CEEC Calls For Resignation of Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard
August 12, 2022
TORONTO- The Central and Eastern European Council of Canada, representing the interests of 4.5 million Canadians of Central and Eastern European heritage calls on Amnesty International and Amnesty Canada to retract their recent report which justifies Russian war crimes against Ukraine and echoes Russian propaganda and disinformation narrative and for the resignation of Secretary General, Agnes Callamard.
The report published by Amnesty International, titled “Ukrainian fighting tactics endanger civilians” claims that Ukrainian forces “have put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas.” The report fails to recognize that, Ukrainian forces are required to be stationed inside urban areas under threat of Russian attack in order to defend them. The residents of villages, towns and cities in Central, Eastern and Southern Urkaine have endured shelling, arbitrary arrest, torture, systematic sexual violence and mass murder by invading Russian forces for the past six months – regardless of whether Ukrainian armed forces have been present or not. Using the twisted logic applied to this Amnesty report, the mere existence of Ukraine as a sovereign nation would be blamed for inviting invasion by Russian forces, and the presence of Ukrainian women in villages and towns occupied by Russian forces would be blamed for inviting sexual violence by Russian soldiers.
Canadians expect Amnesty International to hold authoritarian regimes that engage in mass human rights and war crimes to account, not to justify them. The failure of Amnesty International to address the concerns of local staff about flaws within the report has led to the resignation of the head of Amnesty’s Ukraine chapter, Oksana Pokalchuk.
The Amnesty report has been exploited by Russian government propagandists to justify its attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure citing it “as proof that Ukraine was using civilians as human shields.”
This is not the first time Amnesty International has assisted Russia’s authoritarian government. In 2021, it removed Russian anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, who had been poisoned and imprisoned by Russian authorities, from its list of political prisoners. Amnesty’s inexplicable downgrading of Navalny’s status represented a major victory for Vladimir Putin. Despite apologizing for turning a blind eye to Russian human rights abuse, Amnesty International has done more to an enable Russian violations of human rights and war crimes than to deter them.
The CEEC calls on Amnesty Canada to publicly reject Amnesty’s report and to impose mandatory training for its staff about the nature of Russian information and influence operations, and those undertaken by other unlawful authoritarian regimes.
All war crimes require our attention, regardless of who has committed them. The growing list of atrocities committed by Russia’s invading forces must be investigated and their perpetrators must be brought to justice. Any justification of Russian human rights abuse and war crimes – whether inadvertent, indirect or unintended – amounts to denialism.
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