BEIRUT — Islamist militants are perpetrating “a shocking catalogue of abuses” in secret jails across northern Syria, including torture, flogging and killings after summary trials, Amnesty International [AI] said on Thursday.
It said in a report that the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), one of the most powerful jihadi groups to emerge from Syria’s almost three-year-old conflict, is operating seven clandestine prisons in rebel-held areas.
Detainees are held for reasons ranging from suspected theft to offences against Islam such as smoking or sex outside marriage. Others are seized simply for challenging ISIL authority or belonging to rival armed groups, it said.
“Those abducted and detained by ISIL include children as young as eight who are held together with adults in the same cruel and inhuman conditions,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
I don’t doubt it. One thing we can be sure of is that when subhuman barbarians fight, there will be atrocities on both sides. But why should we believe AI about anything? I am not an expert on what is going on in Syria, but I have a pretty good idea about matters related to Israel, and on that subject AI is neither unbiased nor impartial. Let me quote the respected NGO Monitor (more links and documentation of the claims below are at the site):
AI disproportionately singles out Israel for condemnation, focusing solely on the conflict with the Palestinians, misrepresenting the complexity of the conflict, and ignoring more severe human rights violations in the region.
In violation of its policy of “impartiality,” Amnesty employs two anti-Israel activists with well-documented histories of radical activism in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Deborah Hyams and Saleh Hijazi, as researchers in its “Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian Authority” section.
Allegations of “war crimes”: Distorts [I would say ‘invents’ – ed.] international law, misusing terms like “collective punishment,” “occupying power,” and “disproportionate” in its condemnations of Israel’s Gaza policy.
AI’s report, “Operation ‘Cast Lead: 22 Days of Death and Destruction” (July 2009), charges Israel with “war crimes” during the conflict. The 127-page publication ignores considerable evidence that Hamas used human shields, minimizes Palestinian violations of international law, and promotes boycotts and “lawfare” against Israel. [AI accepted Hamas accounts uncritically and presented them to the media and UN as results of ‘investigation’ – ed.]
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, AI unjustifiably accused Israel of “war crimes” and “deliberate attacks on civilians,” and relied on Lebanese “eyewitnesses” to allege that Hezbollah did not operate in population centers.
AI hosted a “Russell Tribunal on Palestine” on November 8, 2010, dealing with “Corporate complicity in Israel’s violations of International Law.”
Lawfare: On February 2, 2009, several media outlets reported that AI transferred files to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor regarding alleged “war crimes” committed by Israel. These reports made no mention of any AI initiative regarding Hamas war crimes aided by Iran and Syria.
AI defended the exploitation of British courts by pro-Palestinian “lawfare” activists. Amnesty-UK Director Kate Allen, along with other NGO officials, signed a letter published in the Guardian (“We must not renege on war crime laws,” January 16, 2010), protesting proposed changes to British law that would limit the unregulated access to UK judges that allows for politically motivated cases.
Arms embargo against Israel: Campaigns for an arms embargo against Israel, while ignoring the massive flow of offensive weapons and explosives from Iran and Syria into Gaza. An April 1, 2009 press release (“Shipment reaches Israel, President Obama urged to halt further exports”) revealed that AI tracked a vessel carrying arms across the Atlantic Ocean and through the Mediterranean Sea. Amnesty-USA accompanied this report with a call for action, including letters to Secretary of State Clinton labeling Israel a “grave violator of human rights” and demanding to know the “reason behind sending these arms now.”
Defending those linked to terror: Following the January 2011 conviction and sentencing of Ittijah head Ameer Makhoul on charges of spying for Hezbollah, AI claimed, “Ameer Makhoul’s jailing is a very disturbing development…[He] is well known for his human rights activism on behalf of Palestinians in Israel and those living under Israeli occupation. We fear that this may be the underlying reason for his imprisonment.”
In 2010, senior staff member Gita Saghal was suspended after she condemned AI’s alliance with an alleged Taliban supporter.
“Apartheid” rhetoric: The release of the report “Troubled Waters – Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water” (October 2009) coincided with a campaign alleging that “Israel’s Control of Water [is] a Tool of Apartheid and a Means of Ethnic Cleansing.” [Jew-hater – ed.] Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide, spoke at the Amnesty-UK release of the report, as well as at other Amnesty-UK events.
In August 2010, the executive director of Amnesty-Finland, Frank Johansson, referred to Israel as “a scum state” on his blog.
Although AI claims that it does not accept donations from governments or political parties, in 2008 the organization received a 4-year grant from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), totalling to £3,149,000. In 2010, AI received £842,000 from DFID. Amnesty International and its branches have also received funding from the European Commission, the Netherlands, the United States, and Norway.
The whole idea of NGOs like AI is to be an independent voice, free from political influence, driven only by humanitarian concerns. Such an organization lives and dies by its credibility (or ought to). But it appears that in respect to Israel, it has none. And therefore there is no reason to take it seriously in any other case.
One can speculate about whether this is a result of corruption by the massive funding available for groups who are willing and able to promote Israel-hatred, the pervasive leftist ideology in the academic milieu from which AI’s ‘researchers’ are drawn, or a combination of both.
But regardless of the reason, the result is that the group has made itself worthless, and should disband.
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