Tuesday, February 21, 2006

“The War on Terror”… A War on Liberty?

Tonight I went to a lecture at Edinburgh University given by Irene Zubaida Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International; her topic was “The War on Terror”… A War on Liberty? It was the first lecture in The University of Edinburgh Enlightenment Lecture Series, and was an extremely thought provoking lecture indeed.

She started off by saying how the thinkers of the Enlightenment sowed the seeds of Freedom and Human Rights that we have today; and how the language of Human Rights has founded political change; then went on to describe how today’s struggle for ideas is as prevalent as it was in the Enlightenment. She then went on to talk about the way in which Amnesty International condemns the way in which terrorism is handled by governments, and how high is the personal cost in the battle between security and Human Rights. Her most interesting point here was the idea that if a government over reacts it endangers the very society which it is trying to protect.

Her next topic was torture and the ways in which the definitions of torture differ, highlighting the fact that the U.S has a different definition of torture, and how torture is the ultimate corruption of society. She went on to argue that when it comes to matters of security there is a shift away from judicial involvement towards internment, albeit by another name ‘control orders’. She expanded this to say that all this does is to create in society a mistrust which is all too easily exploited by militant and terrorist groups. She was quite enamoured of the fact that the Home Secretary (Charles Clarke) accused Amnesty of being ‘neo-colonialist’, which got a laugh, both from the audience and Irene Khan herself; she thought that this was quite funny given her background, Asian and Muslim. She was not denying that there are security issues that need to be addressed, but argued that Human Rights must be at the centre of such discussions, and that principles and aspirations cannot be subordinated to security.


In the question session at the end she expanded on several of these arguments, and in answer to one question argued that the ‘War on Terror’ is causing many problems in that by holding suspects without trial or access to the legal process the U.S, in particular, is undermining the ability to highlight Human Rights abuses around the world.

This is only a very brief summary of the more important points of the lecture, there was much more content but it was so interesting that I neglected to take full notes.

1 Comments:

Blogger BondBloke said...

Any racist or anti-Muslim comments on this post will be promptly deleted (as one has already been), so if you are thinking it don't bother - keep it to yourself!

I don't want to have to moderate comments on this blog but if nrecessary I will do so!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006  

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