According to Amnesty International, the centers that host migrants arriving in Italy, known as "hotspots," are like concentration camps. This is what you learn from Amnesty International's new report, which accuses Italy of nothing less than "torturing" migrants. The report features a sequence of testimonies, never proven, that describe methods worthy of a South American military junta.
The report validates Salman Rushdie's accusation against Amnesty International: "Morally bankrupt." The Wall Street Journal added two more charges against the famous Western non-governmental organization (NGO): "Anti-American fervor and intellectual confusion".
In the new Amnesty International report, a "witness," under the name of only "Adam," speaks of "a kind of clamp with three ends" by which Italian policemen allegedly grabbed his testicles. Evidence? Medical reports attesting to this violence? The version of the Italian police? Not in the wonderful world of Amnesty International, where a Western democracy can be safely accused of "torture" with flimsy, sub-standard, unverifiable "evidence" -- the same as Amnesty's many spurious charges against Israel. The Italian police and Interior Ministry denied all the charges, calling them ridiculous.
Already in February 2016, Antonio Marchesi, president of the Italian section of Amnesty, said: "Those in Italy who have committed acts of torture can sleep soundly." A month ago, Amnesty issued a similar report on the immigration centers in Australia, another democracy denounced as a "torturer" by this now badly-degraded NGO that won the now badly-degraded Nobel Peace Prize in 1977.
The world owes a debt of gratitude to Amnesty -- it fought hard to free political prisoners held by Communist regimes during the Cold War, and those held by South Africa's Apartheid regime. But those days are gone. Now Amnesty keeps betraying its symbol: the light of its small candle trapped in barbed wire.
In 2005, Irene Khan, then secretary general of Amnesty, described the American detention center in Guantanamo Bay as "the Gulag of our time." She compared the Soviet forced-labor camps, where three million people died of hunger, cold and executions, to a US military base where no prisoner has died, and which has prevented countless innocent civilians from being blown up.
It seems that Amnesty International abandoned the battle of human rights in favor of a grotesque anti-Western bias. This shift is why the British weekly, The Economist, accused Amnesty International of "reserving more pages to human rights abuses in Britain and the United States than in Belarus and Saudi Arabia." This is the same muddled moral equivalence that probably led Amnesty International to use the same language for Italian "hotspots" as for the Saydnaya prison in Syria, run by the regime of Bashar al Assad.
If Guantanamo is the new Gulag, why not demand the arrest of its commander-in-chief? This is precisely what Amnesty did two years ago, when it asked Canada to arrest George W. Bush. "Canada is obliged to arrest and prosecute Bush for his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture", said Susan Lee, Amnesty International's Americas programme director. Amnesty's also charged Obama of "war crimes". The Western "war on terror"? According to Amnesty, "it is sowing fear". US drone strikes? A "war crime."
The NGO has also accused Israel of "war crimes." Alan Dershowitz summarizes Amnesty International's definition of Israel's "war crimes": "Whatever Israel does to defend its citizens." A report by NGO Monitor detailed "Amnesty's repeated examples of "lawfare"; systematic flaws in the reporting of human rights abuses; limited understanding of armed conflict leading to erroneous claims and incorrect analysis; and violation of the universality of human rights, including a consistent institutionalized bias against Israel through double-standards". There are even Amnesty's officials who called the Jewish State "a scum state."
In the name of "protecting human rights," Amnesty International has even excused Islamic extremism. The secretary general of Amnesty, Claudio Cordone, said that "defensive jihad" is not "antithetical" to the struggle for human rights. He said this in response to a petition on Amnesty's relationship with CAGE (formerly CagePrisoners), the NGO founded by Islamic extremist Moazzam Begg that campaigns for the release of acclaimed jihadists.
One prominent leader of Amnesty, Karima Bennoune, author of the book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, wrote:
"During my years at Amnesty I shared the concerns about torture in Algeria, but I could not understand the organization's paltry response to the violence of fundamentalist groups."
She is not the first Amnesty official who has flung criticism at her own organization. Amnesty suspended one of its senior officers, Gita Sahgal, for having expressed some concerns. "To be appearing on platforms with Britain's most famous supporter of the Taliban, whom we treat as a human rights defender is a gross error of judgment," she wrote.
There was a time when Amnesty International defended the victims of ideological repression, such as the wife of Soviet writer Boris Pasternak, Olga Ivinskaya, who spent years under arrest and persecuted for her husband's refusal to bow down to the Kremlin. Now, the Times of London has documented links between Amnesty International officials and Islamists.
Today, Amnesty evidently considers freedom of expression something to use with "responsibility," as Amnesty claimed during the Mohammed cartoons crisis. Is freedom of speech the right to say whatever you like, about any topic, whenever you want? Not according to Amnesty International, the watchdog group that today would apparently have lectured the great Soviet dissidents to write with "responsibility."
Amnesty International sponsored a rally in Brussels, where Islamist speakers celebrated the 9/11 attacks, denied the Holocaust, and demonized gays and Jews. Before that, Amnesty refused to punish an official, Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty's UK campaign manager, who tweeted: "Israeli regimes [sic] response to our Gaza report: Amnesty is 'a propaganda tool for Hamas & other terror groups' (#JSIL?)." The hashtag "#JSIL" is used on Twitter to compare Israel with the Islamic State terrorist organization by replacing "Islamic" with "Jewish" in the group's common alias, ISIL. Amnesty also sponsored a speaking tour of Bassem Tamimi, a Palestinian militant who promotes anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Given Amnesty International's embarrassing record, it is at least doubtful that the Italian police and authorities are "torturing" migrants whom they have so generously been rescuing at sea for more than two years.
Some in the Western "human rights establishment" have crossed the red line that separates the defense of human rights, even for terrorists, from complicity and collusion with repressive totalitarian ideas.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.