Let Amnesty expose itself

The Narendra Modi regime and the Sangh Parivar may find it odd but their excessive zeal to combat ‘anti-national’ elements may actually help the latter hold their ground. The recent incident involving Amnesty International India is a case in point.

The Bangalore Police have filed a case against the human rights group for organizing an event, ‘Broken Families of Kashmir,’ in which there were discussions with families from Kashmir. A first information report was filed on the complaint of the RSS-affiliated student body, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The offences mentioned in the FIR are ‘sedition’, ‘unlawful assembly’, ‘rioting’, and ‘promoting enmity.’

It was clearly a case of blitzkrieg against an enemy already in deep trouble—not much unlike the assaults on the governments of Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The credibility of Amnesty and other rights bodies, which are seriously infected with Leftwing ideas, is already being questioned, even from within. The Gita Sahgal case testifies this.

Former head of Amnesty International’s gender unit, Sahgal was suspended in 2010 after an eight-year association, objecting to its relations with Islamist terror groups. Amnesty reportedly suspended Sahgal soon after her statement, “To be appearing on platforms with Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban, whom we treat as a human rights defender, is a gross error of judgment.” She was expressing her displeasure Amnesty’s association with Cage, a group run by a notorious jihadist Moazzam Begg.

She has emerged as a rational, conscientious champion of human rights. Amnesty and other such outfits can’t dismiss her as a Right reactionary, racist, communalist, etc,; a grand niece of Jawaharlal Nehru, she has spent her life protecting human rights. Even in the present instance, she is not blindly supporting the Sangh Parivar. She said, “I think the sedition complaint is dangerous and designed to shut down organizations like Amnesty.” But she also criticized the body she worked with earlier, saying that rights groups should “live up to the standards they demand of others: be transparent, accountable, and impartial.”

She hit the nail on the head.

Amnesty International India, in its August 16 press release, said that its “vision is for every person in India to enjoy the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, other international human rights standards, and the Constitution of India. We are independent of any political, economic, or ideological interests.” Amnesty International India executive director Aakar Patel, too, has been saying very nice things about human rights, free speech, etc., for quite some time.

Does this make him a champion of liberty? Does he favor freedom of expression without restrictions, reasonable or otherwise? He made his position clear in an article in February 2012 in Livemint: “freedom of speech in India must be regulated.” This, by the way, in line with his organization’s view on the subject: “The right to freedom of expression is essential to the realization and exercise of all human rights. But it is not absolute and it may be subject to certain restrictions for particular purposes specified in international law, which include to protect the rights of others. International human rights law and standards provide a framework for how the state should strike a balance between maximum protection of freedom of expression and respect for the rights of others” (https://doc.es.amnesty.org/cgi-bin/ai/BRSCGI.exe/EUR2100022015ENGLISH?CMD=VEROBJ&MLKOB=35173442828).

So, Amnesty stands for maximum, and not absolute, freedom of expression. And since it is not absolute, it can be arbitrary. So, Patel and his organization champion free speech by jihadists and their over-ground supporters but not Salman Rushdie’s right to express himself, as evident from the 2012 Livemint article.

Patel and his cronies are themselves exposing their doublespeak. But, by using coercion against them, the Narendra Modi dispensation runs the risk of making heroes out of hypocrites. As it did in the case of Kanhaiya Kumar.

Pic: Courtesy: http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/