Quoted: McClatchy News | “Obama honors Saudi woman’s fight against abuse, heads back to Washington”

McClatchy Washington Bureau:   Obama honors Saudi woman’s fight against abuse, heads back to Washington

By Lesley Clark

March 29, 2014

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA — President Barack Obama wrapped up a weeklong trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia on Saturday, bestowing an award to a Saudi Arabian woman who has raised the profile of abuse in the country.

The meeting with Dr. Maha Al Muneef came as human rights groups criticized Obama for failing to raise Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in a two-hour meeting Friday night with Saudi King Abdullah.

Obama, who met with Al Muneef at his hotel shortly before leaving the country, made a veiled reference to the kingdom’s record as he gave her the State Department International Women of Courage award, noting that she’s not only set up services and provided shelter for women and children who have been victims of abuse, but has helped to pass laws providing protection for women and children.

“To see the kind of progress that’s been made, her ability to work with the kingdom to persuade many that this is an issue that’s going to be important to the society over the long term, I think makes this award fully justified,” Obama said, telling Al Muneef he was “grateful for all the work you’re doing here and I’m looking forward to seeing you do even more wonderful things in the future.”

The State Department presents the award annually to women who are doing “extraordinary work around the world advocating on behalf of women, children, and families,” Obama said. Al Muneef was unable to make the ceremony at the State Department earlier this month because of family health issues and Obama joked that he was filling in for first lady Michelle Obama, who normally is the presenter.

“I know that Dr. Al Muneef is disappointed that it’s me instead of Michelle — appropriately so,” he said.

Sunjeev Bery, Amnesty International’s advocacy director for Middle East and North Africa, said the group was deeply disappointed that Obama didn’t raise human rights issues with the Saudi leader or speak about it publicly.

“The President’s silence demonstrates once again that when it comes to human rights, the U.S. holds repressive allies to a much lower standard than adversaries,” Bery said.

Amnesty noted that 70 members of Congress had urged Obama to bring up the “significant government repression” facing Saudis. Continue reading

Quoted: FoxNews.com | Amnesty International says human rights ‘missing in action’ on Obama trip to Saudi Arabia

FoxNews.com:   Amnesty International says human rights ‘missing in action’ on Obama trip to Saudi Arabia

Published March 28, 2014

Amnesty International is criticizing President Obama for not discussing Saudi Arabia’s human rights record in either private meetings with King Abdullah or meetings with other Saudi officials.

A spokesman for the human rights group Sunjeev Bery said in a statement Friday that “human rights were missing in action” during Obama’s trip to the Middle Eastern nation.

He noted that 70 members of Congress urged the president to speak up about the many Saudis that are facing repression by their government, but Obama did not do so.

“The president’s silence demonstrates once again that when it comes to human rights, the U.S. holds repressive allies to a much lower standard than adversaries,” he said.
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Al-Monitor: “Members press Obama to raise human rights in Saudi Arabia” (Article)

“This is the beginning of an expression of popular concern articulated through the US Congress about that relationship,” predicted Sunjeev Bery, the advocacy director for Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA. “The Saudi Arabian government’s repression is so bad across so many fronts that it has created an environment in Washington, DC, where multiple groups representing multiple communities are all pushing Congress at the same time.”

 

Article:  “Members press Obama to raise human rights in Saudi Arabia”

Julian Pecquet, March 25, 2014

An unusual alliance of conservative Christian Republicans and liberal Democrats are putting pressure on President Barack Obama to publicly address human rights violations when he visits Saudi Arabia on Friday, March 28, further complicating the president’s effort to mend bridges with the kingdom.

The letter, which was first made public by Al-Monitor last week, has been endorsed by groups as varied as Amnesty International, the National Organization for Women and Voice of the Martyrs. It calls on the president to denounce the “systematic human rights violations targeting women, religious minorities and peaceful political reformers.”

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Syrian cyberwar rages on — ForeignPolicy.com

By Sulome Anderson | Foreign Policy

Monday, September 10, 2012

… Also in August, Amnesty International’s blog Livewire was targeted by another pro-Assad hacker group that accused the rebel army of committing massacres that have been linked to government forces. The attack, which was not claimed by any specific group of hackers, included a false blog post lamenting that “it is clear the Al Qaeda affiliated rebels are not going to stop their crimes. And with no accountability and a steady supply of weapons, why should they given they have come this far under NATO protection?”

Another one of the false posts was titled “Amnesty Calls on UN to stop the US, Qatar and Turkey funding and arming Syria Rebels,” and created the impression that Amnesty International was condemning NATO and the US for meddling in the Syrian civil war. Sanjeev Bery, Amnesty International’s USA advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, explained the attack in an article published on the group’s website:

“It’s entirely possible that, given that we’ve been so forthright in criticizing the Syrian government for its crimes against humanity; that could conceivably make us the target of some kind of campaign.”

Full article here.

WaPo: “Amnesty International Web site hacked by supporters of Syrian government”

By James Ball
Washington Post
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Excerpt:

“Amnesty International has been very blunt in the reporting that we’ve done and the eyewitness accounts that we’ve collected in Syria,” said Sanjeev Bery, Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa. “It’s entirely possible that, given that we’ve been so forthright in criticizing the Syrian government for its crimes against humanity, that could conceivably make us the target of some kind of campaign.

Bery said Amnesty’s position on the civil war in Syria has been clear.

“We are deeply concerned both about the continuing crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Syrian government through its forces as well as concerned by war crimes that have been committed both by the Syrian government armed forces and by some opposition forces,” he said.

Full article linked and pasted below.

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Release: Rachel Corrie Verdict Highlights Impunity for Israeli Military

Amnesty International Calls Verdict ‘Denial of Justice’

Contact: Carolyn Lang, clang@aiusa.org, 202-675-8759

(Washington, D.C.) — Amnesty International condemns an Israeli court’s verdict that the government of Israel bears no responsibility in the death of Rachel Corrie, saying the verdict continues the pattern of impunity for Israeli military violations against civilians and human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The verdict shields Israeli military personnel from accountability and ignores deep flaws in the Israeli military’s internal investigation of Corrie’s death.

“Rachel Corrie was a peaceful American protestor who was killed while attempting to protect a Palestinian home from the crushing force of an Israeli military bulldozer,” said Sanjeev Bery, Middle East and North Africa advocacy director for Amnesty International USA.

“More than nine years after Corrie’s death, the Israeli authorities still have not delivered on promises to conduct a ‘thorough, credible and transparent’ investigation. Instead, an Israeli court has upheld the flawed military investigation and issued a verdict that once again shields the Israeli military from any accountability,” Bery said.
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Press Release: Egyptian Military’s Power Grab Endangers Human Rights

JUNE 19, 2012

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @strimel

(Washington D.C.) — Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Sanjeev Bery, issued the following comments today in response to the developing situation in Egypt:

“The move by Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to give itself unlimited power free of any oversight is a troubling development for human rights. The Egyptian military’s terrible track record on human rights gives no indication that Egyptian citizens will be guaranteed the freedoms they bravely rose up to wrest from Hosni Mubarak’s regime last year in Tahrir Square.”

“In light of the SCAF’s power grab and competing election claims, further civilian demonstrations may soon occur. The army must guarantee the rights of protestors to peacefully express their opinions and ensure human rights are not abused in the name of security. The army must end its tactics of repression and follow through on its rhetorical pledges that Egyptians will get a government that is fully accountable to them.”

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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