contribution by Earwicga
Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International 2001-2009, was on Woman’s Hour this morning to discuss her book The Unheard Truth – Poverty and Human Rights in which Khan ‘advocates for: awareness about what she sees as the indisputable link between the title’s two components. Khan states flatly, “Poverty is the world’s worst human rights crisis.”‘. More details can be found here.
At the close of the interview Khan was asked about Gita Sahgal’s campaign against Amnesty International, specifically her claim that Amnesty has shown a gross error in judgement in those it has chosen to work with in it’s campaign to close Guantanamo. Gita Sahgal is specifically accusing Moazzam Begg of supporting the Taliban and has accused Amnesty of ignoring her complaints for years, which has led to ‘absolutely no credibility across the world in being serious about treating the equality of women and the emancipation of women seriously’.
Khan had this to say:
I hired Gita and she worked with me for six years. While I was there those concerns did not come to light. She didn’t ever express them to me so I can’t comment on her specific case or what’s happened since I left.
Then when pushed she added the following:
There are two things, first is that when you’re an advocate for human rights you obviously have to have the voices of victims heard. Victims are not paragons of virtue and Amnesty has to make very tough decisions about who it works with, who it gives a platform to. We’ve worked with the Catholic Church on the abolition of the death penalty, but we have been in opposition to the Catholic Church on sexual and reproductive rights for instance. So you have to make those judgements.
Now, during my time I launched the campaign to close Guantanamo, but I also launched the campaign to stop violence against women, because there’s a lot of talk about the Taliban, about terrorism – very little talk about sexual terror which probably takes many more victims every day in bedrooms, in battlefields, in back streets, in workplaces. So I think it’s important to focus on both issues equally strongly.
So Irene Khan, boss of Gita Sahgal didn’t hear those concerns from the time she employed Sahgal to December 2009 when she left Amnesty. Bit odd that, as Sahgal has been telling different stories in increasingly stronger tones:
Sahgal … decided to go public because she feels Amnesty has ignored her warnings for the past two years about the involvement of Begg in the charityâ€™s Counter Terror With Justice campaign … â€œI believe the campaign fundamentally damages Amnesty Internationalâ€™s integrity and, more importantly, constitutes a threat to human rights,â€ Sahgal wrote in an email to the organisationâ€™s leaders on January 30.
The Sunday Times 07/02/10
I sent two memos to my management asking a series of questions about what considerations were given to the nature of the relationship with Moazzam Begg and his organisation, Cageprisoners.
Statement following suspension 07/02/10
(one of which was on 30/01/10 as stated above)
The questions I raised with my organisation were how we had come to such a close relationship with Cageprisoners, when there has been as far as I can discover a weight of expert evidence within the organisation that would have advised against it and had advised against it
BBC Newshour 09/02/09
(So far, neither Sahgal or anybody else from Amnesty has produced any of this expert evidence or agreed with Sahgal’s assertions)
Well, I was not involved with building that relationship[between Moazzam Begg, Cageprisoners & Amnesty]. I advised very strongly against it on several occasions, for several years. On many many occasions at the level of the board of Amnesty International USA, on the level of extremely senior people in the UK, in the British section of Amnesty and had raised these issues internally, so I did not build that relationship and I think thatâ€™s a question that you should ask to my superiors.
Interview on CBC Radio 18/02/10
It is inconceivable to think that Irene Khan, in her position as Secretary General, would have missed all these occasions of strong advice from Sahgal.
Even if we conveniently forget for a minute that Sahgal has produced no evidence and that nobody from Amnesty is supporting her claims – in fact quite the opposite, it is clear that even Sahgal’s own statements don’t marry up with each other, let alone marry with the recollections of her boss at Amnesty, Irene Khan.
Not surprising that Sahgal is garnering claims of smear merchant is it really?
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Current affairs,Islamists