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(Fwd) Re: (Fwd) AI

In reply to
"Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar" <>
Subject: AI
Date sent: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 00:01:31 +0300

Ced Simpson, Director of AI New Zealand had this to say.

Thanks Tony. In reply I would say:

Selectivity in local media coverage of AI reports is a problem everywhere,
which is why our website at is so important -- allowing
anyone who has internet access to read all our published reports.

AI is consistently attacked in Israel for campaigning against human rights
violations carried out by the Israeli security forces, and I am regularly
challenged here in New Zealand to defend AI against perceived anti-Israel

On the whole AI's human rights standards are based on the judgement of
internationally-agreed human rights standards as interpreted by
international committees (such as the Committee Against Torture) that
include members drawn from a range of non-western countries. In the case of
KSA, apart from concerns about punishments such as amputation, AI points to
very clear human rights violations relating to arbitrary detention, unfair
trials and torture. These violations have also occurred in "the west" in
recent decades, and criticism of them cannot be fairly labelled as western
cultural bias. The interntional process adopted by UNESCO for the drafting
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during the 1940s involved the
most extensive cross-cultural consultations ever undertaken.

It is true that AI concentrates its campaigning on some human rights rather
than others. I'm not as confident that the ones we campaign on can simply
be labelled as "political" though (eg torture). Human rights are certainly,
as recognised in UN rhetoric, "indivisible". Central to ensuring the rights
to an adequate standard of living, to be free from discrimination etc, is
the right to freedom of expression -- one of the rights AI campaigns for.

AI has often been criticised for its non-position on sanctions, by human
rights advocates on both "sides" of the issue. The change in policy agreed
last August is currently being worked through.

AI has consistently campaigned for all parties in the war in Afghanistan
and the "war against terrorism" to respect human rights and international
humanitarian law. AI has consistently campaigned against human rights
violations in the USA and by US forces over many years.

Ced Simpson, Executive Director, Amnesty International NZ
International Human Rights & Development Centre,
PSA House, 11 Aurora Terrace, PO Box 793, Wellington, New Zealand
tel: +64-4-499 3348 fax: +64-4-499 3505
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere
Stamp Out Torture at
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