Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why I don't give to Amnesty anymore

Idiot Savant blogs about "Freedom week" when Amnesty International seeks to raise money for its campaigns.

I wont be giving, even though Amnesty has done much good work in the past. Why?

1. Amnesty doesn't pay any attention to terrorists, organisations engaging in bombings in Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Spain, the UK or anywhere else. Its concern about governments is right and appropriate, but ignores how militia like Hamas, Al Qaeda and the like effectively take over, run and oppress whole areas of countries, and more importantly, wage war on others.

2. Despite the mountains of evidence of young children and pregnant women being enslaved by the state in gulags, execution of political prisoners en masse, starvation as a tool of political oppression, medical experimentation on political prisoners, chemical weapon tests on political prisoners, all in North Korea - Amnesty International spends mountains more effort on Islamists in Guantanamo Bay. The worst human rights abuses carried out by any government today are stark and plain in North Korea - Amnesty knows this, comments on it, but does not lead a major campaign against it. This is at best negligent, at worst deliberately evasive.

Its biggest campaigns are to control arms (which in some cases has caused more deaths than it has saved, e.g. Bosnia Hercegovina), concern about civil liberties eroded by what it calls the "so-called "war on terror"", implying terrorism isn't a problem, and to stop violence against women (which is often neglected and which I fully support).

It's about time that its biggest campaigns included eliminating political imprisonment. For that is, after all, what the organisation was once focused on. Until its voice is as loud on North Korea as any of the other issues, I'd rather give to organisations that fight for those in the most oppressed prison state there is.


ZenTiger said...

Yes to all that (and I was a long time monthly donor). Plus a couple of extra reasons of my own, which I blog about from time to time.

Amnesty is not the organisation it once was, or at least, as once I thought it to be. A great pity.

StephenR said...

I'm not sure how you propose Amnesty pay attention to terrorist organisations - set up an intelligence wing with trained operatives like the CIA? They could put effort into condemning bombings, but that's never really been the point of Amnesty, *ever*, as far as I know. How do you put pressure on an organisation that is carrying out activities that are totally illegal in the first place, as opposed to government mandated action like so many states in the world?

I agree they don't put anywhere near enough emphasis on NK, but they're almost the equivalent of a terrorist organisation in that there are almost no lines of dialogue to North Korea bar through the despotic regime in China, and perhaps to a lesser extent, South Korea. Keeping tabs on the US, who have proven more than willing to export their brand of freedom to the world would seem more likely to bring a fair bit of bang for your buck.

StephenR said...

I guess what I mean with NK is that they should totally be pressured, but perhaps they just don't think it's worth it with such an insane and insular regime. I wouldn't be surprised if NK wasn't even aware that Amnesty was launching a campaign against them!

Libertyscott said...

Stephen, I get your point, but to list organisations that are abusing people and damn countries sponsoring it would be a start. The issue is that it uses quotation marks when describing "war on terror" as if it isn't real, as if somebody made it up. Nobody says "Vietnam War" for example.

North Korea is pure negligence, it could lead a campaign, spread publicity - children in gulags is too small an issue to say "too hard".

StephenR said...

Well not like they've done nothing

...and more. But you're probably aware of that. I would say they are certainly damning North Korea, but would also say that they are probably tied with Zimbabwe for the worst human rights situation in the world right now and so should be a much bigger focus. But no way i'm going to withdraw my donations because of that, when their actions are achieving a lot worldwide ('bang for your buck').

I think the reason that war on terror is in quotation marks is because it is vague, unlike Vietnam, and has so often been indiscriminate - warlord says chuckles here is a terrorist, gets a cash reward and buggers off, while the 'terrorist' spends a few years without trial in Guantanamo. Also used as an excuse by many countries to crack down on their own populations - hell, China has been talking about stopping all sorts of 'islamic terrorists' in the run up to the Olympics, but has refused to provide any details, as well as all the crap going on in Central Asia because the US needs their bases.