Saudi Arabia & Bahrain: 5 Members of Congress Urge President Obama to Push Saudi Officials to Support Reforms

U.S. Rep Hank Johnson and four other Members of Congress have written a letter to President Obama urging him to push Saudi Arabian officials to be “more constructive” regarding political reform in Bahrain.  The core sentence in the letter is the following:

Long-term stability in Bahrain can only be achieved through meaningful political reform, and we urge you to encourage the Saudi government to play a more constructive role in this regard.

Being “more constructive?”  That’s definitely an understatement. 

As my colleagues wrote in our April 2012 report, “Flawed Reforms Bahrain Fails To Achieve Justice For Protesters” (PDF): 

On 15 March 2011, Saudi Arabia sent at least 1,200 troops to Bahrain across the causeway linking the two states, reportedly at the request of the Bahraini government. The same day,the King of Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency, known as the State of National Safety, and gave the security forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain protesters and ban all protests.

Over 50 Members of Congress Urge President Obama to Stand Up for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia

Over 50 Members of Congress have signed a letter to President Obama urging him to end business as usual with Saudi Arabia’s repressive government and stand up for human rights.  For too long, the U.S. has prioritized politics and oil over basic freedom in its alliance with Saudi Arabia’s monarchy.  The effort has been led by U.S. Representatives Trent Franks, Jim McGovern, Frank Wolf, and Jackie Speier.

The Franks-McGovern-Wolf-Speier congressional letter urges President Obama to:

  • Seek a meeting with women activists in Saudi Arabia who are challenging the country’s ban on women drivers.
  • Seek a meeting with family members of prominent peaceful human rights advocates who are imprisoned.
  • Urge King Abdullah to make specific human rights reforms:  religious freedom, lifting bans on freedom of association, ending torture, reforming laws that criminalize peaceful dissent, and stopping repression of women and religious minorities.

Diverse and noteworthy organizations are backing the effort — christian religious freedom organizations, US women’s rights groups, human rights advocates, and more:

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Read the Letter: What We Want President Obama to Do in Saudi Arabia this Friday

This Friday, President Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia, a country whose government is highly repressive.   But instead of raising human rights, Obama’s trip has been described by The New York Times as focused on “fence-mending.”

This is the wrong approach.

As we say in our Amnesty International letter to President Obama:

For too long, the U.S. has put geopolitics and access to energy over support for human rights in its relationship with Saudi Arabia. As an ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia has been spared the blunt criticisms that U.S. officials make of other governments that commit serious human rights violations.

Want to read the full letter?  Scroll down, or download the PDF.

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Financial Times Withdraws Award To Narendra Modi, Gujarat’s Chief Minister

The Huffington Post
Posted: September 11, 2009
By Sanjeev Bery

2009-09-11-Modi.jpgFollowing growing public criticism, the Financial Times magazine fDi has withdrawn its recent “Asian Personality of the Year” award to Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat.

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The Death of the Tamil Tigers

SRILANKA_woundedThe Sri Lankan government’s endgame shelling of areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers has reached its conclusion — a massive defeat for the secessionist movement and the death of its leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The Associated Press reported the details of Prabhakaran’s death:

Senior [Sri Lankan] military officials said Prabhakaran was surrounded early Monday with the last of his fighters.  He and his top deputies drove in an armor-plated van accompanied by a bus filled with armed rebels toward approaching Sri Lankan forces, sparking a two-hour firefight … Troops eventually fired a rocket at the van, ending the battle, the officials said.

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