Amnesty International’s Kangaroo Report on Syria

AI Syria 19e96

Introduction

Amnesty International (AI) has done some good investigations and reports over the years. This has won them widespread support.  However, less well recognized, Amnesty International has also carried out faulty investigations contributing to bloody and disastrous actions. One prominent example is in Iraq, where AI “corroborated” the false story that Iraqi soldiers were stealing incubators from Kuwait, leaving babies to die on the cold floor. The deception was planned and carried out in Washington DC to influence the public and Congress.  A more recent example is from 2011 where false accusations were being made about Libya and its leader as Western and Persian Gulf powers sought to overthrow the Gaddafi government. AI leaders joined the campaign claiming that Gaddafi was using “mercenaries” to threaten and kill peacefully protesting civilians. The propaganda was successful in muting criticism. Going far beyond a UN Security Council resolution to “protect civilians”, NATO launched sustained air attacks and toppled the Libyan government leading to chaos, violence and a flood of refugees. AI later refuted the “mercenary” accusations but the damage was done.

The Sensational New Amnesty International Report

On 7 February Amnesty International released a new report titled “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydnaya Prison”. It has received huge uncritical review in mainstream and liberal media.

Like the Iraq/Kuwait incubator story and the Libyan ‘mercenary’ story, the “Human Slaughterhouse” report is coming at a critical time. The consequences of the AI report are to accuse and convict the Syrian government of horrible atrocities against civilians.  AI explicitly calls for the international community to take “action”.

As will be shown below, the AI report is biased and partial. To the extent that it is resulting in a widespread kangaroo conviction of the Syrian government, the AI release can be called a “Kangaroo Report”.

Problems with the Report

1) The Amnesty International report on Syria violates their own research standards.  As documented by Prof Tim Hayward here, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, claims that Amnesty does its research in a very systematic, primary, way where we collect evidence with our own staff on the ground. And every aspect of our data collection is based on corroboration and cross-checking from all parties, even if there are, you know, many parties in any situation because of all of the issues we deal with are quite contested. So it’s very important to get different points of view and constantly cross check and verify the facts.’ As documented below, the Amnesty report fails on all counts: they rely on third parties, they did not gather different points of view and they did not cross-check.

2) The report conclusions are not based on primary sources, material evidence or their own staff; they are solely based on the claims of anonymous individuals, mostly in southern Turkey from where the war on Syria is coordinated.

3) Amnesty gathered witnesses and testimonies from only one side of the conflict: the Western and Persian Gulf supported opposition. For example, AI consulted with the Syrian Network for Human Rights which is known to seek NATO intervention in Syria. AI “liased” with the Commission for International Justice and Accountability. This organization is funded by the West to press criminal charges against the Syrian leadership. These are obviously not neutral, independent or nonpartisan organizations. If AI was doing what the Secretary General claims they do, they would have consulted with organizations within or outside Syria to hear different accounts of life at Saydnaya Prison.  Since the AI report has been released, the AngryArab has published the account of a Syrian dissident, Nizar Nayyouf, who was imprisoned at Saydnaya. He contradicts many statements in the Amnesty International report. This is the type of cross-checking which Amnesty International failed to do for this important study.

4) Amnesty’s accusation that executions were “extrajudicial” is exaggerated or false. By Amnesty’s own description, each prisoner appeared briefly before a judge and each execution was authorized by a high government leader. We do not know if the judge looked at documentation or other information regarding each prisoner. One could argue that the process was superficial but it’s clear there was some kind of judicial process.

5) Amnesty’s suggestion that all Saydnaya prisoners are convicted is false.  Amnesty quotes one of their witnesses who says about the court: “The judge will ask the name of the detainee and whether he committed the crime. Whether the answer is yes or no, he will be convicted.” This assertion is contradicted by a former Saydnaya prisoner who is now a refugee in Sweden. In this news report the former prisoner says the judge “asked him how many soldiers he had killed. When he said none, the judge spared him.” This is evidence that there is a judicial process of some sort and there are acquittals.

6) The Amnesty report includes satellite photographs with captions which are meaningless or erroneous. For example, as pointed out by Syrian dissident Nizar Nayyouf, the photo on page 30 showing a Martyrs Cemetery is “silly beyond silly”. The photo and caption show the cemetery doubled in size. However, this does not prove hangings of prisoners who would never be buried in a “martyrs cemetery” reserved for Syrian army soldiers. On the contrary, it confirms the fact which Amnesty International otherwise ignores:  Syrian soldiers have died in large numbers.

7) The Amnesty report falsely claims, based on data provided by one of the groups seeking NATO intervention, “The victims are overwhelmingly ordinary civilians who are thought to oppose the government.”  While it’s surely true that innocent civilians are sometimes wrongly arrested, as happens in all countries, the suggestion that Saydnaya prison is filled with 95% “ordinary civilians” is preposterous. Amnesty International can make this claim with a straight face because they have effectively “disappeared” the reality of Syria. Essential facts which are completely missing from the Amnesty report include:

  1. Western powers and Persian Gulf monarchies have put up billions of dollars annually since 2011 to fund, train, weaponize, provide salaries and propaganda in support of a violent campaign to overthrow the Syrian government;
  2. tens of thousands of foreign fanatics have invaded Syria;
  3. tens of thousands of Syrians have been radicalized and paid by Wahhabi monarchies in the Persian Gulf to overthrow the government;
  4. over 100 THOUSAND Syrian Army and National Defense soldiers have been killed defending their country. Most of this is public information yet ignored by Amnesty International and other media in the West. They have done a massive distortion and cover-up of reality.

8) Without providing evidence, Amnesty International accuses the highest Sunni religious leader in Syria, Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, of authorizing the execution of “ordinary civilians”. The Grand Mufti is a personal victim: his son was murdered by terrorists near Aleppo. Yet he has consistently called for reconciliation. Following the assassination of his son, Grand Mufti Hassoun gave an eloquent speech expressing forgiveness for the murderers and calling for an end to the violence. What does it say about Amnesty International that they make these kind of specific personal accusations, against people who have personally suffered, yet provide zero evidence?

9) Amnesty uses sensational and emotional accusations in place of factual evidence. The title of the report is  “Human Slaughterhouse”. What goes with a “slaughterhouse”?  Why of course ….. a “meat fridge”!  The report uses the expression “meat fridge” seven separate times, presumably in an attempt to buttress the association.  Even the opening quotation is hyperbolic: “Saydnaya is the end of life – the end of humanity”.  This report is in sharp contrast with fact-based objective research and investigation; it is closer to perception management and manipulation.

10) Amnesty International accusations that the Syrian government is carrying out a policy of “extermination” are contradicted by the fact that the vast majority of Syrians prefer to live in government controlled areas. When the “rebels” were finally driven out of East Aleppo in December 2016, 90% of civilians rushed into government controlled areas. In recent days, civilians from Latakia province who had been imprisoned by terrorists for the past 3 years have been liberated in a prisoner exchange. The following video shows the Syrian President and first lady meeting with some of the civilians and gives a sense of the joy.

11) The Amnesty report is accompanied by a 3 minute cartoon which gives the false narrative that Syrian civilians who protest peacefully are imprisoned and executed. The cartoon is titled “Saydnaya Prison: Human Slaughterhouse”. Apparently Amnesty International is in denial of the fact that there are many tens of thousands of violent extremists in Syria. They set off car bombs, launch mortars and otherwise attack civilian areas every day. While there are mistakes from time to time, and also cases of corruption and bribery, it makes no sense that Syrian security or prison authorities would be wasting time and resources with non-violent civilians when there are tens of thousands of foreign sponsored actual terrorists in the country. The AI accusation is also contradicted by the fact that there are many opposition parties in Syria. They compete for seats in the National Assembly and campaign openly for public support from both the right and left of the Baath Party.

12) The Amnesty claim that Syrian authorities brutally repress peaceful protest is also contradicted by the Syrian reconciliation process. For the past several years armed opposition militants have been encouraged to lay down their weapons and peacefully rejoin society. This is largely unreported in western media because it contradicts the false stereotype presented by Amnesty International and western media in general. A recent example is reported here.

13) The Amnesty report cites the “Caesar” photographs as supporting evidence but ignores the fact that nearly half the photographs show the opposite of what was claimed. The widely publicized “Caesar photographs” was a Qatari funded hoax designed to sabotage the 2014 Geneva negotiations as documented here.

14) The Amnesty report makes many accusations against the Syrian government but ignores the violation of Syrian sovereignty being committed by western and Persian Gulf countries. It is a curious fact that big NGOs such as Amnesty International focus on violations of “human rights law” and “humanitarian law” but ignore the crime of aggression, also called the crime against peace.  According to the Nuremberg Tribunal, this is “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister and former President of the U.N. General Assembly, Father Miguel D’Escoto, is someone who should know. He says, “What the U.S. government is doing in Syria is tantamount to a war of aggression, which, according to the Nuremberg Tribunal, is the worst possible crime a State can commit against another State.” Amnesty International ignores this.

Background and Context

The co-author of this Amnesty International report is Nicolette Waldman (Boehland). She was uncritically interviewed on DemocracyNow on 9 February. The background and previous work of Waldman shows the inter-connections between influential Washington “think tanks” and the billionaire foundation funded Non Governmental Organizations that claim to be independent but are clearly not. Waldman previously worked for the “Center for Civilians in Conflict”. This organization is directed by leaders from George Soros’ Open Society, Human Rights Watch, Blackrock Solutions and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). CNAS may be the most significant indication of political orientation since it is led by Michele Flournoy, who was predicted to become Secretary of Defense if Hillary Clinton had won the election. CNAS has been a leading force behind neo-conservatives plan to escalate war in Syria. While past work or associations do not always define new or future work, in this case the sensational and evidence-free accusations seem to align with neoconservative political goals.

Conclusion

Amnesty International has previously published false information or “corroboration” which justified western aggression against Iraq and Libya. This seems to be the same role they are playing now in Syria.

The Amnesty International report is a combination of accusations based on hearsay and sensationalism. Partially because of Amnesty’s undeserved reputation for independence and accuracy, the report has been picked up and broadcast widely.  Liberal and supposedly progressive media outlets have dutifully echoed the dubious accusations. In reality this report amounts to a Kangaroo court with the victim being the Syrian government and people who have borne the brunt of the foreign sponsored aggression. If this report sparks an escalation of the conflict, which Amnesty International seems to call for, it will be a big step backwards not forward ….just like in Iraq and Libya.

—————————————————————————————————————-

Monika Schaefer e6903

August 30, 2016

Dear Monika,

As President of the Alberta Society of Fiddlers, and on behalf of the Board of Directors and Executive, I am writing to advise you of decisions made at a special ASF meeting called on August 17th, 2016.

As a result of your recent public comments regarding your views on the Holocaust, we are relieving you of your duties as Director for the Yellowhead West Region of the ASF, and also rescinding your invitation to be an instructor at our upcoming music camp at Camp HeHoHa in February of 2017.

Thank you for your past contributions to our society.

We wish you all the best in your future endeavours,

Sincerely,

Randy Jones, President 

Alberta Society of Fiddlers

*******************************************************

Open letter to the Alberta Society of Fiddlers:

September 23, 2016

Thank you for the registered letter in which you informed me of the outcome of your meeting. I am being relieved of my duties as ASF Director of the Yellowhead West Region, and you are rescinding the invitation for me to be an instructor at Camp HeHoHa in February 2017. Here are my questions and comments.

At the time of the meeting, I was on the board of directors of the Alberta Society of Fiddlers. Therefore, I would expect that I should be informed of a meeting, especially if I was the subject of the meeting. Was there any attempt to contact me? It seems there was not, and if not, why not? Was there a prior meeting to discuss whether I should be invited? Is there a record of the discussion leading up to the special meeting? Who made the decision to have a special meeting? Is there a record of the special meeting? Was there a vote? Were minutes taken? I would like to see those minutes please. I would like to know if my membership will be next to be terminated. What indication do I have that I would be welcome to attend an ASF event in future?

My classes at Camp HeHoHa the last two years were well received, and the feedback, by all accounts, was very good. You are telling me now that because of my interpretation of the events of WW2, I am no longer welcome to teach at fiddle camp. Surely this is setting a precedent that a person’s opinions about history trumps their ability to play or teach the fiddle.

Last February I had the same views on the history of WW2 as I have now. I have been studying these matters for a few years now. Did anyone complain? Of course not! I did not talk much about history or politics during the camp, and definitely not in class. Whenever I have attended fiddle camp as a student or as an instructor, it was to immerse myself in the joy of playing music together with others in this wonderful musical family which has now been broken. And even if I had discussed history or politics in private conversations, what would be the problem?

We find ourselves in a world where certain conversations can only be whispered behind closed doors, and other conversations are permitted in public. Who would have imagined this could happen in our own province of Alberta in Canada? Who would have thought George Orwell’s world of thought control would prove to be so prophetic? It is shameful that the Alberta Society of Fiddlers is participating in this thought control.

I wonder what this saga teaches young people. If I was to return to the camp as a student like in years past, have you not set me up to be treated as a leper? Surely when asked why I am no longer teaching, I would tell the truth. It was not my teaching that received a failing grade, but my opinions and conclusions about an event which took place 70 years ago. I think the ASF action teaches young people to be conformist, and if they were to disagree with a prevailing view, they sure had better keep it to themselves and lie publicly about their beliefs.

This is becoming an international story. Here is a quote from a recent article by Editor-in-Chief of The American Herald Tribune, Professor Anthony Hall:

“The new configurations of authority are extending to important agencies like the Royal Canadian Legion, Jasper National Park [Parks Canada], and the Alberta Society of Fiddlers. Those overseeing these important institutions are made to feel empowered to impose arbitrary sanctions and punishments against an individual who dared to question enshrined orthodoxy.

The message is made clear that the vibrance of art and culture, the wellbeing of veterans as well as the need to protect some of Alberta’s most majestic Alpine environments have become secondary commitments. The treatment in Jasper National Park of violinist Monika Schaefer signals the end of our free and democratic society. Our right and need to express independent thought, the starting point of collective self-determination, has been sacrificed in order to enforce supine obedience to the sanctification of an historical interpretation that must not be subjected to sceptical scrutiny and reconsideration.”

I am in good company with regards to my understanding of the history of WW2. Gerard Menuhin, son of famous (Jewish) violinist Yehudi Menuhin, has written a book called “Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil”. Here is a book review and synopsis.

From the volume of messages of support that I have been receiving, it is becoming quite clear to me that there are people in every village, town and hamlet who agree with my conclusions on the “holocaust”. These messages have come to me from all over Canada and the world, and from many places in Alberta. But the vast majority of those people do not speak publicly about it, because there is a high price to pay. They are afraid of losing their jobs, their friends, and their community standing. An example is made of anyone who dares speak out, to frighten others who might be tempted to question the prevailing dogma. I invite you to read about “ritual defamation”, something that I am becoming an expert on. Evidence and facts have no bearing in this process.

Of the people who have viewed my “Sorry Mom, I was wrong about the holocaust”, those who have voted their approval or disapproval online have consistently done so in a ratio of approximately 3:1 likes over dislikes. Although not the final word, this ratio suggests that many see this video as a positive contribution, well within community standards.

Given that there are people all over Alberta who share my views, are you not now obliged to screen all potential instructors for their political views and their historical understanding? You have set the precedent by your actions against me. In the past, the sniff test might have been whether you believed the earth was flat. People used to be persecuted for saying the earth revolved around the sun.

Free thinkers are often found within the artistic community. I remember long ago hearing about political prisoners in countries far away, such as poets in the Soviet Union who were jailed because of their writings. A tyrannical state is threatened by free thinkers, so the tyrannical state often persecutes its artists. But it is strange when the artist community persecutes their own. That is the context in which I find the actions of the Alberta Society of Fiddlers to be so shocking.

The old adage “the victors write the history books” is not just about choosing the font. We have all been subjected to a life-time of indoctrination. If you have not done independent study of “The Holocaust” outside of the parameters of our schooling and Hollywood, then it is completely understandable that you disagree with my views. However, it is another matter altogether when you demonstrate such a Pavlovian response to my short video in which I apologize to my mother for having held her to account for the horrors of WW2 after having learned that the prevailing dogma is not correct.

I will give just one example to show that you cannot be 100% right and me 100% wrong. I remember learning in school either late 1960s or early ‘70s that the Germans were so evil and depraved that they made soap, lampshades and shrunken heads out of the bodies of Jews. Now they do not teach that propaganda anymore, because that has been proven to be lies. That puts a crack in the untouchable edifice of this narrative.

Aware people are everywhere. I know that. I am hearing from them. Does this mean you will all start looking over your shoulder wondering who else shares my views? Or might it give you cause to reconsider your certainty over this issue? And even if you are absolutely certain that I am 100% wrong, consider the fact that there is no other event in history for which debate is not permitted, quite literally against the law in many countries. There is something wrong with that picture. Only lies need to be protected by laws. The truth stands on its own.

This event called “Holocaust” has replaced our religions. Apparently I am a heretic, and the Alberta Society of Fiddlers is metaphorically burning me at the stake. I think in light of future history, this decision you have made will prove to be one of the more consequential in ASF history.

Will you have the courage to print this letter in your next newsletter? If not, why not? You might say it has no relevance to the fiddling world and the usual contents of that newsletter. Precisely! My views on the “holocaust” also have nothing to do with my participation in the fiddling world of the ASF. But by your actions, you have made the subject of WW2 part of the fiddling world in Alberta.

Sincerely,

Monika Schaefer

WRITER

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