In solidarity with Gita Sahgal: Global Petition to Amnesty International Print E-mail
In solidarity with Gita Sahgal

Global Petition to Amnesty International: Restoring the Integrity of Human Rights

Saturday 13 February 2010 [In English and French - Scroll down to READ MORE and for link to sign the Petition

As organisations and individuals who stand for and support the universality of human rights, we have noted with concern the suspension of Gita Sahgal, Head of the Gender Unit at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London, for questioning Amnesty InternationalInternational’s partnership with individuals whose politics towards the Taliban are ambiguous.

We come from communities that recognize and appreciate the work of Amnesty International in defending human rights and women’s rights around the world. Many of us work closely with Amnesty International in their campaigns at various levels.

We believe that Gita Sahgal has raised a fundamental point of principle which is “about the importance of the human rights movement maintaining an objective distance from groups and ideas that are committed to systematic discrimination”.

This issue of principle is critical at the present moment, with the United States led “War on Terror” leading to the suspension of human rights and increased surveillance over individuals and the body politic. Ironically, the language of human rights and human rights defenders is being taken over by the US/NATO alliance in its efforts to legitimise a re-born imperialism. Equally disturbingly, this language is also being hijacked by organizations that espouse extremist and violent forms of identity-based politics. The space for a position that challenges both these is shrinking, and human rights are becoming hostage to broader authoritarian political agendas, whether from states or communities.

In this context, it is crucial for human rights defenders and organisations to clearly define principles and core values that are non-negotiable. Our commitment to countering, among others, Islamophobia, racism, misogyny and xenophobia should at no time blur our recognition of the authoritarian, often fascist, social and political agendas of some of the groups that suffer human rights abuse at the hands of the big powers.

The broader issue of principle which we raise here, is one which concerns all of us as human rights defenders from different parts of the world. Many of us who work to defend human rights in the context of conflict and terrorism know the importance of maintaining a clear and visible distance from potential partners and allies when there is any doubt about their commitment to human rights. Given the circumstances in which questions regarding the partnership with Cageprisoners appear to have been raised, we feel that Amnesty International should have refrained from providing them with a platform. It should have been possible for Amnesty International to campaign against the fundamental human rights abuses that have occurred at Guantanamo and elsewhere without making alliances that compromise Amnesty International’s core values, just as other human rights organisations have done.

History has repeatedly shown us that anti-democratic organisations can and do manipulate information and their own self-representation for narrow political advantage. In any situation of ambiguity, we feel that the benefit of doubt should have been given to the expert staff members of Amnesty International. We feel that in this instance there has been a lack of respect for the opinions expressed by Gita Sahgal, who is a senior member of staff, and a critical failure of internal democratic functioning at Amnesty’s International Secretariat.

What is needed is democratic debate, internally as well as in the public sphere, on the human rights principles that should guide Amnesty International and all of us in determining our alliances. We have to ensure that the partnerships we form are true to the core human rights values of equality and universality. Our accountability in this area, internally as well as externally, to all our diverse constituencies, cannot be put at risk. We need a rigorous examination of potential partners. Given the complex situations we work in, what is needed is open debate, not a censoring and closure of discussion on these important issues. Shifting the debate and turning this into a discussion about ‘Othering’ and ‘demonisation of Guantanamo prisoners’ is merely obscuring the real issues at stake. It puts at risk the work that Amnesty International is attempting to do in Afghanistan and other areas. Unfortunately, it also fails to answer the very serious questions that have been posed to which we are also seeking answers.

In the present context of ‘constructive engagement’ with the Taliban, as proposed at the recent Conference on Afghanistan in London, it is our obligation to ensure that we do not barter away the human rights of minorities and of women for ‘peace’. There are enough recent examples of such attempts which show that these deals are a chimera and do not result in either peace or security. Whatever the nature of ‘engagement’ with authoritarian groups, and whatever partnerships and alliances we enter into with individuals or organisations involved in such ‘engagement’, the positive conditionalities and checks based on human rights, which are universal and indivisible, must remain central and non-negotiable for human rights organizations and defenders.

We call on Amnesty International to clearly and publicly affirm its commitment to the above in all areas of its work; and to demonstrate its obligation to make itself publicly accountable, as it has so often demanded of others.

We extend our solidarity and support to Gita Sahgal, who is well known and widely respected for her principled activism on human rights internationally, for her courageous stand in raising this issue within and outside Amnesty International.

Drafted and initiated by:
Dr. Amrita Chhachhi, Women, Gender and Development Program, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, member Kartini Asia Network of Women/Gender Studies
Sara Hossain, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh
Sunila Abeysekera, INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka

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The f Word
Contempory UK feminism February 11 2010

Important questions from Gita Sahgal

By Jolene Tan

The detention of Moazzam Begg and others in Guantanamo Bay was and is a violation of their human rights, which Amnesty International is right to criticise.

Moazzam Begg and his organisation, Cage Prisoners, are not defenders of human rights, and are therefore inappropriate allies for Amnesty.

It is not hard for both of these observations to be simultaneously true. The victims of human rights violations are not thereby automatically immune from having problematic political positions. So why has Gita Sahgal, head of Amnesty’s gender unit, been suspended after raising these concerns?

Here is her full statement:

Statement by Gita Sahgal 7 February 2010

Amnesty International and Cageprisoners

This morning the Sunday Times published an article about Amnesty International’s association with groups that support the Taliban and promote Islamic Right ideas. In that article, I was quoted as raising concerns about Amnesty’s very high profile associations with Guantanamo-detainee Moazzam Begg. I felt that Amnesty International was risking its reputation by associating itself with Begg, who heads an organization, Cageprisoners, that actively promotes Islamic Right ideas and individuals.

Within a few hours of the article being published, Amnesty had suspended me from my job.

A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when a great organisation must ask: if it lies to itself, can it demand the truth of others? For in defending the torture standard, one of the strongest and most embedded in international human rights law, Amnesty International has sanitized the history and politics of the ex-Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg and completely failed to recognize the nature of his organisation Cageprisoners.

The tragedy here is that the necessary defence of the torture standard has been inexcusably allied to the political legitimization of individuals and organisations belonging to the Islamic Right.

I have always opposed the illegal detention and torture of Muslim men at Guantanamo Bay and during the so-called War on Terror. I have been horrified and appalled by the treatment of people like Moazzam Begg and I have personally told him so. I have vocally opposed attempts by governments to justify ‘torture lite’.

The issue is not about Moazzam Begg’s freedom of opinion, nor about his right to propound his views: he already exercises these rights fully as he should. The issue is a fundamental one about the importance of the human rights movement maintaining an objective distance from groups and ideas that are committed to systematic discrimination and fundamentally undermine the universality of human rights. I have raised this issue because of my firm belief in human rights for all.

I sent two memos to my management asking a series of questions about what considerations were given to the nature of the relationship with Moazzam Begg and his organisation, Cageprisoners. I have received no answer to my questions. There has been a history of warnings within Amnesty that it is inadvisable to partner with Begg. Amnesty has created the impression that Begg is not only a victim of human rights violations but a defender of human rights. Many of my highly respected colleagues, each well-regarded in their area of expertise has said so. Each has been set aside.

As a result of my speaking to the Sunday Times, Amnesty International has announced that it has launched an internal inquiry. This is the moment to press for public answers, and to demonstrate that there is already a public demand including from Amnesty International members, to restore the integrity of the organisation and remind it of its fundamental principles.

I have been a human rights campaigner for over three decades, defending the rights of women and ethnic minorities, defending religious freedom and the rights of victims of torture, and campaigning against illegal detention and state repression. I have raised the issue of the association of Amnesty International with groups such as Begg’s consistently within the organisation. I have now been suspended for trying to do my job and staying faithful to Amnesty’s mission to protect and defend human rights universally and impartially.

Thursday 18 February 2010

WLUML Statement in support of Gita Sahgal

The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network expresses its solidarity with Gita Sahgal, a longstanding ally of the network who is active in various organisations, collectives, and movements committed to upholding universal human rights. As a feminist, anti-racist activist, filmmaker and researcher, Sahgal has devoted her career to exposing systematic discrimination and rights violations by state and non-state actors in Britain, South Asia and internationally. Much of this work has included rigorous research into transnational fundamentalist movements, and their intersections with human rights, especially those of women. In addition, Gita Sahgal is the Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International (AI).

WLUML has learned that she has repeatedly, and to no avail, raised internal inquiries into Amnesty International’s association with the organisation Cageprisoners, headed by Moazzam Begg, around the Counter Terror with Justice Campaign. British citizen Moazzam Begg was abducted in 2002 by American and Pakistani intelligence officers in Pakistan, to where he had fled from Afghanistan with his family soon after the US-led ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ bombing of the country began in retaliation for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Begg was held first in Bagram detention facility, Kandahar, and then detained in Guantánamo until he was released by the United States in 2005. Begg has never been charged with any terrorist-related offence or put on trial. In a book about his experiences, Enemy Combatant, co-authored with Victoria Brittain, he states that in 2001 he believed “the Taliban were better than anything Afghanistan has had in the past 25 years” and he is one of the current advocates of dialogue with the Taliban. Cageprisoners campaigns “to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror”. Amnesty International’s Counter Terror with Justice Campaign calls for an end to human rights abuses at Guantánamo and other locations, and for those detained there to be brought to justice, in fair trials that respect due process. Gita Sahgal’s concern about a lack of transparency in AI’s partnerships led to Sahgal’s decision to approach the Sunday Times newspaper media about this issue. This resulted in an article by Richard Kerbaj published on 7 February 2010, entitled “Amnesty International is ‘damaged’ by Taliban link: An official at the human rights charity deplores its work with a ‘jihadist’” in which Kerbaj reports Sahgal’s suggestions that the charity has mistakenly allied itself with Begg and his “jihadi” group. The same day, Sahgal was suspended from her position as Head of the Gender Unit.

Gita Sahgal’s concerns are about Amnesty International’s association with fundamentalist groups that have claimed to support the Taliban and promote ideas of the Islamic Right, which are not supportive of women’s rights. Sahgal is well-placed to raise such issues, with a demonstrated commitment to exposing and addressing fundamentalisms – political movements of the extreme Right, often operating within religious, ethnic and/or cultural discourses – and assessing the implications of their agendas on women’s human rights, including as a founding member of Women Against Fundamentalisms (WAF) in the UK. Along with directing numerous films on the topics of women’s rights, conflict and violence against women, Sahgal has also written extensively on multiculturalism and religious fundamentalism, and is the co-editor of Refusing Holy Orders: Women and Fundamentalism in Britain (Virago, 1992; WLUML, 2001).

It is clear that Sahgal, like Amnesty International, is committed to promoting and upholding human rights. We agree, with Sahgal, that AI’s admirable and non-partisan support of the human rights of those who have faced unfair imprisonment, denial of due process, and torture is to be commended and supported. Nonetheless, if human rights are indeed universal and indivisible, then she has raised a crucial point in distinguishing between supporting specific human rights of an affected group, and providing a public platform for those who may not support the indivisible human rights of others.

The human rights of women and minorities are particularly abused by state and non-state actors who justify their political agendas by reference to religion. Those who challenge the structures, policies and practices that create and perpetuate such violations are frequently isolated and attacked. The WLUML network recognizes the bravery demonstrated by Gita Sahgal in raising the important issue of state and non-state collaboration with those groups who may not uphold the rights of all, even if they themselves are also the victims of human rights violations. We call for civil society and governments alike to engage in a wider debate about partnerships with organisations that claim to support human rights but do not uphold the rights of all, including women and minorities. While WLUML deeply regrets the attempts of some media commentators and apologists for torture and war crimes to hijack this important debate to smear progressive movements, organisations and individuals, we as Human Rights organisations and activists, cannot ask for democracy, openness to criticism and transparency of other organisations and government, if we ourselves do not observe these basic rules.

Women Living Under Muslim Laws: International Solidarity Network


 London ~ February 7, 2010

Amnesty International is ‘damaged’ by Taliban link

An official at the human rights charity deplores its work with a ‘jihadist’

By Richard Kerbaj

A SENIOR official at Amnesty International has accused the charity of putting the human rights of Al-Qaeda terror suspects above those of their victims.

Gita Sahgal, head of the gender unit at Amnesty’s international secretariat, believes that collaborating with Moazzam Begg, a former British inmate at Guantanamo Bay, “fundamentally damages” the organisation’s reputation.

In an email sent to Amnesty’s top bosses, she suggests the charity has mistakenly allied itself with Begg and his “jihadi” group, Cageprisoners, out of fear of being branded racist and Islamophobic.

Sahgal describes Begg as “Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban”. He has championed the rights of jailed Al-Qaeda members and hate preachers, including Anwar al-Awlaki, the alleged spiritual mentor of the Christmas Day Detroit plane bomber.

Amnesty’s work with Cageprisoners took it to Downing Street last month to demand the closure of Guantanamo Bay. Begg has also embarked on a European tour, hosted by Amnesty, urging countries to offer safe haven to Guantanamo detainees. This is despite concerns about former inmates returning to terrorism.

Sahgal, who has researched religious fundamentalism for 20 years, has decided to go public because she feels Amnesty has ignored her warnings for the past two years about the involvement of Begg in the charity’s Counter Terror With Justice campaign.

“I believe the campaign fundamentally damages Amnesty International’s integrity and, more importantly, constitutes a threat to human rights,” Sahgal wrote in an email to the organisation’s leaders on January 30. “To be appearing on platforms with Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban, whom we treat as a human rights defender, is a gross error of judgment.”

Amnesty is the world’s biggest human rights organisation with 2.2m members and a galaxy of celebrity supporters, including Bono, John Cleese, Yoko Ono, Al Pacino and Sinead O’Connor. Its decision to work with Begg poses liberal backers with a moral dilemma and raises questions about the direction in which Amnesty has travelled since it was set up in 1961 to support “prisoners of conscience”.

“As a former Guantanamo detainee it was legitimate to hear his experiences, but as a supporter of the Taliban it was absolutely wrong to legitimise him as a partner,” Sahgal told The Sunday Times.

Begg, 42, from Birmingham, was held at Guantanamo for three years until 2005 under suspicion of links to Al-Qaeda, which he denies. Prior to his arrest, Begg lived with his family in Kabul and praised the Taliban in his memoirs as “better than anything Afghanistan has had in 20 years”. After his release Begg became the figurehead for Cageprisoners, which describes itself as “a human rights organisation that exists solely to raise awareness of the plight of prisoners ... held as part of the War On Terror”.

Among the Muslim inmates it highlights are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Abu Hamza, the hook-handed cleric facing extradition from Britain to America on terror charges, and Abu Qatada, a preacher described as Osama Bin Laden’s “European ambassador”.

Sahgal, 53, is not the only critic of Begg at Amnesty. In 2008 a board member of its US arm opposed Begg’s appearance, via videolink, at its AGM, but was overruled.

When Begg appeared at Downing Street last month as part of a group delivering a letter to Gordon Brown calling for the release of the last British resident held at Guantanamo, he was accompanied by Kate Allen, head of Amnesty’s UK section since 2000. Allen is a leftwinger who was the girlfriend of Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, for almost 20 years.

This weekend Amnesty said it had launched an internal inquiry after Sahgal raised her concerns with bosses, including Allen and Claudio Cordone, the interim secretary-general.

Anne Fitzgerald, policy director of Amnesty’s international secretariat, said the charity had formed a relationship with Begg because he was a “compelling speaker” on detention. She said he had been paid expenses for his attendance at its events.

Asked if she thought Begg was a human rights advocate, Fitzgerald said: “It’s something you’d have to speak to him about. I don’t have the information to answer that.”

Yesterday Begg dismissed Sahgal’s claims as “ridiculous”. He defended his support for the Taliban and the decision by Cageprisoners to highlight the plight of detainees linked to Al-Qaeda: “We need to be engaging with those people who we find most unpalatable. I don’t consider anybody a terrorist until they have been charged and convicted of terrorism.”


London ~ February 14, 2010

Second Amnesty chief attacks Islamist links

By Richard Kerbaj
 Sam Zarifi

A senior executive at Amnesty International has urged the charity to admit it made a “mistake” by failing publicly to oppose the views of a former terror suspect.

Sam Zarifi, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific director, backed Gita Sahgal, an official who was suspended after revealing her concerns about Amnesty’s links to the former Guantanamo detainee, Moazzam Begg, a British citizen.

In an internal memo leaked to The Sunday Times, Zarifi, who oversees Amnesty’s work in Pakistan and Afghanistan, claimed the charity’s campaigns blurred the line between giving support for a detainee’s human rights and endorsing extremist views.

“We should be clear that some of Amnesty’s campaigning ... did not always sufficiently distinguish between the rights of detainees to be free from torture and arbitrary detention, and the validity of their views,” says Zarifi in the email, sent to his staff and dated February 10. Zarifi advised Amnesty to consider its working relationships with activists more carefully.

He said: “We did not always clarify that while we champion the rights of all ­ including terrorism suspects, and more important, victims of terrorism ­ we do not champion their views.”

Amnesty’s decision to suspend Sahgal, the head of its gender unit, while continuing its support for Begg, 42, of Birmingham, has provoked criticism.

Zarifi said Amnesty should have done more to respond to public concerns about its relationship with Begg and Cageprisoners, a pressure group that highlights the plight of Muslim detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

He wrote: “The organisation had taken steps to clarify that it did not in any way support all, or even many, of Moazzam Begg’s views. Obviously we did not do enough to establish this in the public sphere. We can and should publicly admit this mistake and move on and ensure we do not make the same mistake again.”

Amnesty officials called for the closure of Guantanamo Bay at a meeting in Downing Street last month.

Begg, who was held there for three years until 2005, has embarked on a European tour, hosted by Amnesty, urging countries to offer a safe haven to Guantanamo detainees.

Begg took his family to live in Afghanistan under Taliban rule but admits they were responsible for abuses.

Amnesty was founded in 1961 to give support to prisoners of conscience.

 Tuesday February 16, 2010

Amnesty: caught with strange bedfellows

By Hasan Suroor

Former British Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg ( PHOTO: AF)

The debate sparked by Gita Sahgal’s dispute with Amnesty International over its controversial alliance with a far-right Islamist pressure group goes to the heart of the all-too-familiar conflict that arises when an organisation struggles (and is seen to fail) to reconcile its stated principles with its tactics.

The row erupted when Ms Sahgal, a leading rights activist and until last week head of Amnesty’s gender unit, was suspended for saying that its active collaboration with a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Moazzam Begg ­ dubbed Britain’s “most famous supporter of the Taliban” ­ risked undermining its integrity and secular image.

Whether it is legitimate for a political party or a campaign group to bend its core values in search of ever more allies in a common cause has always been a contentious issue ­ and a source of much tension between those who fiercely oppose any compromise with their deeply-held principles and their more free-wheeling (and supposedly pragmatic) peers who argue that sometime it is more important to focus on the cause, even if it means hobnobbing with ideologically unsavoury characters.

On the face of it, it should be a no-brainer that principles are sacrosanct but it is not always easy to strike a neat balance between principles and an effective practical strategy. It is a dilemma that secular parties in India, for example, have faced more than once when picking allies against the “bigger enemy” of the day. Post-emergency, they chose some rather strange bedfellows to defeat the Congress. Yet, in 2004 ­ prompted by the political situation at the time ­ they flipped everything 180 degrees and embraced the Congress to throw out the BJP which, by then, had come to represent a bigger threat.

In Britain, the Left drew a great deal of criticism for joining hands with an assortment of fundamentalist Muslim groups to oppose the Iraq invasion. Indeed, a significantly large number of the one-million protesters who marched through London in February 2003 under a broad anti-war coalition was mobilised by Muslim organisations, some of very dubious credentials.

The Amnesty row, therefore, is essentially a replay of the same debate; and curiously both then and now the mainstream Left/liberal commentators have remained mostly silent inviting charge of political correctness. Critics see their silence as a “betrayal” of liberal values.

Mr. Begg, who spent three years in Guantanamo Bay after being picked up in Afghanistan in the great post-9/11 American swoop of suspected Al Qaeda/Taliban supporters, was a beneficiary of Amnesty’s persistent campaign against illegal detention and torture of suspected terrorists. When, upon his release in 2005, he formed a group called Cageprisoners to highlight the plight of Guantanamo detainees Amnesty threw its full weight behind him. Soon Mr. Begg became Amnesty’s poster-boy in its anti-torture campaign ­ and that’s when the backlash started.

It is Mr. Begg’s back-story and his links with radical Islamists that ­ his critics argue ­ make him an undesirable ally for an organisation like Amnesty.

A visit to Afghanistan in 1993 to attend a training camp made such a deep impact on him (in his autobiography he describes it as a “life-changing experience”) that in 2001 he moved there with his family to live under Taliban rule. He wrote that the Taliban had made “some modest progress ­ in social justice and upholding pure, old Islamic values forgotten in many Islamic countries.”

And this after ­ as The Times’ commentator David Aaronovitch noted ­ was “about two months after the blowing up of the Bamiyan Buddhas, two years after the televised execution of a woman in the football stadium in Kabul, and in the full knowledge that Taliban police were beating women for improper dress, had fired all women in public service…and had more or less abolished education for women.”

Mr. Begg says that it was his perception of the Taliban at the time and since then he has criticised their human rights abuses. But what about Cageprisoners’ leanings towards people like Anwar-al Awlaki, an extremist Yemeni preacher who is said to have “inspired” a number of alleged terrorists; and its links with Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a virulent jihadi group which is banned in many Muslim countries and has only narrowly escaped a ban in Britain?

Ms Sahgal is not the only dissenting voice in Amnesty. In an internal memo leaked to The Sunday Times, another senior official ­ Sam Zarifi, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific director ­ has voiced his disquiet saying that the organisation has not done enough to distinguish its defence of the rights of terror suspects from their extremist views. More Amnesty insiders are expected to come forward in coming weeks as the controversy grows.

Amnesty, of course, insists that its collaboration with Mr Begg is confined to his prisoners’ campaign and that this does not mean that it condones his views on other issues.
 Thursday February 11, 2010

Amnesty “stonewalling” on links with “jihadi” group

Hasan Suroor

LONDON: Faced with mounting pressure to clarify its links with the suspected pro-jihadi group, Cageprisoners, founded by Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner and self-confessed admirer of the Taliban, Amnesty International on Wednesday said it had no “long-term” plans to work with it.

Sources hinted at a review of Amnesty’s future relationship with Mr. Begg after an internal inquiry which is looking into the issue gives its findings.

Officially, however, it defended its work with Mr. Begg.

“Any suggestion that Amnesty International’s work with Moazzam Begg or Cageprisoners has weakened our condemnation of abuses by the Taliban or other similarly-minded groups does not withstand scrutiny,” it said in a statement.

The statement came as Amnesty was accused of “stonewalling” questions about its links with Cageprisoners. Gita Sahgal, former head of its gender unit, said Amnesty’s association with the group “legitimised” the “violent and discriminatory ideology” of its activists.

Ms. Sahgal, a seasoned rights campaigner and daughter of novelist Nayantara Sahgal, was suspended by Amnesty earlier this week after she was reported as saying that it risked damaging its reputation by “collaborating” with right-wing Islamic elements in the name of defending human rights.

In a BBC interview, Asim Qureshi, a prominent Cageprisoners activist, affirmed his support for global jihad when confronted with his remarks at a rally of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an extremist group, which is banned in a number of countries.

Ms. Sahgal, who also appeared in the interview, said she did not believe Cageprisoners was just a prisoners’ rights organisation.

“An organisation may be called Hindu human rights and protect persecuted Hindus in one area while supporting the killing of Muslims elsewhere,” she said pointing to Cageprisoners’ links with extremist preachers such as Anwar- al Awlaki, a Yemeni scholar, who is said to have “inspired” a number of alleged terrorists.

Ms. Sahgal told The Hindu: “Mr. Qureshi did not refute these statements, entering into an explanation instead of Anwar- al Awlaki’s background. He said he had condemned 9/11 but was arrested after that. He said people could make up their own minds.”

Cageprisoners was formed by Mr. Begg after his release from Guantanamo Bay where, he says, he was tortured. Its high-profile campaign for the closure of the detention centre and rehabilitation of its inmates is backed by Amnesty. Mr. Begg, who spent three years in Guantanamo Bay, has acknowledged his support for the Taliban but denied links with the al-Qaeda or any terror group.

Amnesty stand
Meanwhile, an Amnesty spokesperson said Ms. Sahgal was “not suspended for raising her concerns internally.”

“In fact, we actively welcome vigorous internal debate. Up to now we have maintained confidentiality in line with our policy but wanted to correct this misrepresentation. This is not a reflection on the organisation’s respect for her work as a women’s rights activist and does not undermine the work she has done over the last few years as the head of Amnesty International’s gender unit,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Any suggestion that Amnesty International’s work with Moazzam Begg or Cageprisoners has weakened our condemnation of abuses by the Taliban or other similarly-minded groups does not withstand scrutiny,” it said.

Come on, Amnesty, surely there is such a thing as being guilty by association.