Amnesty International calls the police

On 26 April Amnesty Inter-national called Metropolitan Police officers into its London offices to remove Kurdish protesters and their supporters who were demanding that Amnesty issue a statement condemning the Turkish state’s treatment of the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Ocalan. Amnesty International refuses to do this, even though Ocalan has been held in total isolation since 2011, contrary to national and international laws and conventions on the treatment of prisoners.

Protesters had entered the building on 24 April. Police officers were filmed dragging people out into the street to be confronted by police dogs. Fifteen protesters were forced into police vans and held in cells overnight. Among those seized were people who had been on hunger strike for over 40 days. Protesters were bailed and told not to go within 200 metres of the Amnesty building.          

The protesters highlighted that Amnesty International had previously ‘infamously refused to campaign for South African leader Nelson Mandela’. After Mandela’s death, in December 2013, Amnesty explained that it could not campaign for Mandela’s release as a ‘non-violent prisoner of conscience’ after his conviction in 1964. However, it said, as if embarrassed, that today it would campaign for Mandela’s release ‘on the grounds that he had not been given a fair trial’. Does Amnesty believe that Abdullah Ocalan was given a fair trial? The chair of Amnesty International Turkey was arrested on 6 June 2017 for ‘belonging to a terrorist organisation’ and imprisoned for 432 days. Subsequently, the director of the same Amnesty branch was also locked up on the same charge.

Commenting on the eviction of the protesters and the hunger strikes launched for Ocalan, Amnesty stated, ‘Amnesty International is acutely aware of the hunger strikes, which started in Turkey in November 2018 and the plight of the hunger strikers. However, to report on any human rights violations, Amnesty International has to independently verify allegations and requires consent of the individuals concerned.’ Amnesty International knows full well what justice in Turkey is. Amnesty’s own staff have suffered in Turkey’s prisons. It deliberately avoids confronting the oppression of the Kurds and the torture inflicted on them. Amnesty International’s silence on Ocalan amounts to collusion.

Amnesty International describes itself as ‘the world’s leading human rights organisation, campaigning against injustice and inequality everywhere.’ In May, it produced a report on Venezuela repeating US propaganda against the government. Amnesty’s Americas director said, ‘The crimes against humanity probably committed by the authorities must not go unpunished.’ According to sources quoted by Wikipedia, Amnesty International receives grants from the US State Department, the European Commission, other governments and the Rockefeller Foundation (Counterpunch 21 May 2019).

Trevor Rayne

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 270 June/July 2019


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