Letter: International protests do work

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Indy Lifestyle Online
MR Whitaker ("Celebrity is not the same as power", Section 2, 8 March) is wrong: no government is immune to outside pressure, not even the most defiant. When Amnesty asked to visit Iranian political prisons in 1981, at the time of the occupation of the US embassy, prisoners' conditions miraculously improved. No one expected representatives of Satan to be given visas, and they were not, but the mere attention abroad lightened the prison scene for many months.

As for Afghanistan, they may not care for Whoopi or Winona, but a country hoping to act as an oil conduit between central Asia and the West cannot ignore the international community. Even less can US firms, salivating at the thought of billion-dollar deals, ignore the home-grown celebrities. In this context it is immaterial for the film stars to have a deep understanding of the issues. It is simply the case of this or that behaviour being unacceptable.

As to cultural sensitivity, how would you be culturally sensitive to such abominations as female circumcision, or stoning to death of women? I am sure Mr Whitaker's heart beats for those Afghani women, but his suggestion that they will be empowered if only we gave them some money suggests he has little notion of what power is about. The men will simply take it away. After all, according to Taliban law, they own the women - literally.

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