Dr Dipendra Shrestha – Amnesty International is a global movement in over 150 countries and territories campaigning to protect human rights since 1961. It is one of the most successful watchdog organization that raise voice to safeguard human rights and against injustice. The organization was awarded Noble Peace Prize for its “defense of human dignity against torture” in 1977 and the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1978. The organization, however, is seldom accused of carrying political, regional, religious and cultural biases, basically pro-western bias.
Amnesty International launched “Sri Lanka, Play by the Rules” campaign, timed to coincide with the 2007 Cricket World Cup to focus on Sri Lanka alleged human rights violation. Sri Lankan president’s media spokesperson Lucia Rajakarunayake, in response, said “One would like to ask Amnesty International whether it plans to take up the issue of human rights violation by the US government in Iraq or in Guantanamo Bay at the Super Bowl match or the National Basketball League championship”. The move was accused to depress Sri Lanka Cricket team playing the World Cup, which subsequently got defeated from Australia in final.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi government in India, in 2020, described Amnesty International as a ‘witch-hunt’, and froze Amnesty International bank accounts over alleged fundraising violations. India also imposed travel ban to Amnesty International India chapter Chair Aakar Patel outside India, who was supposed to attend multiple conferences on ‘use of social media for social and political changes and the attacks on the civil society in India’ organized by University of Michigan, University of Berkeley, and New York University in the United States of America. Consequently, Amnesty International closed its India operation in September 2020.
An Indian national Abhiman Patil, Lecturer of law at University of Mumbai, wrote in social media in 2021 “Amnesty International is a biased institution protecting human rights of terrorists and criminals only”. He angered further, “Near about 20 Indian soldiers were martyred in Uri terrorists attack and 40 security men were martyred in Pulwama terrorists attack but Amnesty International has never been standing behind these soldiers”. He added that the organization is just performing its obligations.
More profoundly in China, Amnesty International seemed a political prejudice against China’s human rights. The annual human reports of Amnesty International on China in recent years seem doubtful in terms of objectivity, impartiality and veracity. Only the annual human rights report of 2019 mentioned, very briefly, on China’s environmental protection progress.
The development process of any country’s human rights is spontaneous and gradual, not imposed from outside and it also doesn’t just happen overnight. Since the founding of New China, China is based on its own national conditions and culture. It placed a high value on the right to life of the people, the rights to development of the people. It groped independently, created own human right road, and consequently made marked achievements.
China created the safest social living environment in all respects and convenient infrastructure. People live and work in peace and contentment peacefully and happily. China is offering high quality of life rather than human rights theory, which can also be a good reference template for other developing countries. United Nations Human Rights Council proclaimed in 1986 “Everyone is entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedom can be fully realized”. This proclamation claims the basic human right to be the right to development, which China is concentrating firmly and progressing rapidly in the modern days.
In the last 40 years, China has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty, and successfully developed a path and important experience for poverty alleviation. It is working to establish ‘Socialism in all aspects with Chinese characteristics’. Socialism is the best way to strengthen human rights of civilians. The right to food, shelter, clothing, education and health is the essential but basic human rights that China is delivering people in excellent way. Twentieth National Congress of Communist Party of China, held in Beijing from 16-22 October 2022, concluded ‘to motivate and unite the Chinese people of all regions and ethnic groups to continue their efforts and strive for a new victory in socialism with Chinese characteristics’. Amnesty International do not seem to fully evaluate the hard work of China for the safeguard of peoples’ basic needs, i.e. basic human rights.
American scholar Gerard Clark stated that non-governmental organizations are politics in essence. In the book ‘Helping or Hurting’ co-authored by 8 famous international recognized scholars, Indian scholar Alan Sira Vastave pointed out Amnesty International, similar to other international organizations like Journalist Without Borders, takes double standards. ‘The western countries use NGO as a tool to serve their own profits, and export their ideology’, he stated. ‘Amnesty International kept silence for a long time on the issues of Israel invasion to Lebanon, suppression on Northern Ireland independence campaign, racial segregation in South Africa, independence struggles in Puerto Rico’, he mentioned among many, ‘while it has unusual enthusiasm for events in certain countries’. Professor Zhang Yazhong from Department of political science of Taiwan University, while writing the preface for Chinese version of the book, mentioned, ‘Many non-governmental organizations are not so non-government, their purpose is to make civil strife in other countries and catch the countries in turmoil, at least be unable to develop and reduce the number of western competitors’.
Amnesty Report on Xinjiang
Amnesty International seemed to make story on Chinese domination over minor ethnic groups. China serves as home to 56 official ethnic groups with the most dominant Han population making over 92%. In the 160-page report in 2021, Amnesty International publishes ‘Hundreds of thousands of Muslim ethnic minorities subjected to state-organized mass internment and torture targeting crimes against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Hui, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Tajiks in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, more extremely since 2017’. The report listed a bunch of problems and examples, be missing relatives, preventing family reunion, being forced to accept education and assimilation, being monitored and being intimidated, among some more. Organization of Islamic cooperation, strong enough in its own, and more than 50 Muslim states, do not seem to believe the blame. It is notable that senior diplomats and diplomatic envoys, in 2022, from Yemen, Iraq, Algeria and The Republic of Guinea visited Xinjiang, the local mosques, communities, colleges and companies to know the truth of Xinjiang in more depth. And they enthusiastically shared what they saw and heard in mainstream media, that the condition is not as reported by Amnesty International. Hua Chuying, the spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, formally welcome all non-biased people from all over the world to visit Xinjiang, opposing firmly to the so-called investigation based on lies and rumors to make a presumption of guilt, and opposed to interfere in the Chinese internal affairs on the excuse of so-called human rights, etc.
Without factual evidence, Amnesty International attempted to intensify the national conflict, and created a lot of harmful public opinion in the international community. China responded clearly for Xinjiang issue, and held multiple special news conference, issued a series of white papers on Xinjiang issue. In a conference, Xu Guixiang, spokesman for People’s government of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, in 2021, stressed that there is no concentration camp, no so-called systematic rape, sexual abuse and cruel torture to the students of Xinjiang Education and Training Center and the so-called genocide is lies of the century and is the humanity’s biggest framed case. The state council information office of China published the white book of ‘Population development in Xinjiang’ on September 2021 describing the condition of population development in Xinjiang with full data that logically falsifies the Amnesty International accuse of ‘forced labor, compulsory sterilization, parent-child separation, cultural genocide, religious persecution, etc’.
Hong Kong’s human right phenomenon
Amnesty International often raise issue on Hong Kong focusing basically on National Security Act which came on in 2020. It reports that the freedom of speech, association, peaceful assembly, and other conditions of Hong Kong human right is deteriorating. Amnesty International speaks strongly for the rioters in HK, but remains silent over extremely violent activities of riots against police and common people, without difference, which many news media exposed. China stands that riots also took part in beating, smashing, looting and setting of fires annoying the common citizen, the control of which is the real protection of human rights.
Amnesty International, to be fair and neutral, should advocate human rights not only for rioters, but also innocent people and loyal guard of polices. China claims, after the act, that HK assumed more secure environment to work and live. HK Stocks IPO, in 2020, raised the second largest in the world, the first quarter of 2021, HK’s GPD grew by 7.9% indicates the living and working environment is not worsening as Amnesty worries.
Amnesty International always seem to resist the policies and legal system of the central government of China and contains their ruthless ambition a hidden agenda. Consequently, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, on May 13, 2021, declared Amnesty International is an anti-China organization. Russia followed and removed 15 international organizations on April 2022, including the Amnesty International.
In conclusion, huge network and long experienced Amnesty International should remain neutral to gain faith of people and states for the betterment of humanity. To maintain the dignity and acceptability of Amnesty International as in the establishment decades, the watchdog has to watch not only the events but also the motive and activities of any state and or people, dropping out all inherited ideologies.
- Dr. Shrestha is Secretary of Nepal Intellectual Council. The opinion, however, is his personal, and do not represent the Council.