United Kingdom

For the last seven years, since its launch in 2004, the London-based Islam Channel has been hugely influential in the British Muslim community, where it has played a pivotal role in the development of a British Islam. Every night, thousands of British Muslims, many of them young, tune into the channel to watch programmes dealing with news, current affairs and religion from a distinctly Islamic angle. In addition, every few years, the channel organises a conference called Global Peace and Unity, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors, both Muslims and non-Muslims, as well as a smattering of senior politicians.

The UK government through its Border Agency has decided not to give priority to the asylum application of Iraqi LGBT leader Ali Hili, in exile in London. The application has been outstanding for nearly three years and while it is outstanding, Ali cannot travel. This decision directly impacts not just on Ali but on harshly persecuted Iraqi lesbians and gays through the reduced ability of their sole visible leader to raise their profile internationally.

The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network expresses its solidarity with Gita Sahgal, a longstanding ally of the network who is active in various organisations, collectives, and movements committed to upholding universal human rights. WLUML has learned that she has repeatedly raised internal inquiries into Amnesty International’s association with the organisation Cageprisoners, headed by Moazzam Begg, around the Counter Terror with Justice Campaign. On 7 February 2010, Sahgal was suspended from her position as Head of the Gender Unit at Amnesty International. You can take action by signing the Global Petition in support of Gita Sahgal which now has over 1,800 signatories.

On February 7, 2010 Gita Sahgal, head of Amnesty International’s Gender Unit, was suspended from her job. This was hours after the publication of an article in The Sunday Times, UK, where she made public her concerns about Amnesty International’s legitimisation of Moazzam Begg, a former Guantلnamo Bay detainee, as a human rights defender. This is not the first time that Amnesty International’s policies towards fundamentalists have been confronted from within and this is not the first time that AI has taken action, drastic action, against those who dare to voice their dissent, even if internally, about such policies.

The intersectionality of freedom of religion or belief and women’s rights is one of the most complex human rights issues faced by the world today. Down through the centuries, religious extremism and interpretation of holy books have shaped traditions and cultural stereotypes in a number of patriarchal societies. Some of these traditions and stereotypes have been detrimental to women, and have survived until the 3rd millennium. By Willy Fautré, Human Rights Without Frontiers.

A landmark U.N. treaty on women’s rights, which will be 30 years old next week, is in danger of being politically undermined by a slew of reservations by 22 countries seeking exemptions from some of the convention’s legal obligations. “A reservation must not defeat the object and purpose of a treaty,” Ambassador Palitha Kohona, a former chief of the U.N. Treaty Section, told IPS.

Comme organisations et comme personnes qui défendons et soutenons l’universalité des droits humains, nous avons constaté avec inquiétude la suspension de Gita Sahgal, qui est à la tête de l’unité genre au Secrétariat international d’Amnistie internationale à Londres, pour avoir remis en question le partenariat d’Amnistie internationale avec des personnalités dont l’attitude politique envers les Talibans est ambiguë.

مثلما هو الحال مع المنظمات و الأفراد المدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان و المساندين لها، سجلنا بقلق تعليق نشاط "جيتا سهغال"، رئيسة وحدة النوع لدى السكرتارية الدولية لمنظمة العفو الدولية"، في لندن، بعد إثارة مسألة شراكة منظمة العفو الدولية مع أفراد ذوي موقف سياسي مبهم إزاء الطالبان

Global Petition to Amnesty International: Restoring the Integrity of Human Rights

As organisations and individuals who stand for and support the universality of human rights, we have noted with concern the suspension of Gita Sahgal, Head of the Gender Unit at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London, for questioning Amnesty International’s partnership with individuals whose politics towards the Taliban are ambiguous.

Respect Universality in Principle and Practice: Defend Women’s Human Rights: As women human rights defenders and members of the Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRD IC), we note with grave concern the circumstances under which Gita Sahgal, a member of the WHRD IC Executive Committee and head of the Gender Unit of the International Secretariat of Amnesty International (AI), was suspended on the same day that she publicly questioned the specific alliances entered into by AI in its advocacy to defend victims of torture in Guantanamo Bay.

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