Friday, November 12, 2010

Amnesty International tries to defend helping a former terrorist sell his book

Amnesty International tries to explain to me why it’s helped a convicted terrorism supporter to profit from his crime by helping to flog his white-washing book for Christmas. The answer in part is apparently that most of its members wouldn’t mind:
Amnesty International decided to sell the David Hicks book via the organisation’s online shop because he was a focus of our campaigning to close Guantanamo Bay and end illegal US detentions for a number of years. He was held without charge or trial for almost six years at Guantánamo Bay.  He was the first person to be sentenced by a U.S. military commission – a tribunal which Amnesty International has long stated could not and did not meet international standards for fair trials.

These US Military Commissions violated international law in a number of ways, such as permitting the use of hearsay evidence and evidence gained using torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

We knew that many of our supporters would be interested in the David Hicks book, in order to gain another perspective on his personal story and his case.

We have a large range of books available, some of which contain views and opinions that are not necessarily those of Amnesty International.  We select a range of books that we feel will help in human rights debate, knowledge and discourse. Selling the David Hicks book does not mean that Amnesty International is promoting his views or actions. We have in the past defended his human rights and we now believe that his account of what happened to him would be of interest to readers.

This is only one of many books we have sold on Guantánamo Bay and the “war on terror”.  We make a very modest profit from the sale of all our books, profit which is put to good use in our work protecting and saving lives.  We receive no funding from governments or political parties.

Amnesty International works to protect the rights of all people. The stories of individuals who have been oppressed or treated unjustly are important to the overall understanding of human rights - no matter who they are, or how controversial their actions may have been.

Peter Thomas,
Director of Fundraising,
Amnesty International Australia

I suspect Amnesty International is now an institution focused more on it's own survival and which has possibly outlived its usefulness.

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