Former Amnesty top official accuses NGO of backing terror: report

17 August 2016

A day after Amnesty International was booked on sedition charges by the Bengaluru police on Independence Day, a former top official of the agency has slammed the human rights group for its continued support to Kashmiri terror groups.

Gita Sahgal, the former head of Amnesty International's gender unit, slammed the agency for its double standards – by supporting terrorist elements that give little importance to the rights of ordinary citizens.

Sahgal called on Amnesty and other human rights NGOs "to live up to the standards they demand of others: be transparent, accountable and impartial".

Her comments come after Amnesty India was booked for sedition and other unlawful acts after its officials raised anti-India slogans at an event organised in Bengaluru last week.

The Bengalu police filed a first information report against Amnesty on 15 August, on a complaint filed by a representative of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) the student wing of the ruling Bhartiya Janatha Party (BJP) at the centre.

Sahgal had quit Amnesty in 2010, accusing it of "ideological bankruptcy" and "misogyny" over its ties with a "pro-jihadi group". She had claimed that the charity had ties with Moazzam Begg, a former inmate at Guantánamo Bay, and his group Cageprisoners.

''I think the sedition complaint is dangerous and designed to shut down organisations like Amnesty. But it's typical of Amnesty to claim to be neutral on `the right to self-determination' while giving more space to people who give it political support," a report in The Times of India quoted Sahgal as saying.

"As far as I know, they have never examined the full range of violations by both the state and the non-state actors. They have never looked at cross-border infiltration or the support to Kashmiri jihadi groups in Britain, including by their hero Moazzam Begg, whose bookshop published jihadi literature by a man called Dhiren Barot, glorifying the Kashmir jihad in the 90s as a means of establishing an Islamic state," ToI quoted Sahgal as saying.

"Amnesty was always battling between people promoting jihadis and trying to get them included on research missions and treat jihadis as human rights defenders. It failed to examine Begg's early support for jihad when deciding to partner with him. Amnesty's history on Palestine is similar; it gives space to Hamas supporters rather than secular and human rights voices from Palestine." she added.

Amnesty International India, meanwhile, refuted the allegations with regard to an event held on 13 August, stating the the complaint is without substance. It further stated that, on the other hand, the families of the protestors in Jammu and Kashmir are prevented from telling their stories and that the security personnel are preventing civil society organisations from exercising their constitutional right to protest.

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