After 35 years Labour MP Chris Bryant quits Amnesty International

Its worth a read and a lot of hard truths, reality is that some of these human rights organisations are in the business to stay alive even if it means going against their own principles.

This this instance for Amnesty International to do what they did makes no sense.

Full piece from the Labour MP via the Telegraph…

I’ve been a member of Amnesty International ever since I was a trendy young curate at All Saints High Wycombe in 1986. I’d just returned from nine months in Latin America where I’d worked in a shanty town in Peru and for a human rights organisation in Argentina.

I was passionate about joining Amnesty because I’d seen the misery of military governments holding people without trial, torturing them and extracting fake confessions. Friends had been plunged head first in ice-cold water until they passed out and tied up to metal racks and electrocuted with cattle prods. Others told stories of friends disappearing one afternoon and never returning – or their children being taken for “re-education” in “politically suitable” homes. All this done by military dictators under the guise of “national security”.

It was the same when I spent a few days in Chile. Pinochet’s police had poured petrol over a young Chilean and set fire to him – and tried to suggest he’d taken his own life. At the funeral I saw the army turn up with tear gas and water cannons – and spray the family off the coffin while students sang “Gracias a La Vida”, “Thank you to life, it has given me everything”.

Back home I wanted to do everything I could to stop these atrocious perversions of justice. I signed up to every single Amnesty letter-writing campaign in the hope that it might make the difference because some general somewhere might think twice if there was an international outcry. And I recruited as many members of the All Saints youth group to the campaign – and every week we would churn out dozens of letters begging someone to take notice. The politics didn’t matter. We’d write to Communist and fascist states alike.

I didn’t enquire into whether every prisoner of conscience was a nice person, or even whether I agreed with them politically. The point was that everyone was entitled to a fair trial, nobody should be tortured and nobody should be imprisoned for their political views.

That’s why I am so angry with Amnesty about its decision formally to remove the Russian activist Alexei Navalny from its list of “prisoners of conscience” because of comments he made in the past that it deems to be hate speech. Whatever you think of Navalny’s politics – and let’s leave to one side for a moment the irony of Putin’s sidekicks accusing him of gross nationalism – there is no justice in the Russian courts. Russian judges are Putin’s puppets. Once charged with a political crime in Russia you are automatically convicted. One Russian MP told me that Putin didn’t need the death penalty because he presumed that once a political prisoner had spent six months in a Russian jail, they’d either be dead or so scarred they’d never sleep in peace.

Russia doesn’t even pretend to observe common norms of criminal justice. On top of his supposed political crimes, Navalny is in prison for breaking his parole on the extraordinary grounds that he did not check in with the Russian authorities when he was lying in a coma in a foreign hospital having been poisoned by the same Russian authorities.

Navalny is not alone in this Queen of Hearts “sentence first, trial after” world of topsy-turvy injustice. So too the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who revealed massive state-authorised fraud. But instead of investigating the fraud, the Russian state arrested him, had him murdered in prison, put him on trial after his murder and convicted him “in absentia”. It’s deliberately preposterous, too, because that further demonstrates Putin’s total power. As preposterous as the Russian state’s denials of the murder of Alexander Litvinenko and the attempted murder of the Skripals.

Amnesty is dancing on the head of a pin, claiming that despite its decision it still thinks Navalny should be released. But Amnesty has gifted Putin a PR coup. Putin claims he’s vindicated and his approved media crow, “See, we always told you Navalny was a Nazi.”

That’s why I’ve resigned my membership after all these years. Human rights are a single seamless garment. To paraphrase John Donne, anyone’s death – and I mean anyone’s death – diminishes me and anyone’s unfair trial is an injustice to me, because I am part of humanity.