By Roqayah Chamseddine
Amnesty International, the most renowned non-governmental organisation focused on human rights, has had what seems to be its latest advertisement campaign, on behalf of Afghan women, circulated, widely, and immense and much deserved controversy has accompanied it.
“NATO: Keep The Progress Going!” reads the outdoor poster, announcing Amnesty International’s ‘shadow summit for Afghan women‘; this blatantly colonial feminist message has caused Amnesty International to face tremendous backlash, at least briefly.
Guests of the shadow summit ‘for Afghan women’ included none other than Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright. The same sanction-defending, ‘the price (read: a half million dead Iraqi children) was worth it’ Madeline Albright. The practitioner of humanitarian militarism herself.
This unashamed war propaganda, which commends NATO’s ‘progress’ in the realm of pseudo-rights for Afghan women, repeats the same imperialist evangelism adopted by the Bush administration, with the help of former First Lady Laura Bush. The decade-long occupation of Afghanistan has long been marketed as being ‘the good war’ , the ‘just’ war, the war on behalf of Afghan women; even the official name used by the U.S. government for the war on Afghanistan, ”Operation Enduring Freedom“, reeks of white mans burden, which is still very much alive in present-day U.S. war culture.
Despite NATO having committed war-crimes in Afghanistan, Libya, and beyond, Amnesty International has recently commented, in lieu of adverse reaction to the poster advertising the shadow summit, that they take no position against NATO forces and their ongoing occupation of Afghanistan; ”as a matter of policy, Amnesty International doesn’t take a position for or against NATO.” This is unashamed neutrality by an organization which denounces impunity for human rights abuses. Despite the crimes committed by NATO forces in Afghanistan having become repetitive perversities Amnesty International has chosen impartiality.
As Afghan men, women and children continue to be killed in NATO airstrikes the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, established in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1977, and Afghans For Peace, have made their position clear regarding NATO’s presence in Afghanistan:
“I am a daughter of an [Afghan] refugee, and my taxpayer dollars are being used to kill my family. The media is playing this [Afghanistan war] as a “good war” and that it is helping to liberate Afghan women. Bombing Afghanistan into oblivion is not going to help these women. NATO occupation out of Afghanistan!”
– Samira Sayed-Rahman, Afghans for Peace
The Amnesty International poster applauds ‘progress’, which brings with it blood-soaked villages, for the sake of ‘womens rights’; it highlights another occasion of imperialism dressed up in humanitarian clothing.
Roqayah Chamseddine is a US based Lebanese-American journalist, commentator and international human rights activist; she was a member of the first Gaza Freedom March which took place in December of 2009 in Cairo, Egypt.
She is currently working on her first book, ’We Refuse To Perish’; a compelling account of events in Lebanon, specifically in relation to her native Southern Lebanon, prior to and after the 2006 July War.
This article was first published on her website.