Amnesty staffers accuse group of 'shameful' suppression of protesters

Campaigners with Amnesty International, including the global charity group’s senior researcher on Iran, have accused the organization of “shameful” actions after it allegedly called in British police to evict peaceful Kurdish protesters from the organization’s London headquarters this weekend—one day after Amnesty hadcomplained about “police powers” that “interfere with the right to protest.”

“I am outraged that our management called the police to forcibly remove peaceful Kurdish protesters from the premises of the organization. The management does not represent Amnesty International staff and must be held accountable for this outrage,” tweeted Raha Bahreinin, a human rights lawyer who serves as Amnesty International’s Researcher on Iran.

“Many of us would have stood up against this shameful act had the management proceeded with it over the week when the office was open. Shame on them for acting like abusive governments and ruining public trust in Amnesty International,” said Bahreini.

Laith Abu Zayed, who works as a campaigner at Amnesty International, called out the hypocrisy of human rights organizations which “pretend to defend the right to protest” yet call in the police for a “shameful” and “violent attack” to “suppress protesters.”

Ed. Note: Mr. Abu Zayed’s tweet below—and his entire account—were then found deleted, on April 30th.

Despite their massive year-long campaign backing violent Hamas-led riots on the Gaza border with Israel in name of the “right to protest”, Amnesty officials called in British police to forcibly remove political refugees and hunger strikers protesting at their London office, Kurdish activists allege.

Kristyan Benedict, a senior Amnesty International manager who tweeted out their official statement, refused to say whether the organization will agree to any form of accountability, such as independent inquiry into the allegations, as requested by their Iran researcher.

Benedict was accused of bullying by Kurdish human rights activist Dlshad Othman.


Insiders say the 58-year old global organization is in the grip of “an existential crisis,” reported the Guardian last week.

In January, an independent study of the charity found its working environment “toxic”, and that Amnesty International engaged in “power misuse, discrimination, targeting, bullying, and other practices” which undermined wellbeing.

According to the report, many staff gave specific examples of experiencing or witnessing bullying by managers, including reports of managers “belittling staff in meetings, deliberately excluding certain staff from reporting, or making demeaning, menacing comments like, ‘You’re shit!’ or, ‘You should quit! If you stay in this position, your life will be a misery’”.

In February, following the suicide from one of their colleagues in France who had complained about his treatment by the organization, Amnesty International’s staff union published an appeal calling on the leadership to ensure that “the human rights standards we promote outside of the organization are applied internally.” The union reported that an internal survey of staffers showed that 30% of respondents had been “badly treated or bullied at work.

Last month, a court ruled that the U.S. arm of Amnesty International broke the law by threatening its own employees. Managers at Amnesty International USA violated U.S. labor laws by threatening their employees and telling them to report their co-workers’ activism to management. The global human rights group was found to have broken the law that protects employees’ right to organize for improved working conditions.



UN Watch