While the movement should be celebrating 60 years of life-changing activism, Amnesty International UK finds itself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The issue of racism and the working culture within Amnesty International UK is a matter of concern to members of the Cardiff Amnesty Group.
We agree with the AIUK Board that:
“Racism is a pervasive problem. It is deep-rooted, entangled in every aspect of the world as it is today: in power structures, cultures, and institutions.
Amnesty International UK is a part of this. We must be frank about this reality if we are to change it. It is something that each and every one of us must take personal responsibility to challenge.”
We would urge members to read the Howlett Brown report published in October 2020.
If societies have embedded structural racism, then without ongoing hard work and a commitment to being anti-racist, the people in that society and the organisations in which they work will reflect those biases, prejudices, disadvantages or privileges, determining how they will be treated based on personal characteristics they did not choose and cannot change. … [N]eutrality of approach is not anti-racist. It is necessary to actively interrogate bias and privilege to identify racism and active steps are needed to make an organisation and its staff anti-racist.
That process of interrogation requires increasing the knowledge and empathy … understanding the experiences of those who are minorities and/or dealing with a significant power differential because without that knowledge and empathy they will always be at a disadvantage and more likely to fail.
Amnesty International is encouraging everyone affected by this issue to send questions and comments to the Activism@amnesty.org email address so that the organisation can record and respond in detail.
AIUK members should now have received information from the Board on their commitment to change and improve the organisation under the new leadership of Sacha Deshmukh as interim CEO. We would like to join the Board in thanking Kate Allen, outgoing CEO, for her dedication and commitment to human rights and wish her all the best in future.
The Board would like to take the opportunity to discuss their wider plans for change with members in a series of briefings. If you would like further information on these you can email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Members can read the Board’s statement on anti-racism on the AIUK website and statement in response to the The Guardian article. You can also read the statement from Amnesty’s International Secretariat in response to the article.