Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Ms Algar of Reprieve Responds to PressTV Complaints

After having left a message on Porteous' answering machine, and sent him a number of e-mails, I received no response to my complaints. His silence speaks volumes. However, Ms Algar was kind enough to reply to my email of complaint. She mailed out a generic response to all who complained. Sadly, but as expected, the arguments contained in her response were flawed. Ms Algar maintained that the office of Reprieve receive constant requests from PressTV to comment on a variety of human rights issues, in which 'most of these' are refused, 'but occasionally' they accept.

After having reiterated the cons of appearing on PressTV, and inappropriately comparing it to previously appearing on Fox News, which supported the Bush administration, Ms Algar argued the 'pros' of accepting the invite from PressTV:

"The big ‘pro’ is that it enables us to spread our message further, which, in turn, helps us reach and assist more prisoners who are subjected to human rights abuses" - This would have been true had Ms Algar mentioned the torture of detainees in Iran, as she sat comfortably on a programme funded by the blood of violated Iranians. However, she did not speak of such, when the audience were likely to be Iranians, who needed to see that the outside world was aware of their plight. Thus, the only message that was further spread was that Reprieve is a push-over for the tyrannous regime in Iran.

Ms Algar continues "It is extremely important for Reprieve to communicate our mission to the Arab world" - That's all very well for the Arabs, but what about Iranians? The matter at hand pertains to Iranians and not Arabs, which was the focus of our complaint, further illustrating that Reprieve seem to keep leaving behind the Iranians in the struggle for human rights.

"We can only help prisoners if we know they exist, and often the only way we learn of their existence is by their friends or family seeing us on television and contacting us. So television appearances have helped us –and the prisoners we represent – immeasurably. Their importance cannot be overstated" - Wouldn't such friends and family be wary of contacting Reprieve after viewing them on PressTV, and finding that they did not speak of the abuses in Iran? Wouldn't this give rise to a suspicion from within the Iranian viewers that Reprieve is in league with (or at the very least recognizes the legitimacy of) the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; thus, rendering them unworthy of trust?

"So, we have reached a compromise. We do not appear routinely on Press TV (eg to comment on day-to-day news stories) as we feel this would associate us too closely with them. However, when there is a chance to put across a detailed and substantial message about our mission– as was the case in the debate you mention, in which I argued strongly against the use of torture – then we do consider appearing" - One would very much like to believe that such was the effective truth; however it is not. Ms Algar may have argued strongly against torture; however, by not specifically acknowledging the government of Iran on their own television programme as perpetrators of torture, who offend the very human rights laws drafted to protect people from being tortured, it is highly unlikely that Reprieve's commitment to combating torture and protecting human rights will be illustrated effectively across the airwaves.

If Ms Algar et al genuinely want to 'put across a detailed and substantial message about their mission' that is in sync with supporters of human rights, then the next time they decide to grace gross violators of human rights with their presence on their shows, please expose and condemn their activity, demonstrating true and unfettered support for the victims of such abuses. In the meantime, it is high time Reprieve makes amends for their error, and submits a public apology.

Ms Algar, thank you for your response, nonetheless.


  1. Thanks for taking the time and effort to post this Mehrtash. Too bad these so called Human Rights activists are such a dissappointment. I can only hope they don't repeat their mistakes.


  2. Thank you for your comment. Not only can one hope such errors are not repeated, they also need to submit an apology for not mentioning Iran in torture cases. I have subsequently e-mailed Ms Algar, asking her to address why she and Mr Porteous failed to highlight Iran's violations of anti-torture legislation; she has yet to respond.