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RE: [casi] How much time should we spend attacking AI?

>Dear list,
Ghazwan is making an  important point here about the "curing"
of the political human rights problem in Iraq by violating
economic and social rights. The point that AI should be
making is that, in the case of Iraq, the two sets of rights are indivisible
(which is the current concensus in UN human rights committees
for all countries everywhere.)
As Martin Luther King said, what is the point of having the
right to vote if you can't afford the bus fare to get to the
polling station? In the case of Iraq, you could ask, how
would you be able to exercise freedom of speech and other political
freedoms, if your children are dying from lack of medicines?
Would you even care about political freedoms for Kurds
and others at that point? Political and economic rights
are divided artificially, for example, the blockade
 of books impinges on the right to freedom of expression.
Both sets of rights are important and go hand in hand.
The US/UK use the artificial split between economic and
political rights to its advantage, and AI is surely not
so naive as to imagine its report would not play into that,


===== Original Message From Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar <> =====
>Dear Philippa
>Thank you for your thoughtful message. Yes Iraq has been on the list A.I.
>for years and years. No One, and I mean no one, is happy about that. The
>point I wanted to make is that A.I report of the violations ARE USED to
>justification the continuation of sanctions. The human rights violations of
>the rights of "relatively few" people are USED to inflict suffering (and
>human rights violations?) on a much wider population.  Curing a headache by
>giving the patient a very strong drug with crippling Side effects (if not
>fatal!) will
>only lead to a much bigger problem than the one you wanted to cure. It is
>"wrong" use of the drug, not the drug it self, that caused the bigger
>problem. But if you force me to take that drug then I say it is not good.
>Sanctions are like chopping the head to "permanently" curing the headache.
>Logic says that if you have a headache live with it if you have not other
>choice, it is better than taking the poison pill.
>Best Regards
>Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar
>Baghdad, Iraq
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "pjw8" <>
>To: "gaz" <>; "soc-casi-discuss"
>Cc: "gedinbert" <>
>Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 10:35 PM
>Subject: RE: [casi] How much time should we spend attacking AI?
>> Dear all,
>>         It must be possible to have a balanced discussion about AI without
>> being accused of spending more time tearing it apart than focussing on
>Bush et
>> al. I restarted AI on the campus i am associated with, partly in order to
>> attention to sanctions to a broader spectrum of people, and have shown
>> Pilger's film as an AI event. Glenn's comment, with all due respect,
>surely is
>> unfair: " I am sure Blair, Bush, Hussein and all the rest would be very
>> to see good people devoting large parts of their time and energy to
>> criticising
>> Amnesty International." Absolutely, it is as important to be critical of
>> re: sanctions as it is of Bush et al. AI is an incredibly important global
>> grassroots movement which scores many victories. The fact that it is run
>> on a shoe string budget with volunteers such as myself and Glenn should
>> detract from the importance of its role as a key actor on the world stage.
>> have no doubt that, had AI harnessed its awesome energies to direct public
>> attention to the genocide of sanctions, many lives would have been saved.
>> importance of economic rights is recognised by AI, and so it could have
>> directed more attention to the sanctions, also the world debt and other
>> genocidal instruments. But let's say it chose not too. Insofar as
>> is
>> concerned, the AI leadership must be aware that by downplaying sanctions
>> the equation of rights in Iraq it is defacto buttressing the arguments
>used by
>> the US/UK to maintain sanctions -- in other words, it is taking sides.
>> Bush et al are happy about is not our critiques of AI, but the fact that
>> can now use an AI report for their own propaganda purposes without being
>> accused of genocide. At the UN Commission on Human Rights, the US plays a
>> role in the resolutions condemning the violations of rights, in Iraq, the
>> reason being, it is one of the justifications for maintaining sanctions (I
>> pretty sure that one of the Security Council resolutions says that Iraq
>has to
>> stop violations of rights as a pre-requisite for lifting sanctions against
>> Iraq.) AI, the UN Commission on Human Rights is where we get our arguments
>> heard;
>> let's not give up opportunities here so quickly.
>>         Philippa Winkler
>> >===== Original Message From Katy Connell <> =====
>> >Hello all. Glenn here.
>> >
>> >As someone who has been actively trying to change Amnesty's policy on
>> >sanctions since 1998, I would like to concur with Bert's comments.
>> >
>> >I am sure Blair, Bush, Hussein and all the rest would be very happy to
>> >good people devoting large parts of their time and energy to criticising
>> >Amnesty International.
>> >
>> >Whilst constructive criticism of Amnesty is valid, in an anti-sanctions
>> >discussion I think we should spend more of our time and energy
>> >those *imposing* the sanctions, rather than those who may or may not be
>> >*opposing* sanctions as much as we'd like.
>> >
>> >I am the first to criticise Amnesty when I feel it is not doing something
>> >should, and I have been doing so for some years. However, I have been
>> >to do this constructively, as part of an effort to achieve change within
>> >organisation -- an organisation that, as Berts says, does enormously good
>> >work on issues that do matter to many many human beings.
>> >
>> >Amnesty's traditional focus has been on civil and political rights. Its
>> >mandate has been getting wider and wider over 40 years, with constant
>> >pressure to expand and 'do everything'. Increasingly, the membership has
>> >been pushing for work on economic, social and cultural rights to receive
>> >more attention (these definitions overlap in many places).
>> >
>> >Importantly though: Amnesty is not god. It is not omnipresent. It cannot
>> >and know everything. It does not have unlimited resources to report on
>> >everything that may constitute a human rights abuse. It exists on
>> >and volunteer fundraising, and has a relatively small number of paid
>> >All staff, paid and voluntary, and local group volunteers, spend their
>> >working hard on important human rights work, trying all the time to
>> >those outside and inside who constantly want them to do more.
>> >
>> >Amnesty, overstretched already, is now working on how it will incorporate
>> >some degree of Economic, Social and Cultural rights issues (including
>> >sanctions) into its work.
>> >
>> >This is an organisation of good, hard-working people, with limited time
>> >money and scope, trying to act against huge forces that abuse human
>> >It may not do so perfectly or completely, but essentially it is on the
>> >of oppressed people, and against oppressors.
>> >
>> >That's mostly what I wanted to say. I'll respond to a couple of specific
>> >points below.
>> >
>> >All the best,
>> >
>> >Glenn.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >Responses::
>> >
>> >>Yet apparently it failed to mention this grassroots-driven decision
>> >>to link violations of these rights to the humanitarian
>> >>disaster of sanctions, in its report on Iraq. In other words, it ignored
>> >the
>> >>mandate of its own membership.
>> >
>> >Some country sections voted to work on sanctions. Some didn't. Even if
>> >did, that does not mean it is possible to do so within constraints of
>> >mandate, money, time, expertise etc.
>> >
>> >However, now, in its 2-yearly international meeting it has indeed taken
>> >board the 'mandate of its own membership' and is now looking at how to
>> >on the issue more actively.
>> >
>> >>This has to be put together with the fact that AI by and large
>> >>does not adopt US political prisoners,
>> >
>> >That is not true. In fact, Amnesty has just finished an 18 month campaign
>> >focusing specifically on human rights abuses in the United States, and
>> >very hard on death penalty cases there, eg Mumia Abu Jamal.
>> >
>> >>AI did not condemn the Jenin attack as a massacre. So clearly
>> >>there is a blind spot in the leadership of AI where US/Israeli
>> >>policies are concerned
>> >
>> >Amnesty was one of the very first organisations to send investigative
>> >into the camp. It concluded that many innocent people had been killed and
>> >that indiscriminate and disproportionate force had been used. However, it
>> >realises the inadequacy of its resources in times like this, and has
>> >repeatedly called for a full-scale UN investigation. It has sent many
>> >delegations to Israel over the last 18 months, and repeatedly criticised
>> >sales of US arms to Israel. It has been frequently criticised by
>> >groups as showing bias toward Palestinians: UK chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks
>> >called groups like Amnesty "murderous" for reporting what they saw,
>> >presumably because he thought this meant they were trying to justify
>> >Palestinain atrocities.
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >Regarding sources:
>> >
>> >>Regarding Iraq, the report repeats itself year after year and has
>> >to
>> >>say but the same information without any documents.
>> >>Yes I agree with Hasan that most of data are biased on reports given by
>> >>Iraqis who seek asylum in the west
>> >
>> >I would suggest that if you want to know about Amnesty's sources, contact
>> >Amnesty. Only then can you make informed judgments about where Amnesty
>> >its information. However, putting out vulnerable sources' names and
>> >addresses on the Internet would probably be a rather irresponsible thing
>> >them to do.
>> >----------------------------
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >_______________________________________________
>> >Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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>> _______________________________________________
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