Thursday, December 10, 2009

Amnesty International Response to My Letter Protesting Chomsky Lecture

I received what turns out to be a form letter from Amnesty International UK in response to my complaint about Chomsky's guest lecture recently. Here is the full text:

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Dear Mr Johnson,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the delivery of this year’s Amnesty International Annual Lecture in Belfast by Professor Noam Chomsky.
Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding.

I understand that the issue with which you are concerned is a very serious one. However, Professor Chomsky was an external guest speaker at the event and his views are not necessarily representative of those of Amnesty International. The lecture has been given by numerous people over the years – journalists, former Guantánamo detainees and serving national presidents. The opinions they put forward are not Amnesty policy, nor does their giving the lecture imply complete agreement between Amnesty and the individual on every topic.

The decision to invite Professor Chomsky to deliver the Belfast lecture was made by Amnesty International UK. We felt that he was a speaker of international repute with views on international affairs that would be of interest to the event’s audience.

Whilst Amnesty International UK continues to believe that its decision was legitimate, we recognize that it is contentious. We do not believe that the invitation implied endorsement of his views on the Balkans conflicts or any other subject. We acknowledge that it has caused offence to some, and this is of particular concern where the complainants are survivors or witnesses to the human rights abuses in the Balkans. This was not our intent, and we apologise for any offence we have caused to you through the lecture or collateral publicity. We should note that we have made Professor Chomsky aware of some of the criticism and he believes that it is based on misrepresentation of his views and comments.

Amnesty’s view on the conflict and the abuses that took place is very clear, however. We are committed to pursuing justice for the victims of the Srebrenica massacre and other human rights abuses, and for their families. In fact we released a new report as recently as September, looking at the failure to provide justice for thousands of women who were raped during the conflict in Bosnia.


Best wishes,
Gordon Bennett

Supporter Care Team
Amnesty International UK
Tel: 020 7033 1777
www.amnesty.org.uk

Amnesty International UK
The Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard
London
EC2A 3EA

1 comment:

Owen said...

Wet. It does suggest Amnesty would like to establish some form of distance between their views and Chomsky's, but without saying anything specific. Shamefully they shy away from using the word genocide in relation to Srebrenica and they avoid using the word systematic in relation to the rapes in Bosnia. They ignore the Trnopolje/Prijedor issue entirely. It's pretty cowardly stuff, on reflection.