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Letters to David Irving on this Website

Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.

John Gilchrist discovers, Thursday, June 14, 2007, why Amnesty International sat on its hands while Austria imprisoned David Irving for an opinion expressed seventeen years earlier: some restrictions apply.


Why did Amnesty not Intervene in the Irving Case?

HAVING read your article about Amnesty International, I recall writing to this organisation soon after you were imprisoned in Austria. I suppose the negative response I received was expected, however it does demonstrate the duplicity of this organisation.

All the very best

John Gilchrist

Some restrictions apply - Amnesty International admits it is for free speech -- their speech, not that of others

David Irving

John Gilchrist wrote December 5, 2005 to Amnesty International:

I HAVE just learnt that Mr. David Irving, a renowned Historian has been arrested in Austria for nothing more than expressing historical opinion at a meeting of students. I have no method of communicating with this person or any knowledge whether he is being adequately represented. Can you tell me what steps you are taking to secure his release?

John Gilchrist

Amnesty International replied after a week, December 12, 2005

THANK you for your email concerning Amnesty International's position on David Irving's arrest.

Amnesty International's position on the issue of 'Holocaust denial' is based on international human rights standards. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states, in Article 19, that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression, but that certain restrictions may be placed on that right if they are necessary for the respect of the rights of others; Article 20 states that any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

In line with this and other international human rights standards, Amnesty International works for the right to free expression and adopts as prisoners of conscience people who are imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of expression, however it will not adopt as prisoners of conscience people who are imprisoned for using hate speech to deliberately or recklessly incite acts of violence, discrimination, or hostility against another group.

The language used to advocate hatred is not always explicit or direct. Sometimes it uses euphemisms which, over the years, become well known, such as denying the occurrence of the Holocaust and thereby alleging that the extensive documentation of the Holocaust is fraudulent and that its victims are lying. Since Jews, Roma, gay persons, and disabled persons were the principal victims of the Holocaust and are still subject to discrimination, this can constitute advocacy of hatred and an incitement to discrimination and hostility against those groups.

In line with its normal practice, when applying the policy to individual cases, AI [Amnesty International] considers each case on its own merit. In cases where it determines that an individual who has been imprisoned for denying the Holocaust has, in effect, advocated hatred as described above, AI would not adopt them as prisoners of conscience. This is the reason why we will not adopt David Irving as a prisoner of conscience.

Marie-Anne Ventoura Supporter Care Team
Amnesty International UK Tel: 020 7033 1777
Amnesty International UK
The Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard London EC2A 3EA

John Gilchrist then wrote to Amnesty International:

I MUST say that I am rather disturbed by your insensitivity towards this man's plight. Not the response I would have expected from an organisation reputedly dedicated to helping people who are the victims of conscience.

I am not aware of the allegations of racial hatred you are directing towards Mr. Irving. To my knowledge, having read several of Mr. Irving's books, he does not mention anything about "Holocaust denial", nor has he ever written a book on that subject. His books diarize in great detail the events of the second world war - warts and all; something that other historians either fail to report or are too lazy to research.

I think any reasonable person will agree that the truth, however unpopular, is far more important than lies, which distort history and offer no real hope of peace in this unstable world. Palestine and Iraq for example are the main ones that come to mind.

If in your opinion Mr. Irving has committed a crime then why hasn't he been arrested, in the USA or indeed his own country the UK? Aren't your actions rather reminiscent of past dictators in judging a person solely by his reputation?

I am not too young to remember the 'Soviet Gulags' for which so many innocent people found their way for no other crime than to express opinions contrary to the ruling elite; and were allowed to rot for precisely the same reasons you are condemning Mr. Irving. Perhaps I am witnessing for once the true face of your organisation.

John Gilchrist



Mr Irving's arrest on Nov 11, 2005


Irving in CourtShow Trial in Vienna, Feb 20, 2006

IMPRISONMENT 2005-2006 awaiting appeal

Mr Irving's appeal court victory on Dec 20, 2006

press conferencePRESS CONFERENCE, London, Dec 22, 2006 and aftermath



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