the Tontons Macoute (a notorious gang/death squad under the Duvalier dictatorship), AI didn't issue any criticism or condemnation for imprisonment or torture of the legitimate Lavalas elected officials. AI never designated any Haitian prisoners with their special "prisoner of conscience" label.[12]

Odd Bedfellows

On 10 December 2003, AI co-hosted the following event:

Catastrophe in Chechnya: Escaping the Quagmire
With nearly 250 persons in attendance and presentations by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Ruud Lubbers, the conference was the largest event of its kind dedicated solely to Chechnya to be held in Washington DC.
Hosted by the American Enterprise Institute and co-sponsored by The American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, Amnesty International USA, Freedom House, the Jamestown Foundation, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, this event promises to be of great potential significance in articulating a new American attitude toward Russo-Chechen conflict.

Why is AI co-sponsoring this event? NB: all the other co-sponsors are right-wing and dubious organizations.[13]

Legal gibberish

In 2 July 2004, AI called for the suspension of weapons sales to Sudan. On 16 February 2005 it called for a suspension of weapons sales to Nepal. However, although AI has shown that while it is willing to issue such calls regarding several countries, it is not willing to request an embargo of weapons sales to Israel. Donatella Rovera, the chief researcher on Israel-Palestine offered the following explanation:

"The situations in Sudan and in Israel-Occupied Territories are quite different and different norms of international law apply, which do not make it possible to call for an arms embargos on either the Israeli or the Palestinian side. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are under Israeli military occupation (not the case for the Darfour region in Sudan). Hence, certain provisions of international humanitarian law, known as the laws of war (notably the 1907 Hague Convention and the Fourth Geneva Convention) apply in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (and not in the Darfour region)." (email communication 5 July 2004).

AI is couching its double standards in dubious legalese, but consider what Prof. Francis Boyle (Professor of International Law at Univ. of Illinois Champaign) has to say about Rovera's statement:

This is total gibberish. When I was on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA near the end of my second term in 1990-92, we received the authority to call for an arms embargo against major human rights violators, which Israel clearly qualified for at the time and still does -- even under United States domestic law. Of course no one at AI was going to do so because pro-Israel supporters were major funders of Amnesty International USA, which in turn was a major funder of Amnesty International in London. He who pays the piper calls the tune -- especially at AIUSA Headquarters in New York and at AI Headquarters in London.[14]

Prisoners of Conscience (POC), individuals designated by AI as remarkable individuals who engaged in a non-violent fashion to work for "human rights". Amnesty's official and US websites contains a continuously updated list of Cuban prisoners of conscience[15], and several right-wing Cuban émigré websites reproduce AI's Cuban POC list. Several of the individuals on AI's POC list received direct funding from the US government, but this was no bar for bestowing a POC designation on them. While AI is quick to update its Cuban POC list and to often write on behalf of these prisoners, it doesn’t have similar lists of POC for other national cases. For example, AI doesn’t publish a list of Palestinian POC, and when asked about this double standard, Donatella Rovera, AI's principal on Israel and the OPT, stated that AI doesn’t make such lists available[16]. In fact, it is very difficult to find Palestinians who have the POC designation even though there are hundreds of Palestinian "administrative detainees" who are held in Israeli jails without being charged, with dubious legal procedures or without proper legal recourse, and for indeterminate imprisonment sentences. The grand majority of such prisoners don't list as POC.

On 12 May 2010, Amnesty International issued a press release about the arbitrarily imprisoned Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian human rights advocate who is a citizen of Israel, urging his release[17]. Therein AI states: "His arrest and continued detention smacks of pure harassment, designed to hinder his human rights work. If this is the case, we would regard him as a prisoner of conscience call for his immediate and unconditional release.”

Notice that Makhoul hasn’t been designated a POC, but his case could be considered one in the future. The key distinction between being listed as a POC and simply being considered a possible POC is that hundreds of activists would write letters on his behalf if he appeared in the official POC list, but the same activists will not be asked to do anything about Makhoul because he merely "could be considered" to be a POC.
When queried about this seeming double standard, Malcolm Smart, AI's Director of Middle East and North Africa Programme, replied:[18]

Some of those held under such orders are prisoners of conscience and we can be sure of that, but it is uncertain in many other cases whether individual detainees are to be considered prisoners of conscience, according to the common criteria used by Amnesty International, or not. By its nature, the Israeli administrative detention system is a secretive process, in that the grounds for detention are not specified in detail to the detainee or his/her legal representative; inevitably, this makes it especially difficult for the detainee to challenge the order for, by example, contesting the grounds on which the detention was made. In the same way, it makes it difficult or impossible for Amnesty International to make a conclusive determination in many cases whether a particular administrative detainees can be considered a prisoner of conscience or not.

So, because Israel doesn't spell out why an individual was imprisoned arbitrarily, Amnesty will not do anything about their case. Paul de Rooij discusses Smart's other points.[19]
[20]. What is odd about the report is:

Impecable timing. The report appears at the time the U.S. and Israel are exerting massive pressure on Syria.

Selectivity about Kurds. Although Kurds reside in Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria, the report only deals with human rights violations in Syria. At present, according to KHRP, far more systematic violations of Kurdish human rights are occuring in Iraq and Turkey than in Syria, but AI studiously ignores what is happening here.

[21] The unfortunate implication of this request is that it plays along with US General Mattis suggestion that "Wikileaks has blood on its hands". These human rights organizations made their appeal despite Assange's assurances that all releases had gone through a damage minimization process, and thus the names of the informers had already been removed. On 12 August 2010, Julian Assange commented on AI's criticism, and stated that it seems that low-level AI staff contacted other HR groups, and engaged with Wikileaks about their concerns. Instead of continuing with the discussion, the letters/emails were leaked to the Wall Street Journal.[22]

The senior personnel at the human rights organizations involved in criticizing Wikileaks did not dissociate themselves from the earlier comments. There is no public indication, as of August 15, 2010, that AI is investigating human rights violations based on the information made available by Wikileaks.


author by Irish Anti-Imperialistpublication date Mon Aug 20, 2012 20:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well done to everyone to turned out today to show their condemnation of the Anglo-Zionist campaign of genocide against Africa and the Middle East, and the insidious role being played by Amnesty International in this genocidal campaign. The following letter was signed by those present and handed to an Amnesty International functionary:

Colm O’Gorman
Executive Director
Amnesty International

20th August 2012

Dear Sir

We write with grave concern in relation to the conduct of Amnesty International regarding recent conflicts and in particular, the current conflict in Syria.

It appears to us that Amnesty International has abandoned all pretence of championing universal human rights and has in its place adopted a partisan political stance aimed at encouraging war and aggression in Syria and other countries against whom the USA and its NATO allies have strategic interests.

The result of this aggression has been a corresponding increase in the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other breaches of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law by non-state actors in Syria.

As an organisation, which claims to support universal human rights, we fully understand the criticism that your organisation has laid against the Syrian State. We would expect nothing else from Amnesty International but calls for the investigation and punishment of alleged human rights violations by any State.

Silence on Arming, Funding and Training of Human Rights Abusers

We are deeply disappointed however that this same level of criticism is not also directed at those who are engaged in armed conflict against the Syrian State. For International Human Rights to be respected, they must be applied universally. A partisan and selective approach only serves to undermine the concept and value of universal human rights and we would have thought that this would be something that Amnesty International would have deeply appreciated.

We welcome statements such as that of 3rd August 2012, calling for non-state actors in Syria, and in particular the Free Syrian Army, to be held accountable for inter alia unlawful killings, kidnaps and torture which they are alleged to have committed.

However, where we see a glaring disparity in your statements is in relation to the arming of the various parties in this conflict. Your statements such as those of 10th July 2012 make clear your organisations's policy to attempt to prevent the further arming of the Syrian State.

Your organisation however has been silent on the arming, training and funding of armed insurgent groups in Syria, groups which your own organisation has levied allegations of the most serious human rights abuses. It is no secret that these groups are provided with logistical support from the NATO States, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, yet your criticism of arms supplies relate only to those weapons provided to the Syrian State, primarily by Russia.

Are the same principles of responsibility under International Law not applicable to States who arm non-state actors who commit human rights abuses?

The continued arming and funding of these groups only serves to facilitate their further human rights violations, and prolong the conflict in Syria.

Your failure to pay any scrutiny to the funding and arming of such groups calls into question whether Amnesty International is seriously interested in preventing human rights violations from occurring or in bringing the conflict in Syria to an end. A comprehensive arms embargo and assets freeze in relation to all parties to the armed conflict would surely be what members of Amnesty International could expect from its organisation. However arms and money continue to flow to Syrian rebels without comment from your organisation.

The silence on this issue is even more puzzling given that your organisation is currently in the middle of a campaign to have the global arms trade regulated. This further calls into question Amnesty's commitment to genuine arms control when it comes to those bodies which the US and NATO find convenient to arm.

Irish dimension

The issue of the training arming and support of these groups also has an Irish dimension. One former Irish resident, Mehdi Al Harati, and one Irish citizen, Hussam Najjar, have been publically named in the media as providing military and other support to the insurgent groups. There are reports that other such international mercenaries are travelling to Syria intent on joining the conflict.

The Irish government has a legal responsibility to do all that it can do to prevent human rights abuses from occurring, particularly when it comes to its own citizens and residents. It also has an obligation to investigate and punish those responsible for such abuses. We have seen nothing from Amnesty International calling on the investigation of Irish nationals or residents who have admitted being involved in the armed insurgency, or indeed the investigation of other foreign mercenaries by their country of nationality or residence.

Silence on Ethnic Cleansing

Amnesty International has also been silent on the clear religious sectarian agenda of the Syrian armed groups. Calls from the Free Syrian Army for the ethnic cleansing of Christians and Alawite Shia Muslims amount to calls for genocide. There is also copious evidence of ethnic cleansing occurring on the ground, with an estimated 1 million Syrians having already been forced to flee from the rebels due to their ethnic, religious or secular beliefs.

While there is clearly an issue in relation to the large numbers of internally displaced people and refugees from the conflict, there has been no comment by Amnesty of the ethnic cleansing element of this mass population movement.

Calls for International Military Intervention

Furthermore, Amnesty International has criticised the International community and in particular Russia and China, for not acting more decisively in Syria. The vetoed UN resolution, which drew so much criticism from your organisation was a mandate for military intervention and regime change in Syria.

Are we to understand that Amnesty International believe that military intervention is a solution to human rights violations in Syria? Does Amnesty International now support regime change? These would surely be a fundamental shift from the founding principles of the organisation.

Has Amnesty International forgotten its experience in Libya already?

We recall that in Libya Amnesty International made similar calls for UN action. We also recall that on the day after the UN agreed to such a mandate that Amnesty International issued a statement asking that any international forces engaged in military intervention respect the rights of civilians.

Despite these calls, the number of civilians killed by NATO airstrikes remains uninvestigated, the number of other civilians who lost their lives in the conflict which was escalated and prolonged due to the NATO intervention is unknown, but is most certainly amongst the tens of thousands, amongst them thousands of Black Libyans and other Black Africans, who were subjected to racist attacks by non-state actors, spurred on by later withdrawn claims by Amnesty that the state had been using sub-Saharan mercenaries to commit abuses.

The position regarding human rights in Libya, (the reason why Amnesty supported international intervention), is today recognised as being dire, with arbitrary detention, torture and extra-judicial executions commonplace.

Has intervention helped the cause of human rights in Libya? The similarities with Syria are stark. Non-state actors with stated genocidal intent are fighting an insurgency against the State, armed and supported by NATO and other nations. Yet Amnesty concentrates it’s criticism on the State and continues to call for international military intervention.


The above paints a picture of an organisation which is eager to facilitate US and NATO military intervention, and which will then appease itself in criticising the human rights abuses which follow such intervention, much in the same way that your organisation appears eager to criticise abuses by the Free Syrian Army but takes no action to prevent them from receiving the money and arms which make their abuses possible.

This approach does not help prevent human rights abuses, but actually facilitates them.

We feel duty bound to point out these anomalies to you, and to your members who we are sure would not support such an approach, and ask that you remedy these deficiencies or accept your share of the responsibility of the continued human rights violations in Syria and beyond.

In that light we call on Amnesty International do the following:

· To call on governments across the world, including the Irish government, to support Syrian sovereignty and to unambiguously condemn rebel atrocities an NATO military interference in Syrian affairs.
· To call for the closure of the Turkish border to armed groups intent on entering Syria to engage in armed conflict
· To call for an immediate and effective arms embargo and assets freeze on groups and individuals involved in promoting and engaging in armed conflict in Syria.
· To call for an end to the training and other logistical support provided to such groups, particularly from the US, UK, French, Turkish, Saudi and Qatari governments.
· To call on the Irish government to investigate and punish any Irish citizens or residents who have gone to Syria to commit crimes against Irish law, such as murder, or any crimes against International Human Rights Law or International Humanitarian Law.

Yours sincerely,

Irish Solidarity With Victims of Racist Genocide

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