PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Allegations of torture by U.S. agents and military personnel in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay have undercut the work of human rights workers worldwide, said the new leader of Amnesty International USA.
The group, which works to free political prisoners through letter-writing and other campaigns that bring to light human rights violations, has found its work to be more difficult because of the torture allegations, Larry Cox said.
“It’s directly undercut activists around the world who used to look to the United States as a model,” he said.
Cox becomes executive director of the U.S. section of the worldwide human rights group on Monday, succeeding William Schulz. The group is scheduled to hold its annual general meeting this weekend in Portland.
Cox worked for Amnesty in the 1970s and ’80s but left to join Sting in his Rainforest Foundation, which worked to protect people in South America from developers cutting forests. He then worked for a decade awarding human rights grants from the Ford Foundation.
“I can’t remember a time in my lifetime when the idea of human rights was under more attack than it is now,” the 60-year-old Cleveland native said.
On Friday, Amnesty plans to sponsor a downtown rally on the second anniversary of the release of photos showing U.S. military personnel abusing detainees at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.
Nearly a dozen soldiers have been convicted in connection with Abu Ghraib, many of them contending they were following orders aimed at preparing prisoners for interrogation. The U.S. military has also opened at least 400 investigations of prisoner abuse allegations.
Note from the publishers of Religion News Blog:
The publishers of Religion News Blog are supporting members of Amnesty International. We urge our readers to also support Amnesty International, Amnesty International USA and/or New York-based Human Rights Watch.
In 1999 – long before recent US human rights abuses at home and abroad were documented – US-based Human Rights Watch wrote:
“The United States has long regarded itself as a beacon of human rights, as evidenced by an enlightened constitution, judicial independence, and a civil society grounded in strong traditions of free speech and press freedom. But the reality is more complex; for decades, civil rights and civil liberties groups have exposed constitutional violations and challenged abusive policies and practices. In recent years, as well, international human rights monitors have documented serious gaps in U.S. protections of the human rights of vulnerable groups. Both federal and state governments have nonetheless resisted applying to the U.S. the standards that, rightly, the U.S. applies elsewhere.”
– Source: Human Rights Watch
In recent years the situation has worsened significantly. We urge our readers to take action by supporting human rights. And we urge Christians, especially, to stop worshipping their government – and to start holding those in leadership accountable.