During the past seven years I had very high esteem for Amnesty International. They have been one of the most vital supporters for our common cause to #FreeRaif and many other prisoners of conscience. Therefore, I always saw them as an ally.
The more saddened I am now about the controversy that emerged yesterday and that is still ongoing. It testifies an unprofessionalism that I did not expect from an organization which in the past has impressed me so much in their dedication to truth, justice and human rights, values that are so dear to me.
It is the dedication to those same values that make me so disappointed about the latest report of Amnesty about Ukraine.
Agnes Callamard claims this report criticizing the way Ukrainian army defends themselves is an expression of “impartiality”, but in reality, it is far from that. Under the guise of said pretended impartiality the report shifts responsibility from the aggressor to the victim by stating that Ukraine is endangering civilians by the way they defend themselves. This statement is distorting as it is not Ukrainian military that is endangering civilians, it is the Russian aggressor that endangers them. If there was no Russian invasion, there would be no war. If there was no war, there would be no danger for civilians. The same cannot be said if Ukrainian military does not defend themselves. This chain is so logic that everyone should get it, also reporters at Amnesty. If not, they better should look for another job. Moreover, it doesn’t speak for the quality of this report that they didn’t consider the opinion of their Ukrainian colleagues that are on the ground and therefore can better judge the situation. And the worst aspect is that this report plays into the hands of the Russian propagandists as it gives them a pretended legitimation for their actions. That damage can not be adjusted by that timid phrase about how this does not justify Russian war crimes.
The most blatant form of unprofessionalism however followed the report itself. Not only does Callamard deny every single one of the report’s flaws. By labeling every single critic a troll and a mob, denying them the right to express their opinion, she openly attacks the core values of Amnesty International.
Considering that many of those expressing criticism are in fact Ukrainian civilians, she openly disrespects the opinions and the rights to self-determination of those same people the report claims to defend. And also, in a situation like the Russian aggression, denying a victim to defend themselves is entering dangerous territory where one must be prepared to be criticized. Such an impulsive and unprofessional reaction is not worthy of a person in the leadership of an organization whose main goal is to defend human rights. Her behavior is extremely harmful for the reputation of AI.
Blaming a victim of aggression for defending themselves without suggesting any other method that will prevent any further human rights violations committed by Russia (if there even is any alternative) is not impartial. It is an offense, primarily an offense to any Ukrainian person who has been living through the atrocities of war for five continuous months, but secondarily also an offence to any person wherever on the world that is seeking for justice, truth and freedom, which I thought were the core values of Amnesty international.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.Desmond Tutu
Original tweets by Agnes Callamard:
Example of how the report has already been appropriated by Russian propaganda:
Deconstruction of the arguments of the report: