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Amnesty Says Syria Rebels Shouldn't Be Armed, Yet, of Censorship at UN

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 20 -- On the second day of the Arms Trade Treaty talks at the UN in New York, Inner City Press asked Amnesty International's Salil Shetty what Amnesty thinks of calls by France, the UK and others to arm the rebels in Syria. Video here.

  Shetty replied, “We have been critical of the Assad regime,” saying its “atrocities far exceed the rebels'... [but] increasingly our reports take about abuse by rebels.”

  He cited the “Golden Rule... Assessment has to be made of risks involved, no exception in the case of the rebel groups.”

  Amnesty's Head of Arms Control and Human Rights Brian Wood then stated Amnesty's position that “at present, no arms should go to Syria” because “for sure there's a substantial risk that arms to those [opposition] brigades are going to be used for war crimes.”

   He said “there's a slight difference” in that with the rebels, “if measures are taken and risk is removed, then the situation would change.”

   This appears to be the claim of President Francois Hollande of France, of the prospective assurances he says he's gotten from the rebels.

  Wood zeroed in on Article 3.3 of the draft ATT, which adds after “the US put working in” to the concept that it is unlawful to assist in war crimes the need to prove intent. The American phrase is, “for the purpose of” assisting war crimes. Expect more on this.

  Inner City Press asked these questions, and others on Cote d'Ivoire, at an Amnesty International press conference that while held in the UN's Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium was not on UN Television, unlike a similar press conference by Oxfam on the first day of the ATT talks.

  Oxfam's press conference listed and was apparently sponsored by Mexico's mission. Amnesty's mistake was to rely on the increasingly discredited UN Correspondents Association, now known at the UN's Censorship Alliance.

  After devoting most of its meetings in 2012 to trying to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN -- this is evidenced by documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act from Voice of America, also concerning the Reuters and AFP bureaux at the UN -- in 2013 UNCA “leaders” have torn down flyers of the new Free UN Coalition for Access -- then posted their “branding” of the AI presser on the resulting non-UNCA bulletin board won after advocacy by FUNCA.

  The day before Shetty's press conference, UNCA president Pamela Falk ghoulishly took photographs of the UN's non-consensual search of Inner City Press' office two stories above the auditorium. Golden Rule, indeed... Watch this site.

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