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Saturday, June 11, 2005

Shock withdrawal from Amnesty

With the Gulag of the Year nominations coming in, I am shocked to hear Executive Director William Schulz of Amnesty International (AI) admitting the term "Gulag" was not the best analogy. I am equally shocked few media sources are reporting it, so here's a link to Fox News.

Meanwhile, Josh Rubenstein, Northeast Regional Director of AI, called the comparison between Soviet-style death camps and the U.S. facility in Cuba "overheated rhetoric." during a radio interview.

It hasn't helped that Washington Times discovered Schulz was a campaign donor to John F. Kerry's campaign. It hasn't helped that a former Soviet prisoner who is a well-known human rights activist says comparing Gitmo to a Soviet gulag is off base.
"In Guantanamo Bay, there was a very serious violation of human rights and it's very important to deal with this and to correct it," said Natan Sharansky ...But the comparison of Amnesty International is very typical, unfortunately, for this organization, which has no moral clarity."

Sharansky argued that Amnesty International compromises its work by refusing to differentiate "between democracies where there are sometimes serious violations of human rights and dictatorships where no human rights exist at all.

"This comparison between gulag and Soviet Union and United States of America, erases all these differences," he said. "It makes moral equivalence between these two very different worlds and that's unfortunately very a typical, systematical, mistake of Amnesty International."
As well as this completely unfounded comparison, another issue is that many people do not understand why the 520 (or so) prisoners are being held "without a trial". It's really very simple. They were captured in a war situation, as combatants. As a captured prisoner of war, they do not need to be released until the war is over. How on earth is an American Judge going to determine if the combatant is a nice guy, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, shooting at the wrong team?" That being said, processes are in place to vette and release "prisoners of war". Hundreds already have been.

Whatever the outcome now, the damage has been done. The newspapers spend more time reprinting "the gulag of our times" in various articles and I have yet to see one report anything substantial in balance. Accusations continue to be dropped willy nilly, with the characteristic "withdrawal and apology" when no evidence is forth-coming. For the more right leaning folks out there, this incident will have changed their perception of Amnesty. Here is a good post by Austin Bay Blog

But do not fear, gentle readers. The Amnesty Gulag of the Year Event shall continue. You can continue to forward suggestions or post comments. And after this award is out of the way, perhaps we can look into "Propaganda Statement of the Year Award".

Posted by ZenTiger | 6/11/2005 06:25:00 pm


Blogger Davros said...

What war is still going on? Do you mean the war that is still going on is the 'War against Terror'. I thought major hostilities in Afghanistan and Iraq were over. The cover of Time magazine said so. If the combatants are being held until the end of the 'War against Terror' then most of the prisoners will be there for their entire lives.

Although should they be found guilty by the military courts I suppose that won't be too long. The 'War on Drugs' still seems to be going so the War On Terror has probably got a bit of staying power...

6/11/2005 09:43:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Oh well, if Time said so, it must be true.

6/11/2005 10:17:00 pm  
Blogger Matt said...

This issue has been _way_ overhashed. My understanding is the US office of AI has been hammered so hard they've backed off a literal "gulag" anology.


And, as a side-note, I don't remember too much wailing after the undoubted 2003 propaganda winner "the Axis of Evil".

6/12/2005 12:48:00 pm  

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