Teemings - some analysis required?

Hey, all.

Not to sound uncaring, but, has anyone applied “Cecil-style” analysis to the regular column “Prisoners of Conscience” by Arnold Winkleried ???



How true are these stories?

I hate having my heartstrings tugged falsely :slight_smile:

Well, first of all, Arnold Winkelreid is using information from Amnesty International. Whether or not you consider AI to be an unimpeachable source is a matter of personal conscience; that is, you can write them off as left-leaning bald-faced liars, or you can accept them as honest people fighting for a noble cause. Your choice.

AFAIK, Amnesty International gets its information from victims of oppression, from families of victims, or from journalists working in areas of oppression. I’m not saying that everything they report is 100% accurate 100% of the time; no news outlet is ever that lucky. Facts always tend to get garbled along the lines of communication. But I’m sure they’re doing the best they can.

I’m not sure you “Cecil-style” analysis can even be applied here. In the case of this month’s article about torture in Turkey, I suppose you could call up some Turkish officials to get their side of the story, but I doubt you’d get very far.


Well, I’ll be damned. I haven’t the faintest idea which is the best forum for questions about Teemings.

I’ll shoot this thread to About This Message Board for now, and send off an email to Euty and David B to see what I should do with future ones.

One of the difficulties of investigating the victims is being sure when the oppression is real, or imagined, or politicized, or even misplaced. I have not heard a rationale from the Libyan terrorist recently convicted, but I would not be at all surprised to hear that he considers himself “oppressed” and “victimized”.

No one wants to condemn the victims. The problem is that it’s not always easy to figure out who the victims are, especially nowadays when manipulation of the media is such a convenient political tool. “Hey, I know, let’s put a bunch of children on the front lines, throwing rocks – that’ll arouse public sympathy!”

I have no idea where this should go either, but I’d suggest Great Debates. It sure don’t feel like it belongs here.

We decided a while back that any discussion of Teemings would go to MPSIMS, so I’ll shoot that over there.

Amnesty International is, AFAIK, very careful in wording their actions. Let’s take a look at the current POC article in the latest issue of Teemings.

«Zeynep Avci was reportedly tortured, including being raped and sexually abused, while held in incommunicado detention. The alleged perpetrators have still not been investigated.»

Notice the words reportedly and alleged.

«The 21-year-old Kurdish woman was arrested in Izmir on 24 November 1996 on suspicion of being a member of the illegal armed opposition group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).»

Easily verified fact.

«She was reportedly held by the anti-terror branch at Izmir police headquarters until 3 December before being transferred to the same branch in Istanbul, spending a total of up to 25 days in incommunicado detention.»

Again, the word reportedly is used.

«The maximum period for detention in police custody then permitted by the Turkish Criminal Procedure Code was 15 days.»

Easily verified fact.

«Zeynep Avci said that during her detention at Izmir police headquarters she was given electric shocks repeatedly over several hours; a truncheon was inserted into her anus and she was forced to sit on it until she bled; and one officer, believed to be of a high rank, then raped her.»

Repeating what Zeynep Avci said. Again, easy to verify that she claims this. Note that AI doesn’t say that it’s true.

«A formal complaint was submitted by Zeynep Avci’s lawyer in May 1997, but the Izmir prosecutor decided not to investigate the charges because he was told it was impossible to get medical verification of her claims. When her case, which is still ongoing, went to the European Court of Human Rights the Turkish authorities reportedly tried to tarnish her reputation by alluding to previous sexual encounters. »

Again, easily verified facts, except for the motives behind the actions of the Turkish authorities, where once again the word allegedly is used.

«Zeynep Avci, who has been in Gebze prison since her arrest and still awaits the outcome of her trial, began receiving psychological therapy in March 1999, though she stopped after three sessions because security officers insisted on being present. In November 1999, she was diagnosed as suffering from chronic post traumatic stress disorder.»

Easily verified facts.

«Please write, calling for a full and impartial investigation into Zeynep Avci’s allegations of torture and ill-treatment.»

What does Amnesty International ask for? An investigation of the charges. What’s wrong with that?

Let me correct a common misconception here. AI has no political “bias” of any kind. Its research is used by people with a wide variety of political affiliations. e.g. President George Bush (Sr.) mentioned in public statements AI reports about human rights violations in Iraq at the time of the Gulf War, using those as one of the justifications for the armed intervention. Of course, those same reports were ignored by the State Department in previous years when the USA was interested in commercial relations with Iraq, but I digress.

I would hate to think that opposing torture would be only a “left-wing” cause.

Hmmm. This has to be some sort of record for the number of posts in a thread by moderators. Well, in a thread that doesn’t have “Moderators Suck” in the title somewhere.

Carry on.


Allow me to clarify: I personally don’t believe AI has a political bias one way or the other. I’m just saying that there are some who would accuse them as such, for whatever reason. Maybe their opposition to the death penalty? Who knows? I’m just saying that there are people who would write them off as bald-faced, left-leaning liars. Not me, of course. I was trying to demonstrate to the OP an extreme view of AI (again, no a view held by me).

rastahomie - no fear! I realize that you were “on my side”. I did want to mention though that AI is apolitical because many people don’t realise that.

I forgot to address this point. Very possibly the Libyan terrorist considers himself “oppressed”. However, I will refer you again to the article in Teemings, specifically to the discussion of Amnesty International’s mandate: «release all prisoners of conscience: people confined because of their beliefs or because of their ethnic origin, sex, color, or language, who have not used or called for violence.» Amnesty International would obviously not consider the convicted Libyan terrorist a “prisoner of conscience”.

However, the mandate also says:
«give all prisoners whose cases have a political aspect a fair trial within a reasonable time.» Notice the difference. How is a fair trail within a reasonable time not a justifiable request?

Additionally, we ask that no one be tortured in jail, and the end of all extrajudicial executions and disappearances.

In my work with Amnesty International, I have never heard anyone dispute the sections of the mandate listed above. Where the most passionate discussions arise (in the USA) are for this part of the mandate: «abolish the death penalty». So far there have been no DP cases in Teemings. Mostly because Eutychus55 and DavidB are my colleagues and friends and I don’t want a storm of criticism to descend upon them, since many (most) of the readers of Teemings will be from the USA.

Even if AI doesn’t have a political bias (i.e. leftist or rightist) they could be accused of exaggerating or falsely reporting instances of human rights violations, not necessarily deliberately, but perhaps because their mindset (paranoid or, more likely, justifiable) that the world is full of awful torturers predisposes them to believe each report of such abuses.

I am not accusing them of being biased. As Arnold pointed out, Amenesty is typically careful to report accurately, and is probably among the most universally-admired activist organizations. I’m just saying that the OP’s instictive skepticism about such emotionally-charged issues is commendable. Careful reading of these claims is prudent.

Podakyne, your point is well-taken. I have been trying to find some study on the accuracy rate of the claims of Human Rights organizations in general and Amnesty International in particular. If I find anything I’ll post it here.