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December 6, 2000
Amnesiac Amnesty forgets Palestinianet

By Ahmed Amr.


Amnesty International, bypassing the murdered bodies of almost three hundred Palestinian demonstrators, recently put to press a "Dear Amnesty" flier about its agenda '2001' that is completely void of any mention of the carnage taking place in the West Bank and Gaza. The release is dated November 27,2000 and comes from their New York headquarters. Being so politically correct, these guys reuse recycled paper and they let you know it. They don't miss details at Amnesty international unless they happen to be Palestinian details.

This particular "Dear Amnesty" letter is a dense four-page document that starts with a scream of "Never Again" and ends with this noble thought: "Together we can - and we will. - Build a culture of respect for human rights that will endure for the ages". If this culture is one that excludes Palestinians, it will not get my respect. I have been a member of Amnesty International nearly all my adult life. Today is the day I put aside my Amnesty International card because this particular 'human rights organization' is not only ignoring repression; it is sanctioning it by its neutrality.

In the current extremely visible Palestinian struggle for independence, Amnesty international has chosen to turn a blind eye. In retrospect, Amnesty has always avoided emphasizing anything to do with Palestinian human rights. Does this 'international' organization need a permit from the State Department before taking a position? Is Amnesty a victim of bullying by the New York Press or the media titans? Do the folks at Amnesty have a backbone? Do they check for backbones when they let you into the business of advocating human rights? Or is it just another business?

The Amnesty document mentions Sierra Leone, China, Indonesia and Chechnya as places where "despite our best efforts, human rights continue to be abused". The flyer writes of the Nigerian Army and "its military campaign against communities protesting Chevron". They promise that, in the year ahead, they will "focus prevention strategies on 21 countries, including Turkey, Peru, Israel, Egypt, India and Kenya." What I want to know is what efforts Amnesty is making in the occupied territories now. Exactly what are they waiting to prevent?

Now, get this. Amnesty International is based in New York. It is a city where the number one foreign policy issue is the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as evidenced by the disgusting campaign tactics of both Lazio and Hillary Clinton. The United Nations is a short cab ride away from Amnesty's offices. It can readily provide Amnesty with ample documentation to make its case.

The Palestinians quest for freedom also offer Amnesty International an opportunity to help establish minimum standards of conduct for foreign powers conducting a military occupation on another people's land. Foreign occupation armies are a rare thing these days and their conduct should be carefully monitored by an organization that seeks to bring "more human rights abusers to justice". Or is there an 'Amnesty' exception if you wear the IDF uniform? The Israeli Army has received enough reprieves from these cowardly selective moralists, a clear indication that the management at Amnesty International has capitulated to lobbying by Israel's friends in New York.

So, for now, I am putting my Amnesty card aside. It will be kept aside until Amnesty recovers from a bad case of selective amnesia. This year, my money will go to the forgotten Palestinians, may their just struggle for Independence endure and triumph.


  January 3, 2001