Amnesty Uncaged

March 7, 2015 at 10:23 am (Human rights, islamism, Rosie B)

We at Shiraz were of course firm in our principles.

Back in 2010 we ran a piece defending Gita Sahgal in her dispute with Amnesty International.

As you will all remember, Gita Sahgal had blown the whistle on Amnesty’s partnership with the jihadist supporting group Cageprisoners (now CAGE). She was suspended for going public and eventually sacked.

For further details of the Amnesty/Cage debacle read the always excellent Jacobin here.

Now of course CAGE (misleadingly dubbed a Human Rights group) came out in defence of Mohammad Emwazi, who among his other faults (beheading hostages and having the filmed results used as PR for ISIS) is, what you could call “complicit in torture”.

Which makes the last letter to the PM that CAGE was a joint signatory to with Amnesty about “complicity in torture” a little well, hypocritical to say the least.

Amnesty has been highly embarrassed by their partnership with CAGE and have been on Twitter and were on Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday saying that all they did was have CAGE as a joint signatory on nine letters. (Listen here at 1:09) 1:09

This is not true. Gita Sahgal stated that among other things CAGE had done research projects with Amnesty and here is one instance of this. Here Cageprisoners are one of the “six leading human rights groups” working with Amnesty to co-author a briefing paper.

Why did Amnesty pick up with CAGE? I have heard rumours that the SWP have done their usual entryism. Here’s a comment below Gita Saghal’s article in Open Democracy back in 2010.

Itsn’t it about time to break the silence and name the problem, which is, that AI today, unlike AI in the past, is full of people from the SWP, and is carrying out their line?  Obviously people are afraid to say so in public for fear of being accused of red-baiting but they certainly say it in private.  I don’t even live in London and I have been hearing this for years.

I was told this by someone else as well. In the Weekly Worker they mention Asad Rehman formerly of the SWP who used to be an events manager at Amnesty International

There are noticeable characteristics of the SWP – the old one of their entryism, whereby they come into organisations with credibility and clout and try to turn them to their own purposes. (I saw that happen at a listings magazine I worked for once which they wanted to turn into a propaganda sheet and they were busy in CND). And a relatively new one – of their sucking up to Islamism to the point of holding segregated meetings at the Brothers’ request.

So Amnesty’s debacle with CAGE, which has damaged their reputation and lost them subscribers may be layable at their door. Amnesty changed direction from being focussed on prisoners of conscience to a fuzzier all-causes organisation seeing nothing wrong, for instance, in “defensive jihad”.*


This is just speculation on my part – anyone got any harder information? Or was Amnesty’s partnering with CAGE simply part of a kind of radical chic which is now starting to look a bit 2010 as people learn more about Islamism and the various organisations which are jihadist fronts.

The Charity Commission has now cut CAGE’s funding.  CAGE will no doubt continue in some other form. I doubt Amnesty will co-sign letters with it again – but will they actually come out with a statement saying that they have decided that a pack of jihadist sympathisers are not really a good human rights organisation; and perhaps they could say a few words of apology to Gita Saghal (highly unlikely – but if you’re an Amnesty member – and  I am – do write to them and suggest they do so).

*Defensive jihad, in contrast with offensive jihad, is the defense of Muslim communities. Islamic tradition holds that when Muslims are attacked, then it becomes obligatory for all Muslims of that land to defend against the attack. Indeed, the Qur’an requires military defense of the besieged Islamic community.

In contemporary Jihadism, it is impossible to draw an objective distinction between offensive and defensive jihadism, as even unilataral attacks on the soil of non-Muslim states are justified as retaliatory for events conceived of as “attacks on Muslims” (e.g. 2009 Fort Hood shooting, Woolwich attack).


  1. Bob-B said,

    If defensive jihad is supposed to be a response to Muslims being attacked, it would surely have to come into play when Muslims are attacked by Islamists, as they are regularly. It would need to respond to attacks on Muslims by the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc., etc. Somehow I don’t think this is what the likes of Cage have in mind.

    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      Muslims/islam, same thing just a death cult. Assad,Gaddafi and Saddam please come back.

  2. Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,
    Amnesty were high jacked decades ago. I have always said the Catholic pretend Marxists were anti British.

  3. john r said,

    SWP influence at Amnesty?

    I’ve no idea of her influence (or job) but enough people must have had some sympathy for SWP Central Committee member Jo Cardwell to be the Unite Rep (Oct 2012) here –

    “But the biggest applause was for Jo Cardwell, Unite rep at Amnesty’s nearby International Secretariat.

    • dagmar said,

      She doesn’t work there any more though, afaik, as, if I remember rightly she is now a member of Unison. (I was asked to research details of the AI strikes in London for a union elsewhere and what happened in the end, to see if they would represent a useful experience for AI offices in another country, all I could find out basically was that Cardwell was the rep.)

      • dagmar said,

        But at the time I had a “lightbulb”/”eureka” moment which kind-of explained to me all the kind of stuff that AI had been doing over recent years that I found pretty much morally and politically repugnant and that seemed to have nothing to do with Amnesty’s original purpose and campaigning methods. I automatically assumed there must be more of them involved somehow, in the same way that the German then SWP sect took over Attac (and basically ran/kept alive) for a while.

  4. jackson said,

    hi there,

    i been trying to understand all of this, and its kind of confusing. what do you think of the take of this article by Sukant Chandan:

    Sukant Chandan is, i think, a consistent black nationalist third worldist, who opposed the invasion of Libya by NATO with the claim ” Gaddafi never called me a Paki!”

    IS and Boko are quite strange in many ways; the Iranian government more or less states that they believe them to be creations of various Arab governments first, qatar etc together with the CIA. Bashar Al Assad is more or less of the same view. ‘charity’ has never ever been really ‘charity’, it is always political, it always carries an ideology.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: