Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Amnesty blames Ukraine for Alleged Russian bombardment

To Agnès.Callamard
Amnesty International Secretary-General
August 10, 2022

Dear Ms. Callamard and whom it may concern:

I am writing to express my concern about a purported Amnesty Press release I learned about from the New York Times. Here are the links:

An Amnesty International assessment that Ukraine ‘put civilians in harm’s way’ stirs outrage.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/07/world/europe/amnesty-international-ukraine-russia-war-crimes.html

Ukraine: Ukrainian fighting tactics endanger civilians
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/08/ukraine-ukrainian-fighting-tactics-endanger-civilians/

My concern about this communication is profound.

Even granted this is one message in a larger corpus of Amnesty communications all of which I’ve not read, obvs, nevertheless there are a number of very problematic issues which stand out on first inspection.

First is the issue of tone.

This press release reads like Russian propaganda.

““We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.”

It uses a straw man argument, ““Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law.””

Well ofc that’s true, but you don’t actually cite any instance of anyone saying or asserting that. Thus it is a straw man argument.

What the straw man argument elides is that there is a clear distinction in customary law between aggressive war and self-defense.

The judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg states, “War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Wars of aggression are recognized as crimes under customary law in the UN Charter Articles 1, 2, 33, and 39; in the Rio Pact; in UN General Assembly Res 3314, in the Rome Statute of the ICC; and elsewhere.

Your framing omits this important fact. You aren’t even even-handed. Your condemnation is weighted in scope and particulars against Ukraine, and thus one might reasonably infer, relatively favorable toward Russia’s perspective.

I find it problematic in the extreme that your April to July investigation of alleged Russian strikes by Russia against Ukrainian protected sites and persons results in this strange press release –condemning Ukraine! Seriously what???

Russia and Ukraine have obligations under customary law of proportionality; respecting cultural sites and hospitals; avoiding aerial bombardment of civilian areas; respecting the rights of prisoners of war and interned civilians; refraining from theft, rape, torture, not punishing people merely for fighting to defend their homeland, and eschewing extrajudicial punishments and executions.

Article 51(3) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I of the 1949 Geneva Convention provides that civilians shall enjoy protection against the dangers arising from military operations “unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities”.

If Russian troops are on the doorstep of Irpan or Bucha or Hostomel what is Ukraine to do, according to Amnesty?

Not defend the town or the people in it and leave them to the tender mercies of the Russians? is that your Amnesty’s idea of “protecting the rights of Ukrainian civilians?” Really? Think this through a bit.

You repeatedly state in this release that “international law” says this, that, and the other thing as though this is a settled and codified body of law. We both know that’s not true. What you do not do is to cite any particular, specific, actual customary law, precedent, resolution, or rule of war at issue.

You use testimonials in lieu of sufficient documented statistics, maps, and dates and locations and particulars. This is an informal logical fallacy, incomplete induction or “arguing from the specific to the general.”

You use weasel words like, “This did not appear to have happened in the cases examined by Amnesty International.” Sorry, but this is a very weak inference on which to end a section. As Carl Sagan famously said, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Your one-sided and manipulative condemnation of Ukraine defending itself gives aid and comfort to Russia and deprecates Ukrainian forces and civilians for defending themselves, their homes, and the civilian population, from Russia’s war of aggression.

When Ukrainians civilians and military defend their homes, and Russians attack them with largely disproportionate, indiscriminate, unguided aerial bombardment, rockets and artillery, is it the Ukrainians who are at fault for defending their homes and families?

Are you sure?

How can you? Just, how can you make such one-sided, misleading, incomplete, erroneous, gaslighting, and classic victim-blaming statements?

Why don’t you send your “extended press release” to your colleague, Maksym Butkevych. Perhaps he’ll enjoy reading your victim-blaming, pro-Russian statement in the Russian concentration camp where you have abandoned him. Please, give him something nice to read between interrogation and re-education sessions. Not this.

The final and greatest concern I have, Ms. Callamard, is for you. Your quoted and published statements are notably lacking in humanity, empathy and caring.

Is this a game to you? All about Amnesty putting out trolling offensive statements to stoke controversy and build buzz for your brand?

When you make statements like these apparently justifying and providing cover for the illegal Russian aggressive war and alleged Russian war crimes, by blaming alleged Russian bombardment of protected buildings, sites, and persons on those targeted, those words should burn your heart and taste like iron on your tongue.

What have you become?

very sincerely and with good will,

Henry Edward Hardy
former Senior Systems Administrator
Tufts University*

*institutional affiliation for identification purposes only

Henry Edward Hardy

10 August, 2022 - Posted by | Amnesty, customary law, human rights, Russia, Ukraine, war, war crime, war crimes | , , , , ,

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