We Get It

amnesty bus shelter afghan women

Amnesty Ad in Chicago

As the NATO summit gets underway tomorrow in Chicago, Amnesty International USA will host a “Shadow Summit”with leading Afghan women’s rights activists to remind NATO of the conversation it should be having on Afghan women’s human rights.

The shadow summit poster, which features the words “Human Rights for Women and Girls in Afghanistan” and “NATO: Keep the Progress Going!” has generated some controversy over the last few days.  You can guess which sentence triggered the controversy.

Some are asking, is Amnesty now a cheerleader for NATO?  Does Amnesty support the war?  What was Amnesty thinking?!

The shadow summit — and the poster — is directed at NATO, not to praise it, but to remind the leaders who will be discussing Afghanistan’s future this weekend about what is really at stake if women’s rights to security, political participation and justice are traded away or compromised.

We were thinking about the hard won gains Afghan women have made since the fall of the Taliban.  Ten years ago, Afghanistan had one of the worst human rights records in the world in terms of women’s and girls’ rights. The Taliban banned women from working, going to school or even leaving home without a male relative.

Today, three million girls go to school, compared to virtually none under the Taliban. Women make up 20 percent of university graduates. Maternal mortality and infant mortality have declined. Ten percent of all prosecutors and judges are women, compared to none under the Taliban regime.  This is what we meant by progress: the gains Afghan women have struggled to achieve over the past decade.

Afghan women’s groups have been sounding the alarm about being sidelined in key decisionmaking processes and about the prospect of a worsening human rights situation as the Afghan government assumes security responsibility in the country and seeks a political settlement with the Taliban.  In areas still under Taliban control, violence against women is rampant, and a recent statement by the Ulema Council (a council of religious scholars) — defended by President Karzai – warns that women should “respect the right of men to polygamy” and should “not travel without a close male relative.”

As a matter of policy, Amnesty doesn’t take a position for or against NATO.  We didn’t call for the bombing of Afghanistan – in fact, readers who were members or following our work when the bombing started in 2001 will remember that our message was “justice not revenge and that we went into crisis response mode out of concern for the impact on civilians.

And we’re not calling for NATO to remain in the country.  What we want is for peace talks to be inclusive and reflective of Afghan society, including women, in both the planning and the talks themselves.  We want a constitutional guarantee of equality for women and men, along with benchmarks and robust monitoring for women’s rights.  We want negotiating teams involved in peace talks to include at least 30% women.  We want a trust fund to be set up independently of the government, to be administered by women to protect women’s rights and support civil society. We want justice institutions to be trained on implementing the elimination of violence against women law and other measures to protect women’s rights.

And we want the National Action Plan for the women of Afghanistan to be funded to ensure gender mainstreaming in Afghanistan’s government institutions.  We will release an open letter to Presidents Obama and Karzai detailing these demands prior to the shadow summit.

Is the poster confusing?  Yes, especially as it is plastered all over a city packed with NATO protesters.   But please don’t let that stop you from seeing what the shadow summit and Amnesty’s work in support of Afghan women are really about.

The shadow summit doesn’t just talk about Afghan women’s participation, it reflects it.  Afifa Azim, Manizha Naderi, Hasina Safi and Mahbouba Seraj will be featured panelists alongside Madeleine Albright, Melanne Verveer and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

It’s our best shot at bringing Afghan women’s voices to the forefront of the NATO Summit.   If you’re in the city, please show up to show your support and then join us for a demonstration at Navy Pier.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

70 thoughts on “We Get It

  1. Imperialism and military interventions are often justified on the basis of defending the rights of women & children. That is the methodology of the propaganda: imperialism dressed up as humanitarian "intervention". The poster is interpreted that way because that IS the trope…and Amnesty SHOULD have understood that. The appeal to NATO is naive and plays into the prevailing myths about Afghanistan and the role America has played in destabilizing the county for the past 3 or 4 decades. There is good reason why you are copping heat for this poster & it is not because of misinterpretation, it is precisely because you have appealed to a military organization and used the classic "think of the women and children" plea! Even here in Australia we are disgusted by this de facto support for occupation coming from a supposed human rights org. THIS is precisely why Amnesty is increasingly irrelevant.

    • I have been a member of AI since 1979. When I became aware the event of "Kite Flying" and read about AI supporting NATO and saying "Thank You NATO" in one of the pictures, I have decided to give up my membership ( like the Iraq veterans yesterday gave up or rather threw their medals towards NATO meeting ) till AI decides to become a REAL advocate of Human Rights.

      ps BTW, the current Executive Director of AI USA worked with Richard Holbrooke. Wonder whether that has any relevance to this!

    • Oh, blah, blah, blah. Don't you people have something constructive to do? How about spanking the monkey to relieve your nervous, neurotic state of mind?

  2. I was shocked by the posters and appreciate the retraction, but I think such a mistake reflects the way that Amnesty has seen its role to stand aside from taking sides in geopolitical conflicts and looking instead at the specific human rights issues in isolation. By eschewing a political analysis, there emerges be an element of moral equivalence, and I think it comes out here. Afghanistan has been the victim of more than one foreign occupation and the human rights issues within its borders (including the parlous treatment of women) cannot be separated from that process.

    By inviting to your event members of the US political establishment like Madeleine Albright — who when asked about half a million children dying in Iraq due to Western sanctions replied "we think the price is worth it" — you send the message that great power intervention to "resolve" these issues is the way to go. Unless Amnesty starts to systematically critique the malign role of great power politics in creating and sustaining human rights abuses, you will continue to make "mistakes" like this one.

    • Did the children die due to Western sanctions or because of the maniacal despot who was in charge and cared more for his car collection and billions in the bank than his own people? Right- I thought so.

      • Yes, they died as a result of Western sanctions which included refusing to allow Iraq to import necessary medicines and food and Western theft of Iraqi money. Thank you for confirming that.

    • Yes, I was shocked when I found out, M. Albright was invited to speak……. on “Human Rights for Women”. What was AI thinking?

    • I attended the first part of this forum and heard Madeleine Albright and other speakers claim that furthering women's rights will help "stabilize" Afghanistan as women tend to be "peacemakers" but the careers of Albright, Condi Rice, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power (thus far the most powerful women in U.S. government) refute that proposition: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/coleen-rowley/milit

  3. Dcu: please examine what Afghanistan was like BEFORE it became the proxy battle ground for the cold war. And read some of the remarkable Phil Sparrow's work. Phil is an Australian who has LIVED and works in Afghanistan (outside the military zones in the actual community) for over a decade with his family.
    There IS an alternative view.
    In terms of Iraq…at the risk of stating the obvious….Sadam, like a great many disgusting despots before him, was America's friend long before he became her enemy. The hatred of your country for him had nothing to do with the human right violations however much some of the more naive of your citizens may want to believe that! And yes the children's deaths were indeed determined to be largely a result of the sanctions, see the report in "Nature" WHO etc. And always strikes me a bit rich when those touting "Western values" from a US perspective call for redistribution of wealth lol.

  4. Shame on Amnesty's support for NATO's war crimes. The war was and is an atrocity. There is a thread of Liberal defence for murder that starts with Rudyard Kipling and continues through in Amnesty International.

  5. As a human rights advocacy organisation, you know FULL WELL that there is no room for ambiguity when getting an important message out to people. This campaign is not acceptable from a HR organisation and your pathetic apology only makes you look like indecisive fools trying to appease your supporter base. Shame! Running a session with Madeleine Albright on a panel being chaired by a CFR representative really erodes Amnesty's credibility. You people have turned into warmongers and I will be advising everyone I know to not donate to you.

  6. This response just compounds the 'mistake'. Except it isn't a mistake; it is born of that liberal view of the world that 'doesn't take sides'. hence your failure to support Nelson Mandela, and now inviting Madelaine Albright to speak. Next it'll be war criminals Obama and Bush. Shame, Amnesty, shame.

    • I would also like to hear Amnesty explain why they asked Madeline Albright to participate in their panel, so I understand your anger. I would like to point out, though, that AI has a strong record of openly and strongly criticizing Bush and Obama on multiple counts in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the indiscriminate killing of civilians, the creation of refugee crises, torture, indefinite detention, lack of humanitarian relief, etc.

      In certain situations, when it is beyond the organization's mandate, AI abstains from taking a position. Amnesty is always growing, changing, and taking on new challenges, so there may be some legitimacy in calling on them to take a position on something where they have not yet. However, it should be very, very obvious that Amnesty takes a bold stance on numerous human rights issues that are controversial among liberals and conservatives.

  7. As silent as the shadow my sense to become, their own is improved for maintaining. Other making has a link toward the space of a women that is know for crimminal action. It is made for actions needed as a deformation after wanting, can people lower convictions as they seek. Gleaming along manly ignorance can place wishing as done beyond the precison of war as well character of human.

  8. While I sympathize with and agree with portions of many of the dissenting views expressed here, I would just like to say that even large, credible organizations like Amnesty International make semantic errors from time to time. It seems that what AI meant was "NATO: Keep the Progress [That Afghan Women Have Worked Hard to Achieve] Going!" I don't think that putting pressure on NATO should imply that AI endorses its role in global politics or imperialism; rather, they are acknowledging the reality that NATO will be a key player in determining what happens next in Afghanistan, and it is therefore an appropriate target to pressure.

    AI has a solid record of amplifying and defending the voices of indigenous human rights activists. Regardless of the wording on this poster, this event creates an opportunity for experts on issues affecting Afghan women and children to be heard. It is true that women and children are often used to justify military intervention and other politically dubious agendas, but that doesn't mean AI's efforts to address these topics are just another example of imperialist propaganda.

    This event will embarrass NATO, and rightfully so. I wish I could be there.

  9. Well-intentioned, but this was just monumentally, unforgivably stupid wording.

    Additionally, the idea of a shadow summit operates on the assumption that an institution like NATO *could* conceivably galvanize support for women's rights in Afghanistan, which is absolutely baseless.

  10. So much for being "non political". Supporting NATO – which is what your poster does – is undeniably political.

    Amnesty should be unequivocably opposing the Western occupation of Afghanistan if it were to remain true to the cause of supporting human rights.

  11. Its sad to see a group I once respected highly, have fallen to moral bankrupcy and now have been on the sidelines of all greater conflicts, helping to make the way for warmongers and killers.

    You can "reach out" to people on twitter/facebook and say "no no, THIS is what we ment", yet how many will see this blog post vs the propaganda ad in Chicago?

    We see the same pattern over and over again from "human rights" organisations that sell their name because in the general public, your names draws credibility to what is proclaimed.
    The difference between your poster and what the pentagon would have produces is your yellow ribbon of public acceptance.

    What do amnesty think that the average american who reads the poster understands from it? ofc they will think that Amnesty supports what Nato has been doing. Its the natural logical conclusion you can draw from the poster.

    Maybe if Amnesty would care about Afghans in general and not focus on a single sex, like a typical partisan group who doesnt fight for human rights but for a sexes rights.

    There is a reason why young Afghan men who flee Afghanistan have to lie their age 10 years down, they dont have any education! They have never went to school. But what do these uneducated Afghan men see? They see a foreign occupation who focuses on helping only women and as usual they get ignored.

    Take care of Afghans, not just 1 sex. its fucking disgusting and a sad display of how amnesty has sold out to the aggressors.

    And how low can you fall? madeleine albright? the butcher of children? is she going to wear her "I killed 500.000+ Iraqi children. but it was worth it" button? is she going to tell afghans that it could have been worse? Because she is on the same line as saddam, even though he was a tool for the US empire before he became the new enemy.

    Never will I ever donate money to amnesty and your hypocritical sexism has to be exposed. You divide the afghan society with your sexism. This organisation knows that for the poorest people anywhere, it is much easier to get angry at members of a group that gets privileges then against the master who give these privileges out. You help create this divide, you are responsible for your actions.

  12. if you got it you wouldn't invite Madeleine Albrigt or have anything to do with her. Did amnesty do the same thing when the soviet union ended its invasion, no and rightly so. Amnesty is becoming increasingly a mouthpiece for the foreign policy objectives of the USA. You have a lot of good people doing good things, it just seems your leadership keeps letting these people down. No wander liberal interventionists like samantha power, hillary clinton, susan rice and nick kristof love what you guys do. Amnesty needs to take sides against all oppression,war, imperialism and turture. You can't do this by having a neutral opinion on NATO and the war in afghanistan

    • Yes, Madelein Albright – WTF? The lady who famously said it is OK to let half a million Iraqi children die under sanctions ! Seriously ? I am glad I am not donating to the war mongering AI.

  13. Uhh, didn’t Amnesty mean to support anything that was ‘NEATO’ and not ‘NATO’?

  14. Uh, well, I have been donating to Amnesty International since the 80s. Lately, the only international groups I give to are AI and Medecins Sans Frontieres… but no more, sorry. Warmongers like Madeline Albright and NATO will not benefit from my hard-earned 100 dollar donations in the future! NO WAY!

  15. I really get the sense that many of the comments here are coming from individuals who are not at all familiar with Amnesty International's work, but who are instead focused on opposing NATO. AI's poster absolutely should have been more clear. But to continue accusing the organization of becoming "a mouthpiece for the foreign policy objectives of the USA," "supporting NATO's war crimes," becoming "warmongers," etc., is an overreaction, to put it mildly, and just blatantly false. AI has already explained the intentions behind this poster's verbiage and has accepted responsibility for the harm caused by the ambiguity. Continuing to accuse the organization of supporting NATO is pretty silly at this point.

    I would like to thank Dr_Tad for posting the only completely well-conceived, respectful, and potentially valid critique so far. It seems to me that everyone else, while occasionally making good points, eventually resorts to disrespectful name-calling, lashing out, and making ignorant generalizations that reflect a lack of familiarity with Amnesty International, its history, and its mandate. (And if you continue to disagree, let's also remember that this only reflects a portion of AI's work, and that its members help save lives around the world every day.)

    ***Could someone from AI please explain why Madeleine Albright was invited to participate in this event? We (and especially those of us who are familiar with AI) should all be able to understand that the wording on the poster was a genuine, albeit damaging, mistake. But why Ms. Albright?

    • The posters are pro-NATO and play into prevailing tropes about so called "humanitarian intervention" via "think of the women & children" imagery. The posters & the forum that includes Albright are neither slight slips nor without context. AI is coping heat because they have miss-stepped dramatically. There is NOTHING subtle about either the imagery nor the message! It is not a case of "oh sorry we didn't realize it it could be interpreted that way! They used pro Nato imagery & slogans ahead of & during a controversial summit that has thousands protesting in the streets. Tell me again how that is not taking sides? They asked a notorious apologist for mass murder of children to speak on the right of women and children…tell me again: how is that not taking sides. So it is absolutely reasonable for past supporters (and board members like myself) to be asking how it is that Amnesty USA so lost its bearings they could make a critical SERIES of errors like this?

      • Could this AI initiative have anything to do with AI's new Director Suzanne Nossel who apparently worked for the State Department and would therefore be familiar with Albright, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Samantha Powers and their successful implementation of "humanitarian intervention" as a big part of Obama's foreign policy? If you look up Nossel's background, she is credited as having helped create "smart power" which embraces the US' use of military power as well as "soft power". Albright was named, along with former Defense Secretary Cohen to the precursor board that has now become the "Atrocity Prevention Board" just formally announced by Obama and chaired by Libyan War architect Samantha Power. There is concern by Senator Webb and others in Congress that Obama will use the "Atrocity Prevention Board" to launch "pre-emptive wars" without congressional approval.

        Here is an excerpt from current Amnesty Director Suzanne Nossel's 2004 paper on "Smart Power" in the Council on Foreign Relations "Foreign Affairs" which sounds a lot like Samantha Power's (and Madeleine Albright's) theory: "To advance from a nuanced dissent to a compelling vision, progressive policymakers should turn to the great mainstay of twentieth-century U.S. foreign policy: liberal internationalism, which posits that a global system of stable liberal democracies would be less prone to war. Washington, the theory goes, should thus offer assertive leadership — diplomatic, economic, and not least, military — to advance a broad array of goals: self-determination, human rights, free trade, the rule of law, economic development, and the quarantine and elimination of dictators and weapons of mass destruction (WMD)."

        • I tend to agree with you. Ms Nossel worked with Mr Holbrooke.
          IMHO, AI does not need a diplomat or a politician as an Executive Director. AI needs a genuine advocate for Universal Human Rights. Just like many humanitarian organisations e.g. MSF/DWB want the govts to NOT get involved with Humanitarian work ( it creates too many problems doing their work……losing trust of the communities they are trying to help, a major one ), AI must stay away from politicians and NOT have them in their organization in any position of responsibility or decision making.

  16. The lesson to learn from the impassioned backlash against these posters is that regardless of how many good things an organization does, if it ever makes a mistake or does something you disagree with, it has become evil and no one should support any of its work.

    The only people who are capable of doing good in the world are perfect people.

    Luckily for the world, there are plenty of perfect people commenting on this blog post who will do far more to further global human rights than Amnesty International has ever done.

    • I do not believe, any one has called AI "evil". And it has done and is doing great work. HOWEVER, when one may not agree with 'A' position taken by an organization on a particular issue that one supports, it is not important enough to 'end one's support' for that organization. BUT, when there is FUNDAMENTAL difference in what one thinks is "wrong" and the organization thinks is "right', it is mpossible to support the position of the organization. Only when the organisation's view changes on that core issue, can one support its work.

    • no the lesson to lean is past supporters who are paying attention have every right to demand how a once esteemed human rights organization could make such a major series of spectacular blunders!

      These are not subtle issues of interpretation and yes I do take issue with where the organization is now at politically & philosophically if these decisions (and the even worse attempt at explanation) could be made.

      If you want to criticize the lack of Afghan women's voice in the NATO summit (a reasonable critique) hen design posters that do that! Don't design posters that say keep the intervention going Nato! sheesh

  17. Well, it is incredibly refreshing to see someone talk about sexism in these terms. I would like to thank you for that, at least. Perhaps you are right, and more attention should be devoted to problems that uniquely affect Afghan men. Regarding Madeline Albright, I would be shocked if Amnesty in any way defends her comments on the deaths of Iraqi children. I would be interested to know AI's rationale behind inviting her to participate on this panel.

    You haven't made this point, but I believe that we would agree that human rights issues arising from rigid adherence to to traditional gender roles must be addressed by looking at both sexes. Men, as well as women, experience significant hardships and a lack of rights based on their gender. Likewise, while some issues may be more of a problem for women, the problem also exists for men — like lack of access to education, to use your example.

    But I disagree that AI has ignored issues affecting men, that AI is sexist, and that AI is refraining from placing blame on "the master who give[s] these privileges out" (by which, I assume, you mean Afghan politicians and Western powers). Amnesty regularly pressures both Afghan and Western leaders to protect the human rights of all Afghans, including men.

    Women's rights deserve special attention due to the country's recent history under the Taliban regime, and because NATO failed to include women's rights activists in a discussion regarding the future of Afghanistan. Amnesty International is very, very concerned that the significant but fragile gains that women have made — regardless of problems that continue to affect men and women, and regardless of the US's role in creating and maintaining these problems — may be negotiated away at the NATO summit in order to appease radical conservative elements that remain in Afghan society. For these reasons, I believe it was appropriate to host a summit focusing solely on women's issues, not because women are superior to men, but because the progress Afghan women have made risks coming undone at the hands of NATO and other Afghan leaders.

    I should hope that you would be willing to acknowledge the sexism that NATO and Afghan leaders have displayed by failing to include these female activists at their summit.

  18. This is disgusting. The only good thing is that the history books will now show that Amnesty International covered Chicago in pro-war, pro-NATO ads during the NATO summit, and that they featured war criminal, murderer of Iraq's babies, Madeleine Albright at their "shadow summit".

      • Ashley – to the contrary, I have read everything on this page and have read a decent explanation of how Amnesty International could invite a self-admitted war criminal to its conference. To say that AI wouldn’t support her statement of killing 500,000 Iraqi children as worth it, is not enough.

        I know that AI makes no statements for or against various wars – but the actions and atrocities of politicians and diplomats Amnesty has always taken a stand on. AI has been so clouded by it supposed ‘feminism’ that they allow people like Madeleine Albright on their own stage without condemnation.

        • My earlier comment that AI would not support her statement regarding the deaths of Iraqi children was not meant to justify her presence at the conference. Could you please provide a link to where you read AI's rationale for inviting Madeline Albright? I have so far not defended her presence at the shadow summit, and have said several times that I would like to hear AI's rationale. I am interested to read what you have read.

          If you have read everything in this post, then I'm not sure how you can, in good conscience, call those ads "pro-war, pro-NATO." Perhaps you, like several others who have commented, believe that Amnesty's explanation is not genuine. To understand why this is not the case, you will need to look beyond this post. You will need to explore reports, articles, and action Amnesty has issued on topics such as military contractors, drone strikes, torture, indefinite detention, the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons, etc. Then you will find that, despite the single, awful misunderstanding surrounding the shadow summit posters, AI has a very solid record of condemning serious human rights violations that have occurred as a result of the actions of NATO and other military and political powers that be.

  19. I will be stopping my contribution to Amnesty forthwith, this is truely a appalling justification of military intervention and the death of many civillians.

  20. Madeleine Albright? The very same M. Albright that made damn sure the Rwandan Genocide occurred unimpeded? That one?!

    Okay, I've been a card carrying member for a very long time, but I'm sick of "human rights groups" acting as enablers to imperial warfare.

    Sorry Amnesty, I've had enough.

  21. I'm very aware of the human rights abuses in Afghanistan, especially under the Taliban. In fact, such abuses are the norm in most Islamic countries, especially the ones in which there is a powerful religion-state alliance that selectively interprets the Koran/Torah/Bible to enforce total control over women by men. Male dominance/deity has a long, intransigent history in Afghanistan and most other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. But there have been Afghan women who have written and publicly spoken in the U.S. who have pleaded with the U.S. & NATO to get out and allow Afghans to evolve their own culture, which is impossible while under siege by foreign military occupation. Any mild advances made in the direction of women's rights at the insistence of the occupiers will be nullified when US/NATO retreats, and Afghan women know this and that their plight will only worsen as the men take revenge for the occupation on women.

    And isn't it disingenuous now that the men with political power in the U.S. are systematically rolling back women's rights in their own country to be using "women's rights" as a reason to keep a strong military presence in Afghanistan? We need to be fighting at home for women's rights to healthcare, childcare, equal pay, reproductive choice and strong laws against domestic abuse and violence against women of every race, culture, sexual orientation, immigration status, economic status and age. When we have strong women's/human rights at home, we'll be a living example for other countries. Until then, who are we to police and pontificate to people in other countries and cultures around the globe?

  22. I still don't see why you would invite Madeline Albright to speak – someone who justifies the sanctions in Iraq.

  23. ai is not so naive as to not know what this nato headline conveys. shame all around – stop making excuses

  24. I had my students get involved with Amnesty this year. Clearly it's not the same organisation I had joined not many years before. I will have to look for another group with more integrity and sincerity in its mission and less desire to shock and provoke to get noticed.

  25. I really like the poster. I hear NATO soldiers are writing 'From Amnesty' on their RPGs before they fire them. Congrats to AI! Lotsa Love, Henry Kissinger

  26. I think you have lost your collective minds to ask Madeline Albright to speak. And your idea of "progress" is a bit warped.

    Not sure I want to stay a member any longer.

  27. I was appalled at AI active involvement in propaganda (read blatant lies) regarding Libya, geez didn't that turn out well? Now this…this is not a mistake, and no I don't believe you get it, this is just another bit of propaganda, see parenthasised statement. Madelaine Albright, are you mad! AI has lost all credibility and you don't even see that, it has been all other social media for some time….You can't make this unseen now the genie is out of the bottle, will you replace this with an apology? Even that would be too late, Chicago doesn't have most of the people that viewed this travesty there any more, you should be putting billboards across the Country apologising, but you wont. We get it, apparently you do not..SHAME AI SHAME…

  28. AI's excuses are pathetic, and it's own research on women in AFghanistan — which is limited — doesn't seem to support the claims here. A few months ago, you published a document claiming 2.5 million girls were in education, now it's suddenly 3 million (there was no source for this figure then or now). Two years ago, you said: "The [Afghan] government does little to support women human rights defenders and sometimes actively hinders their work". So you obviously didn't think they had made much progress then, but you seem happy to assert they have now so you have something to put on a poster? What about the rights of the women displaced or killed in the conflict? Maybe AI should think before it speaks?

  29. Here is an interesting articles about AI criticising Security Council……. I believe, this is specially related to Syrian situation. I could be absolutely wrong and please feel free to correct me but I do not recollect AI vehemently criticising Security Council at anytime when USA vetoed again and again resolutions condemning Israel govt's policies towards Palestinians. PLEASE, if anyone knows of an instance, I really would appreciate being enlightened. Thanks. http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=107913
    Also, an elected officail can be recalled. Is there any mechanism by which a person in high position of an NGO can be asked to leave? I can only think of a petition drive.

  30. I was demonstrating against NATO in Chicago, and it broke my heart to see these posters by Amnesty International. I appreciate that the organization is attempting to clarify their anti-war position with this article, but the damage has been done. There were so many people who saw those posters, and through it shored up their belief that war is a way to help women and children.

    Of course, Amensty International is more important for its actions than for a poster it puts up on Michigan Ave., and I still really respect and support the organization for the work you're doing. Just please, please don't do something stupid like this again.

    • It is NOT ONLY about the posters. To invite Madeleine Albright as an advocate of 'Rights for Afghan Women' when she did not care for the lives of half a billion Iraqi children was an insult to all the Afghan Women and supporters of AI. Also, she was NOT on the list of speakers in the initial email….. it came just a couple days before the event ( happened to be the beginning of the weekend ) as 'Breaking News' and the way it read, AI was very pleased to have her as a speaker. What is still incomprehensible is, how no one in the AI office raised objection to inviting Ms Albright or may be there was and it was vetoed!! And to this date, to my knowledge, AI has not apologised or acknowledged that it was an error of unbelievable proportion to have invited her……. and that may be because AI is comfortable with it.

  31. I am a supporter of Amnesty International, and I was shocked to find out that during the NATO summit here in Chicago, AIUSA was sponsoring a luncheon addressing Afghan women's rights at which Madeleine Albright was the featured speaker, and this took place seemingly under the NATO umbrella and competitively on the same day as the major peace march and rally in which human rights were a key feature. Even though I received an invitation from friends in the human rights community to attend this luncheon and could easily have done so since I live right in Chicago, I boycotted this AI event. My feelings about this are well summed up by the comments attributed to Colleen Rowley that I believe you have already received several days ago:

    "Could this AI initiative have anything to do with AI's new Director Suzanne Nossel who apparently worked for the State Department and would therefore be familiar with Albright, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Samantha Powers and their successful implementation of "humanitarian intervention" as a big part of Obama's foreign policy? If you look up Nossel's background, she is credited as having helped create "smart power" which embraces the US' use of military power as well as "soft power". Albright was named, along with former Defense Secretary Cohen to the precursor board that has now become the "Atrocity Prevention Board" just formally announced by Obama and chaired by Libyan War architect Samantha Power. There is concern by Senator Webb and others in Congress that Obama will use the "Atrocity Prevention Board" to launch "pre-emptive wars" without congressional approval.

    "Here is an excerpt from current Amnesty Director Suzanne Nossel's 2004 paper on "Smart Power" in the Council on Foreign Relations "Foreign Affairs" which sounds a lot like Samantha Power's (and Madeleine Albright's) theory: "To advance from a nuanced dissent to a compelling vision, progressive policymakers should turn to the great mainstay of twentieth-century U.S. foreign policy: liberal internationalism, which posits that a global system of stable liberal democracies would be less prone to war. Washington, the theory goes, should thus offer assertive leadership — diplomatic, economic, and not least, military — to advance a broad array of goals: self-determination, human rights, free trade, the rule of law, economic development, and the quarantine and elimination of dictators and weapons of mass destruction (WMD)."

  32. Amnesty International has been a big promoter of Plan Mexico as well. Check out their advocacy director's letter to the Washington Post to celebrate its passage: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/arti

    Agree 100% that the predictable (these people are no dummies) impact of plastering Chicago with these posters is to give the same impression this letter does to the general public: 'drug war' militarization ok as long as it's done with 'human rights monitoring' or NATO's project is to help Afghan women.

    disgusting. . .

    Not only no more support for AI from me, but I'll reach out to all I know to explain their role in supporting USG objectives at the predictable expense of human rights.

    Uh oh, I hear the expensive risk management/communication strategies, PR machine at AI churning out campaigns to show their tough stance against USG policies/programs. But the proof will be in the follow through, not the glitter.

    Remember the victims of the policies they've supported. And see how much the glitter makes up for that. . .

  33. sad that people hold their anti-NATO views above that of solidarity with oppressed women in afghanistan. god forbid that NATO removing the taliban could do any good for afghanistan.

      • no. but i am willing to accept that the removal of the taliban has benefited women's rights in afghanistan and i'm happy to be shown any evidence to the contrary, if this is indeed the position everyone wants to take on it. or is it just that we're meant to think america can do no good? i suspect the latter.

  34. This was sent out to membership in June memo…….

    Dear Friends,

    A week and a half ago, the NATO Summit came to Chicago. Dismayed at the lack of plans to include Afghan women in meetings that would be so critical to their future, we undertook to plan a Shadow Summit for Afghan Women's Rights. Despite the very short timeline, the event came together beautifully, including top notch panelists like Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Madeleine Albright, Ambassador-at-Large for Women's Issues Melanne Verveer, and most importantly, four women who are leaders in Afghan civil society who traveled to Chicago to make their voices heard about the future of their country. Following the Shadow Summit, participants went to Navy Pier to "Fly a Kite for Women's Rights"—a beautiful and positive expression of our hopes and demands for full human rights for the women of Afghanistan. This event, which received significant media coverage (see "Amnesty in the News"), was a tremendous collaboration between regional and national staff, co-group members, local group members, and state leaders (as well as local and national partner organizations). It really showed what AIUSA can accomplish when we're functioning on all cylinders!

    Now as we're moving into June, we need to keep this momentum going across the region! Read on to find out what you can do to mark Torture Awareness Month and join your community's Pride celebrations. As the summer tabling season gets going, please continue to collect signatures for Reggie Clemons and watch your email for a petition to support a bullet-proof Arms Trade Treaty.

    Thanks for everything you do! Have a great summer!

    Debra Erenberg
    Midwest Regional Director

    Amnesty International USA, REALLY DOES NOT GET IT………

  35. The excuse given by AI feels lame, and even though the reading of the atrocious 'NATO, keep up the progress' strap line was possibly not quite what they had intended (though what in blazes were they thinking?), the phrasing of the 'apology' betrays that they still haven't got it.

    1) Madeline Albright is a war criminal, responsible for the deaths of about 1,000,000 Iraqi children under the 1990s sanctions. Inviting her to speak at an Amnesty meeting is utterly unacceptable. Why on earth didn't AI invite someone like Malalai Joya as principal speaker, a womens' issues campaigner who is not only native to Afghanistan but who also has impeccable activist credentials? Is it just because she doesn't have the 'western media celebrity status' of the criminal Albright, and also because she also opposes the NATO occupation and the Karzai puppets as much as she opposes the Taliban?

    2) AI seems to see it as a given that NATO and (don't laugh too hard) the Karzai crony government are protecting women's rights, even though they may also be murdering and torturing people from time to time. AI takes this manipulative spin at face value without critique (but would they accept a similar phoney line from, say, the Syrian government?). The reality is that the puppet regime is no more friendly to women than the Taliban. Feelgood statistics aside, outside Kabul the access of women to education is almost non-existent. More Afghan women are, due to intolerable and growing social pressures, committing suicide by self immolation than ever before. The Karzai government posts are stacked with 'northern alliance' drug dealers, warlords, rapists and misogynists with identikit Taliban ideas.

    3) AI gives NATO and the Karzai regime credit for achieving what limited gains women have made in recent years. This is demonstrably false, and the duo don't deserve any credit at all. Instead, the gains have been achieved solely with the pressure of Afghan social movements such as RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) and the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, both of which incidentally are vehemently opposed to the continuing occupation. RAWA in fact conducted a very successful secret/underground education programme for women system during the Taliban period, both inside the cities and also in the rural areas.

    I have been an Amnesty supporter for over 10 years, both actively and passively. I give AI regular and generous donations. Unfortunately, I am unsatisfied with such a weak apology, and have to say that unless AI fully recants and stops their shameful pandering to NATO imperialism, I will be withdrawing my membership of Amnesty, and additionally I’ll spread the word to other members too who are of a like opinion to myself.

  36. AI's stand on Human Rights is getting more and more appaling………

    ""Based upon the evidence we have at our disposal, the abuses reported to have been committed by armed opposition groups in Syria have not yet reached the level where we would call for a total embargo on all arms in the same manner," Amnesty International said in response."

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