Human Rights and Amnesty

Amnesty International (AI) is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights. It is one of the foremost institutions, recognized worldwide, towards the fight for individual human rights.

Why is it called “Amnesty”? The definition of “Amnesty” is: “A general pardon granted by a government, especially for political offenses”, or as a verb, “To grant a general pardon to.”

Think about it. Why should human rights originate from a pardon? Isn’t a right, a right? Does it have to be pardoned and then granted?

No. Human individual rights are inviolable, they cannot be ‘granted’ or ‘pardoned’. Then why is the world’s foremost human rights activist organization called “Amnesty”?

The answer, as often is the case, is economical, my friends. Amnesty International is funded by the Vatican. Remember Original Sin? According to the Christian doctrine, human rights can originate only if God ‘pardons’ man, hence the word “Amnesty”.

Isn’t this a logical paradox? Yes, it is. So what does Amnesty International think about abortion?

So far, it has been “neutral” on the topic. Now, someone inside Amnesty has had a rational light bulb moment, and they’ve decided that Amnesty will support abortion in cases of rape or incest. The Vatican is up in arms, as expected.

Human Rights and Catholicism? You must be joking! But, we aren’t. This is the truth. Sigh.

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19 thoughts on “Human Rights and Amnesty

  1. wonderful, wonderful post!
    I never cared to go deep into the word amnesty, and it is good that i happened to ponder over to your blog.

    I completely agree with you on this post. Human rights should be completely inviolable. Though sometime back as a Christian, even I was anti-abortions. But now as a pantheist, I hold very different viewpoints.

  2. I’m going to make explicit of what I thought you hinted.
    Human rights are supreme, universal, above anything else. An organization that takes diktats from another organization that believes only God is supreme, cannot be expected to be the upholder of human rights.

  3. As in many, even most, instances in the real world, it is all about the money. If a doctor takes consulting fees from a device or drug company and writes on their own product, he will stretch credulity if he says good things about it and maintain that he was being objective and true to his work (review of the device/drug). Similarly, if Amnesty is in bed with X, you can definitely take it as a fait accompli that they will be less than objective, and even crooked, about things that involve religious ‘rights’.
    Good one, Mahendra!
    ASIDE: I have (as MMP said about me in Self Center) a slight concern for you: your Freudian slip is sort of becoming your default mode. So far, the world has called me Rambodoc. You are calling me Rambodic?!

  4. Fait accompli: They can’t accomplish much in human rights if they believe in fate!

    No no, this was not that sort of a slip. This was inspiration from Prerna! 🙂

  5. Never make such affirmative statements, my friend. And never underestimate the experiences of others.

    I have spent the last 5 years of my life researching and adapting all kinds of different philosophies, understanding the great depths of them. I was born a Hindu, I became a passionate Atheist, then an Agnostic; after which I was a passionate Christian. And now I am a Pantheist.

    FYI, Pantheism is NOT a religion. It is a philosophical and logical belief system. And the “god” of pantheism is not define in anyway close to the “god” of any other religion!

  6. Narziss: I didn’t mean to underestimate or offend you or you to take me seriously. I was just joking. You have the full freedom and right to believe and choose your own philosophy as you deem fit.

  7. Very interesting post. Just thought I should clarify a couple points, though. My understanding is that Amnesty is not, in fact, affiliated with the Catholic Church or the Vaitcan. It was founded by a lay Catholic, and the reason the name Amnesty was chosen is that the original focus of the organization was on freeing political prisoners (obtaining amnesty for them). Still, in a broader context of human rights and religion, and nonprofit funding, I do think you bring up some important points. Please let me know if you’d like links with the Amnesty info–I’m not sure if your comment app will cut them out or not.

  8. Sneaksleep: thank you very much for shedding more light on the issue. Yes, I concede that the Vatican does not officially fund AI. But the Catholic Church has been a “long time ally” and strong supporter of AI, and many of AI’s members are Catholic.

    Regarding roots of the name “Amnesty”, you’re probably right. But when the organization decided on focusing on human rights in general, and not just political prisoners, it should have chosen a better, more representative title. Did the Catholic upbringing of many of its members play a role? I’m not sure.

    Anyhow I’m glad they’re supporting abortion at least in cases of crimes against women!

    Once again, thanks for visiting and sharing.

    PS: feel free to include links in the comments. Just that if there are 2 or more links, the comment will come to me for moderation.

  9. Hi again (and thanks for stopping by my blog). Here’s a link to the most relevant part of the FAQ on Amnesty’s site: http://web.amnesty.org/pages/aboutai-faq-eng#6

    I agree that there have been many Catholic members of Amnesty over the years, and that has undoubtedly had some influence on some of the organization’s decisions (given the democratic process they use to set priorities)–though that influence clearly wasn’t enough to stop the new policy on abortion from going into effect. As for the name, I suppose it could have been Catholic influence that led to keeping it even after the human rights goals were expanded, but the pragmatist in me thinks it had much more to to with branding.

  10. mahendra – do you think as a whole Amnesty International has a “catholic view” because of this? Are they doing a lot of good, or do you think even in that there is always a possibility of an ulterior motive and so really we can’t give them any credit until this connection is removed?

    On the other hand, if not, are we splitting hairs and perhaps being too idealistic? If one must evaluate every organization AND every individual by all their collective actions and intentions – then we will find no one is perfect. Many of us speak “talk the talk”, we rarely walk it.

    I guess I am sort of ambivalent here. I am willing in general to give organizations credit usually if they truly did help things become better in situations (even in causes funded by religious organizations). But they do only if they are also allowed to do religious sermons and conversions to the people they are helping – that would cross the line and no longer fall into advancement of pure human rights. But then are they really that different from government aid 🙂 ?

  11. Sneaksleep: Regarding the name, we can only theorize. I would love if your pramatist conjecture is true, but what makes me a pessimist in this regard is the overall conservativist movement gripping the western world.

    Arun: When I wrote the post, I was under the impression that the Vatican is officially funding AI. Sneaksleep corrected my perceptions. The hair-splitting was never about whether in general AI is doing a lot of good or not.

    In my post, I also wanted to make the distinction that Priyank made explicit, that human rights are inviolable, and cannot be granted. I will still stand by that hair-splitting! 🙂

    I think I’m wholeheartedly with your stance regarding giving credit to organizations. It is difficult for any group of people to come together and do some real good, and as long as they don’t impinge on other human rights, they must be applauded!

  12. I completely agree with Priyank and you, Mahendra, that human rights are intrinsic to humans and they do not need to be granted to us by any organization, government, or deity. They are our birthright. Governments etc. that do not recognize our rights, or that violate them, are acting criminally.

  13. manhendra: I certainly agree that human rights are intrinsic and is not something that is granted.

    Not as a counter to anything that has been said: I wonder if there is universal agreement to the definition “human rights” – like mentioned in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights? And when I mean universal, I do not mean “general consensus” – I mean universal as in intrinsic, inviolable etc. etc. It says “the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law.” If so, doesn’t it have non-absolute (i.e. uncertain and dynamic – not finding the right word here) terms? For example – “Freedom of thought”, “Freedom of expression” and “Law”.

    I mean most of us feel that human rights are intrinsic as a universally applicable thing – but do all of us share the same idea of human rights? If not, what does that mean? Consider a simple thing: The law says I cannot enter your free, democratic country without a visa and passport, and cannot stay beyond a certain time. Now how exactly is it upholding my basic, intrinsic right as a human?

  14. Arun: thanks for raising these questions. The term “human rights” does not have “universal agreement” or “general consensus” not because the concept has “non-absolute” terms, but because the concept does not have a universal definition, based upon a rational epistemology, to which all mankind agrees.

    The rational definition of human rights does indeed have absolute terms, including freedom of thought and expression.

    Human rights are indeed intrinsic and are universally applicable, but not all humans share the same definition of it. So, the question, what does it mean, has to have a context. If it is a rational philosophical context, there are clear answers. If it is based on the current human context, the answer depends upon who are you talking about?

    Regarding the specific example you cite regarding not being able to enter a free, democratic country without a visa, which intrinsic human right are you referring to? You cannot enter your neighbor’s house without his permission. Just like you protect your home from outsiders, a democratic country’s people protect its country from outsiders, with a certain foreign policy regarding who should enter, and how, and for what. As a human, you do not have the right to enter and gain the benefits of living in a foreign land, just by the fact of being human.

    I apologize if I’m not getting your point.

  15. mahendra – My point is if it has non-absolute, and dynamic aspects in its definition, then how can it be intrinsic, inviolable and never something “that is granted”. I would think then it must be above creations of individual humans or socities e.g. countries, particularly stuff which can change across generations. For example, when you are born to this world – did you agree to all the borders of all the counties in the world? Why cant I settle in some remote corner in Montana where no one else is living? Conversely aren’t you *granted* citizenship and thus the rights that go along?

    So my point (if any!) is that many aspects of human rights are indeed granted.

    Btw, don’t worry if you didn’t get my point, I am not sure I got it myself ;). I was just “Thinking out aloud” – I was not making an argument on something I was sure of. So it probably has enough holes.

  16. Arun: I made a mistake in my comment above that I’ve corrected. I should’ve said “The rational definition of human rights does indeed have absolute terms”. Apologies for that. I maintain that human rights are intrinsic, inviolable, and not ‘granted’.

    Coming back to the point of “citizenship” and border of countries, etc.: in the rational definition of human rights, just by being born in one place, one doesn’t get any “right to property”, or any right to access or enter anyone else’s property. Citizenship is not a human right. In fact, far in the future, there may be a country that grants “probationary citizenship” to everyone born there. Only when the probationary citizen reaches adulthood (at whatever age may be specified as adulthood then, it’s currently 18 in most countries), he will go through an evaluation process, much like the ‘green card’ processing of the US. If the individual passes, he will be granted citizenship. If he shows Leftist tendencies, he will be expelled from the country! 🙂

    I don’t think there is any violation of human rights in the above scenario.

    Regarding living in a remote area of Montana where no one else is living: that land belongs to the US Government. Human rights do not give you the right to squat over another’s property.

    But if I get your general drift, that many aspects of rights are granted, yes. There are many rights granted to citizens, and they differ from country to country, depending upon its constitutional and legal framework. But these rights (that are in addition to, and over and above, human rights), are not what we refer to as “human rights”. I think this is where your doubts are coming from. Such rights are indeed “granted”.

    It is another matter altogether, that there are many countries whose laws undercut human rights!

  17. Amnesty International is fun. They’re everywhere and they’re doing everything. Just like Greenpeace and other “founded by humans for humans” organisations.

    Human rights should be controlled in some cases. There should be no pardons for those who have killed, raped or who have done something really bad without any or very stupid reason. This, of course, doesn’t include Vendetta.

    And Amnesty International should be cancelled.

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