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Amnesty International

Note on Credibility & Lack of Impartiality of Those Making Anti-Syria Allegations

In Gaza,

August 25, 2015

by Eva Bartlett

So today, coming across yet another tool of the Imperialist/Zionist war on Syria who is sharing propaganda photos and posts which purport the depicted people to be victims of the Syrian Army, we dug a little deeper.

Who was the photographer? Are these photos *actually* from Syria or elsewhere? *If* in Syria, when were the photos taken, where, what context…?

This would be a gargantuan investigation, if one is to look at every MSM allegation against Syria and follow the photo trail. It needs to be done, but will certainly take much time, as there is SO much mis-information and outright LIES out there on Syria (for example, Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch tweeting a video of zionist-bombed and flattened al-Shujayee, Gaza, summer 2014, and claiming it to be Aleppo under “Assad’s barrel bombs”… that is just one of Roth’s many deceitful tweets. Due to outcry, he had to retract his tweet, but that hasn’t stopped his further lies.).

However, let’s take the case of Khaled Khatib, a photographer in Aleppo whose photos many MSM publications have used.

His photos put hearts on sleeves of easily-duped, perhaps well-intended viewers… But where is he photographing from, and with whom?

Khatib, a member of the Imperialist-founded “White Helmets” is embedded in terrorist territory in Aleppo.

khaled khatib white helmets

This excerpt is from a February 2015 Guardian article, calling for the US to release radar information of Syrian airspace to the terrorists (Oh, sorry, “civilians” and “rescue workers”) in terrorist-held districts of Aleppo.

Who are the Syrian Civil Defence/White Helmets Khatib is a member of and propagates for?

An April 2015 article by Rick Sterling sheds critical light on these nefarious “Human Rights” actors:

WHITE HELMETS / SYRIAN CIVIL DEFENCE – This is a new organization, highly publicized as civilian rescue workers in Syria. Their video and reports have influenced Avaaz and other humanitarian groups. Avaaz refers to the White Helmets as “Syria’s respected and non-partisan civil protection force.”

 

In reality the White Helmets is a project created by the UK and USA. Training of civilians in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier. Promotion of the program is done by “The Syria Campaign” supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. The White Helmets is clearly a public relations project which has received glowing publicity from HuffPo to Nicholas Kristof at the NYT. White Helmets have been heavily promoted by the U.S. Institute of Peace (U.S.IP) whose leader began the press conference by declaring “U.S.IP has been working for the Syrian Revolution from the beginning”.

 

Apart from the PR work, White Helmets work in areas of Aleppo and Idlib controlled by Nusra (Al Queda). The video from a medical clinic on March 16 starts with a White Helmets logo. The next video of same date and place continues with the Nusra logo.

 

US and UK tax dollars pay for a program which has an appealing rescue component and is then used to market and promote the USA and UK policy of regime change in Syria in de facto alliance with Nusra.

 

The fake “independence and neutrality” of White Helmets is shown by their active promotion of a No Fly Zone.”

In his article (and it is imperative reading!), Sterling illuminates on the other HR actors (HRW, Avaaz, MSF, PHR…) and rightly notes:

“The humanitarians pushing for intervention in Syria are not R2P (responsible to protect). They are R4W (responsible for war).”

So, when you see a heart-tugging photo by Khatib or any other White Helmet, step back and question: whose agenda do these photos serve? The answer, if you are open to knowing it, is clear.

Hint: it isn’t the Syrian people.

How to manufacture consent in the sex trade debate

Feminist Current

August 18, 2015

by Raquel Rosario Sanchez

So Amnesty International voted in favour of adopting a policy that calls for the full decriminalization of the sex trade. Hurray? Once the celebration or despair subsides we are left we a troubling picture… And what that picture reveals is one of deceitful propaganda and misleading rhetoric.

Amnesty International has claimed that this decision was made in the interest of protecting the safety and human rights of sex workers and included a thoughtful and thorough consultation process that explored all viable alternatives. Salil Shetti, Secretary-General of AI states, “The research and consultation carried out in the development of this policy in the past two years concluded that this was the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights and lessen the risk of abuse and violations they face.” He adds, “We also consulted with our global movement to take on board different views from around the world.”

On its face, these efforts and intentions sound noble. Yet Amnesty International has concealed the cynical origins of the policy they are now selling to the masses.

Their press releases frame the conversation as one that happened as part of a “global movement,” when in fact only about 40 per cent of their own membership participated in the process (most members, in fact, weren’t initially made aware this policy was in development). Not only that, the organization has gone to great lengths to obscure the role that brothel owner, Douglas Fox, the man who crafted the original proposal on sex trade decriminalization and lobbied the organization to this effect, played in this process.

If you look beyond the façade of human rights for “sex workers,” what is revealed is a perfect example of an organization choosing ideology and profit over the well-being and human rights of women and girls.

Fox is the owner of England’s largest escort agency, Christony Companions Escort Services. It was during one of Amnesty International’s internal debates in Newcastle in 2008 that he drafted the original policy resolution which was subsequently leaked to Julie Bindel, who exposed the draft proposal-in-process. The outrage that ensued forced Amnesty International to distance itself from Fox. But regardless of the fact that the organization does not want to be connected to Fox — a man who attacks anti-violence activists and feminists for allegedly stigmatizing people in prostitution yet insists on referring to people in prostitution as “whores” — he continues to take credit for the policy that AI has implemented.

John Dockerty and Douglas Fox, owners of Christony Companions.
John Dockerty and Douglas Fox, owners of Christony Companions.

Fox is quoted as saying that Amnesty International’s internal violence against women campaign group was the key opposition to a decriminalization policy. He saw one of the “problems” within Amnesty as being that the organization has “(in some ways very effectively) campaigned against violence against women. The people and one woman in particular who has headed this campaign has taken what effectively is an anti-escorting stance and has quoted Melissa farley and Julie Bindel heavily in their literature.” Fox brags that he “challenged this position and the statistics used both on the Amnesty web site and at the conference where I basically caused a rumpus at the violence against women stall.”

Regarding concerns about decriminalization resulting in an increase in human trafficking, supported by evidence and research, he claims, “I was asked over and over and over again about fears that supporting sex workers would increase trafficking. I won them over very easily, however, which does show that getting the press/media on our side to give counter arguments is so important.” Fox then rallied his supporters to join Amnesty International as members in order to lobby for this policy. He said, “Getting Amnesty on side will be a huge boost to our morale… We need to pursue them mercilessly and get them on side.”

And it seems Fox was successful in pushing feminist anti-violence groups aside in order to convince Amnesty to advocate on behalf of men’s right to buy and profit from the sale of women and girls.

After the policy was approved, Fox was, naturally, thrilled. “It is exactly what I hoped for,” he said. “I am very, very pleased that Amnesty has taken this position.”

As an anti-violence and anti-trafficking activist, I find the callousness of Fox’s statements and the fact that the policy proposed and lobbied for by a brothel owner was eventually passed chilling and sickening.

And how was he able to get away with it? By adopting the term “sex worker.”

See, “sex work” rhetoric means that owning a large brothel in England and allegedly doing occasional sex work on the side qualifies people like Douglas Fox to speak on behalf of prostituted people worldwide.

Welcome to the dangerously deluded world of Amnesty International, an organization that did an about face on women’s rights. A world where brothel owners and pimps are equated with prostituted people (who are overwhelmingly women and girls) in order to ignore the voices and expertise of survivors, survivor-led organizations, anti-violence organizations and sex industry scholars, as well as evidence and research that shows their new policy supporting the full decriminalization of the sex industry leads to more trafficking.

But, in fact, throwing women under the bus is not new for Amnesty International. The former head of the gender unit in the organization, Gita Sahgal, told the Observer, after she was fired, that an “atmosphere of terror” prevailed inside the organization, that “debate is suppressed,” and that staff are cowed into accepting the party line. She also called the leadership of the organization “ideologically corrupt”, saying “there is a deep misogyny in the human rights movement and the kinds of issues that women have to face tend to bring that out.”

Now that we have this dubiously-concocted policy, initiated by a pimp and funded by a billionaire, the marginalization of survivor’s voices and feminists, an unwillingness to acknowledge the real meaning of this policy, and outright lies about the evidence behind their claims, what’s next?

What’s next is the silencing of critiques of the sex industry by implying that only “sex workers” can speak in this debate. Yet this policy was not approved by prostituted women and girls, but by Amnesty International, a so-called human rights organization run by people privileged enough not to have to prostitute themselves.

The policy states, “Many sex workers feel the term ‘prostitute’ is demeaning or misogynistic, and organized sex worker groups generally prefer the term ‘sex worker’ or ‘person in the sex industry.’” What they’ve failed to mention is that many more activists who have been in the sex industry reject the term. In fact, “sex work” is a very political term that intentionally erases the reality of who is prostituted and why, allowing men like Fox, who run the largest prostitution ring in north-east England, to call themselves “sex workers.”

By arguing that only “sex workers” can speak about “sex work,” you are effectively saying that only people who are in favor of decriminalizing pimps and johns have a valid opinion about policy, as it is only those who advocate for the full decriminalization of prostitution who use the term “sex work.” That is to say, sex industry advocates use the term intentionally as part of their efforts to normalize and degender the system of prostitution. If the sentence was altered to read “listen to survivors”, “listen to prostituted people,” or “listen to people who have been commercially exploited,” Amnesty International would have ended up with a different policy.

This argument narrows the debate to ensure an individual, tit-for-tat approach in which participants are forced into an Oppression Olympics-style rhetorical contest that ignores intersectionality in order to compete to see who is marginalized enough to have a voice. Experience and personal narrative can be crucial in many instances but also they, conversely, lack the broader contextual frameworks that a systems-level analysis requires. This kind of argument also erases the fact that the sex industry is not at all some sort of grassroots organization or collective but is, instead, a billion dollar industry driven entirely by male demand.

To be empowered as a sex worker in an industry that relies on the dehumanization and constant influx of the ever-younger bodies of mainly women and girls is a privilege. As an anti-violence worker and sex industry researcher, hearing people talk about how violence-free their experiences in the sex industry have been is encouraging. But even sex industry advocates know that this experience represents a very small minority of people in the sex trade. To use these few stories to promote a policy that has been proven to further marginalize and endanger women and girls globally is inhumane, oppressive, and counter to the purported goals of a human rights organization.

 

[Raquel Rosario Sanchez is an activist and advocate from the Dominican Republic. Her efforts center around violence against women and girls, anti-human trafficking efforts, and death penalty abolition. She is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies in Oregon.]

United Nations Covers Up Child Rape in Africa and the Buying of Sex in Haiti

InnerCity Press

June 18, 2015

by Mathew Russell Lee

With scandals surrounding UN Peacekeeping, from covering up child rape by French “peacekeepers” in the Central African Republic to buying sex in Haiti and selling UN Police jobs in the DR Congo, on June 18 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was scheduled to give a speech to UN Force Commanders in Conference Room 9 of UN Headquarters in an open meeting, following a public photo-op with the commanders.

But when Inner City Press showed up for the photo op, UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous directed one of his officials to tell Inner City Press to leave.

Inner City Press refused, noting that Ban Ki-moon’s appearance was listed in the online Media Alert of the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU). Nevertheless, Ladsous’ official insisted, and Ladsous himself began to film Inner City Press with his phone.

When Ban Ki-moon and his security detail of at least four arrived, they proceeded into Conference Room 9, as did Inner City Press accompanied by a MALU staff member and a staffer from UN Photo. But just as Ban Ki-moon began speaking, two of his security officers came over and told Inner City Press to leave. In the hall they said that “the organizer” — Ladsous — had ordered it.

Inner City Press asked, if some UN official tells you to throw out the media, you just do it? “If he told you to throw me on the ground, would you throw me on the ground?”

“Somebody doesn’t have to tell me to throw you on the ground, if I’ve got to put you on the ground, I put you on the ground,” came the response. Audio here. Periscope video here. Now YouTube video permalink here.



Another security officer said, at this point the media is not coming in. That’s it.

This is called censorship. And it happened right in front of Ban Ki-moon.  When Ban came out of Conference Room 9, he had a discussion with Ladsous – what about? – then walked on by. Periscope Video II here. This is Ban’s UN, UNtransparent, descended to censorship.

Inner City Press has reported not only on Ladsous’ cover up of rapes in CAR (and before that in Minova in the DRC and Tabit in Darfur), but also on a growing lack of transparency in Ban Ki-moon’s UN, including the reported use of Ban’s name by his nephew “Dennis” Bahn while purporting to sell real estate in Vietnam to the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar. (Bahn works for Colliers International, which rents office space to and for Ban’s UN system.) Now, outright censorship.

The old UN Correspondents Association has said nothing, just as they said nothing and more when Ladsous said he would not answer Inner City Press and Ban’s spokesman decided not to call on Inner City Press to put a question to Ladsous, on the CAR rapes and cover up. The new Free UN Coalition for Access has demanded an explanation and response from MALU and the Department of Public Information above it. A senior UN official told Inner City Press, “There is no court.”

This use of UN Security is ironic, given that as Inner City Press reported on June 17 and asked Ban’s deputy spokesman about on June 18, Ban shook hands in the UN in Geneva with a person on the US Al-Qaeda terrorist list, photo here. But today’s UN has become the source of lawless censorship, amid its scandals. Watch this site.

August 11, 2015: On rapes by UN peacekeeping in Central African Republic (CAR), InnerCity Press asks UN if Ban Ki-moon will disclose findings and punish men:


 

August 13, 2015: When InnerCity Press asks US Samantha Power about UN rapes and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) cover up in Tabit, Darfur, she ignores the question and walks off the podium:

 

Real Men Don’t Prostitute Women

August 18, 2015

Running time: 2:38

“To understand patriarchy is to understand that free choice is a fairytale.” — Dr Meagan Tyler

“Prostitution – We Don’t Buy It” – Speakers: Tom Meagher and sex trade survivor Rachel Moran

 

Pornography, Prostitution & Trafficking

Public Good Project

by Jay Taber

Melissa Farley 1

Melissa Farley of Prostitution Research and Education discusses the public health crisis of pornography, in particular the human trafficking that makes prostitution profitable. Amnesty International is challenged by prostitution survivors to end its support for legalizing these crimes against humanity.

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Fourth World Eye, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples seeking justice in such bodies as the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations.]

Amnesty International Has Betrayed Women’s Human Rights

Prostitution Research and Education

August 12, 2015

Press Release

 

BREAKING NEWS: AUGUST 12, 2015

Amnesty has voted to support pimps and sex buyers rather than people in prostitution – 90% of whom are not “voluntary sex workers” but people who ended up in prostitution as a last-ditch survival alternative and who urgently want to escape it.

Please support groups that provide for and advocate for what women in prostitution tell us they want: EXIT SERVICES and ABOLITIONIST POLICY.

Here are just a few of many groups who need your support:

For example YOU CAN SUPPORT abolitionist groups led by survivors of prostitution such as AWAN (Aboriginal Women’s Action Network) (Canada), SPACE International (Ireland), Buklod (Philippines), Bagong Kamalayan (Philippines).

For example YOU CAN SUPPORT groups offering services with an abolitionist perspective on prostitution such as Apne Aap (India), Breaking Free (USA), CATW-Asia Pacific (Philippines), Eaves (UK), Embrace Dignity (South Africa), Miramed (Russia), Organization for Prostitution Survivors (USA), Vancouver Rape Relief (Canada), Ruhama (Ireland), Solwodi (Germany), Stigamot (Iceland), Women’s Support Project (Scotland).

AND YOU CAN SUPPORT groups advocating abolitionist policy and research: CAP (France), CLES (Canada), CATW (USA), PRE (Prostitution Research & Education) (USA).

The press have quoted factual errors and Amnesty leaders have lied or misspoken. See a statement from 214 scholars and researchers from 20 countries who rejected Amnesty International’s policy of decriminalized pimping, sex-buying, and brothel keeping. Instead, based on what is known about prostitution, all of us support the Nordic model law on prostitution that decriminalizes ONLY the prostituted, providing them with exit services and support. The Nordic law criminalizes sex buyers and pimps. PRESS RELEASE, PETITION & SIGNERS. Signers are from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA, and Venezuela.

ImpunityInternational

Without inequality prostitution would cease to exist.

Petition to designate AI as Men’s Rights Extremists.

Poor and ethnically marginalized women in Indian prostitution object to AI proposal.

If it supports decriminalized prostitution, Amnesty can no longer claim to defend human rights.

UK Guardian calls Amnesty International call to legalize prostitution: “incoherent,” “divisive,” “distracting.”

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) Statement on Amnesty International’s Resolution to Decriminalize Pimps, Brothel Owners and Buyers of Sex

August 11, 2015
Press Release
AI Turns Back On Women
Contact:
Taina Bien-Aimé
 T: (212) 643-9895
 E: media@catwinternational.org
New York, August 11, 2015 – Today, at the conclusion of its 32nd International Council Meeting (ICM) and amidst much contention and debate, Amnesty International voted for a resolution that urges governments worldwide to adopt laws and policies that endorse the full decriminalization of the sex industry, including pimps, brothel owners and buyers of sexual acts.
Amnesty’s Press Release announcing their vote seems innocuous to the naked eye with language about gender equality, women’s rights, human rights standards and child sexual exploitation. Don’t be fooled. Amnesty’s call on governments to decriminalize the sex industry underlines a willful and callous rejection of women’s rights and equality. The human rights organization opted to side with the multi-billion dollar international sex trade and to exclude prostituted individuals – who are overwhelmingly women and girls from disenfranchised racial, ethnic and economic groups – from the rights granted to all people in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Throughout the deliberation and “research” process that Amnesty claims led them to its resolution, they deliberately excluded the voices and expertise of survivor-leaders and women’s rights organizations working to end violence and discrimination at the local, regional and international levels. Additionally, Amnesty ignored growing evidence of the catastrophic effects of the decriminalization of the sex industry, especially that it leads to an increase in sex trafficking in legal brothels and gives state-sanctioned license to purchase individuals for sexual acts that include acts of torture, such as is the case in Germany. Instead, Amnesty has maintained its resolve to widen the door for human rights abuses against prostituted individuals on a global scale.
By failing to uphold its own mission of protecting the rights of all human beings to live a life free of violence and with dignity, guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Amnesty has severely damaged its reputation, credibility and legitimacy. Even worse, it has condemned the most marginalized human beings to exploitation in the sex trade. For instance, currently an estimated 2-3 million women and girls are exploited in India’s sex industry. Should the Indian government take Amnesty’s advice to decriminalize brothel owners and pimps, there would be an exponential growth of untold profits from commercial sexual exploitation and a vast increase in the number of women and girls suffering in the sex trade.
We hope that Amnesty will one day recognize that its decision to decriminalize the sex industry is in gross violation of long established human rights principles and international conventions, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). We will continue to urge Amnesty International to advocate for governments to adopt laws that solely decriminalize those engaged in selling sex and to hold accountable those who profit from such exploitation.

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In the meantime, we join our colleagues around the world who are calling upon the country sections that rejected the resolution and Amnesty’s membership to choose respect for human rights instead of the “right” to pimp, exploit and purchase sexual acts.
Finally, we send our most profound thanks to the over 600 prominent individuals and organizations worldwide that signed our Open Letter and expressed a unified voice on behalf of all women. Heartfelt thanks and solidarity go to the survivors of the commercial sex trade whose experiences continue to inform us about the inherent and pervasive harms of the sex industry and guide us toward the best solutions to uphold the human rights of the most vulnerable among us. We stand with you, always.
[The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) is a non-governmental organization working to end human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls worldwide. CATW engages in advocacy, education, victim services and prevention programs for victims of trafficking and prostitution in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe and North America. www.catwinternational.org]

Amnesty International Whitewashes Venezuelan Opposition Abuses

TeleSUR English

March 31, 2015

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

Amnesty International’s latest report on Venezuela calls for justice for the dozens of people killed during the unrest that shook the country a year ago, while using sleight of hand to deflect attention away from those responsible.

“The Amnesty International report documents events of February 2014 when thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets, resulting in the death of 43 people, including eight law enforcement officials,” Amnesty said in a press release accompanying the release of the report’s executive summary.

While the full report was unavailable online at the time of writing, the executive summary unequivocally laid the blame for 2014’s violence at the feet of state security forces, but ironically chose to shy away from actually admitting how those 43 people died.

“The use of unnecessary or disproportionate force is precisely what exacerbated the wave of tragic events last year,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty’s Americas director.

The summary levels blame at both security forces and government supporters. The latter were accused of engaging in state sanctioned human rights abuses. However, Amnesty’s allegations don’t match the facts. How did those 43 people die?

At the time of the protests, the independent news organization Venezuelanalysis.com listed a total of 40 deaths, 20 of which were deemed to have been caused by opposition barricades, or opposition violence. The deaths included people gunned down while trying to clear barricades, ambulances being blocked from hospitals by opposition groups, and a motorbike rider who was decapitated after opposition groups strung razor wire across a road. A similar death toll count by the Center for Economic and Policy Research reflected a similar consensus: while security forces were indeed responsible for a few deaths, the opposition groups were hardly peaceful. Around half the victims of the 2014 unrest were either government supporters, members of security forces or innocent bystanders.

While condemning the government for supposedly cracking down on freedom, the report shied away from any criticism of the opposition’s intentional restriction of movement through the use of barricades, widespread intimidation and attacks on government supporters, and repeated attacks on journalists ranging from state media workers and community radio stations to international media. For example, in March 2014, a mob of anti-government protesters beat journalists working for organizations such as Reuters and AFP. One photo-journalist, Cristian Hernandez, was beaten with a lead pipe, but was rescued by state security forces.

Another journalist that witnessed the beating tweeted, “They protest for freedom of expression and against censorship, and they attack photo-journalists … for no reason? Where’s the coherence?”

Unlike that witness, Amnesty chose not to question why incidents like this took place – instead preferring to turn a blind eye to widespread human rights abuses committed by anti-government groups.

Indeed, none of this is included in Amnesty’s executive summary. teleSUR did try to contact Amnesty for clarification as to whether any of this would be included in the full report, but received no reply.

One possible explanation is that Amnesty prefers to criticize governments, rather than call out substate actors. However, this doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. On Feb. 20, 2015, Amnesty International issued a report accusing both Boko Haram and the Nigerian government of human rights abuses. Then on March 26, 2015, they accused Palestinian militants of war crimes, after also condemning Israeli forces for human rights abuses in 2014. Clearly, in many parts of the world, Amnesty is capable of critiquing both sides of a conflict – but not in Venezuela.

At first, the question of what makes Venezuela unique may seem baffling, but it all became clear after I spoke to a former Amnesty employee, who asked to remain anonymous. He explained quite simply that within Amnesty, the biggest priority isn’t human rights. It is securing funding – mostly from wealthy donors in the West.

Amnesty isn’t alone – other former NGO workers I’ve spoken to in the past have made similar comments. Some have gone as far as arguing NGOs will engage in projects or research they know is next to worthless to the people they claim to defend, so long as it produces a photo opportunity that could woo Western donors. These former workers affirmed that human rights are important to many NGOs; they just take a back seat to fund-raising.

The claim that Amnesty and other NGOs are primarily concerned with money may seem excessively cynical, but a glance at pay for those at the top of the organization shatters any rose tinted glasses. In 2011, Amnesty’s 2009 decision to hand their outgoing head Irene Khan more than more than £533,000 (around US$794,000 at current exchange rates) in a hefty severance package sparked a public outrage. The payout was worth more than four years of Khan’s salary. In late 2012, Amnesty again found itself in the spotlight after it announced plans to offshore much of its workforce from the U.K., sparking a bitter showdown with the Unite workers’ union. While management claimed the offshoring would put a higher proportion of their workforce on the ground in the countries they report on, workers accused the NGO of trying to cut costs, while failing to adequately assess the physical risks to workers. One worker told the Guardian newspaper the deal could turn out to be a “cash cow” for Amnesty.

Assuming cash speaks louder than justice, the reason why Amnesty is willing to criticize the Venezuelan government but unwilling to lift a finger against the opposition suddenly makes perfect sense. While condemning Boko Haram or Hamas is palatable to much of the Western public, criticizing Venezuela’s wealthy, Westernized opposition would be edgy at best, financial suicide at worst. On the other hand, while Venezuela’s government has plenty of supporters in Latin America, it doesn’t have many friends within the well-heeled elite of Western nations. The latter, of course, are prime targets for appeals for donations. In the competitive world of NGOs, Amnesty can’t afford to risk tarnishing its appeal to wealthy donors by accusing Venezuela’s opposition of human rights violations.

In a surprising way, this makes Amnesty an inherently ideological organization, it just doesn’t have its own ideology per se. Instead, because of its pursuit of the wealthiest donors (generally liberal Westerners), Amnesty reflects the ideology of middle and upper class Westerners. It’s staunchly vanilla liberal: willing to call out miscellaneous African militias, but unwilling to accuse an element of Venezuela’s middle class of giving birth to a violent movement. It’s willing to criticize Israeli colonialism in the name of liberal values, but allergic to revolutionary politics driven from the bottom up by the world’s poor. Amnesty doesn’t reflect the ideology of the poor and repressed, but rather of its privileged, yet guilt-stricken donors.

Unfortunately, Amnesty International’s whitewash of the right-wing opposition’s human rights abuses in Venezuela is symptomatic of a deeper crisis in the world of NGOs, where fierce competition for funding means adjusting the message to suit Western audiences — and occasionally letting human rights take a back seat.

 


		        

WATCH: LIBYA: Race, Empire, and the Invention of Humanitarian Emergency

Zero Anthropology

by Maximilian Forte

Based on the author’s latest book, Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War On Libya and Africa (Baraka Books, Montreal, 2012), and nearly two years of extensive documentary research, this film places the 2011 US/NATO war in Libya in a more meaningful context than that of a war to “protect civilians” driven by the urgent need to “save Benghazi”. Instead it counters such notions with the actual destruction of Sirte, and the consistent and determined persecution of black Libyans and African migrant workers by the armed opposition, supported by NATO, as it sought to violently overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and the Jamahiriyah. This film takes us through some of the stock justifications for the war, focusing on protecting civilians, the responsibility to protect (R2P), and “genocide prevention,” and examines the racial biases and political prejudice that underpinned them. The role of Western human rights organizations, as well as misinformation spread through “social media” with the intent of fostering fear of rampaging black people, are especially scrutinized.

Further Reading: Libya: The Second Anniversary of a Bloody Coup (February 17, 2013)

Avaaz: the World’s Most Powerful NGO

A Culture of Imbeciles

Patel (to the left of Al Gore) delivers a petition to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon at the People’s Climate March in New York City, Sept. 21, 2014
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In his classic orientation to American politics, Indispensable Enemies, Walter Karp described conflict between the two national political parties as largely a game of charades–choreographed by Wall Street. While party loyalists are quick to point out differences over religion and civil rights, the point Karp makes is that they both serve Wall Street, which means America is now a bi-partisan fascist oligarchy.

Since the Reagan administration, both parties have worked overtime to privatize public wealth, and to manipulate social movements to their advantage. While it is well-known that the Wise Use Movement, Christian Coalition and the Tea Party used bigotry to advance Republican interests, little attention has been paid to social engineering by the Democrats.

As affiliated entities, MoveOn, 1Sky, Avaaz, Ceres, Purpose and 350 enable the Democratic Party to market itself as a friend of the environment and supporter of democracy, while simultaneously serving Wall Street’s agenda. What those familiar with serious fraud might call “the long con”.

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Jeremy Heimans (co-founder of Avaaz and Purpose) at The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Human Potential conference. | Photo: Taylor Davidson

Short cons include “humanitarian war” and carbon market schemes like fossil fuel divestment, that support American imperialism by consolidating Wall Street control of institutions, markets and NGOs. Using foundations as intermediaries, the fascist oligarchy on the Democrat side has a legal money laundry for promoting such fraud as the “new economy”.

As Cory Morningstar described The Art of Social Engineering by Avaaz, “Funded by the ruling class oligarchy, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media. Yet, it appears that global society is paralyzed in a collective hypnosis – rejecting universal social interests, thus rejecting reason, to instead fall in line with the position of the powerful minority that has seized control, a minority that systematically favours corporate interests.”

Meanwhile, sister organizations of Avaaz work with elites like Rockefeller, Gates and Soros in “shaping global society by utilizing and building upon strategic psychological marketing, soft power, technology and social media.” “More importantly,” notes Morningstar, “The non-profit industrial complex must be understood as a mainspring and the instrument of power, the very support and foundation of imperial domination.”

As Morningstar continues, ‘Global society has been, and continues to be, manipulated to believe that NGOs are representative of “civil society” which has allowed the “humanitarian industrial complex” to become missionaries of empire.’ In this brave new world, NGOs like Avaaz, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch lead civil society in supporting American hegemony through military intervention.

In Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Morningstar reports that Avaaz is the operational name of the Global Engagement and Organizing Fund, a non-profit organization incorporated in 2006. Founded by ResPublica and the Democratic Party front group MoveOn, the core purpose of Avaaz was to build US influence in the Middle East and Asia. ResPublica is led by Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel, and Tom Pravda.

Open Society Institute – created by convicted hedge fund inside trader George Soros – is a major funder of Avaaz, MoveOn and Human Rights Watch. Avaaz destabilization campaigns in Libya, Syria and Bolivia demonstrate the value of NGOs in exercising “soft power” to overthrow foreign regimes hostile to American dominance. As a close friend of President Obama, Perriello was one of the most pro-war Democrats in Congress.

Obama&Perriello

In Welcome to the Brave New World, Morningstar examines Perriello’s career and relationship with war criminals like Obama and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Both Avaaz and 350 board members supported the attack on Syria.) Avaaz, says Morningstar, is arguably “the world’s most powerful NGO.”