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Amnesty for Iraq By: Christopher Archangelli
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, April 24, 2003


Add Amnesty International to the growing list of organizations that have recently been exposed as anti-American and anti-war. Founded in 1961 as an organization "dedicated to freeing prisoners of conscience, gaining fair trials for political prisoners, ending torture, political killings and ‘disappearances,’ and abolishing the death penalty throughout the world," Amnesty International has proven that since the start of the war it is firmly against the United States and its allies in the quest to liberate Iraq. Despite rhetoric that proclaims neutrality in the war and a non-partisan and non-political stance, Amnesty International has taken a firm stand against the Bush and Blair administrations while turning a blind eye to the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and his sadistic Baathist government.

But perhaps it would be instructive to understand how Amnesty International actually defines non-partisan. In their own words Amnesty International’s "general policy is never to comment on whether the use of military force is justified or appropriate" (like when military force liberated the Jews of Europe). However, they did comment against war when they reminded us that "AI urged the international community to pursue solutions that would lead to improvement in the human rights situation in Iraq, not to further deterioration, needless loss of life and increased suffering." That press release did not mention how the war would make worse the systematic torture and rape of the populace or add to the suffering of the already gassed Kurds. It did however go on to implicitly condemn the use of force by the coalition and to condone Saddam’s regime by stating that "AI never supports or opposes ‘regime change’ in any part of the world. AI does not support or oppose any government or political system…" It is almost impossible to imagine that such a soft spoken and morally equivocal organization can continue to call itself a champion of human rights.

Still, that is not to say that Amnesty International hasn’t been vocal during the war about the horrors that the Iraqi civilians have been enduring. Quite the contrary has occurred: Amnesty International has fired off an emergency press release every single time a civilian has been killed – by the coalition. As we shall see in the timeline, Amnesty International has been very quick to condemn the United States for real or imagined impropriety while ignoring the crimes against the coalition or crimes against Iraqi civilians at the hands of their own government. Below is a selected daily summary of suspected or actual human rights violation in Iraq and the corresponding press release on the official Amnesty International web site.

March 25: Two days after the pictures of five slaughtered U.S. servicemen appeared on al-Jazeera television, Amnesty International’s headline read: "No Double Standard for POWs" and condemned… the United States for the hypocrisy of asking that Iraq adhere to the Geneva Convention while subjecting the very alive and comfortable detainees at Guantanamo Bay to supposedly inhumane treatment.

March 26: The evening that the Iraqi government reported that a stray U.S. missile hit a busy market in Baghdad, Amnesty International fired off several headlines like "Fear of War Crimes by Both Sides" and "Conduct of Urban Warfare Must Protect Civilians." Before the facts of the incident were known Amnesty International issued a press release condemning the U.S. action and calling for the U.S. and the UN to "Investigate Civilian Deaths" with the intention of determining the appropriate penalties for the war crimes the U.S. (only) had committed.

March 27: As credible evidence came to light to implicate the Iraqi government in staging the market bombing to falsely implicate the U.S., Amnesty International issued a flurry of press releases to condemn… the British and U.S. forces for using land mines and cluster bombs (both of which are aimed solely at Iraqi armed forces). Amnesty International made no mention of Iraq’s involvement in the market bombing and the subsequent killing of its own people.

March 28: The afternoon that the British press reported witnessing Iraqi soldiers mortaring unarmed Iraqis and shooting fleeing Iraqi civilians in the back, Amnesty International again condemned… the United States for the war crime of not providing clemency for a convicted murderer in Oklahoma.

March 30: The day after four U.S. servicemen were killed by Iraqi civilian suicide bombers, Amnesty International went on a tirade and condemned not only the United States but 14 coalition countries for atrocities such as "attacking the right to freedom of expression and assembly, using excessive force against anti-war demonstrators, and restricting the right to asylum." Despite the warning from the vice president of Iraq that the suicide bombing would become "routine military policy", Amnesty International did not find time to mention Iraq in a report entitled "In the Shadow Of War: Backlash Against Human Rights."

March 31: As credible sources revealed that a van load of Iraq civilians killed at a U.S. checkpoint had been forced to suicide by Saddam Hussein’s men, Amnesty International issued yet another unexpected condemnation of… the United States and the Bush Administration for failing to offer enough financial aid in the President’s supplemental appropriation request for Iraq.

Now in all fairness Amnesty International did issue one press release explicitly rebuking Iraq for its conduct in the war. On April 1, Amnesty International tut-tutted Iraqi soldiers for dressing as civilians and thus endangering actual Iraqi civilians. It might not have seemed like a bad April Fool’s joke except that the real focus of the article was on, surprise, surprise, the U.S. and British forces endangering civilians (the same ones that were ostensibly safe before the start of the war). The balance of the article was spent on making statements such as, "Amnesty International has continually pointed out that U.S. and UK forces must take all necessary precautions to protect civilians, regardless of any violations by Iraqi forces." Which means in theory that Amnesty International would rather have the coalition forces not shoot at Iraqis even if that meant a loss of U.S. and UK lives.

It seems that regardless of what Amnesty International claims with regards to its neutral stance, it clearly has a bias against the U.S., the UK, and anyone that is pro war. Despite its former criticism of Saddam, Amnesty International is now more sensitive to the offenses of the U.S. and the British. Even a report by the Blair Administration before the war that detailed Saddam’s human rights abuses upset Amnesty International more than the abuses themselves. In response to the British report Irene Kahn, secretary-general of Amnesty International, rebuked the Blair government for paying "selective attention to human rights" and claiming the report was "nothing but a cold and calculated manipulation of the work of human rights activists." And as April’s Amnesty International press releases attest, the real criminals are the Bush Administration for daring to flout international opinion by executing a convicted killer and the Blair Administration for using cluster bombs against Iraqi soldiers.

As a final note something should be mentioned about the leaders of Amnesty International. The executive director of Amnesty International U.S., William Schulz, was on the board of directors for both Planned Parenthood and People for the American Way – a far left organization explicitly committed to oppose anything even remotely conservative (like the Estrada nomination, school vouchers, and the war). Apparently Amnesty International comes by its distrust of the Bush Administration honest and has a hard time keeping the ideology of its leaders out of its general policy. Of course despite his politics Will Schulz never explicitly condemns the war. He takes great care to mask his positions by using code like his leader Irene Kahn. For her part, Kahn attempts to hide her contempt of the U.S., the UK, and the war by issuing such morally contorted statements as this: "Taking a position that seeks to avoid further human suffering and human rights violations has greater merit at this point in time than remaining silent, which could be misinterpreted as condoning the use of force." Which means, when all the knots are pulled, that Irene Kahn and Amnesty International are against the war, against the United States, and against the Bush and Blair Administrations.

Conservatives should be critical of Amnesty International; we should condemn them. As Saddam recognized all along, his only hope for survival was to run out the clock, hoping internal dissent would collapse the Western will. Amnesty International's one-sided and transparently tilted condemnation of the United States, to the exclusion of the evils of Saddam Hussein, seemed an attempt to demoralize U.S. troops' resolve and bolster the anti-war (and anti-American) fifth column within. Had Amnesty International (and the Iraqi government) been successful, the result would have been exponentially worse human suffering on behalf of the Iraqi people - far worse than the trifles condemned by Amnesty International.




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