Human rights — for the right humans.
Amnesty has to remind us that it opposes murder because it indulges men who are all in favour of it. The declaration was prompted by Amnesty’s decision to host an Islamist who had gurgled that he would dance with joy in Trafalgar Square when Iranian rockets rained down on Jewish civilians.
Until February 2010, Gita Sahgal was the head of Amnesty’s gender unit, where she had been a formidable opponent of dowry murders, misogynist religion, domestic violence, forced marriage and the use of rape in warfare. She had watched as Amnesty went far beyond defending the rights of the inmates of Guantánamo Bay, and turned itself into a fan club for former inmate Moazzam Begg and his campaign group Cageprisoners. Amnesty took Begg to Downing Street to meet the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and paraded him in front of the uninformed as a champion of human rights. It did not bother Amnesty that Begg had praised the fantastically misogynist Taliban while it was subjugating women and denying education to girls. But, naturally, it bothered Sahgal a great deal and after first raising her concerns with Amnesty she complained to the press.
The organisation which purports to be a voice of conscience responded by punishing the conscientious voice from its own ranks. The organisation that criticises authoritarian states and corporations behaved as they would have behaved when confronted by a dissident voice: Amnesty fired Sahgal and in the process showed that its commitment to universal rights was as provisional in the case of women as it was in the case of Jews.