• Family

    • Liberal Conspiracy
  • Comrades

    • Andy Worthington
    • Angela Saini
    • Bartholomew’s notes
    • Bleeding Heart Show
    • Bloggerheads
    • Blood & Treasure
    • Campaign against Honour Killings
    • Cath Elliott
    • Chicken Yoghurt
    • Daily Mail Watch
    • Dave Hill
    • Dr. Mitu Khurana
    • Europhobia
    • Faith in Society
    • Feminism for non-lefties
    • Feministing
    • Gender Bytes
    • Harry’s Place
    • IKWRO
    • MediaWatchWatch
    • Ministry of Truth
    • Natalie Bennett
    • New Statesman blogs
    • Operation Black Vote
    • Our Kingdom
    • Robert Sharp
    • Rupa Huq
    • Shiraz Socialist
    • Shuggy’s Blog
    • Stumbling and Mumbling
    • Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • The F Word
    • Though Cowards Flinch
    • Tory Troll
    • UK Polling Report
  • In-laws

    • Aaron Heath
    • Douglas Clark's saloon
    • Earwicga
    • Get There Steppin’
    • Incurable Hippie
    • Neha Viswanathan
    • Power of Choice
    • Rita Banerji
    • Sarah
    • Sepia Mutiny
    • Sonia Faleiro
    • Southall Black Sisters
    • The Langar Hall
    • Turban Head

  • Gita Sahgal and Amnesty: time to move on

    by Rumbold
    7th March, 2010 at 9:38 pm    

    Dr Aisha Gill in the comments highlights a 2007 speech by Gita Sahgal entitled: Negotiating Scylla and Charybdis – Human rights and terrorism. It is a good, no nonsense summary of the impact of both terrorism and counter-terrorism on human rights:

    Yet states counter-terrorism measures do little to defend and protect people’s customary pleasures or their fundamental right to freedom of expression. Instead, they negotiate away the rights of women and ignore the threat to religious minorities. Many governments in pursuing both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ counter-terrorism, play off one form of religion to control another that they deem to be more dangerous to their current interests. It is a cynical game and it is ultimately self-defeating. Governments, including Western governments have done much to promote organisations as their allies against terrorism against whom there are serious allegations of human rights abuses, which could amount to crimes against humanity. These they have termed ‘moderate Muslim’ groups.

    It’s another reminder of why we need organisations like Amnesty and people like Gita Sahgal. The world isn’t overburdened with people and groups who are willing to stand up and document human-rights abuses. Gita Sahgal had some legitimate criticisms to make of Amnesty, but it doesn’t mean that Amnesty is somehow morally bankrupt either. Too many of us felt it necessary to pick sides, including me, which then caused collateral damage to the very causes that both Amnesty and Gita fight for (by shifting attention away from them). Fortunately I was disabused of that need to pick sides by a very wise woman. Amnesty should reinstate Gita, and both should be left to get on with what they do best: championing the rights of the weakest in the world.

                  Post to del.icio.us

    Filed in: Civil liberties

    94 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. pickles

      Blog post:: Gita Saghal and Amnesty: time to move on http://bit.ly/9lq1gl

    1. David T — on 7th March, 2010 at 10:21 pm  

      There really is no need to pick sides.

      This is essentially an internal battle within Amnesty, of which Gita Saghal’s stand is a public manifestation.

      Gita is defending both Amnesty, as an institution, and the values on which it is built. Read what she has said.

    2. TheIrie — on 7th March, 2010 at 10:38 pm  

      “There really is no need to pick sides”

      Have you seen Harry’s Place’s output on this episode? It seemed to me to have pretty much picked a side. At one point Gene even managed to drag Israel into the equation. Maybe you should argue your point on your own blog.

    3. Anon — on 7th March, 2010 at 10:44 pm  

      Clearly it was a mistake for Sunny to go off on holiday and leave Rumbold in charge of the shop.

    4. Shatterface — on 8th March, 2010 at 2:10 am  

      ‘Have you seen Harry’s Place’s output on this episode?’

      I’ve certainly seen this site’s disgusting attack on Sahgal as a McCarthyite and attempts to portray her as a Zionist sockpuppet.

      Thanks to the long memory of the internet, those articles will still be accessible here long after Gita is reinstated.

    5. KJB — on 8th March, 2010 at 2:42 am  

      Thanks, Rumbold. :-D

      It’s a shame to see that every poster above me has totally ignored your noble sentiments, though.

      Just for the benefit of you fairweathers and trolls (and I’m looking right at Shatterface here):

      - Rumbold is ONE of the editors of this site, with his own views, distinct from Sunny’s.
      - Sunny does not claim, and has never claimed, to be the foremost writer or authority on this blog. He’s the editor, sure. He maintains a general overall stance on things (Asian, socially liberal etc.), and his way of writing things is admittedly painfully clumsy at times. However, he is not a ‘Zionist sockpuppet,’ nor has he called Gita Sahgal one. It was earwicga who wrote about GS’s ‘McCarthyism’ and I don’t know what her views are and neither do any of you, so quit the pearl-clutching, would ya?

      If Sunny’s tone got strident at times on this matter, well, frankly I don’t blame him. It was a very simple point that he was trying to get across: most of the critics of Amnesty have a HELL of a lot of form in attacking it and other HR orgs they don’t like, and were also distorting the media coverage around the whole affair. I could not find out the basic facts about this case because of all the screaming on both sides, but most noticeably on the side supporting her. Jeez.

      I’m guessing you’re not very old Shatterface, because there’s something of an overly-defensive tone to many of your posts, but you appear to be able to read - so, do.

      Too many of us felt it necessary to pick sides, including me, which then caused collateral damage to the very causes that both Amnesty and Gita fight for (by shifting attention away from them). Amnesty should reinstate Gita, and both should be left to get on with what they do best: championing the rights of the weakest in the world.

      Wisdom! Let’s hope they work out their differences - or go their separate ways, without more of the shriek-show.

    6. MiriamBinder — on 8th March, 2010 at 6:40 am  

      A few years ago I saw a wonderful satyric cartoon. A civil servant, hands ready on the crank, a prime minister seated at his desk … the caption? “Shall I crank up the fear factor prime minister?”

      I reckon we have long past the point where they need to. We seem to be able to crank it up all by ourselves now.

    7. Sarah AB — on 8th March, 2010 at 7:37 am  

      Good post - even if this debate hasn’t been fully constructive it has (at times) been interesting - and it’s made me think more about AI - and I’ll try to be a more active member (I have guilty memories of unopened magazines hanging around my in tray …)

    8. cjcjc — on 8th March, 2010 at 8:04 am  

      What in fact is the next step / timetable wrt Gita Sahgal’s employment status?

    9. bananabrain — on 8th March, 2010 at 9:13 am  


      very decent of you. of course, i understand that “decent” is supposedly a term of abuse in some quarters, not that i follow the ideological eddies of the left.



    10. notmarvin — on 8th March, 2010 at 9:30 am  

      I’m glad you found your voice again Rumbold. Has anybody texted Sunny with a “Rumbold’s done a post asking for the reinstatement of Gita”?! :P

      …Amnesty should do two things

      1. Reinstate Gita - I would understand if they wanted this with a caveat or a caution on speaking out in the press.

      2. Realise that they need to try, really try to be more politically balanced. Studies show that in America it is right wingers (Republicans) who give more money to charity than left wingers (Dems). Indeed it may well be the case it’s because right wingers are richer, but the point remains. If you are funded by the public spectrum you need to show some respect to the views and priorities of that public spectrum.

      They need to realise that yes, actually, of course they are staffed with a vast majority of left wingers ranging far-left to approaching centre. This is bound to move the centre ground of Amnesty without concious redirection.

      This is something the BBC constantly battle with and credit due, considering majority staff views I think they do a pretty good job of giving as much (political) air time to Tories and right wingers as much as their natural political allies on the big state left. You can forget Radio 4 comedy panels and the like but you gotta let some things slide :P

    11. chicojack — on 8th March, 2010 at 9:40 am  

      Sorry, I fail to see what this 2007 speech (headlines from other peoples research to make an obvious point) has do with gita’s and AI current internal tribunal issue. ?
      Yes gita doesn’t share HPs type views(surprise!) but what’s that got to do with being reinstated? Unless you think AI read HP and PP and got scared!

    12. FlyingRodent — on 8th March, 2010 at 9:58 am  

      Quite obviously it’s “time to move on” because, despite some strong efforts, the story hasn’t pulled much traction in the press or from Amnesty’s contributors.

      Here’s how it went…

      1) Sahgal suspended; angry and suspiciously uniform cries of “Betrayal!” and “Has Amnesty fallen to the Commies?” from the usual suspects.

      2) (Tumbleweeds).

      This is because the usual suspects can’t file on the same story two or three weeks running, and nobody else is interested in picking it up and running with it. Do a quick Google News search for this week and you’ll see what I mean.

      Now I’d expect a long period of silence followed by another outbreak of grumping when AI decide not to give Sahgal her job back, for denouncing the org to Rupert Human rights are a criminals’ charter Murdoch.

      After that, the story will crop up every time Amnesty have the temerity to suggest that ourselves, the Americans or the Israelis should adhere to all those international treaties and conventions that we’ve signed.

    13. douglas clark — on 8th March, 2010 at 11:09 am  


      Interesting post. But I do not think the debate here has been framed in quite the way you say. It is the people who have used Gita Saghal as a means to attack AI that have been the main cause of the disagreements. Not Gita Saghal.

      I note David T wishes to call ‘keys’ on this. If that is so, perhaps he’ll want to distance himself from Eric Lee, who frankly seems to be using this spat in an opportunistic fashion?

    14. Morrigan — on 8th March, 2010 at 11:21 am  

      That’s more like it.

      A little bit on the fence, but you have the benefit of advice from a wise woman, which not all of us do.

      The people shouting loudest about Gita Sahgal’s stance being co-opted into wider agendas are those with the biggest agendas of their own. Remember that.

      I hope Sunny will respect the editorial stance you have adopted here: TIME TO MOVE ON.

    15. notmarvin — on 8th March, 2010 at 11:50 am  

      The people shouting loudest about Gita Sahgal’s stance being co-opted into wider agendas are those with the biggest agendas of their own. Remember that.

      Excatamon Morrigan.

      People hinting about zio-con-war-monger forces at work; complaining that other people have an agenda!! All they want talk about is the Palestinians and Zionists - ignoring all the other surrounding states that deny Palestinians civil and human rights. And of course to the exclusion of countless other, far worse off peoples around the globe. Yet we are led to believe that these people so do happen to be the balanced ones!

      Of course anti-islamists will support Gita and some anti-islamists, and even anti-muslims. That they do should not change ones’ stance on Gita in the slightest.

      Did the fact that the BNP, National Front etc opposed the Iraq war change your opinions of opposing the Iraq war? What about the self-appointed leader of the anti-war crowd, George Galloway; that he praised Saddam as indefatigable (after gassing the Kurds) didn’t seem to budge the anti-war crowd one iota. Nor would it, if one has ones own principled stance.

    16. FlyingRodent — on 8th March, 2010 at 12:55 pm  

      Yes, gents, the anti-Zionists and the ever-awful Galloway! And they have a bigger agenda than we do!

      That said, I can’t help but notice that, while sales of a well-established product called Amnesty Regular - Basically Pretty Good, Innit? have remained strong, others were trialling a new product called Amnesty Bastards! - Now With Extra Islamofascism.

      Well, both of these have been competing in ye olde marketplace of ideas for at least a month now, and I think we can conclusively say that the public aren’t buying the new brand. Time for a recall, I think, before you bankrupt the company.

      Now, I realise that yer Nicks, Christophers and Daves will probably blame their competitor’s market dominance, or some kind of awful liberal price-fixing scam, for their failure.

      OTOH, I would suggest that the reason the public are barely aware of Amnesty Bastards!, and wouldn’t buy it if they were, is that it’s a fundamentally shit product attached to a repellent advertising campaign. Further, you have to question whether it was wise to employ those particular salesmen. After all, you wouldn’t hire Harold Shipman to sell stairlifts and walk-in baths to the elderly, would you?

    17. Bill Corr — on 8th March, 2010 at 1:02 pm  

      This is somewhat off-topic as well as being improbable to some.


      To many here, International Wimmin’s Day in Saudi Arabia is as improbable as Fathers’ Day in Brixton* and, anyway, in the eyes of true believers the Jeddah-based ‘Arab News’ is in the hands of secularists and munafiqoon.

      * The late Princess Diana blurted this out in the presence of the Bigears of Highgrove and Sir Laurens van der Post, if Kitty Kelley is to be believed.

    18. Brownie — on 8th March, 2010 at 1:58 pm  

      After all, you wouldn’t hire Harold Shipman to sell stairlifts and walk-in baths to the elderly, would you?

      Or use David Irving to front your free speech campaign.

      OTOH, I would suggest that the reason the public are barely aware of Amnesty Bastards!, and wouldn’t buy it if they were, is that it’s a fundamentally shit product attached to a repellent advertising campaign.

      That and the fact that this campaign, such as it could ever be called a ‘campaign’, simpyly didn’t exist on the scale that almost every single one of your forays into this discussion has pretended it did. Indeed, it is nothing more than the mirror-image of the counter-campaign to brand Gita Sahgal a McCarthyite, neo-con, torture-supporting Islamaphobe.

      There are two sorts of dicsusion you can have: the one with the sane majority/minority debating in good faith using reality-based argument constructs; or the other, with the marginalised nutbars whose every keystroke identifies them as the sort of person you don’t want sitting next to you on the bus. You go for the latter with alarming regularity.

      It’s not yet clear to me whether they attract you, or the other way around.

    19. FlyingRodent — on 8th March, 2010 at 2:47 pm  

      Well, that’s a fascinating contribution Brownie and I’m glad to hear that this sorry incident has so closely resembled a bullshit explosion at a Euston Manifesto nostalgia reunion because OMG mentalz.

      Nonetheless, the present situation is one of a) total public indifference and b) near-total indifference amongst Amnesty contributors. I’m not surprised by the latter, since there’s always some damn fool bashing Amnesty for some damn fool reason, and I imagine AI’s contributors are used to this kind of thing.

      For now, let’s just sit back and enjoy Eric Lee’s attempt to go all Invasion of the Body-Snatchers on the Amnesty board in an openly-declared attempt to correct some perceived bias. My guess is that voters for a human rights body might be wary of a candidate who stands on a platform of talking less about the HR violations of country (x) for ideological reasons, but let’s wait and see.

    20. Chris Williams — on 8th March, 2010 at 2:55 pm  

      ‘reinstate Saghal’ . . . .

      Let’s fast-forward to an Amnesty Council (or whatever) meeting in 2012, shall we?

      (….Balamory-style dissolve…)

      Chair: “Thanks for those presentations, everyone. As we’re aware, there are passions, as well as good reasons, on both sides, so we need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the amended option and pay close attention to our founding charter when we make up our minds. Are we ready to come to a vote?”

      Advocate of position X: “Fine by me - as you know, I don’t want this to go against us, and I promise that if it does, we’ll be back next year with a similar proposal, but I can see that we’ve talked it round and now it’s time to come to a decision.”

      Advocate of poisition not-X” “I’m cool with this too - let’s take it to a vote. Oh, and by the way, if it goes against us, see this number on my mobile? The one on quick-dial? Andrew Gilligan. Just bear that in mind, eh?”

    21. cjcjc — on 8th March, 2010 at 3:20 pm  

      How’s the moving on going?

    22. Random Guy — on 8th March, 2010 at 3:33 pm  

      LOL, not much moving on as all the usual axe-grinders seem to have flocked to this post.

    23. Chris Williams — on 8th March, 2010 at 3:44 pm  

      Hint: most of the time, when someone says (however politely) “Of course, all reasonable people now agree X”, it’s usually worth checking out what’s listed under ‘X’, and seeing if any of it is batshit crazy, or merely sub-optimal, and if so, pointing that out.

      Also, when someone says “Move along, there’s nothing to see here”, much (though by no means all) of the time, there’s actually something to see.


    24. Rumbold — on 8th March, 2010 at 7:51 pm  

      Thanks KJB.

      Heh cjcjc (#20).

      My central point, which some has grasped, is that this debate, or fight, or whatver you want to call it, doesn’t really benefit supporters of human rights anymore.

    25. Rumbold — on 8th March, 2010 at 7:59 pm  


      Interesting post. But I do not think the debate here has been framed in quite the way you say. It is the people who have used Gita Saghal as a means to attack AI that have been the main cause of the disagreements. Not Gita Saghal.

      es, agree partially, and the dispute has been exacerbated by those ‘on the other side’ who then attack Gita Sahgal because people are using her to attack AI. And so on.

    26. Rumbold — on 8th March, 2010 at 8:08 pm  

      Thanks BB and Faisal- sorry, you were caught in the spam filter.

    27. steve — on 8th March, 2010 at 8:17 pm  

      My central point, which some has grasped, is that this debate, or fight, or whatver you want to call it, doesn’t really benefit supporters of human rights anymore.

      I don’t think that it ever really did.

    28. douglas clark — on 8th March, 2010 at 8:47 pm  

      Rumbold @ 26,

      As far as I recall, and I have enough detractors around here that will point, forensically, to any evidence that I have said that Gita Sahgal is or was culpable in any of this bullshit. I have said nothing of the sort.

      I have pointed out that there are people with an agenda, posting here. I have pointed out what their agenda actually is.

      You really need to come down on a side. It is not Gita Sahgal and Amnesty, it is folk that pain when told they are wrong, versus Gita Sahgal and AI. These tend to be people that feel they have a right to patronise you - you or me - and claim moral authority, when I think you know you better than that. They are playing a game with our tolerance. That is what they do.

      That is the terms of the debate around here. As defined by David T and Brownie.

      That is why I would like to know just how Brownie, for instance, would vote ré the completely unbiased Eric Lee?

      This is a mountain out of a molehill and David T, Brownie and there acolytes have some explaining to do.

      Else I will see it as an unfair attack on AI and an example, yet again, of their belief that they are Malcolm Tucker wannabes’

    29. douglas clark — on 8th March, 2010 at 9:05 pm  

      steve @ 28,

      It never did.

      It is a takeover bid by people with a different agenda.

    30. Rumbold — on 8th March, 2010 at 9:25 pm  


      As far as I recall, and I have enough detractors around here that will point, forensically, to any evidence that I have said that Gita Sahgal is or was culpable in any of this bullshit. I have said nothing of the sort.

      I don’t think anyone is saying that. Or at least they shouldn’t be. I certainly have not.

    31. earwicga — on 8th March, 2010 at 9:38 pm  

      I don’t particularly feel the need to take a side. When I first read the ST article I felt it was very odd and a view of Moazzam Begg that I had seen no evidence for. I still haven’t seen any evidence for Gita Sahgal’s view of Moazzam Begg. And I am basing that on her words and actions - not on the words and actions of the ‘decents’ who are pretty much irrelevant other than being irritating buzzing things. I wouldn’t have written about any of this if it had made any sense, I would have signed the petition instead.

      Personally this whole thing makes no difference to me - I shall continue to support Amnesty, and human rights will continue to be disregarded in a wholescale way by all and sundry.

      Additionally, I cannot see how Gita Sahgal is going to return to Amnesty International if she were asked because she believes that AI are neglilent. Her concerns considered and were not upheld. Why would she return? We shall wait and see what happens.

    32. FlyingRodent — on 8th March, 2010 at 9:52 pm  

      I think it’s important to note that, if you canvassed the UK public or even AI contributors on whether it was “Time to move on,” almost all of them would say, Move on from what?

    33. Brownie — on 8th March, 2010 at 11:17 pm  

      The Life and Works of earwicga:

      Vol. 1 - Rejecting Gita Sahgal’s McCarthyism
      Vol. 2 - I don’t particularly feel the need to take a side.

      Be sure to let us know when you finally “take a side”, earwicga.

    34. sonia — on 8th March, 2010 at 11:42 pm  

      leave earwicga alone. she makes good points! well said in no. 32.

      well said Rumbold

    35. Brownie — on 8th March, 2010 at 11:53 pm  

      leave earwicga alone. she makes good points!

      Where? Unless you mean Gita Sahgal *is* exhibiting McCathyite tendencies by, er, being suspended from her job?

    36. douglas clark — on 9th March, 2010 at 12:02 am  

      Rumbold @ 31,

      Thank you for that.

      Perhaps you’d like to respond to the rest of my post @ 29?

      I know you to be an honest man.

      It ill behoves you to be shilling for a parcel of rogues. For that is what the entire ‘decent’ case has consisted of.


      Lies, half truths and innuendo. Most of it is completely unsubstantiated, most of it the sort of cheap gossip that you’d expect to see being discussed over a garden fence about her at Number 27. It is a frankly rotten and beyond parody.

      Mix and match in any proportions that you care to, it still makes it an attack on AI.

      It is notable that neither David T nor Brownie have even defended the post on Harrys’ Place that appears to support a messed up idea of what AI ought to be about in favour of an Israel lite version. As advocated by Eric Lee. How would that work exactly? I doubt a proportionate condemnation of Israel is what he has in mind. He wishes to silence criticism.

      See here:


      Two-thirds of page 4 is taken up with an article about Gaza, about the Israeli blockade. It does not once mention the fact that Egypt too shares a border with Gaza, and that it — like the international community — enforces strict border controls because a terrorist organization, Hamas, has seized control of the territory. (There is no such blockade of the West Bank, which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.)
      Page 8 makes the top ‘what you can do’ item an appeal to the UK government to lift the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
      Page 22 is a feature on the use of cluster bombs. It is illustrated with a photo of young girl injured by Israeli cluster bombs used in Lebanon.
      Israel is named as a country that produced cluster munitions on page 23.
      Page 28 has an ‘Action update’ focussing on the denial of clean water to Palestinians by the Israeli government, part of a policy, Amnesty says, “to drive Palestinians from their homs to make way for further illegal Israeli settlements”. No mention of the Israeli settlement freeze announced by the Netanyahu government.
      Page 30 gives a couple of examples of feedback the organisation receives — and the first one condemns Amnesty for “calling for an arms embargo” on Gaza. The writer, presumably, supports the import of arms into Gaza where they can be used by Hamas to attack Israel.
      Page 33 has ‘Appeals updates’ and the first one is about a Palestinian, jailed by Israel, who was released and “is now at home with his family and plans to resume his studies”. There is no mention of what he was jailed for — presumably, links to a terrorist organization.
      Page 34 lists upcoming events. One lecture includes Gaza in the title. Another is a dramatised reading about a family in Gaza.
      Page 37 runs a letter from a reader protesting Israel’s treatment of convicted spy Mordecai Vanunu.
      Another letter defends Israel on the water policy stuff, but gets a repy from Amnesty — the only editorial reply to any letter in the magazine — saying simply that AI “wrote to Israel’s Water Authority before the report was published but received no response.”
      That’s 10 or 11 references to Israel in a 40 page magazine……..

      And the mentions of Israel are biased, incomplete, sometimes inaccurate.

      One wonders why this tiny country which faces relentless violence from its enemies and yet retains its essentially democratic character — why it is the subject of so much attention by Amnesty?

      That is agenda driven politics, which uses the usual tactics of running from the sublime to the ridiculous. It most certainly has nothing to do with universal Human Rights. It is also an unreasonable response to the issues of the day. Not that you’d know that if you read Harry’s Place or thought Eric Lee was a credible candidate for AI governance.

      So, what are we mere fans of universal human rights to make of it? Should we surrender to the propoganda of David T and Brownie and all the other ridiculous shills for a non universal human rights organisation, or what?

      The fact of the matter is that Israel has human rights issues and brushing them under the carpet is not what AI ought, or indeed, is, about.

      I, too, will continue to support AI. Especially against this sort of special pleading.

    37. dave bones — on 9th March, 2010 at 12:14 am  

      No time to read discussion I’m afraid, just saying I agree totally with you Rumbold- I said that all along! (for a change)

    38. Refresh — on 9th March, 2010 at 9:55 am  


      That extract from Gita Sahgal’s 2007 speech is no more than what is logical. That does not relate to what this manufactured dispute is about.

      In fact Shamit on a similar thread had defiantly said that we will not let terrorism change our values and way of life (paraphrased) - and yet the responses were exactly that. In fact it was a calling for a fundamental change.

      And for goodness sake do not try to brush this one under the carpet - its far too important. Gita Sahgal, whether she likes it or not has a militia of her own, if and when she is considered for reinstatement it will be the swishing machetes of the TonTon Macoute wing of the Eustonites I will be listening out for.

    39. persephone — on 11th March, 2010 at 4:23 pm  

      It seems Gita is looking for Amnesty to act as a moral guardian in respect of Begg being a perfect individual on the criteria she thinks he ought to be perfect on. Yet using the same argument, Gita has shown herself to be equally ‘imperfect’ – in that she has publicly embarrassed her employer and distracted their human rights focus through having to deal with an employees opinions in the press, carrying out the internal enquiry and no doubt fire fighting within AI.

      As a senior employee is she doing what is best for AI? I would understand it if the use of Begg had proved to be more detrimental than good on the issue of Gitmo. But surely that could have been done internally first –any credible organisation would avoid the use of a person in a public sphere if it was felt to be the case. And I have enough trust in AI to have made that call.

      The ultimate shame would be that both AI and Gita lose trust in each other after this and that a noteworthy person in the area of human rights is lost.

    40. douglas clark — on 11th March, 2010 at 4:43 pm  

      persephone @ 40,

      Well said. Any update on what is happening now? It all seems to have gone a bit quiet.

    41. Refresh — on 11th March, 2010 at 5:27 pm  

      ‘It all seems to have gone a bit quiet.’

      The lull before the storm. The TonTon Macoute will be back as soon as Gita Sahgal’s reinstatement comes up for consideration.

      Batten down the hatches.

    42. sonia — on 11th March, 2010 at 5:37 pm  

      very well said perspephone, and yes, it would be good if people could be apply a bit more wisdom as you do.

      Douglas Clark, what is great need to come down on one side or the other?

    43. sonia — on 11th March, 2010 at 5:38 pm  

      Anyway this is all detracting from the real work afoot.

    44. sonia — on 11th March, 2010 at 5:40 pm  

      the main continuing relevant and pertinent issue - is transparency, the need for this, and the ongoing need to ensure as much transparency as possible in organisational activities.

      for any campaigning organisation, and one that holds a heavy remit.

      On the other hand, what this also shows is people trust Amnesty, but at the end of the day, there is a HUGE amount of work to be done, people to be saved and rights guarded, and only so many people. So we all need to get involved and support the work of such organisations and not just tell them to do it, and then not participate ourselves, nor help them identify resources - to carry this ‘world human rights’ remit we seem to have shoved on to them.

    45. Chicojack — on 13th March, 2010 at 9:19 am  

      Whatever Gita’s views, one reason I think she can’t possibly be reinstate is because of all the false spin she has fed the press.
      First look at things in this context:
      Widney, AI latest statement on Gita;
      ‘’In order to protect all those involved in a personnel matter, our policies include a requirement of confidentiality on all parties. This is why we are speaking about this issue only to the extent required to respond to inaccurate information in the public domain.’’
      (N.B all parties)
      So therefore one can only highlight from what’s been said thus far, so for starters:…
      Widney Wall Street Journal :
      ‘’As Gita Sahgal’s senior manager, I did encourage her to apply for a newly created position in Amnesty International and encouraged her to document her concerns regarding Amnesty International’s relationship with Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners.’’
      Gita, Wall Street Journal:
      ‘If you don’t give me the power to clean up this Begg situation, I won’t take on the gender affairs assignment. ….I was promoted with full support.”
      (N.B …newly created position… apply for…promoted…? (staff aren’t promoted within in AI, they have to apply for a position))
      Widney, AI statement:
      ‘’she was not promoted in our organisation with the promise that she could “clean up this Begg situation”
      Gita in her 1st statement: :
      ‘’(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. I have received no answer to my questions.’’
      Widney, Wall Street Journal:
      ‘’When I received her memo I read it immediately, and she was promptly informed that we would look into the issues she raised’’.
      Widney, AI statement:
      ‘’ She wrote her 30 January memo, cited in The Sunday Times, at the request of Amnesty International’s senior management…. We regret that she decided to go to The Sunday Times only a few days later’’
      (N.B 30th Jan was a friday)
      BBC Radio :
      BBC to Gita : ”you sent these emails, these requests, to people within Amnesty and you’re saying that their reaction has been to suspend you?”
      Gita,: ” That’s correct.”

      It’s not correct, it’s lying for effect.

    46. MiriamBinder — on 13th March, 2010 at 10:00 am  

      Gita Sahgal was suspended after going to the press. Any sensible organisation would do that. And something that keeps being forgotten … Gita Sahgal was suspended on FULL PAY!

    47. chicojack — on 13th March, 2010 at 2:38 pm  

      I agree miriamBinder. That’s the facts. My point is that by her spinning the truth about the circumstances surrounding her suspending in the press, how can she hope to be reinstated? (If reinstated is the wrong word, -I mean ‘un-suspended’) - it must seriously damage her case. Do you think she’s worked that out? That the point she feels she’s making, or whatever future she’s lined up for herself, is far more important than her relationship with AI. That she is prepare to continue to abuse her position, by playing the victim of AI, even being callous enough to abuse the confidentiality policy. To me her behaviour in the press strikes me as someone who is more than prepare to kiss goodbye reinstatement. i.e she taking many for a ride including rumbold.

    48. MiriamBinder — on 13th March, 2010 at 3:26 pm  

      I have said this before somewhere on one of the many threads on this issue. If, and that is a big IF, I were to be forced to chose sides then it would have to be Amnesty International. At the time I also said that we can survive without a Gita Sahgal but we need an Amnesty International.

      Gita’s subsequent behaviour appears to me to be very much the bahviour of a person who has re-evaluated her position, taken into consideration the consequences of said behaviour and realises that she has effectively either burnt her bridges or had her bridges burned for her …

      I don’t think I for one would want to go down the road that would subscribe an intentional misleading (or nose leading) of individuals to Gita Sahgal. She may well have acted foolishly; but I do her the credit of allowing that it may have been impetuous rather then malicious when she originally went to the press. I also feel that it is the subsequent ‘roller-coaster’ effect that has led to the point where she feels she has no future in Amnesty International anymore.

      (I would stress here that that is ascribing a naivity and political innocence to her that I would not have expected to find in an individual who had managed to reach the position of Head of the Gender Unit in an organisation such as Amnesty International. Still … odder things have happened.)

      Like it or not, she is now preparing for the rest of her financially productive life.

    49. Dr Aisha Gill — on 14th March, 2010 at 3:08 pm  

      Statement From Bennie Bunsee who is a freelance journalist and writer living and working in South Africa:


    50. Dr Aisha Gill — on 14th March, 2010 at 3:09 pm  

      Statement From Bennie Bunsee
      Friday 12 March 2010

      I absolutely support Gita Sahgal’s position re Amnesty and the Taliban sympathizers. She has courageously taken a stand against an organisation that has a great international reputation, and one that is known to uphold the struggle for human rights wherever injustices exist in the world, and bring succour to desperate people. The demise of Amnesty will be a great loss to the struggle for democratic and human rights in the world. Therefore Gita Sahgal’s position is of importance to the international struggle for justice. For if Amnesty pursues the path it is taking in supporting a known Taliban sympathiser it will tarnish its great reputation, and probably reduce the great weight it carries in the councils of the world where its voice on behalf of the exploited and oppressed is heard and respected. Therefore her stand will ultimately benefit Amnesty, and Amnesty must not lightly dismiss it.

      The Taliban and similar Islamic fundamentalist and Muslim jehadist organisations are fascist organisations. They do not belong to the progressive movements of the world that uphold and fight for social justice, democratic and civil liberties, human rights, workers and womens’rights,etc. Most importantly the vast majority of Muslim people do not support the jehadis groups of any kind. A very recent “Newsweek” article by Fareed Zakaria makes that clear. Zakaria makes clear that the greater number of Muslim countries are rejecting the jehadists and their destructive, violent approach to political issues in their countries. The Muslim countries are facing an acute struggle between the attempts to establish secular modernist states and governments on the basis of the United Nations Charter principle of the self-determination of nations, and those who wish to take Muslim peoples back to feudal times in the name of an Islamic fundamentalism that is a perversion of the peaceful teachings of Islam. It is an ongoing struggle, and also a life and death struggle between the two sides.

      Take the Muslim fundamentalist treatment of women. It is atrocious. In many Muslim countries a Muslim woman cannot walk in the streets, must not watch TV or listen to music, cannot get an education, cannot visit a doctor without the presence of her husband, is automatically guilty if she is raped, is stoned for adultery, are not allowed to vote, cannot go to sports stadia, are not allowed to drive, are subjected to honour killings, and so on. She is your modern slave to every whim of men, a mere appendage.

      Anybody who has read the book or seen the film of “The Kite Runner” would have got a glimpse of the fascism of the Taliban and like organisations. Their politics belong to the mediaeval and feudal times, if what they believe in can be called politics. If many of the Muslim countries are in total disarray today it is because of their embrace of Islamic fundamentalism. It is the worst enemy of the Muslim peoples. Look at the mess that Pakistan is in since its inception it has attempted to be a theological state. This is not to say that that Muslims must deny their religion Islam, the Koran and the teachings of Muhammed.

      I have been a vigorous supporter of the Palestinian struggle for the past 50 years, and still am. But I do not support Hamas because it is an Islamic fundamentalist organisation.

      I am not prepared to fight against one form of oppression (Zionism) and support another that resembles another form of oppression (Islamic fundamentalsim). Hamas was actually created by the Zionist Israel to counter the secularism of the PLO initially.

      Progressive movements in the West, who also can be said to belong to the Left, must learn from the historical examples of Stalinism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe which ultimately collapsed in its own vomit. While there were achievements to the socialist countries its history was also darkened by the human rights atrocities committed in the name of socialism. Much of it was a form of neo-fascism. Never again will I allow myself to be fooled in pursuing an ideal by repeating the methods of the oppressor. Such replication leads to disaster.

      I have lived and was very active with the British, and to some degree with the European Left. I am sick and tired of the loonies of this left forces. I have heard that some socialist forces support the Islamic fundamentalists in the name of anti-imperialism. Christopher Hitchens rightly calls them the anti-imperialism of fools. I think that Tariq Ali also echoes these views.

      The European Left has been dreaming of making revolution for the past 100 years but has never come near to doing so. They end up idealising other peoples’ struggles, imagining all kinds of great happenings in those struggles, only to be disillusioned. Today it is Venezuela. I am also a critical supporter of Hugo Chaves, but the reforms carried out in that country is no different from the state in Sweden. But it is not socialism as traditionally understood. I often found European socialists to be infantile, they do constitute what is called the “loony left”. I say this with a great deal of respect for many of them who have a genuine desire to create a better society. But the expereince of Stalinism should teach us not to be ridiculously idealistic.

      The Taliban like Islamic fundamentalist organisations represent a form of fascism and must be defeated. Those who support them are actually supporting the oppression of the

      Muslim peoples in these countries where they operate, many of them who do not hesistate to engage in the drug busines to finance their nefarious activities, damaging thelives of millions of innocent young people where drugs are sold.

      Bennie Bunsee is a free lance journalist and writer living and working in South Africa. He is also currently chief co-ordinator of the Diop/Du Bois Institute, a Pan-Africanist Institute based in Cape Town working towards the restitution of African dignity and the unity of the African countries after centuries of colonial and neo-colonial exploitation, as an answer to Western forms of globalisation, the new form of exploitation of the countries of the South

    51. MiriamBinder — on 14th March, 2010 at 4:00 pm  

      Can anyone remember whether Dr Aisha Gill has ever made a contribution to the discussion … apart from these links that appear that is …

    52. earwicga — on 14th March, 2010 at 4:16 pm  

      She hasn’t - it’s just spam.

    53. Cjcjc — on 14th March, 2010 at 5:58 pm  

      Strangely relevant spam.

    54. earwicga — on 14th March, 2010 at 6:02 pm  

      I imagine you find a lot of spam relevant Cjcjc.

    55. Cjcjc — on 14th March, 2010 at 6:40 pm  

      Well Dr Gill is praised in the very first sentence of the OP!

    56. earwicga — on 14th March, 2010 at 6:57 pm  

      Dr. Gill is named as author of spam in the first sentence of the OP Cjcjc. It would be hard to praise her as she doesn’t ever leave a comment.

    57. Don — on 14th March, 2010 at 7:20 pm  

      Rumbold citing spam as a source? Tut tut.

    58. MiriamBinder — on 14th March, 2010 at 7:55 pm  

      Nope … Rumbold is actually citing a 2007 speech by Gita Sahgal …

    59. Don — on 14th March, 2010 at 8:08 pm  


      Fortunately I was disabused of that need to pick sides by a very wise woman.

    60. earwicga — on 14th March, 2010 at 8:12 pm  

      Exactly Miriam.

    61. Rumbold — on 14th March, 2010 at 8:24 pm  

      Some confusion here. The hat-tip in the article is to Dr Aisha Gill, who left the link in the comments. The ‘wise woman’ is someone who set me straight (and not for the first time either). They aren’t the same person.

    62. Chicojack — on 14th March, 2010 at 8:33 pm  

      Cjcjc, what bits are relevant?

    63. cjcjc — on 14th March, 2010 at 8:38 pm  

      Since it is a statement concerning Ms Sahgal, all of it is relevant.
      Whether you agree with it or not is another matter.

      The OP starts with a reference to a similar piece of “spam”.
      Well, if only all spam were of that quality!

    64. Rumbold — on 14th March, 2010 at 8:47 pm  

      I think the confusion is multiplied by the way Aisha posts- she doesn’t leave comments, just links.

    65. earwicga — on 14th March, 2010 at 8:49 pm  

      Well, if only all spam were of that quality!


    66. MiriamBinder — on 14th March, 2010 at 8:53 pm  

      What is the matter with some posters … why this need to nitpick? Either you agree with something and you say so or you disagree and give your reasons. All this shame for praising spam, new regimes dig, dig pickety pick … it is juvenile and I would have thought beneath people who are interested in mature debate.

    67. earwicga — on 14th March, 2010 at 8:59 pm  

      I’ve tried really hard to sit on my hands and not type - you started it @ 52 - but it hasn’t worked. Off to sit on the naughty step now…

    68. Chicojack — on 14th March, 2010 at 9:22 pm  

      earwicga @69 ..hehe..brilliant, thanks.

    69. Dr Aisha Gill — on 14th March, 2010 at 9:30 pm  

      I have my reasons for not posting comments on PP because there have been some rather offensive comments that I caused me some discomfort. As a result of the tone of some of the posts I have taken the decision to merely stick to key posts that might be relevant to remind those discussing the GS v AI debate. I have posted a brief comment earlier on in this debacle which can be found on GS HR site.

    70. MiriamBinder — on 14th March, 2010 at 9:46 pm  

      earwicga I’m sorry if I am to blame for this. However my reference to nitpicking posters was more aimed at Faisal et al.

      Dr Aisha Gill, not all comments will meet with approval. Some will be offensive, others merely dismissive. It is a shame if you feel that this means you are unable to post with your own view. However it is perfectly understandable that other people then take your (silent) links as spam.

    71. Chicojack — on 14th March, 2010 at 9:49 pm  

      In all respect Dr Aisha Gill, I think you will find the article you pasted @51 is an offensive to the intellect of your average AI supporter / staff member AND any supporter of Gita who wishes to constructed a valid argue to represent her views. To be honest I thought it was a joke.

    72. Lucy — on 14th March, 2010 at 9:50 pm  

      @73 Herewith that earlier comment from Dr Aisha Gill followed by a statement from Widney Brown [not in response to Dr. Gill, but apt, in my view], courtesy originally, Earwicga’s website:

      (1) 8 February by Aisha Gill

      “It is tragic that when a genuine well respected human rights defender takes a stand in the name of ’human rights for all’ that she is vilified and attacked. It is evident that in this whole debacle the blind spots have been ignored in terms of the serious concerns raised by Gita Saghal “I believe the campaign fundamentally damages Amnesty International’s integrity and, more importantly, constitutes a threat to human rights”. AI and CP - have got this so wrong and it is indeed shameful that AI should then suspend Gita for doing her job - telling it like it is. What happended to free speech AI? Complete travesty.

      Dr Aisha Gill Roehampton University, UK”

      (2) “http://www.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/22645/
      Amnesty International, Moazzam Begg and Gita Sahgal
      3 March 2010, 12:11PM

      Widney Brown on the case of Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed
      An article in London’s Sunday Times on 7 February 2010, Amnesty International is ‘damaged’ by Taliban link, has triggered three weeks of public controversy. Broadcast and print media, respected commentators, human rights activists and others have joined in, often on the basis of inaccurate or incomplete information.
      At the heart of the controversy is an important issue: how do human rights organisations work with others, and how do they give voice to victims, without promoting all of their views?
      It is a familiar debate within Amnesty International. We have been weighing relationships with individuals and organisations for decades. We are regularly accused of mixing with the wrong sort, or of being manipulated, or of having a secret agenda. We do not claim to always have the best answers, and we know from experience that judgment calls in this area are difficult.
      There are victims with whom we would not associate, while unreservedly campaigning against any abuses of their rights. For example, we denounced the waterboarding of Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, the Guantánamo detainee accused of the 9/11 attacks and other atrocities. But we would never share a platform with someone like him, who openly espouses an ideology predicated on hatred and the killing of civilians - in short, views that are clearly antithetical to human rights. The answer in this case is easy.
      But in other cases the answer is not easy. For example, should we not work against the death penalty with an influential actor like the Catholic Church because we disagree with their stand on women’s reproductive rights and homosexuality? There are valid arguments for and against. We chose to work with the Catholic Church against the death penalty.
      Our joint advocacy for the Guantánamo detainees with Moazzam Begg and his group, Cageprisoners, has earned us accusations of being pro-Taliban and promoting violence and discrimination against women. Most recently we spoke together with him in a coalition of NGOs to persuade European states to receive Guantánamo detainees who were cleared for release but risk further human rights abuses if returned to their home countries.
      Moazzam Begg is one of the first detainees to have been released from Guantánamo and to disclose information when much of what was going on in the camp was shrouded in secrecy. He speaks powerfully from personal experience about the abuses there. He advocates effectively detainees’ rights to due process, and does so within the same framework of universal human rights standards that we are promoting. All good reasons, we think, to be on the same platform when speaking about Guantánamo.
      Moazzam Begg and others in his group Cageprisoners also hold other views on whether one should talk to the Taliban or on the role of jihad in self-defence. Do such views mean we should not work with these people on a particular issue? Our answer to that question is no, even if we may disagree with them - and indeed those of us working to close Guantánamo have a range of beliefs about religion, secularism, armed struggle, peace and negotiations. The rest of what we have heard against Moazzam Begg since 7 February include many distortions, innuendos, and “guilt by association” to which he has responded for himself. If any evidence emerges that Moazzam Begg or Cageprisoners have promoted views antithetical to human rights, or have been involved in even more sinister activities, Amnesty International would disown its joint advocacy. But to disown our work with them on the basis of what we have been presented so far would betray basic principles of fairness which are also at the core of what we stand for.
      The controversy since 7 February has also generated perceptions in parts of the world that Amnesty International is somehow weak on women’s rights and “soft” on armed groups like the Taliban. This is ludicrous. We started a major global campaign to end violence against women at the same time as we were fighting for the closure of Guantánamo. We consistently document and condemn abuses by Taliban or other Islamist armed groups wherever they occur. Only last month, at the time of the London conference on Afghanistan, we warned that human rights, including women’s rights, must not be traded away during any reconciliation talks with the Taliban. Our full record of work on such abuses is available for everyone to judge.
      Finally, the choices we make on how best to work with other people and organisations are informed by frank internal debate. We are an organisation of activists with strong and different views on how best to achieve our common goals; dissent is inevitable, indeed welcome. Decisions are reviewed.
      Gita Sahgal, the head of our London-based Gender Unit, who went to the Sunday Times with her concerns about Amnesty International’s association with Moazzam Begg, has contributed significantly to Amnesty International’s gender work, but she was not promoted in our organisation with the promise that she could “clean up this Begg situation” as claimed in the Wall Street Journal on 25 February. She wrote her 30 January memo, cited in The Sunday Times, at the request of Amnesty International’s senior management, after she raised her concerns verbally. While her concerns were not new, we nevertheless decided to look again into the issues she raised and informed her of that intention. We regret that she decided to go to The Sunday Times only a few days later.
      We suspended Gita Sahgal in order to make clear that she was no longer speaking on behalf of Amnesty International once she made her disagreement public and in a context of misrepresentations in the media. However, she remains employed on full pay pending an investigation according to our negotiated employment policies, which provide her with every opportunity to make her case. In order to protect all those involved in a personnel matter, our policies include a requirement of confidentiality on all parties. This is why we are speaking about this issue only to the extent required to respond to inaccurate information in the public domain.
      Amnesty International is committed to working in partnership and giving voice to the victims, while maintaining impartiality and distinguishing between defending people’s rights and promoting their views. Getting those judgments right is important and remains as challenging today as ever, particularly on divisive issues such as terrorism and counter-terrorism. We regularly evaluate our work also in this respect, and in so doing we very much welcome the comments and advice of many in the human rights movement who share our goals and challenges.

      Widney Brown
Senior Director of International Law and Policy
Amnesty International”

    73. earwicga — on 14th March, 2010 at 9:58 pm  

      Thanks Lucy.

      I’ll just highlight one part of Widney Brown’s article, from the penultimate paragraph as I think it is important (as is the rest of the article):

      She [Sahgal] wrote her 30 January memo, cited in The Sunday Times, at the request of Amnesty International’s senior management, after she raised her concerns verbally. While her concerns were not new, we nevertheless decided to look again into the issues she raised and informed her of that intention. We regret that she decided to go to The Sunday Times only a few days later.

    74. earwicga — on 14th March, 2010 at 10:05 pm  

      Dr Gill, I am sorry you don’t feel comfortable commenting, but do understand why. I would like to know if there is anything you would add to your comment of February 8th in the light of statements from Amnesty International including the one above, and statements from Moazzam Begg? I would really like to understand how Gita Sahgal’s actions can be supported when looking at the whole picture. I don’t doubt she is a great human rights defender, indeed she wouldn’t have earned her position at AI if she wasn’t, but I see an awful lot of blind support for Sahgal because of her past work and a refusal to see how she is acting now.

    75. Chicojack — on 14th March, 2010 at 10:17 pm  

      Marry-up 76 with below. Not pretty.

      Gita in her 1st statement: :
      ‘’(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. I have received no answer to my questions.’’

      Widney, Letter to Wall Street Journal, 1st March:
      ‘’When I received her memo I read it immediately, and she was promptly informed that we would look into the issues she raised’’.

    76. douglas clark — on 14th March, 2010 at 11:04 pm  

      Chicojack @ 78,

      What is the point you are trying to make? I have no idea…

    77. earwicga — on 15th March, 2010 at 12:24 am  

      douglas - both statements are about the January 30 memo.

      Gita Sahgal stated ‘I received no answer to my questions’

      Widney Brown stated ‘she [Sahgal] was promptly informed that we would look into the issues she raised’

      The first ST article was printed on February 07.

      As Rumbold says, ‘it is time to move on’. Gita Sahgal is subject to an investigation and until we know the result there is little more to say about it. I am glad that this whole matter didn’t take off in the American media where the bulk of AI’s funding comes from, but it has damaged them in the eyes of a lot of grassroots women’s organisations and AI will be free to deal with this once the investigation is over. It’s going to be interesting to see the effect of Salil Shetty when he takes up his position of SG in June.

    78. halima — on 15th March, 2010 at 9:44 am  

      Interesting, so Salil Shetty will take up the AI mantle? He’s a fantastic choice of course, and again, points to changing times in Amnesty wanting to engage more with the global South… Shetty’s background is in development of course, so this takes AI to a different, and interesting political space. Greenpeace also recently made an interesting choice with Kumi Naidoo, a deeply committed and accomplished South African rights activist. Leadership from the global south was a concept that Action Aid experimented with, back in the 1990s (I think?), largely to develop Action Aid’s own credibility, effectiveness and worth in the eyes of the world’s majority. Now, years on, it’s this new leadership (Shetty was CEO of Action Aid back in the days) that has gone on to lead and change the way we do business in other large international NGOs. A sign of times, and again, a demonstration of where Action Aid is a market leader - leading by inspiring others.

    79. douglas clark — on 15th March, 2010 at 10:21 am  

      earwicga @ 80,

      My point, sad though it might be, is merely that Gita Sahgals point have been taken up by a parcel of rogues. I think I have avoided pointing a finger at her, merely pointing a whole bloody arm at her new found fan club.

      They call themselves ‘decents’. I don’t.

      Rumbold, uncharacteristically, is wrong on the ‘move on’ message. There is much to be learned here about entryism and politics. At least I think there is…

    80. Refresh — on 15th March, 2010 at 11:05 am  

      Douglas Clark,

      You are absolutely right. Its not really about Gita Sahgal.

      There is no moving on. This is a battle to protect our values from the onslaught that would have us change our concept of human rights to fit their long term hegemonic objectives.

      Aisha Gill, unless Gita Sahgal went on to say considerably more than what is quoted in the header (and in your original contribution), then its clear she has lost her way. She presumes that our government is itself following accepted norms on human rights. It is not. It would like the world to think it is.

      Gita’s stance is pretty dubious in that it seems to accept western governments to be compliant when it comes to human rights. That is not correct. As can be evidenced by the deniable support for the network of black prisons and their complicity in torture.

      And going back to the 70′s its also clear that the fundamentalist forces she rails against were nurtured to take on the Soviet Union. So if she is for the Universal Declaration, then she also needs to recall recent history and establish in her own mind how we got here.

      The existence of Amnesty International is of considerable propaganda value for one branch of government; and yet a pain in the neck for those tasked to advance the long term interest of the state.

      I would urge you to reconsider that speech and the most recent one from Benny Bunsee in light of these points.

    81. Refresh — on 15th March, 2010 at 11:15 am  


      I would also agree with Douglas Clark and acknowledge your message is uncharacteristic. And it troubles me that on another thread you seem to be willing to shrug your shoulders when it came to an act of state sponsored assasination. This is an extremely dangerous development, as it would suggest the value of an assasination is in the eye of the beholder.

    82. douglas clark — on 15th March, 2010 at 11:26 am  

      Dr Aisha Gill @ 73,

      Frankly, if you are the sensitive soul you claim to be, then I fail to understand why you feel enabled enough to love bomb us with links as at 50 and 51.

      It speaks to me of a lack of willingness to have your arguement scrutinised. If that causes you ‘discomfort’ then it can only be because your own case is not as strong as you think.

      Either engage or disengage, don’t play coy. You’d hardly be stuck for allies….

    83. persephone — on 15th March, 2010 at 12:39 pm  

      @ 85 Agreed. Engagement is a two street and it is due courtesy that if you wish to receive it helps if you also extend it.

    84. Dr Aisha Gill — on 17th March, 2010 at 11:27 pm  

      I’m sure this will annoy the pants of some you in terms of not bowing to demands of a commentary in certian quarters but err here goes:


      I think this will put the cat amongst the pigeons in terms of AI’s next move…

    85. Refresh — on 17th March, 2010 at 11:47 pm  

      Hmm. Looks like an attack on the left and anti-war groups.

      If she had any integrity she would walk away into dotage instead of continuing to draw a salary.

      This episode reminds me of how Atma Singh was used by the Times to undermine Ken Livingstone in the run up to the last London Mayoral election.

    86. earwicga — on 18th March, 2010 at 12:23 am  

      Dr Aisha Gill - I wasted twenty minutes of my life watching both parts of this interview (the link you have left is the edited interview) and fail to see how this puts ‘the cat amongst the pigeons’? It’s just more of the same.

      AI don’t have any ‘moves’ to make. They continue to defend universal human rights while Sahgal continues to make media appearances where she can. There will be an employment tribunal then AI will be able to speak freely. As you know they are currently constrained by confidentiality until they get rid of the liability that Sahgal has turned out to be.

    87. douglas clark — on 18th March, 2010 at 12:32 am  

      Dr Aisha Gill,

      Why do you keep posting your opinions here and pretend that they aren’t?

      And what are we supposed to make of your link?


      Perhaps you could tell us how, exactly, it differs from anything else Gita Sahgal has ever had to say on the subject?

      You say:

      I think this will put the cat amongst the pigeons in terms of AI’s next move…

      I think you are assuming that AI have made a ‘move’ in the first place, as though this was a game of chess or chequers or summat. It is not.

      AI has remained dignified whilst some folk have hidden behind false modesty. And, yes, I am pointing at you Dr Aisha Gill.

      You cannot be allowed to pretend you are ‘not commenting’ when you clearly are.

      You have an opinion. I have mine.

    88. douglas clark — on 18th March, 2010 at 12:44 am  

      Bloody hell, I agree with earwicga! Who’d have thought it, and so soon.

    89. persephone — on 18th March, 2010 at 9:29 am  

      I won’t bother with the link if nothing substantive is said.

      The longer that Gita attempts to create a media circus the more I am of the opinion that in her case it’s the delusion of an individual who, having a gained little power & celebrity, think they are more important than they actually are.

      This will be seen as Gita not being able to handle the responsibility and wider accountability of a senior role in an organisation such as AI. It’s getting to the point that all of her past good work will be forgotten and she will be more well known for this incident of hype over content. How truly sad.

    90. persephone — on 18th March, 2010 at 9:30 am  

      Alisha Gill: “I’m sure this will annoy the pants of some you in terms of not bowing to demands of a commentary in certian quarters but err here goes:”

      Only if you were that important. Hope that doesn’t burst any bubbles.

      And no need to be coy. If you wish to refer to ano commenter, we won’t be offended if you refer directly to us, most of us are mature enough to cope.

    91. Arif — on 18th March, 2010 at 2:52 pm  

      Just an aside to persephone, douglas clarke and earwicga, I also sometimes refrain from writing opinions here because I think discussions can take the form of contests and character assassinations rather than exploring issues the way I would like. But that is my decision - I’m not blaming others for seeing the terms of debate differently, and I interpret Dr Aisha Gill to be doing the same.

      To Dr Aisha Gill, thanks for the link, I assume the “cat among the pigeons” is that Gita Sahgal is opposed to the concept of defensive jihad, Shamit on an earlier thread posted a useful link to an article by Moazzam Begg (written before this controversy) about his views of Jihad.

      I think Gita Sahgal is correct in her interpretation that he believes in defensive Jihad as a physical concept and probably one which is an individual duty. However she then seems to allow it to be conflated with terrorism or human rights abuses, which Moazzam Begg, at least in the article and every other statement I have read of his, very clearly opposes.

      Her new arguments from the interview seem to me to comes down to:

      a) whether a salafi muslim can also care about human rights
      b) whether a defensive jihad is somehow more oppressive than any other concept of legitimate self-defence that Gita Sahgal has in mind

      Gita Sahgal seems to answer no to (a) and yes to (b), and AI is taking the position of at least being agnostic about them.

      I think Moazzam Begg’s entry into the human rights struggle should be welcomed in as much as it means we can really say yes to (a) and (maybe less relevantly) no to (b). The obvious thing is to ask him his answer to those questions - and similarly question all others who ever speak at Amnesty events.

      Maybe Gita Sahgal has more than prejudice to go on for her interpretation - and she refers to experts who AI should consult, and seems to identify Moazzam Begg with the Taliban’s human rights abuses in the interview, so maybe she does, maybe not.

    92. Dr Aisha Gill — on 18th March, 2010 at 11:01 pm  

      Arif spot on in terms of your comments reference para one of your post. And I also note your nuanced deconstruction of the issues raised by the term ‘defensive jihad’.

    93. chicojack — on 19th March, 2010 at 12:51 am  

      I truly admire the posts that bring things to a different level.
      It breathes so much more into what some people are actually saying and the context they are saying it in. Like when they are surrounded by guns, bombs, veils, prison porn and banners declaring ‘in bed with extremists?’ and stuff.
      It amazes me when people refrain from character assassinations and contests. Cuz that’s what some people fall prey to when appearing on shows like Brass Eye and NDTV.
      I can only speak in layman terms. But I read the papers. Johnny Islam’s under me bed, the Looney lefts (or is the extreme left?) @ No.51 – yeah, Freddie star ate my hamster too!
      I work hard, look out for my mates. Never slag off me colleagues. But if I go off the rails, I’ll still look out for mates – and vice versa - And I take the warnings, it’s for my own good - it’s a dodgy world out there and there’s plenty of people who are going take the piss.
      As for all your a’s and b’s, we AI known all that stuff already – but then there’s always going be some know it all who claims they know more. But as they say; deaf and glory, comes just another story.

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

    Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
    With the help of PHP and Wordpress.