Gita Sahgal Calls on Amnesty International: ‘Stop Covering Up or We Start Cleaning Up’

28th May [2010] is the 49th anniversary of Peter Benenson’s launch of Amnesty International. But as the organization begins planning celebrations, Gita Sahgal asks whether Amnesty International’s leaders have lost their grip on reality. Do sections of the human rights movement lend their credibility to protecting Islamists rather than protecting their rights?

In an article in openDemocracy today, she says that the leadership’s reports to Amnesty International’s Executive Committee contain no mention of Moazzam Begg, Cageprisoners or her dispute with the leadership. She says, ‘Amnesty International cannot provide a coherent account of what has happened so they have chosen to provide no account at all. The Executive Committee appears to be asking no questions and the membership have been provided with no answers.’

Recalling Peter Benenson’s statement that Amnesty works against oblivion, she says ‘ If Amnesty International does not stop covering up and start cleaning up, others will have to do it for them.’ She calls on all those who want to restore integrity to human rights to campaign with her.

As a tribute to the campaigning of the global women’s movement and the many people who signed the Global Petition to Amnesty International to Restore the Integrity of Rights, Amnesty International has launched an internal review. The review cannot substitute for the urgent need for Amnesty International’s leadership to provide answers, particularly as the reviewers are not tasked to look at any of the allegations. Since the managers have ignored all questions posed to them, please write to the reviewers at with a copy to urging them to call on the leadership to provide answers to the questions posed to them. In particular they must make public:

1. What investigations did Amnesty International undertake when they developed a relationship with Moazzam Begg and Cageprisoners? What was their analysis of that relationship? Why was expert advice consistently ignored?

2. What investigation did they undertake after Gita Sahgal went public? On what basis did they decide that Begg and Cageprisoners were suitable partners?

3. Please explain why Amnesty International believes that the violent enforcement of systematic discrimination ( defensive jihad) does not constitute the destruction of fundamental human rights. What external experts were called on to provide this advice?

Call on Amnesty International’s sections to:

1. Announce to their staff that there will be no reprisals if they sign the Global Petition (

2. Organise debates on these important issues so that members can contribute to developing criteria for membership consistent with upholding the universality of rights


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