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    Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International


    by earwicga
    15th August, 2010 at 9:47 pm    

    Salil Shetty, interviewed by Sarfraz Manzoor for the Observer, highlights his dedication to universal human rights and discusses today’s new challenges for Amnesty International including the potential for and dangers of using new digital media in the way Wikileaks does.

    From the article:

    The idea of human rights being universal is something Shetty imbibed early in his life and he believes that being Indian can be useful in making that argument. “If you ask poor people in developing countries or countries like India, where I am from, about whether human rights are a western concept they would not even understand the question,” he said. “The popular misconception is that human rights are something that is given from the west to developing countries. But my take is different, and for me the idea of basic human rights – the right to education, free expression – is deeply embedded.”

    The challenge for Amnesty lies, he believes, in making the organisation truly international. “Our presence in the developing world needs to expand,” he said. “We need a more vibrant presence in India, Brazil and Africa so that it is the people there who are doing the research and the campaigning and not people sitting in London.” Amnesty International’s origins, from its inception following a letter in the Observer in 1961, were linked to the idea of individual members making a difference.

    I hope that one of Shetty’s first actions is to ramp up the campaign to repeal India’s Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA).  The AFSPA gives immunity to government forces who rape, kidnap and kill and generally abuse citizens in any which way pleases them.

    In Manipur for example, the AFSPA  is the root cause of much of the violence perpetrated there by non-state actors, keeping the citizens of Manipur in a constant state of poverty and turmoil.

    Report from HRW on HR abuses in Manipur:  “These Fellows Must Be Eliminated”  Relentless Violence and Impunity in Manipur

    Amnesty International Statement: Government of Manipur Must Release Irom Sharmila Chanu

    Edited to add: AFSPA And Political Violence In Kashmir


                  Post to del.icio.us


    Filed in: Current affairs,India






    21 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. sunny hundal

      Blog post:: Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International http://bit.ly/94457r


    2. earwicga

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International http://bit.ly/94457r #Manipur


    3. House Of Twits

      RT @sunny_hundal Blog post:: Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International http://bit.ly/94457r


    4. Yakoub Islam

      Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International http://bit.ly/94457r RT @sunny_hundal


    5. rowan davies

      Interesting blog post by @earwicga on Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International, and #Manipur http://bit.ly/94457r


    6. TenPercent

      RT @earwicga: RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International http://bit.ly/94457r #Manipur


    7. lalitkumar laitonjam

      RT @earwicga: RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of Amnesty International http://bit.ly/94457r #Manipur


    8. pickled politics salil shetty the new secretary general of  In 2010 |

      [...] here to see the original: Pickled Politics » Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of … This entry was posted in Actress, Sports, india and tagged being-universal, [...]


    9. Eklavya Gupte

      The popular misconception is that human rights is given from the west to developing countries: Salil Shetty of Amnesty http://bit.ly/94457r


    10. GM recalls 250K vehicles; seat belts may not latch North Capitol Street

      [...] Pickled Politics » Salil Shetty, the new secretary general of … [...]




    1. Rumbold — on 15th August, 2010 at 9:57 pm  

      I hope he will be good. However, he needs to refocus Amnesty on the reason for its existence; of late it had tried to take into account too many areas. For me, Amnesty is about fighting for political prisoners, for fair trials, for just and humane punishments. I don’t see why it is talking about things like education or healthcare- it risks diluting itself. I think that the spread of education is great. I just don’t want Amnesty to be lobbying for it- it should concentrate on the things it does best.

    2. earwicga — on 15th August, 2010 at 10:07 pm  

      Rumbold - you should read Irene Khan’s book. One of the root causes of everything AI campaign for is poverty. It makes absolute sense to talk about education and healthcare.

      Irom Sharmila Chanu *is* a political prisoner, and an amazing woman.

    3. Jenny — on 16th August, 2010 at 3:43 am  

      I think they need to get back on track with defending free speech rights too. While I understand their concern about death threats, siding with the U.S. government on wikileaks ain’t the best road to go down.

    4. Alex — on 16th August, 2010 at 4:11 am  

      Sorry I’m slightly confused. You say:

      “The AFSPA gives immunity to government forces”

      but then say:

      “the AFSPA is the root cause of much of the violence perpetrated there by non-state actors”

      Why “non-state actors” if it gives immunity to “government forces”?

    5. Sarah AB — on 16th August, 2010 at 7:41 am  

      I thought this response from Shetty completely failed to engage with the issues involved in the Sahgal/Begg saga.

      “The Begg affair earned some negative headlines for Amnesty, but Shetty puts forward a robust defence of its position. “If a woman is dying I don’t first ask what are your views about the Taliban,” he said. “If we start choosing which prisoner of conscience we support, depending on their views about the world as a whole, that goes against the idea that a right to life is a fundamental human right.”"

    6. Rumbold — on 16th August, 2010 at 9:19 am  

      Earwiga:

      One of the root causes of everything AI campaign for is poverty. It makes absolute sense to talk about education and healthcare.

      No it doesn’t. If Amnesty lobbies for better education it is diverting resources and time away from its core mission. Free markets improve the lot of people too, but I don’t think Amnesty should be lobbying for them. They are there to stand up for people being persecuted by the state, not to lobby for long-term development (however important that might be).

      To take an example, if I gave money to an emergency aid organisation, I would not like that money being used to fund cancer research. That doesn’t mean I am anti-cancer research, but I gave that money for a specific purpose.

    7. Lucy — on 16th August, 2010 at 6:54 pm  

      Hmmm.

      Well, he is a bit woolly perhaps - a bit walking on eggshells.

      But I don’t think his reference to Begg/Sahgal is necessarily to be read as unengaged. It has to be said that Sahgal’s style was not one that could be pinned down to factual reference - a lot. But Shetty’s could be interpreted to mean that a dying woman could be supporting the Taliban and he wouldn’t question that. Just deal with her dying. So he isn’t really NOT dealing with the issue. He may just be turning it on its head.

      There is also a certain ambiguity in his reference to Wikileaks, I think. He is reported in the article as saying that ‘the presence of WikiLeaks only served to highlight the critical role Amnesty can play in verification and processing raw data.’

      Well, maybe he can still help. If Amnesty thinks that they can play a critical role in the task of verification and processing raw data for the sake of protecting civilian lives, go for it. The WikiLeaks revelations seem to have rattled a few cages. I agree with 3@3.43am ‘siding with the U.S. government on wikileaks ain’t the best road to go down.’

      If Amnesty’s central duty is the survival of civilians than concentrating on health care and education is not necessarily a bad idea. Interesting that there is no Amnesty comment here on the recent murder of aid workers - given that statement.

      It is all very preliminary… He is new.

    8. earwicga — on 16th August, 2010 at 8:46 pm  

      If Amnesty lobbies for better education it is diverting resources and time away from its core mission.

      Better education will reduce the instances of human rights abuses.

      Your analogy doesn’t quite fit. You are aware of the scope of Amnesty’s work. If you don’t like it then don’t donate.

    9. Carl — on 16th August, 2010 at 9:45 pm  

      @5 Sarah AB;

      oh of course, it was a typical kop out answer to a question no one had asked. I’m impressed with Shetty in as much as he has outlined early on the need for universal human rights; now I know that goes without saying from someone with the AI but it is a reassurance that it is not blindly falling into the trap of moral relativism as some would have had you believe.

      That is until we mention Begg. His answer on Begg; oh why ask about the Taliban when a woman’s life is in danger - I hope he is just covering his predecessor’s back (though Shetty has been incoming gen sec since Dec 2009 - no bad word against AI/Begg then).

      I’m holding out, but the Begg issue is a problem for sure.

    10. Rumbold — on 17th August, 2010 at 11:05 am  

      Earwiga:

      You are aware of the scope of Amnesty’s work. If you don’t like it then don’t donate.

      Fair enough. I was only pointing out it has expanded on its original remit.

    11. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 11:25 am  

      Rumbold,

      I give a few bob every month to AI.

      It seems to me that they ought to have both strategy and tactics.

      So, I am not too concerned if some of the loot is spent on strategic concerns, as earicga says at 8.

      Why would you see that was antithetical to their mission statement?

      This is quite worrying. You’ll be telling me next that Gita Saghal was right.

      I like it better when you and I agree….

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