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Human rights activists arrested after Amnesty calls police

FIFTEEN human-rights activists have been arrested after Amnesty International reported them to police.

The Metropolitan Police told the Morning Star that they were arrested for aggravated trespass and kept in overnight. They were released under the condition they do not re-enter the Amnesty HQ.

The dramatic arrests, which took place at the charity’s London offices on Friday night, are a public relations disaster for the human-rights organisation.

A viral video shows police officers restraining and dragging campaigners through the lobby of the Amnesty building, including a woman who had been on hunger strike for more than 40 days. Amnesty security personnel can be seen observing the police operation.

The charity is already reeling from two staff suicides last year and an internal report earlier this year which found it had a “toxic” workplace culture.

The protesters were calling on Amnesty to issue a statement condemning Turkey’s treatment of imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) founder Abdullah Ocalan.

The organisation has refused to do this, though it supported Turkey’s authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he was imprisoned in the 1990s.

The activists were drawn from the London Kurdish Community Centre, the Migrant Workers’ Association (Gik-Der), the Socialist Women’s Union and the Kurdish People’s Assembly.

During their three-day occupation of the lobby, the activists reported that Amnesty denied them access to toilets and fresh air.

Ali Has, a solicitor for 10 of the arrestees, told the Morning Star: “Amnesty should think long and hard as now this will affect its image as a human-rights defender.

“Not only have they mistreated the protesters, their right to peaceful protest and human dignity, but they have now effectively excluded a vulnerable section of the community, namely the Kurdish people, from being able to access it.

“The clear message being that Amnesty will not stand up for the human rights of the Kurdish people and their ongoing struggle for the right to live peacefully, with dignity and as a people.”

The British Alevi Federation said Amnesty’s behaviour “needs to be exposed to the whole world.”

“While we as oppressed communities would expect support from such organisations, we have seen that these organisations have become institutions and officers of international persecution.”

In a statement Amnesty said: “This entire episode has been deeply disturbing.”

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