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News What's the difference between many human rights violation accusations and

  1. Oct 30, 2012 #1
    What's the difference between many human rights violation accusations and baseless conspiracy theories? For example, I often encounter human rights violations accusations against the Russian government - that it supposed abused the legal system and the state TV system to discredit and jail various political activists, and so on.

    How exactly is this different from baseless conspiracy theories? The charges presented weren't political at all - they were "hitting a journalist", "participating in a corruption scheme", "planning violent riots", etc. Yes, virtually all the top activists who participated in the recent anti-Putin protests were detained. But these charges don't seem to be political at all. How exactly can one deduce that there was actual legal system abuse from that?

    And why do even highly respected human rights groups (ex: Amnesty International, Freedom House, etc.) throw such baseless accusations?
     
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  3. Oct 30, 2012 #2

    russ_watters

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    I suppose the basic difference would be a public record of them actually happening...?
     
  4. Oct 30, 2012 #3
    Even if there's a public record of them happening, how exactly can one place a high degree of reliability on such elaborate violations as stated in the original post?
    Another example is the accusation of journalist assassinations. Yes - Russia did have a massive journalist assassination rate, and it was considered the 1st or 2nd most dangerous country for journalists up until recently. However, why do many credible human rights organizations link those to the Russian government without providing any actual proof? Couldn't the journalists be assassinated by people who simply didn't like their points of view? After all, the homicide rate in Russia is very high, and that could be an explanation as well.
     
  5. Oct 30, 2012 #4

    russ_watters

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    This is all very vague. Do you have any examples we can look at?
     
  6. Oct 30, 2012 #5
    Here's a concrete example. Sergei Udaltsov, a major Russian activist was named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, which also called for his immediate release.

    Source: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR46/045/2011/en/e70a5eaf-919e-473d-b291-3ad685086d3a/eur460452011en.pdf [Broken]
    A Wikipedia sub-article which cites this source and sums it up well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Udaltsov#December_2011_arrest

    Sergei Udaltsov, however, was arrested for (allegedly) punching a pro-Kremlin journalist.
    Source (it's in Russian): http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=776818

    This videotape (by the said journalist) was used against him in the Russian court:



    Of course there's a possibility that the said journalist was a government agent, and that she wasn't really punched. But how exactly does one tell whether she was or not without any conclusive evidence? And unless such conclusive evidence is obtained, how can one name him a prisoner of conscience?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  7. Oct 30, 2012 #6

    Evo

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    So, your complaint is against Amnesty International?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  8. Oct 30, 2012 #7
    It's not really a complaint, but rather a question, as to why such extraordinary claims are made with no evidence. And Amnesty International isn't the only human rights organization to make this accusation. The Freedom House made the same accusation (http://www.freedomhouse.org/article...on-rampant-corruption-assisting-rogue-regimes - the Udaltsov case is mentioned as a case of political repression), and so did some other NGOs.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
  9. Oct 30, 2012 #8

    russ_watters

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    I don't see what you are referring to. What, exactly is the extraordinary claim?
     
  10. Oct 30, 2012 #9
    Well, it's the hidden premise of the journalist allegedly being a government agent and staging/faking the punch. And more recently, it's the premise that the new videotape which shows Udaltsov discussing funding for violent riots shown in the recent documentary film aired by the Kremlin TV channel is fake. Udaltsov has been detained a few days ago due to this videotape, and is facing a 10 year sentence for planning to organize violent riots.

    If one assumes that the said videotape is fake (despite clearly showing Udaltsov talking about the funding for violent riots), what could stop one from saying that many other empirical videotapes are fake? Where is the distinction?

    Maybe I'm being overly critical. I don't know - to me this seems about as irrational as the 9/11 conspiracy theories and "Osama Bin Laden tapes are fake" conspiracy theories.
     
  11. Oct 30, 2012 #10

    Evo

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    Please post the mainstream articles that make these claims, not conspiracy sites.
     
  12. Oct 30, 2012 #11
    Here you go:
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR46/045/2011/en/e70a5eaf-919e-473d-b291-3ad685086d3a/eur460452011en.pdf [Broken]
    http://www.freedomhouse.org/article...on-rampant-corruption-assisting-rogue-regimes
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Udaltsov#December_2011_arrest (a summation with a citation of the first source)

    I've never provided any sources other than the Amnesty International or the Freedom House, so I don't know where your suspicion comes from. The hidden premise stated in the Amnesty International document in question and the Freedom House analysis is that the arrest was a case of political repression, even though this doesn't seem the case - it seems like a valid arrest, with actual evidence. In order to make a logical deduction of this being a case of political repression, one has to also undermine the truth of the evidence presented against the activists. Such rejection of the presented evidence doesn't seem rational to me, and is about as bad as saying that Osama Bin Laden tapes were fake, or that the Moon Landing tapes were fake.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  13. Oct 30, 2012 #12

    Evo

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    No, I want you to post the articles that back up YOUR accusations against the sources you listed.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  14. Oct 30, 2012 #13
    I've already listed them - you can simply scroll up. I've provided the main Russian news agency (Vesti) which is equivalent to the CNN in Russia as a citation. You can use Google Translate in case if you don't understand it due to it being written in Russian.

    However, I can also link you to some mainstream US sources to facilitate the process:
    HuffingtonPost - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120627/eu-russia-opposition/
    AssociatedPress - http://bigstorytest.ap.org/article/russian-activist-sentenced-community-service [Broken]

    Russian mainstream sources, which are far more elaborated since this was national news in Russia:
    http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=776818&cid=8
    http://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2012/06/27_a_4648129.shtml

    If the charge was "punching a journalist", then how is he a prisoner of conscience? The video of him punching a journalist (which was used in the Russian court of law) has also been shown on the Russian state television (check the Vesti source for a citation). Its extract can be found here:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  15. Oct 30, 2012 #14

    Evo

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    Alright, this is going nowhere.
     
  16. Oct 30, 2012 #15

    russ_watters

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    In answer to your more general question, a conspiracy theory is a purely perjorative label given to a supposed complex, behind the scenes, nefarious plot (you can read that in the wiki). They are by nature highly specific, highly speculative and lacking in evidence.

    For the incident in question, I think your invoking of the term implies are reading into it more than AI is saying. Their judgement is merely that this political figure spent a lot of time in jail around election time, for vague and/or minor reasons and that it seems excessive. They make no accusation that I can see of a broad conspiracy to suppress his vote/candidacy/whatever and the fact that they judge his treatment to be unfair is not the same as building such a conspiracy theory -- even if the extension to such a conspiracy would be an obvious line of logic. I think that may be what is tripping you up here.

    Secondly, you say they have no evidence. The press release you linked is a call for action, not an attempt to prove a case. I would think they would somewhere else lay out the evidence unless the general incidents are not in much question or have been widely publicized. But you are basically suggesting they are just making the stuff up. I may do a little of my own research when I get home, but this would be an odd thing to just plain make-up.

    Third, a proven conspiracy is not a "theory". It is pretty well established that Russia does not score well on political freedom benchmarks, with a laundry list of examples. That's not a "conspiracy theory", it is a real conspiracy. Attaching this incident to that proven conspiracy would then also tend not to be a conspiracy theory. More to the point, the label "conspiracy theory" would not be applied to a legitimate investigation.

    I guess in short, I'd say that if a claim isn't crazy, it's probably not a conspiracy theory and if it is already proven, it definitely isn't.

    [edit: Sorry, I didn't realize the thread was closed when I posted.]
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
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