Never in recent history have we been in greater need of an organisation that will stand up for those abused by power. But if that organisation is to have credibility, then it must support all those whose human rights are being trampled on, and not ignore – or appear to ignore – the rights of any ethnic group. This is not only damaging to that group of people. It also undermines the organisation as a whole, affecting everyone that it seeks to help.
Amnesty is well aware of human rights abuses in Turkey, which have even targeted their own representatives, but they seem to have a persistent blind spot when it comes to Turkey’s systematic repression of the Kurds. They have said nothing about the denial of Abdullah Ocalan’s basic human rights to visits from his family and his lawyers, and nothing about the over 7000 Kurds on hunger strike to protest this situation, many of whom are political prisoners who face extra hard conditions as punishment for their protest.
We therefore give our wholehearted support to the Kurdish activists and supporters who have occupied Amnesty International’s headquarters in London to draw attention to the issues that Amnesty persistently ignores. And we are shocked to learn of the mistreatment of the protestors by Amnesty representatives. We are shocked that Amnesty has claimed to the protestors that they were not aware of Ocalan’s isolation or of the prisoners on hunger strike, and we are shocked by the physical treatment that the protestors have received.
The occupying activists included three people who have been on hunger striker for 43 days, but that didn’t stop Amnesty from denying them water, fresh air, and access to the toilets. One of the occupiers, a young Kurdish refugee observed that he had spent almost three years in Turkish prisons, but even there, before and after regular torture, they were allowed to use the toilet. The conditions in the Amnesty office have proved so damaging that two of the three long-term hunger strikers have had to be taken away by ambulance.
No organisation should mistreat people as Amnesty has done, but when this mistreatment comes from an organisation that exists to defend human rights, it demonstrates how far removed they are from their purported mission.
It is not just our official international institutions that are broken, established independent organisations are failing too. Yet again we see demonstrated the old truth that if we want to see change, we must make it happen ourselves.
SINCE I WROTE THIS POST LAST NIGHT, AMNESTY HAS SENT IN THE POLICE AND 21 PEOPLE, INCLUDING HUNGER STRIKERS AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE ESCAPED FROM POLICE BRUTALITY IN THEIR HOME COUNTRIES ARE DISTRIBUTED IN POLICE STATIONS ACROSS LONDON
See video here