Amnesty International should not deny "Prisoner of Conscience" status to Alexei Navalny

I have in the past been a member of Amnesty International's student branch at my old University and have collected signatures and otherwise supported Amnesty campaigns.

So it is from the perspective of someone sympathetic to the declared objectives of the organisation that I express deep regret at their recent decision to deny "prisoner of conscience" status to a brave man who has been jailed for standing up to one of the most brutal tyrants in the world today.

Alexei Navalny returned to Russia when he had recovered from Novichok poisoning. If anyone reading this believes he wasn't poisoned on the orders of President Putin, I have some shares in the Forth Bridge I would like to sell you at a bargain price.

He was sent to prison on blatantly trumped up charges. Millions of Russian people do not believe he was guilty of those charges and neither do I.

When I was going round asking people to sign petitions on behalf of Amnesty calling for the release of prisoners of conscience, the definition was as follows:

"Any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing (in any form of words or symbols) any opinion which he honestly holds and which does not advocate or condone personal violence. We also exclude those people who have conspired with a foreign government to overthrow their own."

I have seen no indication that Alexei Navalny does not meet that defnition.

However, the Kremlin's propaganda arm RT (formerly "Russia Today") has dug up things Navalny wrote more than ten years ago about immigrants which could fairly be described as prejudiced. They have been using this to blacken his name and encourage people to write to Amnesty International urging them to strip him of his "prisoner of conscience" status.

Navalny no longer holds the views concerned and has expressed regret for them. As I understand it none of those old comments amount to incitement to violence or condoning violence.

Amnesty has apparently, however buckled under the campaign organised by the Kremlin and revokved Navalny's "prisoner of conscience" status. FT promptly presented this decision as proof that he is a "nazi." 

I think that giving in to this campaign was a mistake by Amnesty - there is a good piece on the subject by Daniel Johnson on The Article website here.


Popular posts from this blog

Nick Herbert on his visit to flood hit areas of Cumbria

Quotes of the day 19th August 2020

Quote of the day 24th July 2020