17 July 2017

Rwanda: How Thirst for Power Has Derailed HRW, Amnesty Int'l From Their Original Missions

opinion

Editor,

RE: "Must HRW only serve interests of their financiers?" (The New Times, July 15).

The road to hell, as we know, is paved with the best intentions. These organisations originally started with such goals of making the world a better place. HRW, initially known as Helsinki Watch, was established to promote better rights observation for people on the other side of the then Iron Curtain, especially in the Communist Soviet Union.

Even then, it had an aspect of a geopolitical tool in the hands of the Western alliance against their Eastern rivals.

Amnesty International's original overarching aim was equally simple: to propagate for the release of people any truly moral person, no matter their ideological bent, could easily see was a prisoner of conscience rather than a criminal. Such prisoners included Nelson Mandela or other anti-Apartheid activists; Saro Wiwa in Nigeria, etc.

As time went, and these organisations' work acquired more supporters for their focused good work, they started wanting to acquire greater political influence - no doubt in the belief that that would make their advocacy for those in need of their support more effective.

But the siren song of pursuit of political influence is also a slippery slope. Many of those who pursue political power - i.e. political actors - very soon get consumed by it, and soon lose touch with their original mission, becoming just like those they want to influence.

It has now come to a point where HRW and Amnesty International have lost focus so much they are no longer recognisable as their former versions. They have become thoroughly corrupted by their pursuit of power.

They are now no more than geopolitical power players, arrogantly throwing their geopolitical power around to try to bully those states they see as geopolitically weaker than themselves.

The road to hell is truly paved with the best intentions. Look at the acquired earthly glory and majesty of Christianity, established in the name of he who was born in a manger. That is how the pursuit of power - even for the best of intentions - ends up corrupting, no matter how we remain convinced that our intentions are pure.

Power and corruption (for almost all of us) are usually as inseparable as dogs and fleas. It is a rare person who doesn't allow accumulated power to go to their heads, and Kenneth Roth and his minions as well as their counterparts and many similar professional pressure organizations with deep pockets, webs of influence in western governments and the Western media, are not such rare persons.

Mwene Kalinda

Rwanda

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