Amnesty International: more questions than answers

Since the start, Amnesty International (AI) has been surrounded by opacity, confidentiality and secrecy. The NGO would appear to use a level of deceit in order not to submit to the rules of good governance, good management, financial transparency and accountability dictated by law.

According to an article published on October 13th, 2017 by Agora Vox, the site wonders who manipulates this organisation, with a turnover exceeding €278,000,000 in 2015.

According to journalist Christelle Neant "We can safely say that Amnesty International is an international mercenary hired by state organisations and businesses to defend their interests, and their economic and political benefits ”.

AI continues to cultivate its image as a humanitarian foundation without worrying overly about complying with the laws of associations in the countries where it is established.

Oussama Atar

AI appears less concerned about why its interventions fail to solve the issues it addresses as it is about maintaining an image which makes fundraising much easier, and by playing on potential donors' emotions, sometimes with consequences such as their initiative for the benefit of Belgian terrorist Oussama Atar (pictured right), whom AI had freed from Iraq and who later took an active part in the preparations in 2016 for the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.

In 2014 a study by AEGE, an association of students and former students of the School of Economic Warfare, led by Christian Harbulot, analysed the source of funding from the NGO, questioning their bias in choosing their campaigns, and and in their political positions.

It is clear that the choice of the causes that AI takes up, and of the countries where it intervenes, remains completely random, despotic and unjustified: for example it will “defend” a person living freely in a democratic country, incurring no risk to itself. Meanwhile it is closing its eyes and effectively becoming complicit through silence on imprisonments and mass tortures, on executions by the hundreds, on forced population displacements, on thousands of people held against their will in the middle of the desert, on international networks of trafficking in human beings, violence against women, children and ethnic, religious or gender minorities, and on the mafias controlling mass immigration from one continent to another.

These are unspeakable tragedies, which do not seem to move AI, or prevent some of its leaders from sleeping soundly or from receiving salaries and severance pay they should be ashamed of.

Witness the scandal over severance pay paid to Amnesty International's Seventh Secretary General, Irene Zubaida Khan, as reported in an article in the French weekly Canard Enchainé dated 23 March 2011, which amounted to £533,000.

This bad governance of this NGO reminds one of a banana republic: an analogy confirmed by the generous compensation paid on the dismissal in 2019 of five of the seven members of its general management. At the same time under the pretext of a financial crisis in the organisation almost 100 other loyal workers were dismissed on the decision of Mr. Kumi Naidoo. According to an article in "The Guardian", published on April 27th, 2019, Naidoo noted that there was a hole in the organisation's budget of up to £17million in donors’ funds.

It is also imperative that AI gives its opinion on the internal reports drawn up by its teams about these dramatic incidents which were caused by intimidation in the workplace, harassment, sexism and racism, causes that form part of the basis of its values and principles and protecting human life.

The surprise resignation in 2019 of Naidoo, freshly co-opted in 2018, calls out to the real reasons for this disguised dismissal despite the honeyed style of a press release concerning this dismissal.

It is likely that it would be his audit of AI accounts and/or the results of a study commissioned and published by AI in January 2019 following the unexplained suicides of two of its members, the late Gaetan Mootoo in Paris in May 2018, and intern Rosalind McGregor in Geneva in July 2018 that would have hastened his departure. It would be interesting to know the amount of the severance pay paid to him.

Naidoo, a so-called "fierce opponent" of apartheid expelled from high school in South Africa at 15, found refuge in the UK and benefited from a golden university degree, a Rhodes Fellowship at Oxford University crowned with a doctorate in political sociology and a law degree.

AI’s poor governance has also caused tragedies within its own executives, so it seems essential to inform international public opinion about the real causes that led to the aforementioned tragic suicides of two staff members.

Moazzam Begg

Still in the open-ended list of AI scandals, the most astonishing concerns the 2010 dismissal of Ms. Gita Sahgal, called out for supporting the Taliban terrorist Moazzam Begg (pictured left) and thereby providing a platform of choice for the Taliban regime.

Allegations of “anti-Semitism”, have also been levelled at the organisation.

AI has begun focusing on surveillance worthy of the darkest of intelligence services of ancient times, which it exercises in countries where it is represented through the acquisition of ultra sophisticated computer protection equipment.

AI has even taken care to produce and make available to its members various guides and manuals of procedures to play the amateur informant or how to become an agitator. It would be interesting if AI, within the framework of transparency, publishes all these documents concerning the definitions of the missions and objectives of its members .

AI continues to be provisionally managed by a Secretary General and Acting CEO, confirming the adage of the "Provisional that lasts".

This does not prevent AI from co-opting the members of the Top Management of the Coalition of Direction of the International Secretariat, the highest body, currently composed of Mrs. Clare Algar, Mr. Nigel Armitt and Mr. Thomas Schultz -Jagow, without respecting the true diversity imposed on it by its international, interracial and inter-religious vocation.

Will AI explain what criteria it uses for the choice of the Top Management while its internal reports speak of racism within its teams?

In the end, it is clear that where AI intervenes, the problems often worsen, and tragedies are amplified. Even when the citizens of the country where the "NGO / Company" acts are resulting in locally adopted regulation and by mutual agreement with their government, AI is ingenious enough to block it which makes it possible to believe that this "humanitarian" NGO looks much more from problems to solutions rather than the other way around.

To conclude, AI needs to address the highly legitimate issues raised above, or having regard to those issues AI might be better addressed by the name that it more truly deserves: "INTERNATIONAL AMNESIA".

Main image: Marche des fiertés rouen 20190504 - amnesty international, by Silanoc via Wikipedia.

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