The cold neutrality of an impartial judge -Edmund Burke-Preface to the Address of M.Brissot
Reuters reported recently that Amnesty says Sri Lanka represses dissent to consolidate power.The report stated that Amnesty International said that the Sri Lankan government is intensifying a crackdown on critics in order to tighten its grip on power, and urged the Commonwealth countries not to hold a summit there in November. But the Media Minister of the Sri Lankan government Keheliya Rambukwella accused Amnesty International of being in the pay of supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), once known as the most brutal terrorist organization in the world defeated in a nearly 30-year war that ended in May 2009. The Minister further stated that Amnesty is always against Sri Lanka and they never see anything positive. We accept still there are some problems, but they need to see what we have done good also.”
The London-based rights group, citing specific rights abuses in a 78-page report entitled ‘Sri Lanka’s Assault on Dissent’ said a crackdown on critics had intensified through threats, harassment, imprisonment and violent attacks.”Violent repression of dissent and the consolidation of political power go hand in hand in Sri Lanka,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.”Over the past few years we have seen space for criticism decrease. There is a real climate of fear in Sri Lanka, with those brave enough to speak out against the government often having to suffer badly for it.”The rights group further said the report was based on interviews with witnesses, lawyers and activists, legal affidavits, court records, reports by Sri Lankan, United Nations and international human rights organizations, as well as local and international media reports. The report also said journalists, the judiciary, human rights activists and opposition politicians were among those who have been targeted in a pattern of government-sanctioned abuse, often involving the security forces or their proxies.
Amnesty International was founded in London in July 1961 by English labour lawyer Peter Benenson According to his own account, he was traveling in the London Underground on 19 November 1960, when he read of two Portuguese students from Coimbra who had been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment in Portugal for allegedly “having drunk a toast to liberty” Researchers have never traced the alleged newspaper article in question. In 1960, Portugal was ruled by the Estado Novo government of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar The government was authoritarian in nature and strongly anti-communist, suppressing enemies of the state as anti-Portuguese. In his significant newspaper article “The Forgotten Prisoners”, Benenson later described his reaction as follows: “Open your newspaper any day of the week and you will find a story from somewhere of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government The newspaper reader feels a sickening sense of impotence. Yet if these feelings of disgust could be united into common action, something effective could be done.” The article described these violations occurring, on a global scale, in the context of restrictions to press freedom, to political oppositions, to timely public trial before impartial courts, and to asylum. It marked the launch of “Appeal for Amnesty, 1961”, the aim of which was to mobilise public opinion, quickly and widely, in defence of these individuals, whom Benenson named “Prisoners of Conscience”. The “Appeal for Amnesty” was reprinted by a large number of international newspapers. In the same year Benenson had a book published, Persecution 1961, which detailed the cases of nine prisoners of conscience were investigated and compiled by Benenson and Baker In July 1961 the leadership had decided that the appeal would form the basis of a permanent organisation, Amnesty, with the first meeting taking place in London. Benenson ensured that all three major political parties were represented, enlisting Members of Parliament from the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party On 30 September 1962, it was officially named ‘Amnesty International’. Between the ‘Appeal for Amnesty, 1961’ and September 1962 the organisation had been known simply as ‘Amnesty’.
Amnesty International is financed largely by fees and donations from its worldwide membership. It says that it does not accept donations from governments or governmental organisations. According to the AI website, “these personal and unaffiliated donations allow AI to maintain full independence from any and all governments, political ideologies, economic interests or religions. We neither seek nor accept any funds for human rights research from governments or political parties and we accept support only from businesses that have been carefully vetted. By way of ethical fundraising leading to donations from individuals, we are able to stand firm and unwavering in our defence of universal and indivisible human rights.” However, AI did receive grants from the UK Department of International Development the European Commission the US State Department and other governments contrary to its aforesaid policies. In November 2012, the Amnesty staff in London went on strike to protest work conditions and financial issues with the organisation. Gerald Steinberg, of NGO Monitor said, “They really are in trouble. They’ve been in crisis for a number of years.”
Criticism of Amnesty International includes claims of excessive pay for management, under-protection of overseas staff, associating with organisations with a dubious record on human rights protection, selection bias, ideological /foreign policy bias against either non-Western countries or Western-supported countries, criticism of Amnesty’s policies relating to abortion, and assertion that “defensive jihad” is not antithetical to human rights. Governments who have criticised Amnesty include those of Canada Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam, Russia and the United States,[ for what they assert is one-sided reporting or a failure to treat threats to security as a mitigating factor. The actions of these governments—and of other governments critical of Amnesty International—have been the subject of human rights concerns voiced by Amnesty. As of February 2011, Amnesty is engaged in a dispute with the British union ‘Unite over Amnesty’ allegedly attempting to de-recognize some of its foreign-based workers’ rights.(Wikepedia)
In the above scenario it is an open secret that cash strapped Amnesty may receive funds from the diaspora and the TGTE who are hell bent on destabilizing the legitimately elected Sri Lankan government and replacing it with a puppet regime amenable to the US and its Western allies in order to gain support for their separatist agenda to establish a State of Eelam in the North and East of Sri Lanka.
The reporting by the Amnesty is therefore biased and one sided as Minister Rambukwella very correctly stated thereby ignoring all the welfare activities undertaken by the Sri Lankan government for the rehabilitation of the former LTTE cadres, providing them with funding,employment and housing and the replacement of the displaced persons during the conflict by returning them to live happily in their former areas where they lived prior to the unfortunate civil war.
In conclusion it is noteworthy to consider whether the Amnesty International could maintain impartiality in its reports emulating the cold neutrality of an impartial judge as quoted at the outset of this piece as it is obvious that cash strapped AI has to do the bidding of its paymasters.