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Amnesty report 2005
May 25, 2005 8:19 AM   Subscribe

The Amnesty International 2005 report is hot off the press. This annual report describes the current human rights situation in each country around the world. The BBC cover it well with a special PDF enabling you to look up the report on any country. CNN give more limited coverage, without including a link to the full report. The overall picture is that freedom is spreading, thanks to the US government - freedom to torture, enslave, and kill with impunity.
posted by cleardawn (28 comments total)

 
spectemur agendo
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:38 AM on May 25, 2005


"Despite the near-universal outrage generated by the photographs coming out of Abu Ghraib, and the evidence suggesting that such practices are being applied to other prisoners held by the USA in Afghanistan, Guantánamo and elsewhere, neither the US administration nor the US Congress has called for a full and independent investigation.

Instead, the US government has gone to great lengths to restrict the application of the Geneva Conventions and to “re-define” torture. It has sought to justify the use of coercive interrogation techniques, the practice of holding “ghost detainees” (people in unacknowledged incommunicado detention) and the "rendering" or handing over of prisoners to third countries known to practise torture."


This is a really explosive report, but it'll be quickly and quietly forgotten by the corporate media, especially in the US but also in Europe, unless there's a public campaign to get this information circulated widely.

The Bush administration can only get away with its betrayal of humanity because millions of Americans don't know that reports like this one exist.

Imagine if every American got to read this, from high school kids, to church meetings, to the local rightwing militias and NRA nuts.

I guess I'd like it circulated more widely, is what I'm saying. :-))

Another interesting thing about it is that it can't be accused of being "anti-American", since it lists the record of all nations, judged against an equal standard. Powerful stuff.
posted by cleardawn at 8:39 AM on May 25, 2005


It *will be accused of being anti-American, however. There's going to be a lot of outraged "How dare they criticize us when there's other countries out there doing worse" coming from certain groups.

Just remind them then that a lot of those other countries are US allies, I say. I get so tired of the "We haven't sunk all the way to the bottom so we're still on top" mentality that comes from some of the most loudly vocal groups, drowning out the sane voices.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:43 AM on May 25, 2005


You can't confuse the supporters of Bush Co. with facts. They will not read it. It's part of a left-wing-hippie-peace-and-flowers agenda they want no part of.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 8:48 AM on May 25, 2005


Not that I want to fulfill Dipsomaniac's prophecy (there's going to be a lot of outraged "How dare they criticize us when there's other countries out there doing worse" coming from certain groups), but it seems like calling Guantanamo "the gulag of our time" is a bit disingenuous, seeing as how actual gulags could fit that definition a bit better.
posted by billysumday at 9:18 AM on May 25, 2005


billysumday writes "but it seems like calling Guantanamo 'the gulag of our time' is a bit disingenuous"

Who called Guantanamo "the gulag of our time"?
posted by nkyad at 9:25 AM on May 25, 2005


Why does Amnesty International hate America? [snark]

This report makes me sooo proud to be a citizen of the greatest country in the world! [not]

Time to kick Amnesty International's left-wing-hippie-peace-and-flowers agenda ass! Let's roll! [duh]

I can hardly wait to see John Bolton representin' for Dubya at the UN! [barf]
posted by nofundy at 9:26 AM on May 25, 2005


LONDON - Amnesty International branded the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay a human rights failure Wednesday, calling it "the gulag of our time" as it released a report that offers stinging criticism of the United States and its detention centers around the world.
posted by billysumday at 9:26 AM on May 25, 2005


Imagine if every American got to read this, from high school kids, to church meetings, to the local rightwing militias and NRA nuts.

They won't care. Not in the slightest. Somebody is going to have produce live video of Bush fucking a goat and eating a baby for Americans to care anymore. We are completely anesthetized to moral outrage.

How dare they criticize us when there's other countries out there doing worse

But let us be honest here. The US IS only doing slightly above it's fair share of torture and murder. Europe did it for centuries - were just trying to catch up and we have a ways to go. Maybe Bush was jealous?
posted by tkchrist at 9:32 AM on May 25, 2005


I've noticed already a lot of focus on the 'gulag of our time' phrase, which was probably poorly chosen. But it doesn't appear in the actual report, only in a comment by the Sec. Gen of AI.

The Yahoo story about the report did a good job of implying that the phrase appeared in the report, however.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:33 AM on May 25, 2005


I notice now the whole quote is in the linked CNN article: "The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law," [Amnesty International Secretary General Irene] Khan said.. Both this and other "gulags" are covered in the full report. I don't see why the fact of North Korea having prisoner camps excuses the US behavior here.

On preview, Dipsomaniac is right, it got me searching the PDF for the word "gulag". It is not used anywhere in the report.
posted by nkyad at 9:39 AM on May 25, 2005


I just want it to be said that the good people at Amnesty International do not "blame America first". They have their morning coffee first, then the blame America.

(Apologies to Bill Maher)
posted by gd779 at 9:47 AM on May 25, 2005


I agree that "the gulag of our time" is not a terribly useful description. It's a bit too casual, and far more casual than the carefully balanced language of the report itself, which is well worth reading in its entirety, in my view, and not just for the criticisms of the US.

Actually, Guantanamo is quite different to the old Soviet gulags, which were essentially places to which political dissidents and ordinary criminals alike were sent to work themselves to death in subhuman conditions.

Guantanamo, by contrast, seems to exist specifically as a reverse public relations exercise. It serves no other purpose that I can see. The people locked in cages, shackled to the floor, in orange jumpsuits with bags over their heads, are neither political dissidents, nor ordinary criminals. Most of them haven't even been accused of any crime, apart from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Guantanamo seems to be designed purely to publicly humiliate (without actually killing) randomly chosen members of a certain religious group (muslims), thus encouraging young Arab men to take up terrorism.

This gives Bush a nice, reliable source of "enemies" which he can use to justify further rightwing excesses at home and in international affairs.

That's my take on it, anyway.
posted by cleardawn at 9:55 AM on May 25, 2005


nykad: I don't see why the fact of North Korea having prisoner camps excuses the US behavior here. I don't either. I never alluded to that. I don't think most people are saying that it excuses US behavior.

I will be honest and say that, as an American, my reaction to this report, which I haven't even read, is one of defensiveness. And the reason why I'm already defensive is because of Khan's quote about Guantanamo. It appears, to me, that she is simply saying something inflammatory to get a reaction. Though I strongly disagree with some of the practices at Guantanamo Bay (particulary the denial of their right to representation), I don't, nor will I ever, equate the mishandling of the Quran with endless starvation, random executions, forced labor, the imprisonment of children, etc. It's just simply wrong to state that Guantanamo is the gulag of our times. And because it is wrong, many people will automatically dismiss this report as being anti-American and drafted in a way that is "out to get America".

Which, ultimately, is quite unfortunate, because I do think that Americans need to wake up to what is going on in our name, by our soldiers, all around the world. It's just such a fine line to walk - even though it's tempting to throw a firebomb at us (American public) to get our attention, doing so often has the effect of automatically turning a lot of people off to what it is you're attempting to say.
posted by billysumday at 9:59 AM on May 25, 2005


Why do I have the impression some people think the Amnesty has somehow singled the US out? 149 countries are covered and the United States section of the report is neither the larger nor the most prominent section . Many if not most countries display far more impressive problems and violations. I think you should stop being so cynically sensitive just because an independent international body pointed out some mistakes you made...
posted by nkyad at 9:59 AM on May 25, 2005


the United States section of the report is neither the larger nor the most prominent section

I know. Hence why I said we are only doing slightly above our fair share. And why I feel neither surprised or especially persecuted by this report and why I know it will not effect USian foreign policy in the slightest.

People, why must you be reminded of the obvious. We went to WAR on false pretenses, killed in excess of 60,000 innocent people (and counting), and have spent over 220 billion dollars.

And then we went and re-elected the assholes that did it.

You think a PDF file from some lefty group is gonna shake up Americans when everything else merely incites a few peace pot lucks and irate blog posts? Sheesh.
posted by tkchrist at 10:38 AM on May 25, 2005


Just a 2% swing from Rep to Dem would have prevented the reelection of the assholes that did it.

So every little helps. :-))
posted by cleardawn at 11:16 AM on May 25, 2005


billysumday:
I don't, nor will I ever, equate the mishandling of the Quran with endless starvation, random executions, forced labor, the imprisonment of children, etc.

While I agree that using "gulag" in such a way is hyperbolic, I think it's particularly egregious to define what took (and still takes) place at Guantanamo and other such places as "mishandling of the Quran". You're just burying your head in the sand if you think that, and you really ought to read up on the actual torture methods used.
posted by splice at 11:17 AM on May 25, 2005


Or you could just go ahead and not listen to what I'm saying. I mean, that's cool, too. Whatever.
posted by billysumday at 11:44 AM on May 25, 2005


Oops. Meant to say... Whatever.
posted by billysumday at 11:45 AM on May 25, 2005


The use of the word GULAG is actually appropriate. GULAG originally referred to a general administration of camps, but it came to signify detainment centers long before it came to mean forced prison labor camps.

Yes this will piss people off-- mainly those people who think the GULAG was wrong because it perpetuated Soviet power.

People who aren't concerned with human rights of bad people, like our own Dios , will be out-raged. These people are for some reason more concerned about nomenclature than they are about the rights of others.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 1:10 PM on May 25, 2005


Here's an interesting article about anti-Roma discrimination, one of the less noticed groups that's still an oppressed minority in Europe.

...unless I missed the notice where every post must be about The Gulag.
posted by graymouser at 1:21 PM on May 25, 2005


cleardawn:
Guantanamo, by contrast, seems to exist specifically as a reverse public relations exercise.
This is insightful. What does the US get out of running these prisons and torturing people?

Perhaps there are some absolutely vital bits of information coming out of them, but surely if there are then with all the negative publicity that has come out of them there should be a few cases that could be described.

These needless US detention centres are, as Dean Acheson said of the Vietnam war, worse than immoral, they are a mistake.
posted by sien at 2:54 PM on May 25, 2005


We USians-- and I say we because I've been American longer than I've supported AI-- were singled out. Specifically. Pointedly...

And rightly. There are plenty of dicks like Dios that make it ever too clear that this isn't a U.S. government vs. U.S. people.

"The USA as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power sets the tone for governmental behavior worldwide," Secretary General Irene Khan said in the foreword to Amnesty International's 2005 annual report.

"When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a license to others to commit abuse with impunity," she said.

London-based Amnesty cited the pictures last year of abuse of detainees at Iraq's U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison, which it said were never adequately investigated, and the detention without trial of "enemy combatants" at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

"The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law," Khan said.

She also noted Washington's attempts to circumvent its own ban on the use of torture.

"The U.S. government has gone to great lengths to restrict the application of the Geneva Convention and to 're-define' torture," she said, citing the secret detention of suspects and the practice of handing some over to countries where torture was not outlawed.

U.S. President George W. Bush often said his country was founded on and dedicated to the cause of human dignity -- but there was a gulf between rhetoric and reality, Amnesty found.

"During his first term in office, the USA proved to be far from the global human rights champion it proclaimed itself to be," the report said, citing Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.


I do think our kids will ask us where we were when this happened. Most of the important people in my life are American, and I was raised there. I really wish it weren't true, but we deserved to be singled out and we were.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:34 PM on May 25, 2005


gesamtkunstwerk
I agree, I think future generations are going to ask both left and right why they didn't stop this. Yes, we would need to march on D.C. in the millions, occupy our government offices, etc. etc.
But as unrealistic as these things sound to us now, I think that is the question future generations are going to ask us: Why did we let it go on for so long?
posted by mk1gti at 6:11 PM on May 25, 2005


Imagine if every American got to read this, from high school kids, to church meetings, to the local rightwing militias and NRA nuts.

This is when they start singing "America, Fuck Yeah!" in church.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:03 PM on May 25, 2005


I'm surprised (and delighted) to see that Canada's entry is relatively brief. i expected we'd have a passle of identifiable human rights problems. Instead, it's pretty slim, and mostly stuff of which "we" are reasonably well aware. All sorts of msm has covered the listed problems.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:12 PM on May 26, 2005


See also The gulag of our time
posted by y2karl at 8:43 PM on May 27, 2005


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