February 02, 2008

What is happening to Amnesty International?

By Mohammad Parvin  


The following critical review of the AI's involvement with one of the known lobby groups, should not ignore the fact that we admire the very valuable efforts of this great organization in defense of human rights all over the world.


Amnesty International (AI) is sponsoring an event in Los Angeles under the title,“Human Rights in Iran : How to Move Forward” on February 22, 2008. Mr. Trita Parsi, president of National Iranian American Council (NIAC) an extremely dedicated activist for the establishment of normal and unconditional relations between the religious dictatorship in Iran and the U.S. [1] is one of the panelists in this event. This is not the first time NIAC has manipulated AI. On July 26, 2007, AI was one of the sponsors of an event organized by NIAC under the title, “Human Rights in Iran and U.S. Foreign Policy Options.”

 NIAC is not a human rights organization. There is no trace of a reference to human rights in its mission statement, goals, programs or anywhere else. NIAC has not contributed to any of the numerous urgent actions issued by Amnesty International to stop imminent execution of political prisoners or stoning of men and women to death. NIAC has not made any statements condemning Mullahs for stoning, torture, the execution of political prisoners, or the treatment of women and religious minorities.

 To be fair to NIAC, it is possible to recall the event in which Trita Parsi came out in defense of “human rights” principles when Mullahs’foreign minister Kamal Kharazi’s appearance at UCLA in 2000 was opposed by several groups in Los Angeles . In an apparent reference to MEHR he wrote [2]:

 “It is quite disturbing to witness groups that titles themselves as Human Rights activists, openly and blatantly opposing the freedom of speech of an individual, no matter how despised he or she may be.”

To justify his stance, he rejects the struggle for democracy in Iran because of the threat it poses for Mullahs’ by stating that [3]:

 “… the current choice Iranians face is not between Islamic tyranny and democratic freedom. It is between chaos and stability.”

 Now, the explanation that AI owes us is how and why they have become involved with an organization that has such a dismal record in regards to human rights.

The irony is that AI has always shrugged criticism regarding its conservative approach to dictatorships such as the Mullahs’ tyranny in Iran and has cited the restriction that its goals and mandate place on taking political position. If AI’s mandate for not taking political position prevents it from encouraging the world to apply pressure on Mullahs, why is it that promoting the defender of such regime is not considered political?

NIAC stands tall among all lobby groups in the sense that no other group dares to speak so frankly for the ruling clergy in Iran . The following demand has been made in almost every recent statement made by Mr. Trita Parsi. He writes [3]:

“… only Washington can offer Tehran what it really seeks: de-containment and reintegration in the Middle East . Iran wants a seat at the table and a say as a legitimate player in all regional decision-making.”

Should one with such disturbing and questioning record be allowed to address the AI’s panel discussion on Human Rights especially since there is no one on the panel to challenge him?

We can give credit to NIAC for manipulating an international human rights organization in order to cover up the human rights violation in Iran . After all, NIAC’s goal as stated above is to earn recognition for the Mullahs and to remove the obstacle of human rights. However, what is really occurring within Amnesty International? So far, AI has not shown any interest to deal with this vital issue in spite of many warnings given by human rights activists.

Mohammad Parvin, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor at the California State University , an Aerospace Specialist, and Founding Director of the Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR) - http://mehr.org  


  1. Investigative Reports on the Role of the Lobby Groups in the US 
  2. The Need for Genuine Human Rights Activists, Trita Parsi, The Iranian, Sept. 23, 2000 
  3. The Iranian Challenge, Trita Parsi, Nation, November 19, 2007

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