With the facade of a ‘human rights’ group – and with the deeds of a well-funded imperialist propaganda machine – Amnesty International (AI) has waged a three-year smear campaign against Nicaragua and its progressive leadership of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) under President Daniel Ortega.
For decades, imperialism has manufactured public consent for its rapacious foreign aggressions by rebranding it as ‘humanitarian intervention’, justified by the spurious reports of a ‘human rights’ industry spearheaded by outfits such as Amnesty.
These reports deliberately gloss over (at best) or outright ignore (more usually) any serious consideration of the context or historical conditions that give rise to the contemporary actions of governments that are targeted for overthrow by imperialism.
Take China, for instance. AI gingerly glosses over China’s very real reasons for needing to supress such organisations as the new-age (and pro-imperialist) cult Falun Gong. Amnesty deliberately leaves out any mention of the US military bases stationed all over Asia in countries such as south (US occupied) Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, all of which are packed with missiles aimed at China and the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Falun Gong cult has been known to collude with the very US imperialism menacing Asia. (China 2017/18, Amnesty International)
It is bizarre to suggest that AI, with its army of legal experts and activists, left out such vital context, which would explain China’s apparent ‘human rights violations’, for any other reason than rank dishonesty. What’s more, given Amnesty’s official broadening of its horizon to include the policy of “pushing for stronger legal frameworks to protect economic, social and cultural rights” (as well as ‘human’ ones), an honest appraisal ought to lead the organisation to applaud China as a world leader in the field.
As JV Stalin (a leader who did more to guarantee the human rights of workers all over the world than almost any other) once said: “It is difficult for me to imagine what ‘personal liberty’ is enjoyed by an unemployed hungry person. True freedom can only be where there is no exploitation and oppression of one person by another; where there is not unemployment, and where a person is not living in fear of losing his job, his home and his bread. Only in such a society personal and any other freedom can exist for real and not on paper.” (Interview with Roy Howard, 1 March 1936)
Sadly, China’s escalation of literacy to over 99 percent, lifting 850 million people out of poverty, and raising life expectancy to 76 years are all absent from Amnesty’s report. The organisation would do well to revisit its own goals and the wise words of Stalin, one of the world’s greatest defenders of human rights. This clear bias in Amnesty’s report demonstrates its complicity to imperialist aggression.
Meanwhile, in Latin America, Amnesty has been working for the last three years and more to undermine the popular anti-imperialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua just as it is undermining the anti-imperialist leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
Even during the Sandinista revolution, Amnesty proved itself to be a mouthpiece of US empire. For instance, it was more concerned to voice concerns about the rights of Luis Mora, an operative for the US-backed fascist militia, the Contras, than for his 30,000 dead victims.
Such a case of bias not only exposes Amnesty’s role in prettifying western imperialism, but also contradicts one of its newly adopted policies: a pledge made by 2001 “to be more effective in combating human rights abuses by a diverse range of non-state actors”. (Human Rights for Human Dignity, Amnesty International, 2014 and Why Does AI Refuse to Listen to Criticism About its Work?, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group, November 2019)
The economic development of Nicaraguan society has for decades now been impeded by the US imperialists, who have waged a protracted campaign of economic sanctions and backed fascistic Contra rebels to crush the popular government. Logic therefore compels us to conclude that the primary abusers of Nicaraguan human rights reside in Washington.
The way for Nicaragua to overcome imperialist economic and military aggression is through closer economic cooperation with other governments on the frontline of the anti-imperialist struggle. In this regard, the plans to build a new inter-oceanic canal that would break the monopoly currently held by the US-controlled Panama canal is a most welcome development. However, Amnesty has proven, yet again, to be sworn enemies of the genuine development of oppressed nations and the real liberation of their peoples.
Amnesty has criticised the canal’s construction as a project that would ‘divide the country in two’ and sell Nicaragua’s future to the Chinese. These spurious objections fly in the face of the experience of many oppressed nations – particularly in Africa – that has benefitted from Chinese help in developing their infrastructure and strengthening their independence from imperialist control.
As well as highlighting Amnesty’s opposition to any development that takes place outside of the imperialist-backed NGO/IMF and World Bank framework, the report goes on to advocate the disarmament of the oppressed nations – to the sole benefit of the oppressors.
In the wake of a storm of violent imperialist-backed demonstrations against the Sandinista government last year (not unlike the demonstrations that paved the way to the overthrow of Bolivia’s progressive anti-imperialist government and the installation of a fascist dictatorship in its place), Amnesty condemns what it calls the Nicaraguan government’s ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy – that is, the government’s will to defend its people and their revolutionary gains from terroristic acts by the far-right.
This is yet another example of Amnesty’s failure to make any serious acknowledgement of the context of a government’s actions, and its preferential treatment of fascist terrorists acting in the interests of US imperialism.
A report from the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group (NSCAG) titled Dismissing the Truth highlighted key lies in Amnesty’s report on the Sandinista government’s alleged ‘persecution’ of opposition groups, which described these violent provocateurs as gentle pacifists:
“The city of Masaya was the subject of armed siege by opposition forces for several weeks. AI claims that the government, in ending this siege, used indiscriminate and lethal force and pro-government armed forces. The report explains how, given the failure of peace negotiations, the police were obliged to use armed force to free Masaya from heavily-armed actors who had declared their ‘independence’ from the national government.
“Amnesty International wrongly asserts that a police officer killed during the violence was the subject of a possible ‘extrajudicial execution’ by the government for deserting his post. In fact, he was killed by opposition sniper fire, along with a colleague, while carrying out his duties.
“Other cases of alleged ‘extrajudicial execution’ or ‘arbitrary detention’ cited by AI can be shown either to be false or to present conflicting evidence. In each case, AI virtually ignores any evidence that contradicts their pre-existing beliefs about the situation.” (26 February 2019)
The report also highlighted the systematic errors in Amnesty’s report regarding the police officer mentioned above:
“AI is supposed to abide by the so-called Huridocs (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems) research standards, but fails to compare information from what are self-avowedly opposition sources with evidence from elsewhere, for example the national assembly’s truth commission or the government’s office of the procurator for the defence of human rights.
“AI appears to treat murders of Sandinista victims such as in the Morrito massacre (where four police were killed and nine kidnapped) as a matter of domestic law, but then AI attacks the government for applying the law and creating ‘political’ prisoners of the perpetrators.
“Despite its declared intentions, AI appears to hide behind a legally anachronistic and incorrect insistence that only governments can commit human rights abuses. Yet UN security council and general assembly resolutions over the last 20 years have repeatedly insisted on the human rights obligations of armed non-state actors.”
The NSCAG concludes its report on the Faber Lopez incident (the name of the police officer in question) with a damning condemnation of Amnesty. “AI’s account was not only wrong but maligned the bravery of a fallen police officer and, in effect, portrayed him as a coward. AI has never retracted or apologised for this gross error on their part despite direct efforts to get them to do so.”
An irreducible pillar of the communist antiwar policy is to challenge the lies and pro-war propaganda that is sold to the masses lock stock and barrel by the corporate ‘mainstream’ media. Such media depend heavily on the ‘human rights’ industrial complex to manufacture public consent for imperialist aggression and full-spectrum dominance over oppressed countries.
All genuine antiwar activists must work with and promote the work of genuine solidarity campaign groups worldwide in combating and challenging the grossly misnamed ‘human rights’ industry, especially the shamelessly deceitful organisation that is Amnesty International.