Nytt

Seniorleder Gita Sahgal i Amnesty International har blitt suspendert etter at hun kritiserte menneskerettighetsorganisasjonen for å ha inngått en allianse med Storbritannias mest kjente Taliban-supporter, Moazzam Begg. Den britiske Begg ble holdt på Guantanamo i tre år frem til 2005, mistenkt for al Qaida-forbindelser.

Bare timer etter at Sahgal kalte Amnestys forbindelser til den tidligere Guantanamo-innsatte Begg for en «seriøs feilvurdering», ble hun suspendert fra sin stilling som leder for menneskerettighetsorganisasjonens avdeling for kjønnsspørsmål.

Amnesty – som er verdens største menneskerettighetsorganisasjon – forsvarer forbindelsen til Begg og hans kampanjegruppe Cageprisoners, mens Sahgal mener at organisasjonen ikke burde assosieres med personer som Begg og hans gruppe.

Cageprisoners har fokus på rettighetene til Guantanamo-innsatte og andre mistenkte i forbindelse med krigen mot terror, og har bla markert støtte til fengslede al Qaida-medlemmer og hatpredikanter, inkludert Anwar al-Awlaki som bla skal ha vært åndelig rådgiver for to av 911-terroristene og roser al-Shabaab for deres gjennomføring av steininger. Den radikale al-Awlaki, som har et stort publikum i Storbritannia, er også under etterforskning for forbindelsen til major Nidal Hasan, som han beskrev som en helt etter at Hasan skjøt og drepte 13 soldater i Fort Hood-massakren i november 2009.

Al-Awlaki, who was subsequently banned from the UK and is now said to be a commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is also thought to have met Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of 9/11, Abu Hamza, the hook-handed cleric facing extradition to the U.S. on terror charges and hate-preacher Abu Qatada are also all mentioned on the Cageprisoners website.

Gita Sahgal, som er ekspert på religiøs fundamentalisme og har jobbet med menneskerettigheter i 30 år, hevder imidlertid at gruppen aktivt fremmer radikale islamske ideer og individer. Sahgal mener derfor at Amnesty risikerer sitt eget rykte som menneskerettighetsforkjemper ved å assosiere seg selv med Begg og Cageprisoners.

In an e-mail to her bosses at the end of January, she said: ‘To be appearing on platforms with Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban, whom we treat as a human rights defender, is a gross error of judgment.’

She claims her warning was ignored. Shortly after it was revealed by the Sunday Times last weekend, Amnesty suspended her and launched an internal inquiry.

Miss Sahgal immediately released an angry statement online, claiming: ‘Amnesty International has sanitised the history and politics of ex-Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg, and completely failed to recognise the nature of his organisation Cageprisoners.

‘The issue is a fundamental one about the importance of the human rights movement maintaining an objective distance from groups and ideas that are committed to systematic discrimination and fundamentally undermine the universality of human rights. I have raised this issue because of my firm belief in human rights for all.’

She said there was a history of warnings within Amnesty about Mr Begg that had all been ignored.

– Amnesty har skapt et inntrykk av at Begg ikke bare er et offer for menneskerettighetsbrudd, men også en forsvarer av menneskerettigheter. Flere av mine høyt respekterte kollegaer, velkjent for deres ekspertise, har sagt det samme. Alle har blitt avvist, skriver Sahgal:

‘I have been a human rights campaigner for over three decades, defending the rights of women and ethnic minorities, defending religious freedom and the rights of victims of torture, and campaigning against illegal detention and state repression.

‘I have raised the issue of the association of Amnesty International with groups such as Begg’s consistently within the organisation. I have now been suspended for trying to do my job and staying faithful to Amnesty’s mission to protect and defend human rights universally and impartially.’

Amnestys suspendering av Sahgal har skapt raseri blant menneskerettighetsorganisasjonens medlemmer, hvorav noen truer med å slutte i organisasjonen og å slutte å donere penger.

Moazzam Begg er opprinnelig fra Birmingham, og reiste til en treningsleir i Aghanistan i 1993. I 2001 flyttet han og hans familie dit. I hans memoarer skriver han at «Taliban var bedre enn alt annet Afghanistan har hatt på 20 år». Han ble tatt av CIA i 2002, etter å ha flyktet til Pakistan. USAs myndigheter mener han var medlem i al Qaida og bidro med rekruttering og finansiering av treningsleire.

Begg hevder at han ble bortført og torturert av det amerikanske militæret. Han ble løslatt etter tre år i Guantanamo og nekter enhver forbindelse med al Qaida. Siden løslatelsen har han kjempet for rettighetene til andre innsatte og har vært involvert i Amnesty i flere år:

Since his release, he has been a vocal campaigner for the rights of detainees and has been involved with Amnesty for several years.

He visited Downing Street with Amnesty to demand the Guantanamo’s closure last month and is currently on a European tour backed by the charity aimed at encouraging countries to take in former inmates.

Amnesty refused to comment on Miss Sahgal’s suspension today. A spokesman described it as a ‘personnel issue’.

But senior director Widney Brown has already posted a response online, refuting Miss Sahgal’s allegations and insisting Amnesty would never favour one group’s human rights over anothers.

She said: ‘Amnesty International is being accused of putting the human rights of some people above those of others. This is not, and has never been, true. Implicit in the accusation is the view that we should choose those whose rights we promote. We reject this view utterly.

‘Amnesty International campaigns for all internationally recognised human rights for all people. It is not about their views, their political opinions, their actions – it’s about upholding the universality of human rights. These are the inalienable rights of all human beings.’

Of Mr Begg, she added: ‘Amnesty International is being criticised for speaking alongside him and for being «soft» on the Taleban, when our record is one of unreserved opposition to their abuses over the years.’

Mr Begg, in his own online response, insists that his memoirs also list human rights abuses perpetrated under the Taliban and stresses that Cageprisoners is only concerned with highlighting human rights abuses.

He points to an article which declares: ‘Cageprisoners never has and never will support the ideology of killing innocent civilians.’

He told the Sunday Times, who published the original article, that Miss Saghal’s claims were ‘ridiculous’ and defended Cageprisoners’ dealings with suspected al-Qaeda supporters.

‘We need to be engaging with those people who we find most unpalatable. I don’t consider anybody a terrorist until they have been charged and convicted of terrorism,’ he said.

Det er for øvrig ikke første gangen Amnesty International benytter seg av Talibansympatisører i kampanjer mot krigen mot terror. I 2007 var den tidligere terrormistenkte Ruhal Ahmed frontfigur for Amnestys kampanje. På en pressekonferanse ga imidlertid den britisk-muslimske frontfiguren uttrykk for flere synspunkter som er fullstendig i strid med oppdragsgiver Amnestys holdninger:

»Det er ikke rigtigt, når folk siger, at afghanske kvinder bliver tvunget til at gå med burka. Kvinderne vælger selv burkaen«, mener Ruhal Ahmed.

Han gjorde det også klart, at Talebanstyret i Afghanistan efter hans mening »behandlede folk godt«, og at han går ind for dødsstraf.

I øvrigt synes han, at det internationale samfund skulle have holdt sig væk fra Eksjugoslavien og Mellemøsten og i stedet acceptere, at muslimer ikke nødvendigvis har lyst til at leve i demokratiske samfund.

Times: Amnesty International is ‘damaged’ by Taliban link

Times: How Amnesty chose the wrong poster-boy

«So Begg ends up taking his family, including two daughters, to live in Taleban-run Afghanistan in the summer of 2001. This must be about two months after the blowing up of the Bamiyan Buddhas, two years after the televised execution of a woman in the football stadium in Kabul, and in the full knowledge that Taleban police were beating women for improper dress, had fired all women in public service, would not permit women to see male doctors and had more or less abolished education for women.

Yet Begg writes: «I believed that the Taleban had made some modest progress — in social justice and upholding pure, old Islamic values forgotten in many Islamic countries.» As far as one can tell, Begg has never recanted this belief.»

Daily Mail: Amnesty chief suspended after attacking group’s links to ‘Britain’s most famous Taliban supporter’