Get your free chapter
In ePUB or Kindle-format


Archive for the ‘political prisoners’ Category

Everyman to his trade

Amnesty International is a charity that appeals to millions of people all over the world. But do they know why? Amnesty’s positive image has been harvested in a time that those millions knew what Amnesty did and accomplished. Amnesty’s groundbreaking and very clear struggle for human rights was obvious to most of them. A human being is free. A human being belongs but to him- or herself. All people are equal and of equal standing. Every human being is entitled to a fair treatment. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights goes for everyone. Every human being is important.

Amnesty International could be recognized in the way she revolted against the unlawful imprisonment of people for their political beliefs. She gave those political prisoners a voice, so as they would not be forgotten and could not vanish in oblivion. She orchestrated the international community to convert injustice to justice. Thanks to her the death penalty has disappeared from most countries around the world. That was all very clear and is well known by many. But it is as though this image is fading. It’s getting more obscure by the day what Amnesty International really is and what the results are of her efforts. No matter how she distinguishes herself from other human rights organizations.

This lack of clarity has partly been prompted by the extension of her mandate since the beginning of this century. From then on she also focused on social and economic circumstances people live in. With that she petered out to the policy terrain of e.g. food organizations. Understandable as these new activities may seem – many more organizations know far more about these subjects – they blur her image. Even for those that know Amnesty International very well. The ratio for the focus on these issues is unclear for most people. Even for many activists within Amnesty. It’s about time that Amnesty International recovers her old image and profiles herself again with the legal focus she used to have. Everyman to his trade is the maxim so to speak. Amnesty’s image deserves this effort.

Bert Breij

Political prisoners

The definition of political prisoners refers to the fact that these prisoners are put away by countries for non-judicial reasons. Countries that incarcerate political prisoners use every trick to label them as criminals. These countries do this to get a good image, internal as well as abroad. They think that if the law and a judge were involved, this qualifies them to be just and civilized states. For multinationals it’s an excuse to locate themselves in these countries. And for other countries to give development aid. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International must expose these practices. It’s very important to stay alert if it comes to criminal rulings and the misconduct of due process.

A clear standard

To be able to recognize political prisoners, political and legal standards are required that go beyond common law and even beyond the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Such standards are still missing. The 10th of December is the day on which worldwide human rights are celebrated. This date is selected by the United Nations to commemorate the acceptance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. It’s about time that the United Nations establishes a clear standard for political prisoners and advocates it to the world. This perhaps could lead to the accentuation of the Universal Declaration, which by the way is overdue for more than just one article.

Bert Breij, Amsterdam