28
May
08

On air: Human Rights at 60. Whose rights? Whose responsibility?

On today’s show, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, is joining us to talk about human rights. What they are, whether they are universal and if organisations like her own have an impact on our lives. She’s already in the news today, as Amnesty’s annual report has been released and it lambasts the world’s commitment to human rights. She’s written this post for you to read and respond to, so please do and you can talk with her live at 1700GMT. Leave your phone number if you want to come on air – we won’t publish it we promise. Here’s what Irene has to say…

FROM IRENE KHAN

What are human rights in 2008?

Do you believe the world would be safer if terror suspects weren’t held in Guantanamo but were freed or tried in normal courts? With civilians increasingly the victims of vicious armed conflicts, should armed groups be accused of and tried for human rights abuses?

Should governments who are denying their people healthcare, education or access to food be brought to justice?

These are questions we should be asking in seeking the answers to some of the crises facing us in 2008 and beyond.

But, let me start by painting a more general picture of the state of human rights in the world today,

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights – UDHR ARTICLE 1.
But in the first half of 2007 nearly 250 women were killed by violent husbands or family members in Egypt, and on average 2 women were raped there every hour. And 590 women were murdered in Guatemala in 2007

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person – ARTICLE 3.
But 1,252 people were executed by their state in 2007 in 24 countries

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment – ARTICLE 5
But Amnesty International documented cases of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in more than 81 countries in 2007.

Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law – ARTICLE 11
But Amnesty International figures show that around 800 people have been held at Guantánamo Bay since the detention facility opened in January 2002, some 270 are still being held there in 2008 without charge or due legal process.

Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state – ARTICLE 13
But in 2007, there were more than 550 Israeli military checkpoints and blockades restricting or preventing the movement of Palestinians between towns and villages in the West Bank.

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being, especially mothers and children – ARTICLE 25
But 14% of Malawi’s population was living with HIV/AIDS in 2007, only 3% of them had access to free anti-retroviral drugs, 1 million children were orphaned there by HIV/AIDS related deaths.

Sixty years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the framework which protects a complete set of rights — civil, political, economic, social and cultural — for everyone around the world, millions of people are still being left behind.

For Amnesty International, the events that characterised 2007 were protests by groups and in countries we might not usually expect — monks in Myanmar, lawyers in Pakistan, women in Zimbabwe and Iran – driven by growing frustration and despair at the gap between governments’ promises and performance.

But who is to blame, and more importantly who can turn the situation around for these people?

Much of the human rights progress over the last six decades has been driven by ordinary people. Yet today, too often, we are seeing a complacent middle class worldwide concerned but unlikely to act. At the same time we are witnessing a growing number of people across the globe finding their voices to demand equality, justice and dignity, but what about those who do enjoy their rights? What role should they play?

In the words of a Chilean prisoner of conscience “When you are there, naked on a metal bed, and they are giving you electric shock torture and your wife is going to die and the child she is carrying is going to die, and the other person next to you is being killed, you wish there was an international community, a bigger humanity, somebody who will say that this has to stop, that this is useless, it corrupts everything, it corrupts life.”

What would you do?


153 Responses to “On air: Human Rights at 60. Whose rights? Whose responsibility?”


  1. 1 ZK
    May 27, 2008 at 16:02

    The term “human rights” will mean different things to different people. We will never achieve a perfect world with no “human rights abuses” — however subjective that term may be. I’m in favour of a lot of Amnesty’s work, but does the fact that I believe in and support capital punishment then make me a human rights abuser?

  2. 2 EM in Cleveland
    May 27, 2008 at 16:30

    Regarding Article 25 (standard of living and health care): I can completely understand this article as it relates to countries like Malawi – but what about the US, which is admittedly a far reach from Malawi? What about a country where the opportunities are numerous to “better” yourself and enter into the health care system: Is universal health care a human right? Increasingly, I don’t think it is: I have a husband with a chronic illness, and we make employment choices based on insurance opportunities and the like – I am afraid that universal health care will damage competition in the US and fewer strides will be made to cure my husband’s illness (it won’t be as profitable). Is there ever a time when we must say “We have done all we can and you chose not to take advantage of the opportunity to improve your situation in a country that has given you multiple outlets – this is not a human rights abuse?”

  3. May 27, 2008 at 16:35

    I think that ‘human rights’ is a farce to most and certainly to most who should know better here in the USA. I am a white Brit in Florida who should just soak up the sun and keep my big mouth shut. Many Americans think so in this ‘land of the free’. I consider Norway and Sweden to be the lands of the free. most of Europe is free in more ways than the USA. I write about the disparages that exist. I write for Times-Union and American Chronicle and many other times on Blogs. Google ‘patrick lockyer’ to see my rants. On a sun newspaper blog about Europe being the USA’s next enemy I have been blasted and threatened for speaking out. My wonderful American wife is locked with many of these same ‘cloned reasoning’s’. I am mostly able to deduce any reply to any question related to many subjects from her friends in her ‘group’. There seems to be a lack of ‘original thought’ and I have tied it maybe to the way that kids are kept subservient and reliant on their parents here to ‘prosper’? I see a more rebellious likelihood in Britain due to the independence ‘social health’ gives. My wife is a gem and we do not clash and we leave certain subjects closed and it does not affect our good life. I know however that be it gays and abortion or Fonda or Kennedy or Kerry or Bush or capital punishment or guns or a dozen other subjects that I can bet on the replies and thoughts of those I meet here in the USA. I hope to meet a lot of different ones soon and that ideas will change and mellow from the hawkish attitudes I have seen in the last eight years here.

  4. 4 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 16:46

    “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment ”

    Degrading is such a subjective term, that everything would be forbidden. For muslims, a dog is considered dirty, so if you used a bloodhound to find a muslim, they would say that’s degrading.

    “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person ”

    Even aborted fetuses? Security of Person? The anti gun people obviously don’t agree with that one. Everyone has the right to liberty, even convicted criminals?

    “Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law – ARTICLE 11

    Including Daniel Pearl, right?

    “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state – ARTICLE 13”

    What about Pedophiles? Should they be able to move freely, wherever they want? It’s not like they are conducting suicide bombings. What about people who have criminal proceedings against them or benchwarrants? If they go to a certain state, they could get arrested. Doesn’t that infringe on this right of freedom of movement?

    “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being, especially mothers and children ”

    So if I decide to have 15 kids when I cannot afford to even feed myself, I am entitled for you to give me money to support hte life I have chosen? How about if I decide to quit my job and do drugs all day long? I should be entitled to money becuse it’s my choice! I’m entitled!

  5. 5 Nanci Hogan
    May 27, 2008 at 16:50

    Irene, I find that the universal human rights as a normative standard for international politics is problematic in that they don’t genuinely provide a way for recognizing different cultural and religious rights.

    I am not a cultural relativist, but I think the progressive liberal appeal to human rights cedes the ground of culture to those who are traditional and conservative in an attempt to pit culture against human rights norms.

    Rather I think it is important to explore what elements in a given culture, which is already pluralist and always in the process of change, do promote respect and human dignity.

    By taking too individualistic of an approach, rather than looking at individuals born into a social context and part of a community, I think human rights is often a blunt instrument for achieving justice. As it stands now, the system promotes rigid opposites—of moral outrage or of cultural relativism without being able to account for context and difference and subtleties.

    How do you think a human rights construct can better be adapted to acknowledge the social, economic, religious, and cultural context in which certain human rights absuses occur? Is legislation the only way to address these situations?

  6. 6 Lawal sikiru Ade
    May 27, 2008 at 16:51

    Human Right is both our right and responsibility, but its meaning and interpretation differ from place to place.

    Can a woman walk naked on the street claiming Human Right?

  7. 7 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 16:56

    @ Lawal

    I dunno Lawal, but if you show me anyone who was ever born wearing clothes… If God didn’t want us to walk around naked, why aren’t we born with clothes on?

  8. 8 Lindsay -- MS
    May 27, 2008 at 17:06

    A few years ago I helped to found a campus branch of Amnesty Int’l at Mississippi State University in the States. We held numerous events, signed petitions, wrote letters, provided awareness, we did whatever we could in support of the UDHR. The issue that we faced the most in the US South, however, was the ignorance of people. No one knew what the UDHR was, they were not educated on global issues, and when we provided information about human rights abuses most people either did not believe us or did not care. My concerns are: though our group provided fact, we were still called liars; most of the people we came in to contact with were students who blindly followed their parent’s ideals; our local news rarely, if ever, provided information on global issues; and there is a genreal lack of concern for issues that don’t immediately involve these people. How do we function with this? There are masses that support AI’s work, but there are so many more who don’t know what AI is. I think that we, as part of the human race, have to be socially responsible and hold perpetrators accountable for abuses; I admire AI for doing this. I hope that this mindset could spread like wildfire, but in the US, it feels highly unlikely.

  9. 9 Tino
    May 27, 2008 at 17:13

    “Do you believe the world would be safer if terror suspects weren’t held in Guantanamo but were freed or tried in normal courts?”

    What a ridiculous question, of course not. On MULTIPLE occasions we have seen those who go free carry out more attacks on our troops. They deserve to rot, I do not see how you can accidentally be a terror suspect…..
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/08/world/middleeast/08iraq.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin

    “Mr. Ajmi is one of several former Guantánamo detainees believed to have returned to combatant status, said another American military spokesman, Cmdr. Jeffrey D. Gordon. “Some have subsequently been killed in combat and participated in suicide bomber attacks,” he said.”

    Sorry, they lost their ‘rights’ when they tried to attack my countries’ troops. May they die and rot, wherever they are. Focus on something else besides G-Bay, which holds the worst of the worst as far as I am concerned.

    Besides: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”

    My right to life and security of person takes precedence over their “right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”

    As for your jab at Israel: “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state ”

    Once again, the right to LIFE and SECURITY OF PERSON is greater than their right to move freely. Perhaps if they stop attacking Israel these barriers might go away? Or is it too tough for you guys to focus on say, a real problem? Amnesty disgusts me, it is a nonsense organization. They basically suggest we should put our lives at risk to provide rights to people who openly declare, and in fact act upon, their desire to kill us.

    It is amazing how little they focus on the middle east also, with countless ‘rights abuses’.

  10. 10 Tita Lenz
    May 27, 2008 at 17:21

    please let irene talk on the rape case of the girl in Ivory Coast.That was just too bad for a whole peacemaker to do that.What is the human doing concerning that and many others.What are the role and regulation governing human right and to who does this role fall on b/c some many people who violate this role go free.

  11. May 27, 2008 at 17:21

    I cannot say for sure that the movie ‘Rendition’ is a factual account of what has happened to any American or indeed any illegal immigrant or anyone roped in by the US security forces network around the world. Do I think it likely that such things as wrongful kidnap as portrayed have taken place then yes I do. do I think there have been incidents such as the torture one portrayed in the movie to both the guilty and the innocent? Yes I do. Do I think that there exists in America, an element of revengeful disregard for such matters? Yes I do. Do I think that many of the grandparents of the Southern folks I meet openly used the ‘N’ word in disrespect of the black people that built their economy? Yes I do. Do I think that Michelle Obama has a right to say that she only recently has felt proud of her country? Yes I do. Should Rosa Parks have felt immensely proud of her nation daily? Would she have been ‘rejected’ as a possible civil leader for ‘not’ feeling proud of her nation and of her nations treatment of blacks? Are all the people who listened to Rev Wright not allowed to feel bad about the history of American treatment of blacks? Are none of them ‘ever’ to be considered ‘worthwhile’ unless they ‘bless’ all the white folks? What kind of mentality is that? They have to pay homage to get on?

  12. May 27, 2008 at 17:30

    Typical right wing answers here and I see it and hear it everyday. The point about parenting is NOT that you should be able to ensure that to ‘your’ dying day, that ‘your’ kids are paid for up front but that ‘society’ ensures that they are cared for. For Gods sake even apes would adopt the ones ‘out in the cold’. Anyone should be able to have children and whilst not advocating large families I respect that certain ‘cults’ would not contemplate ‘control’. Here in the States, there are many couples who just ‘cannot’ contemplate ‘childbirth’. They work but do not have insurance and there is a certain ‘disdain’ should they require help at all? If their work is intermittent they must remain childless and not take the risk? Can you imagine that having a child is ‘risk taking’? What kind of society is that? One to boast of? Neal Boortz on the talk radio here encourages that mind set and it plainly ‘stinks’. Britain have a totally different viewpoint even if there are always ‘exploiters’.

  13. May 27, 2008 at 17:50

    The issue of human rights is still problematic as it is still open to interpretations by the countries who have signed the Human Rights Treaty. Ironically, the governments who abuse human rights most are those who defend their records on respecting them. They accuse those seeking their rights as trouble makers or as a threat to national security.

    Many countries are ruled by despotic regimes, with leaders seeking all means to stay in power by silencing their opponents through death, torture and imprisonment.

    There are two countries in the news today which an example of the violation of human rights: Zimbabwe and Burma. In Zimbabwe, there were many reported incidents of people victims of cruel physical assaults following the general elections. The government seemed to be doing nothing about it, by for example, opening an inquiry. In Burma, people hit by the cyclone are left exposed to hunger and disease for more than three weeks because of the military regime, despite the enthusiasm of the international community to help them.

    These two cases show the impotence of the international community to intervene to put things right. There are sometimes political calculations. The West and other big countries like China and India turn a blind eye to the abuses of the human rights by regimes as long as they serve their interests.

    What pressure can be put on governments abusing human rights to respect them? Are economic sanctions effective in abusive regimes change their policies?

    There are many illegal immigrants crossing to Europe mainly from Africa. What rights do these immigrants have to seek a better life?

    My third question is about the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state:
    On the Algerian territory, there are displaced people from Western Sahara who live in camps. They have been there since 1975. Many want to return to their homeland, but they are prevented by the Polisario Front fighting Morocco over this territory. Anyone caught trying to escape is subject to torture and imprisonment. Shouldn’t there be international pressure on this front to allow these people the freedom to live where they want to regardless of the differences it has with Morocco?

  14. 14 Zita
    May 27, 2008 at 17:58

    Steve and Nancy have said all there is to say.
    Let me just voice a few thoughts borrowed from great people who went before me.
    ‘Man is born free but everywhere he is in fetters.
    The history of mankind is littered with instances of exploitation of man by man.’
    I think this will continue till the human race is extinct. In the same way, wars will continue as it does not seem to be decreased by man becoming ‘civilized’. It is as bad today as it has always been.
    So what do we do?
    Big organisations are great but each one can influence or do somthing to help in the little world around them. Litte corrective deeds all over the world, just like little drops of water and little grains of sand, will make a ocean of difference.
    Zita

  15. 15 Will Rhodes
    May 27, 2008 at 18:02

    Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being, especially mothers and children – ARTICLE 25

    Why not men?

    Although I do agree with a lot of the work that Amnesty does it still overlooks that one article counters another.

    There isn’t a common theme running though all this. Amnesty calls for the freedom of movement for people yet, while that is a great cause, if those people then subject others to being blown apart or loss of limb they are counteracting the other persons rights to life and a quality of life.

    I want to live in peace with my neighbour, but what do i do if my neighbour wants to kill me and my family because I don’t agree with where he put his fence?

    Amnesty needs to look from the ground up rather from its lofty heights looking down and should stop playing politics and work for both side or at least with them.

  16. 16 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 18:38

    ” All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights – UDHR ARTICLE 1. ”

    Equal? Then Christians must be ale to openly worship in Saudi Arabia! Someone notify them of this!

  17. 17 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 18:41

    “Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law – ARTICLE 11 ”

    All the presumption of innocence means is that the burden of persuasion/production is on the prosecution. The defense need not do anything in their defense if the prosecution doesn’t not prove it’s case beyond a reasonable doubt, or whatever the standard is. In many countries people are held for long periods of time, without charge. People are jailed without charge. I visited a prisoner in Germany, who had not been charged, but was jailed, and the prosecution admitted to me they had no case, but they were holding him anyways. It’s not just Guantanamo. If they really meant “innocent until proven guilty” then you couldn’t book and arrest people. because they are innocent, right? And you’re restricting their freedom without them having been convicted!

  18. 18 Zak
    May 27, 2008 at 18:55

    I do believe the US government, which happens to be my own, is guilty of war crimes and should be held accountable for the unjust imprisonment of detainees and the torture exercised upon them.

    Similarly the governments that refuse aid to people in crisis situations as we see in Myanmar are absolutely guilty of crimes against humanity. Specifically in that case the UN should impose sanctions.

    Especially if they can find the reason to sanction Iran over alleged nuclear intent, which I don’t necessarily agree with, they cannot ignore the real immediate oppressive actions.

    Other examples are in China that warrant reproach: jailing people for nonsense crimes, trying to subjugate Tibet by force, firing squad type executions without due process, backing violent movements in Sudan, or governments like Myanmar.

    I do also believe in all those cases that disaster has weakened the oppression, but I still don’t think the world can let those governments off the hook completely.

  19. May 27, 2008 at 19:27

    “Human rights” that is another term that is losing meaning of recent years , we all have rights and these rights some times are well stipulated.Many of us are unaware of our rights, I think human rights commissions shold write a human rights bible version may be we preach word by by on Fridays satday and Sunday.

  20. 20 Dan
    May 27, 2008 at 19:35

    I find the naiveté overwhelming. Where has Amnesty International staged protests, marches or even held public meeting in those countries that practice honor killings of women or mutilation of womens genitals?
    Where has Amnesty International used its influence to even get women the right to drive a car or simply talk to the opposite sex?
    They violate their own articles 1, 3, 5, and 13.
    Amnesty International would rather attack Western Democracies than expose brutal regimes that would issue a religious decree of death against them.
    Similarly the concept of Evil seems to be an unknown as A.I. is more concerned with the rights of murderers than those those that were murdered no matter how brutal the act.

  21. May 27, 2008 at 19:35

    Hello to all of you my Precious friends… To Ms Khan I say : Human rights ?? You gotta be kidding me ! Listen to me Ms Khan, we do live in a wild jungle to which ‘Power is always right’ and ‘money talks’ are the only laws that apply… In the world we live in, only the supreme powers have the right to determine what’s humane and what’s inhumane… Take Saudi Arabia and Iran for example Ms Khan… Mr Bush visits Saudi Arabia and dances the sword dance with the Saudi King Abdullah, while he always keeps criticising Iran very strongly for its obviously poor human rights record and supporting International terrorism, ha ha ha ! As if Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is pure and worthy of American and international applauding, yeah right !!! May God help you in your really impossible mission Ms Khan… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  22. 22 Tino
    May 27, 2008 at 19:43

    “Do I think that Michelle Obama has a right to say that she only recently has felt proud of her country? Yes I do.”

    Give me a break. She went to Princeton and Harvard, had extremely excellent opportunities in life. She is a possible First Lady, and you think she has the right to have never felt proud of her country until now?! That is not someone I want even close to office – “I am proud of my country, because my husband might get to be President” is not at all a valid sentiment. What if he doesn’t win, she will go right back to hating the country which has allowed so many opportunities to come her way – not that I think she didn’t earn them, I mean simply that her beef seems to be based on race, but she being a black woman still managed to get into two of the best schools in the country. She is a successful professional. She could have been in a country without equal rights for women for example.

    Her attitude by default suggests we had NEVER in the past done anything good. She should be criticized heavily for her absurd views.

    “Should Rosa Parks have felt immensely proud of her nation daily? Would she have been ‘rejected’ as a possible civil leader for ‘not’ feeling proud of her nation and of her nations treatment of blacks?”

    Of course not, but you seem to equate the two time periods which is beyond believable. She should have felt proud of herself and the changes she helped bring about. Maybe she would be proud of the country today – I do not know and do not presume to guess. The point is, you are trying to equate Michelle Obama (received excellent education, does not seem held back by race/sex at all) to Rosa Parks (constantly discriminated against based on race). The two are not even remotely equitable.

    Someone who is not proud of their country unless they have a solid chance (or their spouse does) of getting elected President, has no business running or being associated with that office. I find Mrs. Obama’s comments disgusting in light of her success in this country. It is one thing to look back at our history and not be proud of everything done (slavery of course comes quickly to mind, it is beyond sad to me that my country ever had such a history) but to say you have NEVER been proud?! I am far younger than she and I have already been proud of my country multiple times.

    Also: “I know however that be it gays and abortion or Fonda or Kennedy or Kerry or Bush or capital punishment or guns or a dozen other subjects that I can bet on the replies and thoughts of those I meet here in the USA.”

    This is such a ridiculous assertion. We in this country have a huge diversity of views. I can not name one single person I know that shares my identical views.

    Gays: Give them full and equal rights, this is a no brainer to me.
    Abortion: Allow it.
    Capital punishment: Kill them, they deserve it.
    Guns: Definitely allow, statistically crime goes down when ownership goes up (>80% of gun crime is committed with an illegally purchased gun, most of the other 20% is given by close friend or family)

    Does that somehow match up with the entirety of my country? I doubt it, since gays for example still cannot get married in most places. Your thinly veiled dislike of America is overwhelmingly apparent.

  23. 23 Tino
    May 27, 2008 at 19:44

    “Amnesty International would rather attack Western Democracies than expose brutal regimes that would issue a religious decree of death against them.”

    Exactly.

  24. 24 Zak
    May 27, 2008 at 20:38

    In criticizing AI lets not confuse them with fronts for terrorism that should be obliterated in the name of humanity. Personally they aren’t garnering my support either but I think the only way you can point fingers at philanthropic organizations is to work for one. If you don’t like the news, make different news, that’s a more likely approach.

    A different example is Warren Buffet giving most of his fortune to the Gates foundation, essentially choosing not to chose a recipient. Whether you agree with it or not it’s a fact. The Gates foundation in turn practically funds NPR single handedly.

    Personally I support public radio and even though Buffet is not high on my list of givers we’re sympathetic to the same cause. Just as you have to pay $100 a year to hear satellite radio it doesn’t seem unfair to pay for what you use. Whether through work or finance making the point of your support effective is the best you can do, knowledge is power. But the movement is in your community, in my own we run alternative fuels and that’s the difference I can make right now.

  25. 25 VictorK
    May 27, 2008 at 20:46

    ‘Human rights’ is ‘nonsense on stilts’.

    A right that can’t be enforced does not exist. Putting rights down on a piece of paper and having governments sign up to it is sheer political theatre unless the states concerned are directly accountable to their citizens through representative institutions of government, and exist under the rule of law, i.e. the governments are also accountable in the courts to ordinary citizens. Only Western states, and a few outside the West like Israel and Japan, meet these fundamental prerequisites for human rights to be something more than high-minded fantasy.

    Years ago I was a member of Amnesty International. I decided not to renew my subscription when its left-wing and anti-Western bias became too blatant to be ignored (Castro killed about ten times more people than Pinochet ever did, but the late General is hated with extraordinary passion by the leftists at Amnesty, while Uncle Fidel apparently can do no wrong with his healthcare and benign despotim). Amnesty seems to spend a surprising amount of time attacking the governments of Western countries, and those of the USA and Israel in particular, while treating human rights violations by non-Western states with kid gloves. When have real political prisoners in China, Cuba or North Korea gotten a fraction of the attention that Amnesty lavishes on terrorists in Guantanamo? When did Amnesty ever campaign against truly evil regimes like the government of Sudan or the Taliban with half the zeal they reserve for pursuing the Bush administration? The Russians levelled the Chechen capital Grozny in an illegal war for oil that has claimed far more lives than Iraq; but Russia is not of the West so there’s been no determined campaign by Amnesty to bring those abuses to our attention.

    The best way to promote human rights is to campaign for change in those regimes that are lawless and politically unaccountable and not to waste time on non-issues like Guantanamo.

    I’d recommend that Amnesty steps back from its tendency to promote socialist and progressive causes under the guise of human rights. Of the points noted by Ms Khan the following are wholly inappropriate to a supposedly non-partisan organisation: violence against women is a criminal matter, not an opportunity to promote feminism under the rubric of human rights; an adequate standard of living depends on political and economic competence – it’s absurd to make a right out of something that can only be acquired as a matter of hard work and intelligence; the death penalty is not a human rights issue but a matter of justice, according to the particular legal tradition of individual states – as long as there has been due process Amnesty’s opposition to capital punishment is just impertinent; .and worst of all was her question, “But who is to blame, and more importantly who can turn the situation around for these people?” I suspect that we in the West are probably going to be blamed – from her sneering reference to comfortable middle class people who already enjoyed rights. If the people of a country don’t enjoy human rights than they are to blame. They can either struggle, includeing armed struggle, and including the prospect of having to die for their cause, to establish an accountable government that governs according to law, or they can go on being abused and expoloited by despots. If they are not prepared to struggle to the death fo themselves and for their children then have no human right to expect middle class Western foreigners to start agitating on their behalf. The rights that are enjoyed in the West are the fruits of generations of politcal and social endeavour, including the use of violence; they are a gift from nobody.

  26. 26 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 27, 2008 at 22:16

    I notice in the opening staement Zimbabwe was not mentioned? Do you have representation there?

  27. 27 Jens
    May 27, 2008 at 22:38

    I decided not to renew my subscription when its left-wing and anti-Western bias became too blatant to be ignored (Castro killed about ten times more people than Pinochet ever did, but the late General is hated with extraordinary passion by the leftists at Amnesty, while Uncle Fidel apparently can do no wrong with his healthcare and benign despotim).

    Yeah, they castigate Switzerland regularly. We have a prison population of about 7000 people in a land of 7 million. that is 0.1% of the population and still we are harassed about it.

  28. 28 Luz María Guzmán from Monterrey, Mexico
    May 27, 2008 at 22:48

    I have two questions for Irene Khan. I hope she can address some of them at the program.

    First, what do you think of conditioning foreign aid to those countries that systematically violates human rights? Do you think is a feasible way to end human rights violations on those countries?

    Second, do you think violations of economic, social and cultural rights (ICESCR rights: right to food, right to healthcare, right to education, etc.) are more difficult to denounce or pursue by human rights activists and NGOs than violations of civil and political rights (ICCPR rights: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to political participation, etc.)?

    Also, I have two opinions about some question that she stated in her post:

    Should governments who are denying their people healthcare, education or access to food be brought to justice?

    Absolutely, these are violations of human rights (specifically economic and social rights). Regretfully, the rights to healthcare, education and food (social and economic rights) have been wrongly categorized -since the beginning of the human rights movement- as “programmatic rights” or “aspirational rights” instead of “hard law” rights (like civil and political rights). The UDHR does not make any distinction between rights; all of them are interdependent and indivisible.

    About the question if organizations like Amnesty International have an impact on our lives, I have to say the following:

    Of course. A positive impact, I may say. The international movement of human rights wouldn’t be what it is without the international human rights NGOs. Many violations of human rights have been brought to the light of the international community by these organizations. An example in my country is the Ciudad Juarez feminicide case. Many of the work to denounce and pursue an end to the systematic rape, torture and killing of Mexican women in this city have been done by international NGOs.

  29. May 27, 2008 at 23:09

    Since there is no precisely outlined definition of hat a “human right” or a violation of those rights would be, then the first step would be to do just that. If only we had a place where all nation could go and have an equal representative vote. A goal of collective majority vote over how to define these things.

    For now we can at least use the past to start to set that baseline for the present. Nazi death camps, Genocide in Rwanda, and Darfur, The “great purge”, and child soldiers around the world. First get the world to agree that these are not acceptable activities. Then haggle over the definition of torture and immanent threats later.

  30. 30 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 28, 2008 at 00:01

    Like a religious book Amnesty Internaonal may not be followed completely though human charter sound like beyond any religion, colour race & country, almost every country is trying to follow the principals without any check & balance.
    Now we have to figuor out who is following the most & who is following less. Now question arises what are the difficulties to follow complete human charter of Amnesty Intl. We may look this practical implimintation problem from differant angels & prospects:-
    (1) religion.
    (2)System of Governments:-
    a. Communism.
    b, Socialism.
    c. Capitalism.
    d. Mixed Economy.
    e. Democracy.
    (3)financial & economical.
    (4) Just dont want to do it or carelessness.
    (5) Lak of understanding or communication.
    (6) Cant move without effective law enforcement.
    As far as RELIGIOUS controduction is concerned according to Holy books & practice only one religion controduct because of division of cast & burning alive widows with husband , otherwise none of the religion have any principal contruduction with Amnesty charter.
    All other angels are our carelessness & neglance or economic benifts and need to fixed according to the country’s requirement. I may recommand Medical as a business should be stopped immediately along with Pharmactucial companies.

  31. May 28, 2008 at 00:11

    Tis subject is becoming, in the modern world, more and more important. More important because we can see that rights to free living, rights to a fair trial in a fair time after being arrested, freedom from fear, of terrorists, rapists, wicked power-mad governing bodies, and so on are slipping away. The world changed in many ways on 9/11 and peoples in the world who had not been heretofore exposed to Muslem religion, the Qu’ran, and of course, to the ‘impossibility’ of suicide bombers began to struggle as to how best to deal with these threats. Suicide bombers cannot be fought. We have no chance against people who are willing to attack and kill us while themselves dying in the attempt.
    My belief is that they are misguided to say the least, and fundamentally mentally ill, to say the best. People who have been raised, and trained, to kill (all of their lives) are o be looked upon with pity; they should not be held in Guantanamo – they are entitled to a trial.
    I am more worried about rape and sexual abuse of children by peace-keepers. This is really orrendous or perhaps we have now become used to the idea of suicide bombers and can be more outraged by peacekeepers committing hideous crimes. The older I get, I find the harder I become. I do believe these wicket peacekeepers should be rounded up and shot. Ok, I can’t really say that. But the United Nations and other organizations must be given TEETH to quickly arrest them, try them and the latte prefereably in a country which still has the death penalty.
    Now, on aother topic, if we in the UK. were suddenly or otherwise the subjects of cruel and oppressive regime, hit by a cyclone which killed so many of our dear relatives, what do you suppose we’d be praying for – apart f rom food and water. We’d be hoping that the outside world would come in and get rid of the regime which is treating us so cruelly. That is a no-brainer. I think that soon there will be in the world a revolution amongst those sane people and thinkers who always want to be fair, and grant rights that they themselves regard as precious to all others in the world. Well perhaps not every last person deseves those rights.
    Mugabe? What rights does he desrve? The rapist Peace-keepers, and aid-workers – what rights do they deserve? The peace-keepers should be shot and the aid workers named, shamed, fired and listed. A world-wide list.
    The Burmese miliary egime; what right do they have to behave in an inhumane way to their own people (or to anyone) an get away with it? They have no rights, not with me – anymore.
    .I have always been – amongst my ‘social circle’ the one appealing for good sense; good, fair, treatment for all, no acceptance of less than perfect ideas of human rights being equal to all.
    Nowadays I am wavering, badly. In fact, I am even becoming very ‘right wig’ in my attitudes about moneymakers who reap the wealth and others – so many, many, starve to death throughout the developing world.
    “Amnesty” is a noun meaning (I think) an oficial pardon for people who have ben convicted of political offences. Or therefore, an amnesty for political prisoners OR an undertaking by the authorities to take no action against specified offences during a fixed period.
    I THINK ALL THAT ENDED THE DAY THE TWIN TOWERS WENT DOWN.

  32. May 28, 2008 at 01:09

    Hi Irene,

    How do you see the status of women in the Muslim and Arab world? Do you think women there can achieve more rights within the dominant cultures in their regions?

    What influence can your organisation have on the treatment of women in many Middle East countries like Syria, Iraq and Jordan where they are victims of “honour killings”?

    A lot of children in poor countries are denied the fundamental rights to education. Instead, they’re forced to work in hard conditions because of the poverty of their parents. What can be done to secure them good education?

    What influence do you have on the governments that don’t respect human rights? What can you do to protect human rights campaigners/activists in countries where they are subject to harassment and imprisonment by their governments?

  33. 33 Tino
    May 28, 2008 at 01:22

    @ Abdelilah Boukili

    I think your questions are excellent. Especially the last two in particular. I think it is a shame that children will not have the same opportunities I have had, let alone being put in the position of needing to work instead of go to school.

    The last one as well. I personally feel that Amnesty really only seems to have success in speaking to states that are already doing fairly well on the human rights issues. It seems the really bad areas never change, I would love to see her answers to your questions.

  34. 34 Katy
    May 28, 2008 at 01:40

    I would say that the only people whose human rights are not violated are the rich and powerful.
    Whether we talk about Third World or about Europe and US, where there are people there will be human rights abuse. The only difference is law enforcement. Where there are no functioning laws things get out of hand and turn more brutal….

  35. 35 Mark
    May 28, 2008 at 03:12

    Irene Khan;

    Your notions of human rights are dangerously naive and obsolete and have been overtaken by events. They were composed in simpler times before a handful of people had the power to kill millions of other people in another country without warning. They never considered the consequences to large segments of humanity, even the entire human race if the seemingly perpetual war Western civilization must wage to survive against forces of tyranny who would subjugate the entire world to their cruelty is lost. You would have us ignore the consequences to the many throughout their lives to protect the presumed rights of a few for the moment no matter what the evidence was that they were planning or executing a world shattering crime or that they are part of an army, even a clandestine one which seeks domination over all humanity. Government’s first obligation is NOT to protect all human rights, it is to protect the single most important human right, the right to live if you are not a criminal. Your notion of human rights ignores that fact. It would protect the terrorist suspect from harsh interrogation, torture, even detainment at the risk of my life because to extract the knowledge he might possess to thwart him violates your notion of his human rights. What about my human rights? What about my right to walk down the street minding my own business and not be the victim of a crime? What about my right to be safe in my own home? What about my right to protect myself, my property, my family from those who would harm us. I assert I have that right even to use of deadly force if necessary. I assert it is my right to vote for a government which will execute those criminals who are so incourageable and whose crimes are so heinous that the society judges that criminal to be unfit to remain among us even incarcerated for the rest of his life. I assert my right to vote for a government that will protect me from all manner of criminals and terrorists no matter what force is required or where it must be applied. I assert that without such government, nobody would soon have any rights left at all. Maybe not even the right to live.

    You accuse the Israelis of creating many checkpoints to assure their security but they didn’t come about overnight. They are the results of decades of victimhood, each time the degree of force used to thwart further attacks was only increased incrementally. That the current state of affairs has been required in the disputed territories is testimony to the failure of all lesser attempts and should the current measures fail, they will be replaced with still more severe measures until they succeed. I assert that is not only their right, it is their obligation to their society.

    The trial of terrorist suspects in normal criminal courts could compromise the intelligence that led to the discovery and capture of the suspects in the first place. This would open the door to future attacks. Even the Geneva conventions recognize that irregulars in an army who do not wear a recognized military uniform of any country are not protected by its provisions. The popular demand to ignore these facts plays into the hands of the terrorist organizations themselves and is a betrayal of the defense of our civilization.

    It should be clear and thought through carefully that if the measures permitted government to protect its citizens from mass violence are ineffective, it is inevitable that the government will be replaced by one far more sinister whose regard for any human rights is non existant. Therefore unreasonable demands on government to relinquish the upper hand it needs to protect its society are actually demands for the end of that society and its replacement by the cruelist of dictatorships. Yet it seems to me that is exactly what your organization does. And it does not make a distinction between violation of your notion of human rights of the victims or potential victims of criminals and the so called rights of the criminals themselves. The only reason your organization is allowed to exist in a free society is that society has ignored your criticisms to the degree necessary to protect you from those who would deny them.

  36. 36 Virginia Davis
    May 28, 2008 at 05:26

    Greetings Ms. Kahn:

    I read through your comments and questions. They seemed somewhat generic.

    I’ve read through the responses. Many discourage me. Your organization does good work. And I know that AI’s support of political prisoners in the past has been helpful. I have sent signed messages which I trust reached individuals who were confined.

    I contribute in a small way to Human Rights Watch. AI at this point is too large and too “slick” for me. Good luck on the Wednesday WHYS program.

    Virginia in Portland, OR

  37. 37 Tino
    May 28, 2008 at 06:32

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7422528.stm

    Conspicuously absent: All countries with grievous violations, like Iran, which hangs gay people. Or Saudi Arabia which does not allow anything non-Muslim. People still take this organization seriously?

  38. 38 Zak
    May 28, 2008 at 06:50

    What we have to be most wary against is fitting a pattern to aid work. In a war zone that involves children for instance it’s all too easy to accept the need for doctors and aid. It’s only natural to have the want to help but it’s not a natural surrounding. It’s a dysfunctional cycle that puts the youth there in the first place. Sometimes aid groups can unintentionally take from factions that sponsor violence but it’s the only way they can survive within that country and that’s wrong. It’s similarly wrong to ever feel comfortable in the presence of oppression. Unfortunately it’s an urge to occupy that governments fall weak to in one country and aid organizations take on the same need. It’s more important that we focus on getting aid to the people rather than establishing aid within a country. We can only give so much as the crisis in Burma proves; the lack of negotiations is time only the people lose.

  39. 39 Zak
    May 28, 2008 at 06:52

    What we have to be most wary against is fitting a pattern to aid work. In a war zone that involves children for instance it’s all too easy to accept the need for doctors and aid. It’s only natural to have the want to help but it’s not a natural surrounding. It’s a dysfunctional cycle that puts the youth there in the first place. Sometimes aid groups can unintentionally take from factions that sponsor violence but it’s the only way they can survive within that country and that’s wrong. It’s similarly wrong to ever feel comfortable in the presence of oppression. Unfortunately it’s an urge to occupy that governments fall weak to in one country and aid organizations take on the same need. It’s more important that we focus on getting aid to the people rather than establishing aid within a country. We can only give so much as the crisis in Burma proves; the lack of negotiations is time only the people lose.

  40. 40 Virginia Davis
    May 28, 2008 at 10:15

    Ms. Kahn: Does AI have a mission statement?

    Could you tell us the major sections or divisions of AI? And their specific responsibilities?

    Can you tell us the salaries of yourself and upper management?

    Can you tell us the number of people directly employed by AI?

    And their average salaries?

    Part of where these questions come from is that having been designated mentally ill for most of my life, my existence has supported good life styles of those employed to take care of me in the mental health industry.

    For instance, I was trained by Goodwill Industries here in Portland, OR to become a janitor. The last I heard the CEO of Goodwill here in Portland had a salary of over half a million dollars a year.

    My wage as a janitor was $10 an hour.

    Virginia in Portland, OR

  41. 41 Alex
    May 28, 2008 at 10:17

    It’s Alex here from the WHYS team, with questions for Amnesty’s Irene Khan that you texted last night, while we were on air:

    Abdi in Somalia asks:
    “Amnesty always condemns human rights violations, but doesn’t take further action. What is Amnesty’s real role?”

    John in Nigeria asks:
    “How much is your organisation helping in Nigeria, and which sectors does your human rights organisation try to correct?”

  42. 42 John in Germany
    May 28, 2008 at 10:46

    To date i my life, which has been to say the least enjoyable, i have found that Human Rights has been practised only if the political will is present.

    Look at the pressure which had been applied on the Generals in Burma, something moved, but more due to bartering than the result of pressure. Leaders that only care about them selves and their political and power future, are dis-interested in the fate of the people they are supposed to respect. and protect.

    Thank heaven we have Amnesty , and other associations , that try to do there best and achieve at hard odds. Utopia, Politicians that really care for the people, and human rights built in at birth.

    Greetings all.
    John In Germany.

  43. 43 BB NYC
    May 28, 2008 at 11:04

    How on earth can the Israeli Army say that an organization is “masquerading” as a social service agency when it runs an orphanage with 100 children living in it, and the Israeli Army has been to and has raided that orphanage, taking even the silverware. Did they not see the children? How is that “masquerading”? Just what does Israel intend to do to take care of these children? And, where is their “social network mapping”, and international bank transfer evidence that the charity is merely a “front” “supporting” Hamas? And, just who are those children? Poseurs as orphans? Would this evidence not be useful to show the public to justify this action? Particularly the US voting public since our money supports all of this unabashedly. Is this a Democracy or Middle Eastern Theocracy? We need to answer that question so we know exactly how to vote in November!

  44. 44 Mohammed Ali
    May 28, 2008 at 11:45

    Mr. Kahn,
    I get confuse whenever I hear this argument about Human Rights. Human Rights organizations do not have any rights to punish countries or individuals who violate the rights of others. All they can do is to cause noise and in many cases their noises yield no results. In other cases the they cause limited noise for fear that they will not be supported if they were to speakout against countries that sponsored them. For example, when countries that are form the western world violate the rights of other countries or individuals, there is little that is said about it by human rights organizations. The Americans for instance are violating individual rights on a daily basis in Guantanamo Bay, on a daily basis the Israelis violate the rights of the Paledtinians and yet there is not much noise been made about it. When China clamps down on protest in Tibet, it becomes talking point for human rights organizations.
    My question to you is when will human right organizations begin to advocate for the right to prosecute leaders of countries and individuals that violate the rights of others?
    Secondly, when will you begin to speak equally against all countries and individuals that violate the rights of others?

  45. 45 Mohammed Ali
    May 28, 2008 at 12:02

    Sorry for the MR title given you. Ms Kahn, where does the human right world stand on the crimes being committed in DR Congo and Somalia?

  46. 46 VictorK
    May 28, 2008 at 12:27

    @Mohammed: as little as I care for Amnesty I think you do them an injustice when you suggest that they trim their message for “fear that they will not be supported if they were to speakout against countries that sponsored them.” I’m pretty sure that Amnesty does not compromise its independence by accepting any kind of state funding, and its record of denouncing all states is not to be denied (though I think its criticisms of Western states are often absurd and are in all probability artful contrivances intended to effect an artificial balance of criticism – Amnesty hasn’t the courage to act on the truth which is that it is the ‘nations of colour’ that are the prime violators of human rights. It doesn’t sit right with their PC conscience to operate on that basis).

    If you really believe that Amnesty hasn’t been making ‘a noise’ about Guantanamo and the Israelis then I can only ask where you’ve been for the past ten years (at least).

    The whole idea of human rights is largely pointless. Western countries are characterised by the rule of law and representative, accountable governments. These are all that is needed to secure to Western peoples the rights that Amnesty campaigns for. Amnesty is redundant in the West. Countries that are not characterised by Western instituions of law and government don’t have human rights and never will. No amount of campaigning will change that. Amnesty is redundant outside of the West.

    Which is why Amnesty wants to make itself relevant and effective by conscripting Western governments (the only ones for whom human rights mean anything) into yet another war, this time a war for rights. Our governments are supposed to take up a global mandate for spreading human rights, in much the same way that the Bush administration has been doing in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The West should reject this. We are not responsible for the world. If the people of Burma, China, Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia don’t care enough about human rights to be taking action to secure them for themselves then I don’t see why I should care either. And if they do care and are organising to change their societies, then they don’t need the help of Westerners like me. My prayers are with them in their struggle, but that should be the limit of my involvement and my government’s too.

    Everybody is responsible for developing and improving their own society and maintaining it as a place worth living in. That’s a sufficient burden even without trying to take on responsibility for trying to develop and improve another man’s country. Besides, it is a little arrogant for the Westerners of Amnesty to assume that everybody aspires to be like the West and conform to the Western model when it comes to human rights. Muslim women say that the Koran gives them all the human rights they want or need; I’m fine with that, why shouldn’t Amnesty be as well? So long as they are well-fed and prosperous the Chinese seem to enjoy obeying their masters in Beijing: who’s to say they are wrong? The Afghans never lifted a finger to get rid of the Taliban and aren’t doing anything to help the Americans build a human rights utopia in their country: perhaps we should accept that a Talibanesque state is what utopia means to them. Amnesty should learn to respect difference – ‘diversity’, isn’t that the word – and that means different views of human rights across the world. We should all reject any attempt at human rights imperialism.

  47. 47 Mark
    May 28, 2008 at 12:44

    Irene Khan;
    Your organization has been completely ineffective and is certain to remain that way. I therefore assert that it has no rational justification to exist except to be a self serving organization which cynically benefits its own memebers and is used as a tool for those who would selectively use its reports and citiations to further their own political cause while ignoring all others.

    After the Nazi effort to murder all of Europe’s Jews the world said “never again” but the genocide is perpetual. Your organization and others like it including the UN have been entirely ineffective in stopping genocide in places like Uganda, Cambodia, Ruwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, just to name a few. It has been ineffectie to protect the rights of women in India, political dissidents in China and the Soviet Union, in North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba. It has not protected the civil rights of anyone in Burma, Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Afghanistan under the Taleban. It has not protected the rights of victims of criminal gangs and drug lords in places like Columbia. It has protected no children from police brutality in Brazil. It has done nothing for women’s rights all over the Islamic world in places like Egypt or Saudi Arabia. It is doing nothing to protect the rights of people to obtain food in places like Zimbabwe or Darfur in the Sudan. I could go on and on but you get the point, it has not actually done anything for anyone ever. Yet you often focus on a handful of incidents in a few select countries such as those being held captive in Guantanomo or victims of individual crimes in places like Gharib as though they were the equivalent. I assert that you do not have the authority to make judgements about those who defend themselves against all manner of crimes no matter what force they deem necessary as though they were the equivalent of the criminals themselves. I assert that your organization is pointless and a mere irritant. And I assert that its pontificating is no more than more of the noise the world is subjected to by an endless stream of moralizers. The genocide in Kosovo and the cruel dictatorships of Afghanistan and Iraq were not ended by the likes of you, it was ended by the United States military which used extreme force in which innocent people were unfortunately killed. Yet you would condemn those inadvertent deaths as the equivalent of those whose crimes left no other choice except to continue to endure them. How about an in depth report of the crimes against humanity the UN has been committing against people they are supposed to be helping, reports we have heard yet again this very week?

  48. May 28, 2008 at 13:27

    Irene Khan,

    In the US there is a large consensus that it is acceptable to torture a “terror suspect” in hopes of “saving one American life.” Who identifies what Human rights violations? Also how do you punish the violators without becoming violator? With a prevailing group mentality like the one stated, who can be trusted to enforce the punishment for violations and how?

  49. 49 Dan
    May 28, 2008 at 14:06

    One has to wonder about the goals of Amnesty International. As they only attack Western Democracies and sometimes throw in a tame criticism of a Third World country their goals must be either to destroy the West or make the UN the World Government.
    If they destroy the West what is it that they think will emerge? Certainly a Utopian society cannot be born out of destruction and in any event throughout history when humans tried to create Utopian societies they have ended up with evil regimes that gave the world mass murder, repression and war. Is that A.I’s goal?
    On the other hand if A.I. wants the UN to become the World Government they are again establishing a brutal dictatorship as Lord Acton so correctly stated, “Power Corrupts and Absolute Power corrupts Absolutely”. A UN based World Government distances those who govern further, not closer, from those who are governed. The UN becomes the new slave master. As the “Ruling Class” they look down upon those of us who are in the world to serve the goals of what would become incestuous UN ideas as we are seeing in A.I.’s latest report.
    My bottom line question is why does the BBC interview this organization? Is every fringe radical group open to be interviewed by the BBC? If so, there are other more worthy groups than A.I.

  50. 50 BB NYC
    May 28, 2008 at 14:17

    Being white protestant male in America, my rights are not the issue really except my email of political nature is I am sure being monitored and the NSA has electronic maps of all the phone numbers we all call. But, this government does not protect the rights of black men well at all. I am sure many others too but I don’t know about all of that. In Texas, there are like 1000s of criminal cases being overturned after like 20yrs with a review of DNA information that shows that these men were railroaded by prosecutors and so called ‘law’ enforcement officers. I don’t know all the details by heart, but there are thousands of cases being reviewed now, and dozens have been overturned maybe even more. BBC or even NPR may have run those stories. So, whose government is that? The US government, or the state government of Texas? In either case, letting courts be run by local people, people living in isolated and ethnocentric conditions without the proper oversight means that all of us Americans have to take responsibility for these “kangaroo courts” operating in our own country. Law Students in Texas are reading these cases and making these , I hate to use the word “appeals” because the “appeal” system also failed. The courts and prosecutions are not doing this hard work. They are now young White People, with education and scruples challenging cases ruled in courts decades ago. The authorities certainly didn’t respond to letters written by these black men and their families for decades. So, I don’t know what has changed for the better, except maybe White people are coming out of their ‘indifference’ to injustice and suffering of others. I don’t travel to Texas, just like I won’t travel to China or Israel! I just can’t right now.

  51. 51 Richard
    May 28, 2008 at 14:47

    I would ask her if she could improve human rights in a country how would she do it

  52. 52 CMK
    May 28, 2008 at 15:23

    All this talk about human rights makes me sick. At the end of the day its just words and no action at all. Please give me a break.

  53. 53 Nick in USA
    May 28, 2008 at 15:25

    Tino said:

    My right to life and security of person takes precedence over their “right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”

    Why does it take precedence? Have you studied every case in Gitmo? For all you know 90% of the detainees there could have nothing to do with terrorism. Maybe they were related to a terrorist or they went to the same mosque. Do you really think our intelligence agents are that good? The problem is that you don’t know because these people have not had a fair trial. You can sit there and assume that they’re all bad, but you don’t know that for a fact. They could be fathers, school teachers, upstanding members of their community. Yes, you have some anecdotal evidence proving that some people have been released and continued to attack our troops, but it’s not a black and white issue. These are all different people with different lives.

  54. 54 Sandra Patricia, Colombia
    May 28, 2008 at 15:31

    Hello, WHYS team, bloggers and listeners! 😛
    To Mrs. Kahn, a warm hello from Colombia 🙂 !

    Maybe some people are not still familiar with the situation in my country: a war that has been taking place for more than 40 years between guerrillas (FARC, among others), the army and paramilitary forces. Violence, deplaced people, narcotraffic, thousands of kidnapped and murdered people every year, excessive use of force from the army an the police… Actually we cannot say very much about human rights because most of these horrible things happening in my country are supported by the ambition of the governments in turn – today we can see paramilitary filtration in the current goverment. Even activists and human rights defenders are murdered for expressing their point of view (check this article: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/feature-stories/colombia-time-stop-killing-and-persecution-trade-unionists-and-a). I’ve also found this somehow biased report: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78885.htm.

  55. 55 Nick in USA
    May 28, 2008 at 15:39

    Dan said:

    “One has to wonder about the goals of Amnesty International. As they only attack Western Democracies and sometimes throw in a tame criticism of a Third World country their goals must be either to destroy the West or make the UN the World Government.”

    I’m pretty sure I can defend them here. Think Burma for instance. How difficult has it been for us to deliver aid to the people who need it there. We were trying to give free food, water, and medical aid, but they didn’t want to let us in because they didn’t want us to see what was happening or support a coupe. Now, imagine you’re amnesty. How easy do you think it will be to get into Burma? Do you think they just let you right in and say, “Sure have a look at everything we’re doing wrong and tell all the countries who have the power to overthrow us.”

    On the other hand, countries like the USA are very free, and our government can’t hide these human rights abuses. It’s easier to criticize western democracies. If you want to criticize amnesty for anything, then criticize them for not being daring enough to put their employees in danger by sending them into these countries, but I’m sure I don’t want that job.

    Finally, your criticism is really a non-issue. Go to the Amnesty website at any given time and check out how many stories are about western democracies and compare them to stories about third world countries.

  56. 56 Sandra Patricia, Colombia
    May 28, 2008 at 15:39

    Hi again! 😛
    To tell the truth, “Human Rights” do not exist in this world. Unfortunatelly, for the convenience of some, others have to lose. Specially when we live in a society where governments do not rule for the people but for their own interests (clear examples: the U.S, Kongo, Myanmar, etc.) At last, the ones to lose it all are the civilians, specially humble people who have no option but accepting their conditions not to be bugged.

    Thanks indeed, Mrs. Kahn! My best wishes for all of you!
    Hugs from Colombia! 🙂

  57. 57 Sandra Patricia, Colombia
    May 28, 2008 at 16:02

    Me again!

    Just check the conditions of children in numerous countries: kids with no education, working to support their families or just being exploited, some others enrolled in war or being displaced or murdered (as we see everyday in my country), sexually, phisically or psycologically abussed…

    What about women? Thousands of them raped, mistreated or murdered everyday just for their natural condition; many others who have no economic support and have to leave their kids alone to make some money…

    And the countries in war: Complete families affected by violence and terrorism, losing thier lands and properties and even sacrifying their own lives for a battle that is not theirs….

    The Declaration of human Rights was important since these showed what the ‘ideal world’ would be (but, as debated above by the sundry bloggers, not all this articles are that right). However, reality is different. And unfortunately your organisation has no power to change that: you say the words people want to listen to, what it should be, but what can you do just to CHANGE that? How t force and change the system?… 😦

    Greeting from Colombia! 😛

  58. 58 Katharina in Ghent
    May 28, 2008 at 16:07

    Hi,

    I think, to be fair we should at least a little bit look at the historical context: If I remember correctly, the idea first came up after the French Revolution, and after what happened during WWII, the UN took up the human rights into their agenda. (Very roughly speaking, of course, and if something I said so far is grossly wrong I will stand gladly corrected.)

    To have equal human rights everywhere in the world will be always just a dream, we will most likely never reach a society as it’s described in Star Trek – TNG, but at least we should strive for it. A government like the Burmese, which refuses to let help come to its citizens, can maybe still do this, but the world public society will cry out and the Burmese can not say that they didn’t know better. I believe that this was one of the main points about the human rights: nobody who abuses them cannot claim anymore that he didn’t know. I’m glad that there are NGO’s like AI who will point fingers at countries that still think that they stand above basic principles. Without them the world would be an even darker place.

  59. 59 Nana Tutu Yeboah
    May 28, 2008 at 16:13

    when basic necessities of life are currently difficult to come by , when people are being accused and detained of offences they know nothing about.Comparing the standard of living in western countries like the u.s to ours in Ghana reveals how unequal our world is.Of what use is a multinational cooperation group like the amnesty international when i cannot for once afford three square meals in a day…………their stated charter or aims : i see as a mere paper scheme!

  60. 60 Mohammed Ali
    May 28, 2008 at 16:28

    @Victor, you speak like a real westener and I should understand why you will put forth such an argument. Your western governments argue that they are the only one practicing “REAL HUMAN RIGHTS”. They are waging wars all over the world to introduce thier “Human Rights Values”. You must therefore understand that when we are judging human rights violations, we judge them by what they have set as standard for human rights.
    Amnesty International is causing no loud noise for the thousands of life being destroyed in Iraq the western forces there, they make any loud noise about the thousands of innoncent live and property being destroyed by the Israelis in Palestine on a daily basis.
    Don’t you see all of this.

  61. 61 Pangolin
    May 28, 2008 at 16:32

    How nice for all of us relatiively wealthy and free people that we can sit at our computers and declare that somebody else is not deserving of human rights. As long as the accusing finger isn’t pointed at us it’s just fine that our governments run secret jails, torture, rape, kill, maim, starve. expose and otherwise neglect the rights of others.

    For we are the good and rightious and the accusing finger will never be pointed at us as long as we have money, a good job, our priviliged education and good health insurance. None of that will change for each of us belongs to the proper religion and social class and are not like those of the improper religion that should justly fear prosecution.

    What then, will happen when the finger points at you? Do you deserve to be jailed without effective counsel, raped and tortured in order to reveal your complicity in the terrorist plot and child sex ring? Is it acceptable that you too should be stripped of all your wealth and be left hungry, sick and broken in the street?

    I accuse you. I say you are the terrorist and deserve no more rights than the most vile person. I say YOU are guilty and unworthy of a trial. What right do you have to object? You denied the rights of the next person.

  62. 62 Abdi In Mandera Kenya
    May 28, 2008 at 16:37

    To my view many muslims rights have been violated!,Muslims all over the world continue to feel that they are been discriminbated against because of thier religion! If not why is it that terrorist is been associated with Muslims only?

  63. 63 Nick in USA
    May 28, 2008 at 16:39

    @ Nana

    I’m sorry you have difficulty finding 3 meals a day, but where did you get a computer? Anyways, that’s not my point. You’re right, the world isn’t equal. We were born into the richest countries in the world. What do you think should be done about this problem? What do you want amnesty to do about it? Whose fault is it? How many people do you know who can’t get 3 meals per day, but continue to have more children?

  64. 64 Tino
    May 28, 2008 at 16:39

    “Maybe they were related to a terrorist or they went to the same mosque. ”

    Good, they should still be there, since they allowed a murderer free reign without turning him in. It is a black and white issue as far as I am concerned. I apologize for my strong desire to not be brutally killed.

    “It’s easier to criticize western democracies. If you want to criticize amnesty for anything, then criticize them for not being daring enough to put their employees in danger by sending them into these countries, but I’m sure I don’t want that job.”

    Yeah, exactly. Because we do not grossly violate human rights, it is easy to criticize the west. Which means Amnesty only really criticizes the people who are doing ok anyway. If their stated goal is to push for human rights, shouldn’t they worry about the big problems. As for going to their site and seeing how much is written about non-Western violations: check their mid east report section. A large portion of it is about: THE US. The organization is useless.

  65. 65 Nick in USA
    May 28, 2008 at 16:45

    Pangolin said:

    “I accuse you. I say you are the terrorist and deserve no more rights than the most vile person. I say YOU are guilty and unworthy of a trial. What right do you have to object? You denied the rights of the next person.”

    I’m glad Pangolin said this. People in the USA are so disconnected from the reality of places like Gitmo. We don’t know anything about these detainees, but everyone assumes that they are evil. They could simply be there because someone told our intelligence agents that they were terrorists. That’s the problem of not having real trials for these people.

  66. 66 primal convoy in Japan
    May 28, 2008 at 16:54

    I can tell you for a fact that the Japanese government, where I live, has little or no empathy for its citizens or people living in it. It still is, today, the ONLY developed country in the world with absolutely NO human rights laws that protect foreigners or Japanese citizens who are ethnic minorities, even though it agreed to create and abide by UN treaty when it joined the UN on the 18th December, 1956.

    From the mouth of BEEB’s: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4671687.stm

    “An independent investigator for the UN says racism in Japan is deep and profound, and the government does not recognise the depth of the problem.

    Doudou Diene, a UN special rapporteur on racism and xenophobia, was speaking at the end of a nine-day tour of the country.

    He said Japan should introduce new legislation to combat discrimination.

    Mr Diene travelled to several Japanese cities during his visit, meeting minority groups and touring slums.

    He said that although the government helped to organise his visit, he felt many officials failed to recognise the seriousness of the racism and discrimination minorities suffered.

    He was also concerned that politicians used racist or nationalist themes, as he put it, to whip up popular emotions. He singled out the treatment of ethnic Koreans and Chinese and indigenous tribes.

    Mr Diene says he plans to recommend that Japan enact a law against discrimination, which he said should be drawn up in consultation with minority groups.

    He said he would now wait for the Japanese government to respond to his comments before submitting a report to the United Nations.”

  67. 67 gary
    May 28, 2008 at 16:55

    Obviously all humans have identical rights and it is every human’s responsibility to ensure their universal enjoyment. My country (US) does not live up to it’s human rights responsibilities, neither to its citizens, nor to the rest of humanity. Its failures are both numerous and obvious to the casual observer. However, compared with much of the world, we’re not too bad. Of course, this isn’t the point. Perfection is desired, and we are still big and rich enough to help the world achieve it. Sadly, we aren’t. The Pink’s line “comfortably numb” comes to mind.
    g

  68. 68 Luz María Guzmán from Monterrey, Mexico
    May 28, 2008 at 16:57

    I want to respond to some comments that Sandra Patricia from Colombia posted.

    First, I am deeply sorry for the situation that Colombia has had to endure for the last 40 years. However, I differ slightly with your opinion about the role that international NGOs –like Amnesty International- have in order to end human rights violations.

    I know that, international NGOs –or any organization- will not able to end ALL or prevent ALL human rights violations through the world. The enjoyment of human rights by all people in the world is a utopia. However, I think many of the cases of human rights violations have been brought to the light of the international community by these types of organizations –including the situation in your country. I think being able to denounce human rights violations is a big step forward. It exerts pressure on the perpetrators of those violations; it makes other people in the world be aware of the situation; it changes perceptions; and –at some extent- bring empowerment to the people suffering from those violations.

    It makes me sad to hear comments stating that “nothing can be done”, “that the situation is so bad that nothing can change”. It looks like many people are giving up on this. And I think this is why –international NGOs- are very important. They reminded us that there is still a lot of work to do in order to change the ongoing situation in the world regarding human rights.

  69. 69 steve
    May 28, 2008 at 17:10

    @ Abdi

    Are muslims discriminated against in Muslim majority nations? There are many, 50+ muslim majority nations. Do muslims suffer like non muslims suffer in Saudi Arabia? Not being able to publicly practice their religion? In Pakistan, churches get bombed. In Turkey and Tunisia, synagogugues get bombed. Do you feel for Copts in Egypt? According to Hollywood, Abdi, the terrorists are all former east Germans, so I don’t know why you say terrorists are all muslims according to the west. I don’t seem to recall the IRA or Basque Separatists being consituted of Muslims.

  70. 70 Janet T
    May 28, 2008 at 17:19

    @ But who is to blame, and more importantly who can turn the situation around for these people?

    Much of the human rights progress over the last six decades has been driven by ordinary people. Yet today, too often, we are seeing a complacent middle class worldwide concerned but unlikely to act.
    *************************************************
    I guess you answered your own question- blame the middle class- and the US and Israel- we apparently are the source of all that is wrong with the world.
    This is not the way to motivate people!

  71. 71 Sandra Patricia, Colombia
    May 28, 2008 at 17:23

    Dear Luz Marina :),

    Thanks for your reply! Well, I think NGOs have had an important role in my country – and in many others. Unfortunately, they are not enough, and their impacts has not been that strong. Even some of these organizations have been disturbed by Paramilitarism and FARC 😦 . Yet, they are in the fight. Also, many people who are against the system are silenced, which is completely unfair. Denouncing has helped somehow, but it’s not calmed down the paind and the suffering we’ve had all this 40 years. We’ve not had any effective mediation to stop the conflict since these groups and even the government do not give up in their own interests… In fact, I think the actual problem in the countries with this kind of situation – like many in Latin America – is that none of both parts cares about people but only about power. Millions od civilians suffer, and there’s no organisation that can help them. That’s a shame!

  72. 72 VictorK
    May 28, 2008 at 17:28

    @ Mohammed Ali: the only rights that matter to me are national rights, secured and defended by the people of a country.

    Westerners enjoy the rights that they have because Westerners care more about them than others. Harsh but true. This is one occasion when no one can claim that the West has exploited other people and stolen the precious resource of their human rights.

    I’m not interested in spreading human rights anywhere outside of Britain. That’s not my business or the British government’s responsibility.

    I know that Ms Khan is going to demand that Western governments should do more to promote human rights in other countries. I disagree. It should not matter to any Western government what human rights the people of Iraq or Palestine enjoy. The institutions of Western civil society are perfectly entitled to make an issue of foreign rights, as Amnesty does; but the governments of the West have no mandate to interfere in other countries (I also believe in an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan). How the Israelis treat the Palestinians is a matter for Israel and Palestine. No Western government should coerce China on the matter of Tibet. But Western civil organisations should campaign on that issue, and Western consumers should boycott Chinese goods if Tibetan rights matter to them. International human rights are a matter for individuals and civil society, never for national governments who have no moral authority for seeking to coerce an equally sovereign state.

  73. 73 Zainab
    May 28, 2008 at 17:32

    Salam,
    How are you all?
    Human Rights!! How nice!! where is it?? it is just written words.
    “Everyone is born Free…, Everyone has the right to…Then, why i don’t have the right to wear my Hijab (headscarf) in France, and why i couldn’t have My Book (Glorios Qura’n) in Netherland!
    “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” then could anyone tell me what is happening in all the world (without exception), especially in the jails.
    Well, to be honest, there is HUMAN RIGHTS, but it is only for the Criminals, whenever there is a criminal has to be punished or executed, we hear the voice of Human right condemning execution. Where is Human Right when Saddam was killing and torturing Iraqis.
    Yours truly,
    Zainab from Iraq

  74. 74 Tino
    May 28, 2008 at 17:34

    “If not why is it that terrorist is been associated with Muslims only?”

    Because they are the only religion carrying out terrorist attacks in the name of religion. Not a tough nut to crack…

  75. 75 Tino
    May 28, 2008 at 17:40

    “I’m glad Pangolin said this. People in the USA are so disconnected from the reality of places like Gitmo. We don’t know anything about these detainees, but everyone assumes that they are evil. They could simply be there because someone told our intelligence agents that they were terrorists. That’s the problem of not having real trials for these people.”

    I find it hard to believe that we are getting so many innocent people in G-Bay. As I already, said, multiple detainees that were released went on to attack us again. Explain to me why we are required to put our lives at risk for the sake of their rights? I am 100% certain there will never be a situation where my government thinks I am a terrorist. I am not at risk of being thrown into G-Bay because I do not support terrorism, associate with terrorists, etc. I completely believe that the people in G-Bay, however, are guilty of at least associating with terrorists. Since they clearly did not turn those people in, that is aiding and abetting as far as I am concerned.

  76. 76 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 28, 2008 at 17:50

    Amnesty International & current challages may be resolved in a peacefull manner with due cooperation of dominant public forces along with due cooperation with respective governments of the world.
    Now question is this what are the challanges for Amnesty organisation:
    1. Communication with public.
    2. Proper organisation of motivator’s & voluntier’s force.
    3. Putting togather on round table conferance of Governments, politicians ,religious & other public forces with proper represantation which include Police, Army,Navy, Airforce, Fire fighter’s & volunters of any nature.
    4. Enforcement of Amnesty agenda without physical force.
    5. Provide protection from foreign invasion in violation of Amnesty principals.
    In my openion at presant we are facing a confused atmosphier in International looby in violation of Amnesty agenda, now a days we are experiencing revange & emotional kind of challanges which may be fixed if concept of Amnesty cleared on both parties in a positive way without force.
    I notice double standard of Amnesty agenda in socalled developed & pionear’s of Amnesty countries , specially in case of foreign invasion.

  77. 77 Vijay
    May 28, 2008 at 17:55

    Were you forced to change your name or religion to get the job you have now?I somehow doubt your real name is Irene so why can’t you use your real name at an organisation like Amnesty International.

    Kamlesh Bahl faced a lot problems as an Asian woman in a position of leadership at the Law Society,have you faced similar problems at Amnesty International .

  78. May 28, 2008 at 18:02

    i dont think this thing will work other than societies living in western countries cuz problems in non western countries will make the western to enjoy life!!!!!!!!!!

  79. 79 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    May 28, 2008 at 18:03

    I read the ARTICLES as attached in Irene’s note above. To a point they are taken from the God given rights. I was a member of Amnesty International in my collage years because I agreed with them.
    My question to Irene is in the post 911 world how are governments going to balance Article 3 (Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person) with Article 13, (Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state).

    Thank you
    Thea Winter
    USA

  80. 80 Mawuli, Accra.
    May 28, 2008 at 18:03

    Can the new world order survive much less prosper, if it is built on injustice, inequality, indifference and hatred? Many nations including the US have initialed several convections on human rights yet abuses of people’s rights continue to rise year in, year out. In my country for instance the whole criminal justice administration is appalling. From arrest, prosecution, trial and final conviction, there is every thing wrong with the system. The system suffers from “lack of humanity” It signal an approval of impunity and injustice and betrays a commitment to the rule of law.

  81. May 28, 2008 at 18:10

    Tino,

    If you were innocent, but somebody scooped you up, put you in a hopeless prison, tortured you, and made your life a nightmare. When you leave, what do you recon is going to be the first thing on your mind. What do you think you are going to do when you see the invaders forces that put you through hell on your home soil?

  82. 82 Jason
    May 28, 2008 at 18:16

    With rights come responsibilities, and everyone around the world hasn’t done a very good job of upholding our responsibilities these past few years (perhaps millenia). If we want to improve human rights around the world, we need to work actively and collectively to improve human rights in our owm communities, families and schools. We can’t put the onus on international organizations, and hold them accountable for fixing human rights, and not take any action ourselves. Surely to do so would be hypocrisy.

  83. 83 VictorK
    May 28, 2008 at 18:19

    Ms Khan shows her hand when she calls 350 dead Palestinains ‘a human rights crisis’. So what phrase is left to describe the 200,000 dead in Darfur or the 4 million in Congo?

    Most countries would love to have ‘a human rights crisis’ that involved so few deaths. It’s not the surprisingly small number that matters to Amnesty, but the fact that Israel is responsible for those deaths.

    Anti-Western and pro-third world..

  84. 84 abdulahi dheere
    May 28, 2008 at 18:20

    hallo ros i have a question for irene khan

    is this for all humanity? if it is, look at what is happening in somalia. why we somalis have to suffer because of our so called “leaders” disagreed while their family enjoying life out side the country? if this organisation stands for humanity track them down the families of those warlords and deal with them.

  85. 85 steve
    May 28, 2008 at 18:21

    @ Dwight

    Innocent people get jailed all the time in every country. Now with DNA tests they get cleared of wrongdoing, and get released after having served many years. Do you think those people are going to strap on bombs and blow up police stations and court houses in revenge? I don’t think so. So why make excuses for these people?

  86. 86 ABDULLAHI DIRIYE, Thika, Kenya
    May 28, 2008 at 18:21

    Human right organizations have had a greate impact on society in advocating for those individuals whose human rights h’ve been violated.Here in Kenya,the human right watch dogs have been up in arms during the recent post election violence to protect individuals’ rights from the excessive use of force by police and other violations.
    However, they remain toothless dogs that can only bark but can’t bite and barking alone is not good enough especially at poeple whose ears got used to.

  87. 87 Lee - Auckland
    May 28, 2008 at 18:22

    Sometimes I feel that Amnesty is just an organisation that likes the sound of its own voice. It is frustrating when they go to lengths to defend murderers and terorists and other criminals hiding amongst refugees berating governments who are attempting to protect their citizens, and give little thought to those of us who may be affected by those very same elements they serve to protect.

  88. 88 Lubna
    May 28, 2008 at 18:23

    Hey Precious Ros and Ms Khan… Why did Amnesy remain silent about what’s been happening until very recently in Al Sadr city in Baghdad ?! With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  89. 89 DLP - Oregon
    May 28, 2008 at 18:24

    The representative from NGO watch is simply in tune with the typical pro-Israel, pro- western message that tries to drownd out any group that decries the blatiant human rights violations that could prove to be an embarassment. Wake up United States…Israel has no blank check just as we should have no blank check. They are burning new testaments in the streets in Isreal now. Time to get object about ourselves in th U.S. & our allies. I applaud Amnesty International for their focus and courage.

  90. 90 steve
    May 28, 2008 at 18:24

    Ms. Kahn said that some rights aren’t absolute, but gave an example of what I believe she said was absolute, such as the right to life. Does this apply to the unborn as well?

  91. 91 Desmond, Onitsha / Nigeria
    May 28, 2008 at 18:25

    DESMOND from onitsha nigeria is asking if really there is existence of amnesty international here in nigeria,

    most of the time we do read about organisations like this on the pages of newspapers and magazines without seeing them in action,the rate of human right violation in nigeria is second to none in the world,i think in countries where organisations like amnesty international do exist,the police and the courts are used by the government to protect the rights of her citizens but here in nigeria the police are the most disorganised instutition,they only work for those in power or the rich,

    if u dont fall into any of these groups then u are nowhere,it is the police who aid and abet election rigging in nigeria and at the end the politicians will dump them,from my own observations i think the police are cursed,Irene u need to visit nigeria and spend a week here and see things yourself,visit cities like,lagos,onitsha,Owerri,Aba,Edo state,Benin,or even the so called Abuja the federal capital,what about the law courts, here in nigeria judges dont read their judgements without first leting the people in the corridor of power to know about it,i strongly beleive that in a country like nigeria where 95percent of those who will assist organisations like Amnesty international perfom effectively are corrupt then i wonder how things will work out.

    (the most important thing is to sanitise the system first before anything meaningful can work out here.)

  92. 92 steve
    May 28, 2008 at 18:26

    @ DLP “They are burning new testaments in the streets in Isreal [sic] now”. So all Israelis are new testament burners? If some Palestinians celebrate 9/11 can I say all palestinians celebrated 9/11? It’s funny the anti Israel people applauds Amenesty International.

  93. 93 Ajay - Connecticut
    May 28, 2008 at 18:27

    Are international organisations like Amnesty International afraid of the United States?

    Polemic aside, members of our government have sanctioned torture, even to the point of calling the Geneva Conventions “quaint.”

    If these actions are not crimes against humanity, then I fail to understand the concept. Whe world is watching; why can’t Amnesty International lead an effort to call the perpetrators of these actions to justice?

  94. 94 Mr alex weir. Harare.
    May 28, 2008 at 18:28

    Amnesty is an organisation whose existence is unfortunately necessary because the west tolerates and even encourages dictators. Global adoption of a voting system which cannot be frauded would render the
    excellent work of amnesty no longer necessary.

  95. 95 Jason
    May 28, 2008 at 18:29

    What is Amnesty’s stance on the persecution of Baha’is in Iran? Especially following the recent arrest of leaders of this community across Tehran, what action should the international community be taking?

  96. 96 Mohammed Konneh - Monnrovia, Liberia
    May 28, 2008 at 18:29

    I am protected under the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government after the tyrant was forced into exile by his fellow colleagues who was just a tone in the flesh of all Liberian and he is Charles Taylor current facing trial in the Heague.

  97. 97 steve
    May 28, 2008 at 18:29

    @ Ajay

    Maybe if the US kidnapped AI members, like what happened to Alan Johnston in Gaza, AI would be afraid of the US.

  98. 98 devadas.v - Kerala India
    May 28, 2008 at 18:30

    hello,
    is human rights a universal one or for a few elite?
    why this question is that while america and other developed countries are so protective of individual rights of their citizens are depriving a whole countries basic right to live with dignity bombarding them in the name of lack of democracy and human rights in underdeveloped and developing countries eg..iraq,afghanizthan,palestine .
    at the same time aiding military regimes of pakisthan,mynmar with billions of dollars for reasons changing with seasons ?
    why amnesty doesnt raise voice against economic embargo against cuba which has been for 45 years still continuing unabated by america even in this liberalised world ?
    is human rights a tool for the developed nations to transgress the sovereign powers of nation states as their wont as seen in iraq at present ?

  99. May 28, 2008 at 18:32

    question for Irene Khan: Amnesty International sounds like an all talk no action organization. What are some of Amnesty’s recent accomplishments?

  100. 100 Allan, Ohio
    May 28, 2008 at 18:33

    I was wondering how are you going to differentiate between religion and law? Fair trials can be based on law.

  101. 101 Justin from Iowa
    May 28, 2008 at 18:33

    What I dislike about this discussion, is we can talk all we want about everyone should respect everyone’s human rights… what are you going to do about it?

    We’ve seen how people react to the American method, and sanctions just get passed down the chain to the people allready suffering while those in power blithely continue.

    So what can actually be done? What’s the point discussing this topic if we can’t do anything about it?

    Ultimately, people have to be willing to stand up for their own rights. If you aren’t willing to fight and die for your own rights, no one else can “Give” those rights to you, because you won’t value them as they must be.

  102. 102 Prince Pieray Odor - Lagos, Nigeria
    May 28, 2008 at 18:34

    The whole of the human rights issue is political and globalist. If there is seriousness and honesty about human rights, let her tell me why the government of the USA is not at the World Court answering for its crimes against humanity in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, and over G.M Foods. And why the approval the sewing of a child like corn, to be harvested like corn, for industrial purposes, like corn, and medical cover up purposes.

  103. 103 Phil in Berkeley, CA
    May 28, 2008 at 18:35

    Greetings and thank you for the good work of Amnesty Intl.! As a teacher I have noted the way many young people in the U.S. want to respect human rights even across standard political lines – for example, students supporting both Amnesty’s work and also work to protect unborn children legally and provide alternatives to abortion. Since one of the UN Declaration’s absolute rights is the right to life, where does Amnesty stand on the abortion issue?

  104. 104 Tom D - Oregon
    May 28, 2008 at 18:36

    Essentially all of the worlds current religions were developed under and by pharaohs, kings, emperors, and similar top down governments and so are exquisitely unsuited to the great new experiments in human rights and politics which we know as democracies, which are bottom up.

    A democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, it is the largest government possible, and inherently more respectful of human rights because it is humans governing themselves by respecting each others rights.

    In my not so humble opinion, of course.

  105. 105 selena
    May 28, 2008 at 18:40

    The problem with human rights lies in the definition of “human”. There is a tendency to regard our own group as more human than other groups.

    One would be hard put to find someone who does not agree with human rights for his/herself, family and group.

    The trouble comes when one is asked to afford the same humans rights to another group. Then we can come up with all manner of excuses for looking at others differently.

    It is impossible to make inroads into human rights for all unless, and until, human rights for all mean all humanity, not just one’s own group.

    It is a sad reflection on our humanness, or lack thereof, that we seem to look away, until our group is in mortal danger.

  106. May 28, 2008 at 18:44

    The government that is served in control of your mass media and lives wants you to be morons. Believe it’s lies and when what is programmed you that you can no longer do, to die.

    Today the word society actually means, programmed response. Every action can be easily summed up a routine. This is frightening because in todays world every item left to individual discernment is gone and only automatic responses prevail. A selfless society exist. Citizens have become empty vessels filled and poured out by their government to suit the need and lies work just as well as the truth.

    It is not true to say the end justifies the means. Medical and scientific research no longer borderlines on Frankenstein like ventures but surpasses it. Human rights don’t exist for too many helpless individuals because the citizen is conditioned not to believe their government would commit such sadistic and cruel acts when they do.

  107. May 28, 2008 at 18:46

    I am not sure why we have this unending debate on Universality of Human Rights. The charter is very well established and then there is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which accounts for cultural issues.

    I think Irene Khan has very intellgiently made this distinction by citing the Burkha issue, and the freedom to wear it or not! My mother wore a saree – not because anyone forced her to – simply because she enjoyed it and yes, she even played sports in it – and really didn’t care about donning jeans. How about we talk about Rights and Responsibilities- such as with yet another new Declaration – The Responsibility to Protect – yet, the issue of Human Rights continue to be abused unabated everywhere – most recently in Tibet and Burma, and the world continues to watch – because we are worried about infringing on sovereignty of these countries.

    I am very happy that Irene Khan is very methodically explaining these issues –

  108. 108 Chris - Northeast Demo Chick
    May 28, 2008 at 18:47

    Greetings from the US.

    I’d like to raise the issue of the Olympics. Can you shed some light on whether or not the protests and calls for boycott based on China’s human rights record are, in fact, valid? Or should we believe that China has cleaned up it’s act?

  109. May 28, 2008 at 18:50

    @ Steve,

    In this country they get paid and many of them very well when that happens. If it was possible many of these people would probably extract some revenge. All the same when they get out they don’t see their perpetrators doing the same thing to their neighbors everyday. They do not come out to a whole militia of people egging them on with a now more logical “I told you so.” attitude. In Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East these people are met with family members who have always felt belligerent. If a prisoner was released, it is most possible to that point he had resisted the negative rhetoric. But after his experience of being tortured he is probably more willing to accept their violence as truth.

  110. 110 Kirk Malthuser
    May 28, 2008 at 18:50

    Ms. Khan’s call for nations to apologize is infantile. She needs to Grow Up, the world does not work that way.
    Listening to your show highlights the Ms. Khan does not recognize or acknowledge that “perception is reality” and the perception is that Amnesty International is heavily biased against the USA and Europe.
    She has little to say that has meaning and her Report 08 is filled with meaningless statements.
    I wish that I could call but that is not possible.

  111. 111 Henricus - The Netherlands
    May 28, 2008 at 18:50

    For years, and years 10.000 Palestinian prisoners in Israël, many women and children, many without trial; extrajudiciary killings of people the IDF does not like, with scores of civilians killed at the same time.
    Amnesty International??

  112. 112 Ahmad Hammad
    May 28, 2008 at 18:51

    Irene:
    Do you do something about the women rights violated by the Sindhi Feudals in the Interior Sindh? Their heirs rape the women, their sons keep them from basic human rights like food, water etc. They are forced to labor without any wages etc.

  113. 113 Steve - USA
    May 28, 2008 at 18:51

    She’s avoiding answering the question. She’s saying that AI only cares if women have been raped? Why don’t they take up the right to life of the unborn who will be aborted as a means of birth control? If their policy doesn’t extend to those situations, why aren’t they then advocating for the rights of those unborn children rather than be silent on the matter?

  114. 114 Steve - USA
    May 28, 2008 at 18:52

    Isn’t it easier to be critical of more open societies, such as Israel, where they allow in organizations, even hostile ones, to do research on Israeli policy, whereas shut off societies don’t allow you in, or limit what you are allowed to see. Do you acknowledge this in your publications and findings?

  115. 115 Henry
    May 28, 2008 at 18:52

    Hello Ros,

    My first reaction is to pose this question, “do we even have a government in Nigeria?” As far as I know we do not have a government as every individual or family is a government to himself. What use is the so called government in Abuja when they have failed to provide the average Nigerian the basic necessities of life. Virtually every Nigerian household provide power, water, housing and security for itself. Here in Ibadan, I have a generator to provide power for myself, I have an underground well to provide my water needs, I pay to some vigilante organization for security, and I also pay to an agency for waste disposal. I dare ask what use is the government in Abuja to me?

    All I hear daily is stories of billions of naira developing wings and nothing is done about it. Recently contracts were awarded for the importation of rice to cushion the effect of the global food crises. I can assure you that that effort will not benefit the ordinary Nigerian as it will be used to “settle” political accomplices.

  116. 116 Jason - Canada
    May 28, 2008 at 18:53

    @ Tom D

    The majority of the world’s religions were found as grass roots movements (Moses rallying the slaves, Buddha rejecting his station as a prince, Jesus gathering his apostles from the poor, etc), but were translated or misinterpreted into top-down systems, most often by the clergy at the top.
    The messages and teachings of all religions still exhort members and believers to respect the basic rights of all the human family, but unfortunately these messages have been diluted, or perverted, over time. The most recent of the world religions, the Baha’i Faith, has some very poignant and practical ideas regarding human rights issues. Check out some of the statements of the Baha’i International Community to the UN General Assembly.

  117. 117 Solomon - Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 28, 2008 at 18:53

    I totally disagree with Amnesty International and their position toward Israel. This is the same people that was silent when General Manuel Noriega was abusing and killing the Panamanian people.

    Amnesty International is the problem and not the solution. I won’t be surprise if Amnesty international believe that the FARC, PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah are good groups.

    I’m sick in tired of the continuous attack against Israel. I believe Israel has the right to exist and they don’t need to give up their land.

  118. 118 kb mahaffey
    May 28, 2008 at 18:54

    Why does amnesty international take the case against George Bush to the Hague world court?

  119. 119 Tim listening on KALW in SF
    May 28, 2008 at 18:55

    Wanted to express my gratitude for all of the work that Amnesty International does. They are one of the few voices in the world today that stands for all Humanity – regardless of government spin or rationalizations to torture and enslave human beings to promote a policy or maximize profits.

  120. 120 David
    May 28, 2008 at 18:55

    ne who seeks Truth, Inquires.

    Questions, Comments…?

    Should War Crimes, Genocide, Torture, Violations of Human Rights…and the illegal, immoral, criminal, continuation and attempted proiteering from such be allowed?

    Should those who are aware of the persons involved in serious crimes against the lives and safety of others remain silent?

    Why are certain persons known, or who should be known -even in “public” office- be allowed to murder and kill with impunity?

    I, and others, remain available to communicate with anyone.

    Love, Peace, Compassion, Justice, Mercy, Faith…
    and a Search for Truth…

  121. 121 viola anderson
    May 28, 2008 at 18:56

    Amnesty International’s representative on the program: When asked if pressure should be applied against China in this Olympic year, she replied that no, they only use…”pressure that’s going to work,” and it will not work against China.

    Is this a clear indication that Amnesty International only brings pressure against those countries that already respect human rights and care what the world thinks, such as Great Brlitain, and ignores those countries who actually practice brutality and ignore human rights in their countries, such as Burma?

  122. 122 Allan
    May 28, 2008 at 18:56

    It’s interesting to determine amnesty to human rights to political view. A lot could say based on our political views and relations with Middle East and Arab lands, every human is suffering from the rise in fuel prizes/ war in Iraq. It’s not as serious as a natural disaster, but the suffering is feeling the aftermath of a disaster and their government reaction, much like a war and a drastic change in a lifestyle. What is your view?

  123. 123 steve
    May 28, 2008 at 18:56

    She’s contradicting herself. Or if not, she’s saying if the state can take a life, then life is cheapened, and society could be violent, yet she says she has no objections to laws that allow for abortion for people who were careless. Even though the state isn’t performing the abortion in most cases (some hospitals are government run), it is allowing it, so doesn’t that cheapen life as well? At least an unborn child is less culpable than a man who molested and murdered and mutilated an 8 year old child, right? Who do you think deserves more protection, the unborn child or the murderer?

  124. 124 Zak Rudy
    May 28, 2008 at 18:57

    Please: why does Amnesty insist on establishing operations inside countries such as Lebanon and Israel, Palestine; while levying calls for change in countries where they are not in Iraq or Afghanistan? Is this a definition of universal aid?

  125. 125 Eric - melbourne beach, florida
    May 28, 2008 at 18:58

    two wrongs do not make a right! killing the baby does not correct the wrong! also those unborn babies feel pain so aborting them constitutes torture. see the movie “silent scream.”

  126. 126 Lee Roy Sanders, Jr.
    May 28, 2008 at 18:59

    It is one thing to post before the world human rights but another to adhere to those principles. I am not free and horrible things are done to me and to those I love. And you lay before me your email letter Ros Atkins and in contempt deny my publication.

    The government that is served in control of your mass media and lives wants you to be morons. Believe it’s lies and when what is programmed you that you can no longer do, to die.

    Today the word society actually means, programmed response. Every action can be easily summed up a routine. This is frightening because in todays world every item left to individual discernment is gone and only automatic responses prevail. A selfless society exist. Citizens have become empty vessels filled and poured out by their government to suit the need and lies work just as well as the truth.

    It is not true to say the end justifies the means. Medical and scientific research no longer borderlines on Frankenstein like ventures but surpasses it. Human rights don’t exist for too many helpless individuals because the citizen is conditioned not to believe their government would commit such sadistic and cruel acts when they do.

  127. 127 Skip – Chesterland, ohio
    May 28, 2008 at 19:00

    I have heard your guest say that we should operate by the “rule of law”. The question is whose law? Each State has it’s own laws. Many countries do not abide by the rules of law. So if I hear your guest properly if a terrorist has a nuclear weapon and are planning on murdering 100,000 people she would still say that was OK and that water boarding would not be proper, even if it was her family that were in that group. I would disagree. It might be a long shot, but it was recently proven technique with combatants in the war on terrorism. And yet Amnest is OK with murdering unborn children. Sounds very hypocritical to me.

  128. 128 Monty Peterseb
    May 28, 2008 at 19:04

    This programme was terribly biased. The interviewer and the questions selected were disproportionately hostile and defensive. More right-wing propaganda.

  129. May 28, 2008 at 19:15

    Via email from Aditi:

    I am not sure why we have this unending debate on the universality of human rights. The charter is very well established and then there is the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which accounts for cultural issues.

    I think Irene Khan has very intelligently made this distinction by citing the burkha issue, and the freedom to wear it or not! My mother wore a saree – not because anyone forced her to – simply because she enjoyed it and yes, she even played sports in it – and really didn’t care about donning jeans. How about we talk about rights and responsibilities- such as with yet another new declaration – The responsibility to protect – yet, the issue of human rights continue to be abused unabated everywhere – most recently in Tibet and Burma, and the world continues to watch – because we are worried about infringing on sovereignty of these countries.

    I am very happy that Irene Khan is very methodically explaining these issues – especially the one on one wrong doesn’t correct another – such as the death penalty. These are very difficult questions and a great job on making your stand clear.

  130. May 28, 2008 at 19:16

    I am puzzled by Irene Khan’s assertion that not every right is absolute. If it is not absolute, then by definition it is not a right – it is simply an aspiration or a moral claim, which is quite different.

    Edward via email

  131. May 28, 2008 at 19:17

    Being an American and having had a husband who had escaped from prison in the North of Ireland I expected Amnesty to help us. Nothing can be further from the truth. Your guest had a lot of nerve speaking about the north of Ireland as though they help. They had every opportunity to help us IN AMERICA and refused. They said ther policyt was not to help people within the country where they were – huh? They are just another ridiculous group taking people’s money and complaining.

    Maggie via email

  132. May 28, 2008 at 19:18

    I have heard your guest say that we should operate by the “rule of law”. The question is whose law? Each State has its own laws. Many countries do not abide by the rules of law. So if I hear your guest properly if a terrorist has a nuclear weapon and are planning on murdering 100,000 people she would still say that was OK and that water boarding would not be proper, even if it was her family that were in that group. I would disagree. It might be a long shot, but it was recently proven technique with combatants in the war on terrorism. And yet Amnesty is OK with murdering unborn children. Sounds very hypocritical to me.

    Skip – Chesterland, Ohio via email

  133. May 28, 2008 at 19:19

    Tim listening on KALW in SF via email

    Wanted to express my gratitude for all of the work that Amnesty International does. They are one of the few voices in the world today that stands for all Humanity – regardless of government spin or rationalizations to torture and enslave human beings to promote a policy or maximize profits.

  134. May 28, 2008 at 19:20

    I totally disagree with Amnesty International and their position toward Israel. This is the same people that was silent when General Manuel Noriega was abusing and killing the Panamanian people.

    Amnesty International is the problem and not the solution. I won’t be surprise if Amnesty international believe that the FARC, PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah are good groups.

    I’m sick and tired of the continuous attack against Israel. I believe Israel has the right to exist and they don’t need to give up their land.

    Solomon in the USA via email

  135. 135 viola anderson
    May 28, 2008 at 19:28

    It is true that countries that believe in the rule of law and international human rights are obligated to practice what they preach. It’s unfortunate that those countries that do not are free to use any kind of brutal, anti-human rights methods both against their own people and the people of the world who oppose them because of their belief that the prerogatives of power allow it.

  136. 136 Dennis
    May 28, 2008 at 19:30

    Amnesty International has to understand that they have role in the world, and that is to protect the World’s Citizens human rights…

    Dennis
    Madrid, U.S.A.

  137. 137 Joel Salomon
    May 28, 2008 at 19:33

     I’m going to avoid criticizing the Declaration itself; Steve, Tino, and Victor have done so pretty effectively. (And you just have to love the Article 26.1: you have the right to be compelled to an education.) I’m just going to question the applicability of the Rights to the situations mentioned:
    • Capital punishment as violation of Article 3? Re-read the text: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. If imprisonment for crimes doesn’t violate the right to liberty, then execution doesn’t violate the right to life. And you’d claim that both these punishments for crime are violations, you would be violating my right to security of person.
    • The detaining of captured al-Qaida operatives in Guantanamo Bayas a violation of Article 11? This opens a whole new can of worms: What “rights” do combatants possess? The Declaration is suited, however imperfectly, to civilian situations; in its formulation it is entirely inapplicable to wartime. (This isn’t to claim that POWs—or even irregular combatants—don’t have certain human rights, just that many of the 30 Articles do not apply to them.)
    • Blockades in Judea & Samaria as violations of Article 13? Come on already. As the last decades have shown, the Article 13 rights of Palestinian Arabs to free travel is in direct opposition to Israelis’ Article 3 rights to life, their Article 5 rights not have limbs torn off by bombs on their buses and cafés, their Article 15 rights to actually have an Israel, their Article 20 rights to assemble in shops and restaurants without the fear of being murdered there, &c. &c. The government of Israel quite rightly gives the protection of the human rights of its citizens precedence when setting policy. (For the most part. In 2005 the Israeli government tried an experiment and violated the Article 17 property rights of some 9000 Jews living in Gaza. Witness the outstanding success this action had in achieving peace and security in southern Israel.)
    • What counts as “governments … denying their people healthcare, education or access to food”? Do you mean active measures (i.e. enforced famines as in revolutionary USSR, China, or Cambodia), active prevention of needed aid (à la the recent enormities of the Burmese junta), or merely not providing these things as freely as you’d like? Whether or no such a “bread and circuses” plan is a good idea, lumping a difference in policy together with the active abuses I’ve mentioned would trivialize the crimes of the Khmer Rouge and the junta—but your example of Article 25 violations (Malawians’ lack of access to free anti-retroviral drugs) indicate that you actually hold that view.

  138. 138 Phil in Berkeley, CA
    May 28, 2008 at 19:42

    Thanks to Ross and the team for reading my question about the right to life of unborn children on air today! I am happy to see some others interested as well. I have suggested that WHYS do a show on the abortion issue, and have various sides represented – especially a group like Feminists for Life who stand for human rights in many areas, including for unborn children and in seeking real alternatives to abortion for women. Are others interested in such a show?
    I for one would support pretty much all the work Amnesty does, including being against the death penalty (I work with prisoners) and putting pressure on Israel (as well as terrorist Palestinian groups) on human rights abuses, but I agree with some comments here that it would also be consistent with Amnesty’s mission to expose more of the reality of what abortions do to unborn children and to be proactive and explciit in moving us toward a world where women will not resport to abortion as a “solution” to a problem (any more than we should resort to taking the life of a prisoner as a “solution” to crime). Violent solutions only beget more violence in our world.

  139. 139 selena
    May 28, 2008 at 19:43

    @Eric

    Does your concern for human pain extend to the pain endured by suspected terrorists, when they are being tortured, as in waterboarding?

    Just wondering…

  140. 140 Nick in USA
    May 28, 2008 at 20:01

    Tino said:

    “I am not at risk of being thrown into G-Bay because I do not support terrorism, associate with terrorists, etc. I completely believe that the people in G-Bay, however, are guilty of at least associating with terrorists.”

    How do you know you don’t associate with terrorists? Because you don’t know any middle eastern people? Guess what, not all terrorist are from the middle east. Don’t forget about people like Timothy Mcveigh. These people can be your neighbors, the guy you play basketball with, or some guy you met at the wrong time in the wrong place. Without having some oversight, people just like you can be taken to Gitmo just for knowing these people. When you start to make exceptions, you put yourself at risk. Be honest, you don’t know anything about the people in Gitmo right now, do you? For all you know, they could be in there because they opposed the president politically. This is why we have human rights. So people can’t lock us up and throw away the key without proving that we did something wrong.

  141. 141 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 28, 2008 at 20:19

    Irena Khan do you think our expecation’s are more then your authority or beyond your reach. After reviewing all Global comments obiously you need some time to determin line of action, will you be kindly analyse the difficulties & hesitation in this regard.
    I am quite sure you must be awair with the facts of Amnesty violation’s from Habil & Qabeel’s ( son’s of father Adam & mother Hawa) murder case to recent killing’s in Iraq along with inmate status without charges.
    We may notice crimes against humanity histry of Isriel & India in regard to Phalistine & Kashmire as both problems are more humanitarian then political.

  142. 142 Tino
    May 28, 2008 at 21:38

    “government of the USA is not at the World Court answering for its crimes against humanity in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, and over G.M Foods.”

    GM Foods, are you serious? There is nothing wrong with them, this is the ridiculous mindset that caused some Africans to starve because they thought not eating the GM food would somehow be better. It is sad that you are here throwing your weight behind that view. People died because of this stupidity.

    @ Nick:

    I know this because I discuss things with the people I associate with. I would not have associated with Timothy McVeigh, it has nothing to do with what he looks like and everything to do with his views. I also know people from the middle east, one specifically is a close friend of mine born in the UAE. He is not a terrorist, but if he was I would flip him to our authorities instantly. This is why I have no fear of being thrown into G-Bay. I do not associate with terrorists, and if I did happen to meet one I would report him. In addition, not everyone who associates with terrorists gets tossed there. Plenty have open trials, thus, it is not hard for me to imagine only ones carrying out or aiding hideous crimes end up there.

    I also do not see why we are required to extend my countries rights to people who do not even have those rights in their own countries. AI jumps down the USA’s throat, but doesn’t spend as much time criticizing the gross violations in these people’s home countries. AI, once more, is a sham. The only places they focus on are the ones with decent rights records anyway. Even the people supporting it agree with that sentiment: they say AI focuses on the West because people elsewhere would kill them…doesn’t that sound like a problem more worthy of focus?!

  143. 143 Bryan
    May 28, 2008 at 22:57

    Gerald Steinberg got it exactly right when he said on the programme that for every ten condemnations of Israel there is one condemnation of Palestinians. I was interested to hear Khan talking about the Israelis attacking Gaza with “reckless disregard for civilian casualties.” This is so far from the truth as to be laughable. Israel has called off attacks on known terrorists in Gaza countless times because the danger to civilians was judged to be too great. Steinberg is also spot on with his observation that Amnesty uses emotive language when describing Israel’s actions like “war crimes” and “collective punishment.” Any balanced organisation would speak out much more strongly against the Palestinians who deliberately target Israeli civilians than the Israelis who defend against these attacks, inadvertently killing civilians that the terrorists hide amongst.

    Amnesty International is an irrelevant, biased organisation, thoroughly pickled in left wing ideology. It should be put out to pasture.

  144. 144 Dennis
    May 28, 2008 at 23:50

    On Wednesday, 28 May 2008–World Have Your Say show, A.I. was talking about human rights…I saw this from the Voice of America…

    About Human rights in Africa and gets them a mixed-review….

    http://www.voanews.com/english/2008-05-28-voa9.cfm

    Dennis

  145. 145 primal convoy in Japan
    May 29, 2008 at 03:38

    In Japan, the government still has little or no human rights laws, so:

    – Foreigners can be barred from services and buildings for no reason and its not a criminal offense (Japan is the ONLY developed country with no laws to protect foreigners and ethnic minorities)

    – detain anyone for up to 30 days for ANY/NO reason (given)and force a confession out of the person by the police (In fact, this is the reason behind the Japanese police’s infamous “99% arrest rate” and was critisised heavily in the Japanese film “I Didnt Do It1”)

    – children cannot be removed or even visited by social workers or police at their homes if they have strong suspicions or strong evidence to support abuse.

    There are many more examples, which only, unfortunately proves that Japan, from a political point of view, has a long, long way to go until it is truly a “developed” nation.

  146. May 29, 2008 at 03:47

    On the Israel vs Palestinia argument, I would offer two quotes, an old quote we have all heard before: “From those to whom much is given, much is asked.” And a far newer one, carved upon a shiny wall of black marble at the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany: “NEVER AGAIN.” I have no further comment on this topic
    On human rights, Hitler and the nazis violated them wantonly but, in the end, not with impunity. The incumbents in the American Executive Office have violated human rights, at home and abroad, with the knowledge, consent and, at times, the participation of other governments, despite massive and loud protests from its citizens and people all over the world–so far with total impunity. Now and for two hundred years and longer, American foreign policy has persistently disregarded the human, political and legal rights of nations and peoples, violating them in wanton disregard of human suffering whenever human, political and legal rights got in the way of its set agendas and self-seeking priorities. In the Central American republics, in Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, Dominica, Cuba, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, on and on the list goes… The world’s leaders look on the bully… then look away… Is it weakness, fear, or cowardice? … And I cannot help but wonder for how much longer shall they be afraid … how much longer before so-called rulers curb greed and pride, so-called leaders are fit to LEAD, so-called humans deserve the name… I cannot help but wonder what great cataclysm, what insurmountable tragedy needs come to us for us to discover WE are not many but ONE! ONE human family upon ONE planet Earth.
    IF we had any sense at all, we’d rid ourselves of all our ‘isms’ and build a paradise upon the Earth for the glory of humankind and the well being of all Earth’s creatures. Then perhaps we would deserve the name we call ourselves!

  147. May 29, 2008 at 09:18

    one of amnesty internationals kerala chapter president abdulla sona when adressing our llm human rights seminar on ngos role in goverence in 2000 was repeatedtly expanding the NGO as non gazetted officers and not non governmental organizations and continuing all throughout led to hilarious scenarios then in the seminar due to his continuing blabbering about how to make non gazetted officers work in office .
    if a president of amnesty chapter of kerala doesnt know about the full meaning of NGO then what to say of the amnesty organization work in kerala.is this the same way organization works outside too?
    devadas.v
    kerala
    india

  148. 148 Bryan
    May 29, 2008 at 10:27

    What a stale old comparison from “Alma Christina” at 3:47 am. It is regularly trotted out by those compelled to articulate their anti-Semitism:

    “On the Israel vs Palestinia argument, I would offer two quotes, an old quote we have all heard before: “From those to whom much is given, much is asked.” And a far newer one, carved upon a shiny wall of black marble at the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany: “NEVER AGAIN.” I have no further comment on this topic.”

    Well, that’s a relief. This is the mindless old libel of comparing Israel’s defensive actions against Palestininan terror with the Nazi genocide of the Jews. But the libel is no less reprehensible for its dated repetitiveness.

    Then we get America unfavourably compared to the Nazis:

    “On human rights, Hitler and the nazis violated them wantonly but, in the end, not with impunity. The incumbents in the American Executive Office have violated human rights, at home and abroad…–so far with total impunity.”

    I see. So I suppose we are meant to glean from this that it would be a good thing if America were crushed. In fact, without America the real abusers of human rights and promoters of genocide would be that much freer to act. As one example, does nobody recall that Christian America intervened to assist Muslims attacked by Christian Serbians? Would any Islamic country on the planet have intervened to stop the far worse slaughter by the Islamic northern Sudan against the Christian South? Of course not. And America is supposed to be the ogre?

    I would also like to point out here that it is totally inappropriate to lump Gaza in with a bunch of despicable rogue states, as in the introduction to this debate above. The impression this gives is that Israel should be viewed as a rogue state oppressing Gazans, rather than pointing the finger, as it should be pointed, at Hamas for its violation of the human rights of the Palestinians in Gaza.

  149. 149 ogola Benard
    May 29, 2008 at 12:20

    Human rights may mean some “sort ” of freedom as long as the minority does’nt subject you to unfair treatment.
    Governments subject its citizen to torture by arbitrary arrest, detention in save houses,political offices being used to fight civil servants who otherwise may not support being subjected to an opinon
    not fear to its citizens.
    It can not be denied the fact that warring countries in
    Africa use state televions to depict past war expiriences as a way of causings fear among the people.
    Destroy indusries such that there is no employment for the youths, increase interet rates and make sure there is no money in circulation-cause depression.
    These political economies will never subdue themselves to human rights and yet salaries at high government levels keeps on increasing, drive a posh car, drink,and dont even listen to the BBC.
    Armnesty as known to me has been trying only in conflicting areas-The “Gun”,certificates and the political domain but what are the results.

  150. 150 Seanito
    May 29, 2008 at 17:05

    In South Africa our governement has ratified the whole Universal Declaration of Human Rights without reservation. We have come along way, by creating Human Violations into Human Rights. We have successfully implemented our Civil and Political Rights. Then from a Social Economic and Cultural rights standpoint, we have have miles to go and unless things do not change, such as economic policies and the Liberal trends in SA, we are on a serious collision course. Already you can see the frustration through the Xenophobic attacks on Foreign Nationals and the gov claiming that things are under control. Things are not under control, most of these people want better living conditions and a minimum standard and this has taken forever to come, and after 14 years we should be getting better administrators who can address the problems and the economic issues where a class war is a fact.

  151. 151 Jack Hughes
    May 29, 2008 at 21:41

    A.I. are like petulant teenagers who have just discovered their own parents are not totally perfect.

    Sadly they are out of their depth when they come across some really bad people from the wrong part of town.

  152. 152 Ogola Benard
    May 30, 2008 at 11:16

    sometime back i heard over the media that a secret service agent was arrested for flying weapons from mosco across africa and selling his trip to both governments and guerilla fighters.
    During confrontations, its the innocent cilvilians who suffer- they are raped,robbed,abducted and subjected to all sorts of torture.
    Human rights watch dogs on many occassions have follen pray to the same.
    Basically this is because there is no open field for confrontation like loading a plane with allegedly classified material and en route them to their respective destination and unloading the same to these various stores.
    In this opinion, how doubtful is it that these decrepitude governments don’t employ hard core criminals in their custody to commit state crime?
    Afterall when the mission has been accomplished they will go back to their cells unnoticed,a safe heaven not freely accessible to investigators.
    what is so disturbing is that during interrogations, suspects are handled by unprofessional personel.
    The so many Human rights watch dogs like Amnesty would be sleeping by then,later give a skewed report and the state of guagmire at its motion will die a dead end.
    Am really stunned by the question:Why governments don’t support human rights?


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