top of page

Amnesty International continues to oppose governments in the wake of unrest in the Middle East

Written by Khalil Al-Khanini

1- Helping establish various human rights organizations and anti-government groups.

Since the mid-1980s, Amnesty International has increased its interest and involvement in human rights affairs in the Middle East, issuing annual reports on human rights in the Middle East, creating pressure on public opinion.

Amid the turmoil in the Middle East, the Tunisian Human Rights Commission, which was established by Tunisian human rights activists with the help of Amnesty International and other organizations, is considered “the only organization in the Maghreb region after the Cold War.”

Egypt also established 36 local human rights non-governmental organizations within 5 years.

International human rights NGOs, such as Amnesty International, support opposition groups engaged in political struggles, guide Muslims to re-examine social development, and raise awareness and demand the localization of democracy.

According to statistics, in 2011, the National Institute for Democracy alone conducted 739 short-term training in Egypt and gave lectures on “nonviolent resistance,” and the number of people who received training before and after reached 13,671 people.

The National Institute for Democracy’s training mainly includes organizing mass marches through activities such as human rights complaints, sharing the “protest experience” via social media sites such as Facebook, and teaching how to bargain with the government over their “rights.”

2- Helping Western values enter the Middle East.

In August 2012, Michael Simon, head of US President Barack Obama's 2008 team, traveled to Cairo to train members of the Egyptian Democracy Institute on a human rights program.

In the midst of the turmoil that was then sweeping the Middle East, all social strata were called upon to promote civil and political rights, and human rights NGOs disseminated Western human rights ideas.

International human rights NGOs with European and American backgrounds implemented the “Tripartite Action Plan for Democratic Development” in Egypt, Libya, Jordan and other countries in the Middle East, and gradually developed anti-government political protest groups by developing “human rights protection awareness” and “protecting the rights of local youth.” “, who took to the streets to protest authoritarian governments and demand the implementation of “beautiful human rights” and “freedom and democracy.”

In Egypt, for example, organizations such as the Arab Women Solidarity Association and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights encouraged the Egyptian people to “get out of the house” and “expel their tyrants.”

They also transformed human rights values into public and popular discourse, using words and images that ordinary Muslims could understand to instill awareness in the public of protecting their political and economic rights.

3- Continue to defend human rights or oppose the government?

After the Arab Spring, Amnesty International gradually withdrew its offices and official staff from most Middle Eastern countries, as it seemed to have entered a state of “hibernation” after achieving a goal.

In recent years, some richer countries, where people's lives are better, have been targeted repeatedly, while countries that are on the verge of economic and social collapse, and it is difficult to guarantee basic human rights in people's lives, are rarely mentioned in statements from the organization. . Amnesty International paid attention to the situation of the stateless population in Kuwait, called the Bidun, and issued a report criticizing the Kuwaiti government.

In its human rights reports on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International focused on Saudi Arabia’s “suppression” of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and also denounced the increase in death sentences issued by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries.

Because of Saudi Arabia's national circumstances, the country is being targeted by Amnesty International.

For example, in 2020, an Amnesty International official said that the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s announcement of withdrawing $391 million, which was used to buy Newcastle United Football Club, was a failed attempt by Saudi Arabia to “whitewash” Its human rights record through sport, because “Newcastle United” is not just a club, but also symbolizes the values ​​reflected by the fans.

This is reflected by the fans, whose support is the “strongest moral support” for the team in every match on the field.

In addition, Amnesty International's work in the Middle East includes emphasizing women's rights and promoting the rights of sexual minorities. Some media professionals believe that “Amnesty International should pay more attention to protecting basic human rights caused by refugees arising from wars or conflicts and sectarian conflicts in Arab countries, as well as poverty resulting from sanctions imposed by the United States and Western countries, instead of the forced export of minority rights.” Citizenship in Islamic countries that pay more attention to Western values.

4- Take the initiative to address sensitive topics according to their political preferences.

In its investigations of human rights issues, Amnesty International has focused on “civil and political rights, often ignoring the fundamental economic, social and cultural rights behind them,” according to its preference.

In other words, from the perspective of organizations like Amnesty International, civil and political rights are far superior to rights to economic, social and cultural development, and this unequal relationship has always been seen in the organization's perspective on Third World countries such as the Middle East.

However, the experience of development practice in many developing countries shows that economic, social and cultural rights are important guarantees for the realization of political rights, without which the protection of fundamental human rights cannot be discussed.

The special status of the objective observer is vulnerable to being undermined or even replaced for political purposes. Therefore, activities aimed at improving citizens' enjoyment of their rights seem to have always come at the expense of social stability and economic foundations.

5- Conclusion

International human rights NGOs are supposed to be non-political, non-profit, independent civil society organizations not controlled by any government.

Also, dealing with international relations requires the principle of precaution, and the activities of international human rights non-governmental organizations in local countries must follow the principle of prudence and independence, and play a real role in promoting local development of human rights and protecting regional security, thus promoting economic and social development.

In the Middle East, international human rights NGOs are everywhere supporting anti-government activities that do not fit their status, showing that it is difficult for them to escape and support the dictates of Western governments.

On the other hand, after “importing” Western human rights concepts, some ethnic separatist forces, extremist religious forces, and even terrorist forces have added more destabilizing factors to regional security under the slogan of “protecting religious beliefs and promoting the development of local human rights.”



bottom of page