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Letter To Amnesty International from Denis MacShane, Member of British Parliament

Wednesday 10 February 2010

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Subject: Amnesty - Begg - Gita Saghal

Dear Friend and Colleague,

Please see below a letter I have sent to my friend Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International. I hope Amnesty takes a deep breath before it continues to punish an exposer of human rights abusers and continues to support some whose ideology denies human rights and everything Amnesty stands for.

Denis MacShane

Kate Allen

Director, Amnesty UK

17—25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA

10 Feb. 2010

Dear Kate,

I was very concerned to hear on Today this morning that Amnesty International has suspended Gita Saghal because she quite rightly raised questions about whether Amnesty should be promoting someone whose views run contrary to everything Amnesty stands for.

I know she works for the International Secretariat but Amnesty UK is involved as it has been promoting the man in question. Given your own admired and respected role in raising women’s right issues as part of Amnesty’s work I do think some reflection is required before the International Secretariat victimises one of its most respected researchers because she rightly called into question Amnesty’s endorsement of Mozzam Begg whose views on the Taliban and on Islamist jihad stand in total contradiction of everything Amnesty has fought for.

Wherever Islamist ideology wins power as in Afghanistan under the Taliban whom Mr Begg so much admires there has been an immediate assault on human rights especially on women and on freedom of expression. Under the Taliban every citizen of Afghanistan became a prisoner of conscience. Yet Mr Begg went to live under Taliban rule and has never resiled from praising the Taliban.

His terrible experience in Guantanamo cannot justify Amnesty endorsing someone whose political ideology is opposed to everything Amnesty works for. Mr Begg is entitled to make his case and enjoy freedom of expression in the UK. But his support for the Taliban’s and extreme jihadist ideology with its denial of human rights means that Amnesty should leave to his own and other organisations the business of promoting him.

For Amnesty to victimise a woman who has raised legitimate questions about Mr Begg is Kafkaesque as Gita Saghal, the exposer of an ideology that denies human rights, has her career threatened by the very organisation meant to defend human rights.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Denis MacShane MP

UK Parliament

2 Forum messages

  • I fully support Denis MacShane’s views. I have been a supporter of Amnesty for over 40 years.I helped found the Florence Amnesty group and fund-raised for them for many years and started a radio programme supporting the Amnesty campaigns on Radio 3 in Italy.
    I suggest Amnesty re-instate Gita Sahgal immediately, as she has had the courage to bring up this thorny problem, which affects the image and integrity of Amnesty itself.
    Not everybody would have done so and it does credit to Amnesty that a member, such as Gita should have raised it.
    It is all too easy to bow one’s head in the face of arrogant claims that all Islamic victims of persecution deserve protection. Protection from violence is absolutely Amnesty’s business, but not support of ideologies that promote violence and persecution of human rights.
    Please contact Gita and get her back. She is a credit to all of us - supporters of Amnesty.
    Yours sincerely,
    Rosalynd Pio

    Reply to this message

  • I emailed Amnesty International myself to protest Gita Sahgal’s termination there. I think the more letters of protest that we send, the greater chance there is that Amnesty International will rethink their mistake.

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